Jon Scheyer’s second season as Duke’s basketball coach will require him getting the Blue Devils ready for elite competition in a hurry.
The full schedule, released Tuesday night, features games with Arizona and Michigan State, two teams expected to be ranked among the nation’s top 15, in the second and third games of the season.
Duke also plays another projected top-15 team at Arkansas.
The ACC schedule begins on Dec. 2 at Georgia Tech and includes a challenging stretch in February with three consecutive league road games. The Blue Devils close the regular season with three games against likely NCAA Tournament teams in Virginia, N.C. State and North Carolina.
Duke returns four starters from last season’s team, which went 29-7 and won the ACC in Scheyer’s first season as head coach following Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement.
Here’s a look at Duke’s entire schedule:
Duke’s can’t-miss basketball game
Duke’s Nov. 10 game with Arizona jumps off the schedule page for a variety of reasons. First, it’s a sign of new thinking when it comes to schedule-making for the Blue Devils. Scheyer wants to play home-and-home series against top nonconference foes, which is something Krzyzewski decided against doing in the later years of his career.
Duke will return the game at Tuscon, Arizona, next season.
What else makes this game interesting? An old Duke nemesis, Caleb Love, gets one more game at Cameron against the Blue Devils. The former UNC guard hit the biggest shot, a late 3-pointer, when the Tar Heels beat Duke, 81-77, in their epic 2022 Final Four game. Last season, Love and the Tar Heels took two losses to the Blue Devils.
Trap game alert
Louisville plays at Duke on Feb. 28 in a game that starts the Blue Devils’ final stretch of four regular-season games. So why is a game against a team that finished in last place last season, and isn’t expected to be much better this season, a scary one for Duke? The game is the team’s first home game following three consecutive road games. It also comes just ahead of three emotional games for the Blue Devils — home with Virginia, at N.C. State and home with UNC. Focus will be key for the Blue Devils when they face the Cardinals.
Toughest stretch for Duke
The middle of February sees the Blue Devils hit the road for three consecutive road games.
The stretch starts at Florida State for a Saturday afternoon game on Feb. 17. The Seminoles had a rare down season under Leonard Hamilton last season as injuries ravaged the roster. But Hamilton has rebuilt his roster around returning players Darin Green, Cam’Ron Fletcher and Cameron Corhen and is expecting more success.
Three days after playing at Florida State, the Blue Devils face Miami on Feb. 20. Duke split its two regular-season games with the Hurricanes before eliminating them from the ACC Tournament. Duke suffered an 81-59 loss at Miami.
Miami went on to make the program’s first Final Four appearance and will be a contender for the league title again this season.
Duke completes its three-game road swing closer to home at Wake Forest on Feb. 24. Remember, the Blue Devils lost 81-70 to the Deacons at Winston-Salem last season.
Easiest stretch for Duke
Coming off a holiday break and entering the 2024 part of the schedule, the Blue Devils have a chance to rack up wins early in ACC play.
After playing Baylor at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 20, the Blue Devils scatter for Christmas. They reconvene to play their final nonconference game, against Queens, on Dec. 30 at Cameron Indoor.
Syracuse comes next on Jan. 2 at Cameron. With Adrian Autry in his first season taking over for Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim after his retirement, the Orange aren’t expected to be a middle-of-the-pack ACC team at best.
The Blue Devils follow that game up with a trip to Notre Dame four nights later on Jan. 6. Like Syracuse, Notre Dame is rebuilding after a losing season and the replacement of its head coach.
Duke basketball’s non-conference test
But the biggest test will come against Michigan State on Nov. 14 at the Champions Classic. Duke will face off against the Spartans in what looks like it will be a battle between two top-10 teams. That’s, of course, unless Arizona knocks off the Blue Devils four nights earlier and Duke tumbles in the rankings.
Either way, facing Tom Izzo’s Spartans so quickly after that exciting home game with Arizona will show plenty about what kind of team Duke has this season.
Arizona’s trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a Friday night contest — the night before the Duke football game at UNC — is intriguing and certainly a can’t-miss game (see above). The game at Arkansas in the ACC-SEC Challenge will be fun.
Duke basketball schedule
at Georgia Tech*
at Notre Dame*
at Virginia Tech*
at North Carolina*
at Florida State*
at Wake Forest*
at NC State*
+ — Champions Classic, United Center, Chicago
# — Madison Square Garden, New York
* — ACC game