After months of watching summer league games, streaming international tournaments and sifting through off-season headlines, sports fans can finally rejoice—college basketball season is here.

With the momentum of the top-ranked freshman class behind them and the untold possibilities of a new season in front of them, No. 14 Duke opens its season on the road, traveling to the historic Palestra in Philadelphia to face Pennsylvania in an 8 p.m. Friday matchup before returning to Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday for its 6 p.m. home opener against Winthrop.

Duke had two opportunities to shake off some offseason rust last week, winning a pair of lopsided exhibitions against Division II Pfeiffer and Saint Leo. The Blue Devils racked up a combined 229 points and will look to carry over some of that offensive efficiency into their opening weekend.

“There’s lots of room for improvement…but what I like about the team is that we’re playing hard, we’re playing pretty smart basketball, trying to reduce our turnovers and we’re trusting each other more,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “And those are all the right indicators.”

Both the Quakers and Eagles head into their season openers without having played a single exhibition contest, forcing the Blue Devils to go back to last year’s film in order to get a look at the kind of competition they can expect to meet this weekend.

Pennsylvania—which returns three starters from last year’s squad, including Ivy Rookie of the Year in sophomore forward Michelle Nwokedi—will test Duke’s defensive fortitude, especially in the post. Nwokedi and junior center Sydney Stipanovich combined for an average of 20.7 points per game last season and hauled in a combined 14.5 boards per contest.

Duke will look to sophomore Azurá Stevens and junior Kendall Cooper to corral the Quakers’ dangerous duo on the inside. For Cooper—who made the majority of her contributions last season coming off the bench—the early season challenge will be an opportunity to put up big minutes against some of the best competition in the Ivy League.

The Blue Devils will also need to keep a watchful eye on Pennsylvania’s point guard, sophomore Anna Ross. A quick and talented passer who can also shoot the three, Ross started all 30 games for the Quakers last year as a true freshman. The Syracuse, N.Y., native averaged 6.2 points and 3.7 assists per game last year, hitting her mark from beyond the arc at a 39.4 percent clip.

“It’s a nice challenge early,” McCallie said. “They do a very good job feeding from the middle of the floor from post to post, so your one-on-one defense in the post is very important.”

Friday’s game at the Palestra will also provide the Blue Devils’ highly touted freshman class an opportunity to showcase their talents on one of college basketball’s greatest stages.

Duke’s five newcomers racked up 88 points in preseason play. Shooting guard Haley Gorecki paced the group, notching 16 points in both contests, while international sharpshooter Angela Salvadores’ debut turned into a cold shooting night, finishing 3-of-9 from the field against Saint Leo.

The Leon, Spain, native chipped in five assists in 16 minutes of floor time, showing glimpses of what fans can expect from her as she eases back into the game after being rested following her involvement in multiple international tournaments this summer.

The expedition contests were just practice, though, and with Friday’s opener looming, McCallie will finally get a look at how her group matches up against Division I competition.

“[The team] plays really well together, and I think that’s shown throughout the games,” redshirt sophomore Rebecca Greenwell said. “We have a lot of weapons…and I think we enjoy playing with each other, and it shows out there. We always are getting the open player and just having a lot of fun and scoring a lot.”

The Blue Devils will not have time to waste after playing the Quakers, returning home to defend their house against Winthrop less than 48 hours later. The Eagles are led by versatile junior Erica Williams, who led her team in scoring last year, averaging 16.4 points per game.

The Eagles were picked to finish second in the Big South Conference this season after losing two of their starters from last year.

“It’s a little bit of a quick turnaround,” McCallie said. “But when it’s time, we will be very excited to be at home again with our fans—hopefully coming off of some really good things that we learned from [Friday].”

Hank Tucker contributed reporting.