The ACC’s double round robin is a thing of the past, but when the men’s basketball team released its 2004-2005 schedule Wednesday it closely resembled that played by the team in recent years.
After starting with a mix of high and low caliber opponents, the Blue Devils will dive into an ACC slate that, despite the recent ACC expansion, promises to be a grueling challenge. An 11-day stretch in early February when Duke plays Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and North Carolina should provide a test that even the NCAA Tournament would struggle to match.
Returning 11 of the 15 players who garnered all-ACC recognition and 20 of the its top-25 scoring leaders, the league promises to remain atop the list of elite conferences despite the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech.
Forced to eliminate the double round robin when the ACC expanded from 9 to 11 teams, Duke will play Clemson, Florida State, N.C. State and Virginia only once, and neither the Seminoles nor the Wolfpack will make an appearance in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
As in years past, the team will close its regular season with a matchup against UNC, this year March 6 in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels and Terrapins are Duke’s “primary partners”—the Blue Devils will play both schools twice every season.
The end-of-season ACC Tournament, to be played at the MCI Center in Washington D.C. for the first time, will now have three games Thursday instead of one to accommodate the league’s 11 teams. With the expanded league, the tournament will likely take on even greater importance for NCAA Tournament selection.
“I think the early games in the tournament will really be unbelievably valuable for NCAA selection,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I think the games overall might become a little bit more important, and hence the tournament becomes more important.”
Duke will kick off its season against Tennessee-Martin in Cameron Indoor Stadium and is likely to face its first true test against Michigan State in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The two teams will square of for the second straight year in the event, this time in Durham Nov. 30.
Also for the second consecutive season, the team will play a home game in New York’s Madison Square Garden. After routing Texas in front of a boisterous pro-Duke crowd in 2003, the Blue Devils will try to repeat that performance against another Big 12 foe, Oklahoma, Dec. 18.
Duke will return to Madison Square Garden at the end of the season for a matchup with St. John’s. The Red Storm program has struggled in recent years, but St. John’s knocked off Duke in New York at the end of the 2002-2003 season.
Duke welcomes Princeton to Durham on January 5 to commemorate 100 years of basketball. The teams may wear throwback uniforms in an attempt to “recreate” the Duke’s—then Trinity College—first game.
A measure of the program’s strength and national appeal, the Blue Devils will play all but two games in front of a national television audience. Three CBS games highlight the lineup, but the majority of its games will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 or Fox Sports Net.
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