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Blue Devils to play in Guardians

Some Blue Devil fans may spend Thanksgiving week in Kansas City this year.

The men's basketball team will play in the Guardians Classic next season, pending an expected rule change from the NCAA Board of Directors Thursday, Associate Athletic Director Mike Cragg said Monday.

The amendment, which was approved by the Management Council in its April 10 meeting, will eliminate the current "two-in-four" rule that limits the number of exempted preseason tournaments a program can enter. Currently, teams can play in two events for every four-year period. The Blue Devils participated in the NIT Season Tip-Off this past year and have agreed to play in the Maui Invitational in 2007.

"I think it's a definite positive for the game, and that's why we have entered these tournaments every time possible, and why we will continue to do that," Cragg said. "If you are a student-athlete in any sport, the more you play, the happier you are. These tournaments provide an opportunity for that, for our fans to travel to different locations and for our players to get to play in different areas of the country."

Duke will host the opening round in Cameron Indoor Stadium, as well as the second round if the Blue Devils win. The semifinals and championship will be held November 20 and 21 in Kansas City, Mo. Cragg said Stanford, Texas Tech and Marquette are also expected to participate in the 16-team tournament.

The presence of Texas Tech in the event could mean a matchup between Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his former coach at Army, Bob Knight. Krzyzewski has not faced his mentor since the Blue Devils fell to Knight's Indiana Hoosiers, 85-69, in the 1996 Preseason NIT.

Texas defeated Iowa for this season's Guardians Classic title in the tournament's strongest field ever-the event featured four teams ranked in the top 20 at the time. The classic began in 2001 and serves as a promotion vehicle for the National Association of Basketball Coaches' "Guardians of the Game" program. Krzyzewski served as president of the NABC from 1998 to 1999 and was featured this season on commercials promoting the Guardians program.

In addition to the rescinding of the "two-in-four" rule, the NCAA amendment will allow schools to exempt conference tournament games from counting toward the maximum number of regular-season contests a squad can play. The change, which was meant to benefit teams who are left out of conference tournaments, will also allow schools to schedule an additional regular-season game. Cragg said Duke is still working on its schedule for next season and does not know who it will play with the additional game.

In order to improve the diversity of teams playing in multiple-game tournaments, the NCAA amendment restricts programs from playing in a specific event more than once every four years, a regulation that was in place before the "two-in-four" rule went into effect.

The new proposal also eliminates the certification process for multiple-team events, which could increase the number of available tournaments.

The Management Council submitted two forms of the proposal to the Board of Directors, who are expected to make the final decision in a meeting Thursday. The two versions differ only in the number of games a team that does not enter an exempted multiple-game tournament will be allowed to play.

The original proposal allows teams to schedule either 28 regular-season games or 27 games and an exempted event, which could include as many as four games. The Management Council suggested that teams which do not schedule an exempted event should be allowed 29 games to decrease the gap between teams that do enter a multiple-game tournament.

The amendment also includes a change in the starting date of the season. Currently, the regular season begins 136 days before the Championship game, which this year would be Nov. 17. The change would make the starting date for each season the second Friday of November, which in 2006 would fall on the 10th. Cragg said Duke's opening game would be the first round of the Guardians Classic, Nov. 12 or 13.

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