A year after missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1994, Duke will have plenty of chances early on against top competition to build its resume and return to form.
The Blue Devils announced their 2016-17 non-conference schedule Wednesday morning, featuring three games against teams that reached the NCAA tournament last year and five true road games.
South Carolina and Kentucky headline Duke’s home slate after the Blue Devils lost on the road to both SEC powerhouses last year. Before those contests in December, Duke will play its first SEC opponent Nov. 20 when it travels to Nashville, Tenn., to take on Vanderbilt.
The Blue Devils will host Old Dominion two days after facing the Commodores before traveling to the West Coast during Thanksgiving break to play Long Beach State and Pepperdine in California. Seniors Oderah Chidom and Kendall Cooper and freshman Leaonna Odom are all California natives.
“We are extremely excited about a fantastic non-conference schedule once again,” head coach Joanne P. McCallie said in a press release announcing the schedule. “Taking Oderah, Kendall and Leaonna back home to California is a real treat for them and is something that we love to do, especially for our seniors.”
Duke’s other road games include an ACC/Big Ten Challenge showdown at Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., and the regular-season opener Nov. 11 at Liberty in Lynchburg, Va.
The game against the Flames will mark the second straight year the Blue Devils open the season on the road. They beat Pennsylvania last November in Philadelphia, and this season, Duke will host the reigning Ivy League champions Nov. 13.
Later that week, head coach Joanne P. McCallie will welcome two familiar faces back to Cameron Indoor Stadium when Duke plays Longwood—where former Blue Devil Wanisha Smith is an assistant coach—and Grand Canyon, assisted by former player Krystal Thomas.
“Bringing Krystal Thomas and Wanisha Smith home to Cameron is really special and that’s exactly why we scheduled them,” McCallie said in the press release.
Those two games will wrap up a busy stretch of four games in seven days for Duke, and the Blue Devils will wind up playing eight games in a 17-day span in four different states during the month of November.
McCallie will coach against her daughter Maddie McCallie when Duke faces Elon Dec. 8. McCallie started 25 games last year for the Phoenix and enters this season as a redshirt senior after spending the first two years of her college career at Miami of Ohio.
Following a 13-day break for final exams, the Blue Devils will host Villanova Dec. 21 before the Kentucky game brings the non-conference slate to a close after Christmas.
Duke’s annual Blue-White scrimmage will give fans their first glimpse of the team Oct. 30, and the Blue Devils will play one exhibition game against Charleston (W.V.).
The ACC schedule will be released in September.
Duke's 2016-17 non-conference schedule:
Oct. 30—Blue/White Scrimmer (Durham)
Nov. 6—Charleston (W.V.) (exhibition, Durham)
Nov. 11—at Liberty (Lynchburg, Va.)
Nov. 13—Pennsylvania (Durham)
Nov. 15—Longwood (Durham)
Nov. 17—Grand Canyon (Durham)
Nov. 20—at Vanderbilt (Nashville, Tenn.)
Nov. 22—Old Dominion (Durham)
Nov. 25—at Long Beach State (Long Beach, Calif.)
Nov. 27—at Pepperdine (Malibu, Calif.)
Dec. 1—at Rutgers (Piscataway, N.J.)
Dec. 4—South Carolina (Durham)
Dec. 8—Elon (Durham)
Dec. 21—Villanova (Durham)
Dec. 29—Kentucky (Durham)
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