Monday, Duke was tabbed at No. 2 on the AP Top 25 preseason men’s basketball poll.
Friday, the second-highest ranked basketball team in the nation will open the doors of Cameron Indoor Stadium to spark the energy for a season already set for greatness.
Countdown to Craziness, a storied Blue Devil tradition, means a day full of programming organized by Duke Athletics, the first Krzyzewskiville campout of the semester and a resurgence of the infamous line monitors, ready to greet bright-eyed freshmen with blue and white windbreakers and megaphone sirens.
Here are some expected highlights of Duke’s most popular basketball event without a real basketball game.
With a high of 68 degrees, the weather will be welcoming for Friday’s festivities — but not so much at night. Thursday presents a low of 53 degrees, which feels much colder without sunlight or a tent to protect from the wind. Freshmen and other first-time campers for Countdown will have to prepare for a chilly night in K-Ville if they want front-row seats to the first basketball event of the season.
Countdown to Craziness is really about students getting excited for their classmates. Those peers are mostly student-athletes, but there are some student-artists in the mix too. Duke Athletics announced several weeks ago that campus a capella groups would not be performing the national anthem at the event — a tradition that they have all participated in for years. This weekend, however, that decision was reversed. Countdown will once again feature a collaborative performance from a capella groups on campus. Deja Blue, Out of the Blue, Lady Blue and an amalgam of other creatively-named, blue-themed singing groups will represent Duke’s signature color on Coach K Court Friday night with their arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
In a very un-Duke turn of events, most of last year’s basketball team will be back in Cameron for another season on the court. After the 2020-21 season, the Blue Devils lost three freshmen to the NBA and two to the transfer portal. The following year, three more freshmen entered the draft, and Duke waved goodbye to its best young talent. Head coach Jon Scheyer, however, has started off his reign of the program with remarkable retention, perhaps influenced by college athletes’ new ability to make money from NIL deals. Only two freshmen left Durham for the draft after last season — Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead — and not one member of the roster put his foot in the transfer portal. With the exceptions of Jacob Grandison, Max Johns and Kale Catchings, all of whom ran out of college eligibility after their first graduate years, every other member of last year’s team is back. When the players get on stage at Countdown to Craziness, the Blue Devil faithful will see both the debut of new talent and the return of old faces.
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Sophie Levenson is a Trinity sophomore and sports features editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.