As Joanne P. McCallie enters her eighth season with the Blue Devils, she’s stepping things up a notch for the non-conference games. Six teams that the Duke women are scheduled to play in the upcoming season advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season.
“It’s another fantastic schedule that will challenge us in all ways,” McCallie said.
The season for Duke begins on Sunday Oct. 26 for the annual Blue/White Scrimmage in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Then the Blue Devils have two exhibition games before things officially get to rolling. Limestone comes to Durham on Oct. 30 and Armstrong Atlantic State University follows suit on Nov. 2.
Duke hosts Alabama for the official season opener on Nov. 16. Last season, Alabama finished 14-16. They qualified for the SEC Tournament, but lost to LSU 65-78.
On Nov. 20 Duke travels to Old Dominion. The Monarchs finished 18-16 last season and advanced to the WNIT. They beat Navy 68-60 in the first round, but fell to Auburn in the second round, losing 59-82.
After Duke returns from the state of Virginia, the Blue Devils have a three game home stand. Duke hosts Marquette Sunday Nov. 23. The Golden Eagles had a 22-11 record last season. They qualified for the WNIT and advanced to the second round before falling to Indiana 69-72.
Up next on the schedule for Duke is Buffalo and Stony Brook. The Bulls of Buffalo finished with a 17-13 record in 2014. The Seawolves finished with a 24-9 record last season. They qualified for the WNIT but fell to Michigan in the first round 48-86.
The next part of the non-conference schedule is a doozy for the Blue Devils. In a span of seven games, Duke takes on six teams who advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
“We will travel on the road to put us in hostile environments, which will prepare us for the future,” said McCallie. “The schedule is very consistent with being challenging and it will get us ready for the very difficult ACC season.”
The first opponent of the difficult phase is Texas A&M. The Aggies finished last season with an overall record of 27-9 with a record of 13-3 in the SEC. They qualified for the NCAA Tournament, beating North Dakota, James Madison and DePaul before falling to UConn in the Elite Eight.
Just a few days later, Duke travels from College Station, Tex. to Lincoln, Neb. for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to take on Nebraska. The Cornhuskers went 25-6 in 2014 and had a record of 12-4 in the Big Ten. They advanced to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round before coming up short against BYU.
After those two tough games on the road, Duke returns home for a four game home stand. The first game back home is against South Carolina. The Gamecocks had a 29-5 record last season with a 14-2 record in the SEC. They earned a No. 1 seed in the tournament, but fell short in the third round against North Carolina.
Oklahoma visits Durham after South Carolina leaves town. The Sooners finished last season with a record of 18-14 and finished 9-9 in the Big 12. They made it to the NCAA Tournament, but their stay didn’t last long. They played against DePaul in the first round in a high scoring affair. Oklahoma fell to DePaul 100-104.
The Blue Devils take a one game break from the demanding schedule and play a team that didn’t have a winning season last year. UMass Lowell had a 5-23 record last season. Four of their five wins came in conference play.
After the game against the River Hawks, Duke gets at it again, taking on Kentucky. The Wildcats had a 26-9 record and had a 10-6 record in the SEC. Kentucky advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Baylor.
After Christmas comes one of the hardest potential matchups for the Blue Devils in the upcoming season. Duke travels to UConn to take on the defending National Champion. UConn is coming off of a perfect 40-0 season and looks to continue their national prowess.
Duke takes on their final non-conference opponent, North Carolina A&T.