Jim O’Connor- USA TODAY Sports
The Duke Men’s Basketball team has been tabbed by The National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society to participate in the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic for the upcoming season. The Blue Devils will join Temple, UNLV, and Stanford as hosts for the tournament. The tournament will be November with a total of 12 teams will competing in the regional round (other 8 teams yet to be determined) November 14-17 at the host schools.
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All four host schools will automatically move on to the Championship Round the subsequent weekend, November 21-22, hosted at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. According to the schedule, Duke will take on Temple Friday the 21st in the Barclays Center at 9:30 PM EST. The winner of that game will advance to take on the winner of UNLV vs. Stanford for the Championship game November 22 at 9:30 PM, and a consolation game at 7:00 PM. The Blue Devils are 4-2 all time in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, winning the title game in their last appearance in 2008 against Michigan.
Looking at the teams for the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament it seems Duke should be the favorites to win this tournament with the incoming #1 recruiting class and the amount of talent they have returning, but it may not be so easy. The field is full of lots of young talent and interesting match ups. Incoming freshmen Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, and Grayson Allen will be joining Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon, Marshall Plumlee, and Co. to most likely give Duke a preseason top 5 ranking and high expectations for the upcoming season. Duke’s first game in the Coaches vs. Cancer semifinals will put Coach K against his longtime friend, Temple head coach Fran Dunphy.
UNLV is coming of a decent season where they finished 20-13 and 3rd in the Mountain West at 10-8, but weren’t able to make it into the NCAA tournament by the Selection Committee. They just lost star forward and double-double machine Khem Birch, who declared early for the NBA draft, and their leading scorer Bryce Dejean-Jones, a graduate transfer to Iowa St., but will add 5 new recruits in the 11th ranked recruiting class, according to ESPN.
Stanford is certainly had the strongest 2013-2014 campaign of all the host teams for Coaches vs. Cancer, including Duke. Coming off one of it’s best seasons in school history after upsetting #2 seed Kansas and losing to Dayton in the Sweet Sixteen, the Cardinal will be looking to build on their success last season under head coach and Duke alum Johnny Dawkins. The team finished 23-13 and 10-8 in the PAC-12. They lost several key players from last year’s team, including seniors Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell who were recently drafted to the NBA, and will add the 15th ranked recruiting class for the 2014-2015 season.