Ranking all 40 Duke basketball teams under Coach K

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse
Duke basketball

Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

From worst to best, how do Mike Krzyzewski’s past Duke basketball squads all stack up?

An annual average of 27.2 wins. Not to mention an average of one NCAA Championship every eight years. One ACC Championship practically every two years. A Final Four appearance roughly once every three years. With such consistency, ranking all the Duke basketball teams since the last new head coach arrived in 1980 presents a daunting challenge.

Plus, while the latest bunch provides a nice even number begging for this ranking, what’s the fairest way to compare Mike Krzyzewski’s 40th to the first 39?

Well, we shall never know how many March Madness miracles the 2019-20 Blue Devils possessed. Seeing that the objective is to find a fitting formula to arrange the 40 in order of overall excellence, the lack of data from this past March poses a problem. So all we can do is project what the missing results might have been and add an asterisk.

Also true, not all of Coach K’s rosters have faced the same number of regular-season games; plus, the schedules have been of varying strengths. On the other hand, those differences seem negligible enough to ignore for these purposes. So here is the comprehensive 100-point scale we’ll use to assign each team an overall grade:

  • WIN TOTAL: one point per, assuming a max of 40 POINTS
  • TOP 25 WINS: 0.25 points per, assuming a max of 5 POINTS
  • WINS BY 25 POINTS OR MORE: 0.25 points per, assuming a max of 5 POINTS
  • POSTSEASON NETS: an ACC Tournament crown equals 5 POINTS, a Final Four appearance also earns 5 POINTS, and an NCAA Championship warrants another 10 POINTS
  • CONSENSUS FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICANS: two points per, assuming a max of 10 POINTS
  • ALL-ACC FIRST TEAM SELECTIONS: one point per, assuming a max of 5 POINTS
  • FORMER MCDONALD’S ALL-AMERICANS: 0.5 points per, assuming a max of 5 POINTS
  • HYPOTHETICAL HEAD-TO-HEAD STANDINGS: the only subjective metric here; we imagine a round-robin between all 40 teams, stack them accordingly, and in quarter-point increments, give to each its corresponding value between 0.25 and 10 POINTS

Now then, from No. 40 to a slightly surprising No. 1 — and plenty of room for disagreement in between — let’s dive in…

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse