How many games will the 2020-21 Duke basketball team lose against ACC foes?
While we don’t yet have specific dates and tipoff times, we do know generally what the Duke basketball conference schedule will look like next season. In other words, we have sufficient info to make early predictions.
Mike Krzyzewski, who has averaged just 4.5 losses per regular season to ACC opponents in his 40 years at the helm, will see his 41st team play home and away contests against North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh. The Blue Devils will host Boston College, Clemson, Syracuse, and Virginia in Durham. And Duke will travel once each to Florida State, Miami, NC State, and Virginia Tech.
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That 20-game slate poses some interesting matchups for the Devils. When considering Duke’s 2020-21 conference record, I considered games recently played in each venue as well as an aggregate of scores from those contests. While imperfect, I can assure you that it will be entertaining (and heavily quantitative).
Though we don't yet know the order of the contests, in groups of four, let’s look at how Coach K’s young squad is likely to fair in conference play. In our first set of four games here, the Blue Devils will host Boston College and Syracuse and travel to Notre Dame and Pittsburgh...
Predicting Duke basketball record in ACC play next season: Group One
In the Mike Krzyzewski era, Duke has won all 11 games against Boston College in Durham. This year’s contest will be no different as the Blue Devils, starting three freshmen for the first time since 2014-15, will easily defeat the visiting Eagles:
The squad will also host the Orangemen. Under Coach K, Duke is just 3-3 against Syracuse in Durham. This contest against Jim Boeheim’s challenging matchup zone will be a little closer than the Boston College game, but the home team will escape with a relatively low-scoring victory:
Duke will also travel west to take on the Fighting Irish. The Blue Devils, under their Hall of Fame coach, have taken six of nine in Indiana, although they are 2-2 against the Irish more recently. Nonetheless, the Devils escape the Joyce Center with a relatively comfortable win:
Our last game of the first four takes us to Pittsburgh for a road game against the Panthers. Since 2007-08, the Panthers have won just once in four tries against the Blue Devils north of the Mason-Dixon. Things will not change in 2020-21 as Duke cruises to another W:
In the second group of four games, the Duke basketball team will stay closer to home with games in Durham against in-state rivals North Carolina and Wake Forest and away contests at NC State and Florida State...
Predicting Duke basketball record in ACC play next season: Group Two
The blueblood rivalry is always contentious, and 2020-21 will be no different. Duke has notched victories in eight of the last 10 Duke-UNC matchups in Cameron. Jordan Goldwire will prove the difference in his last North Carolina home game as the Devils pull off the victory:
Duke is a perfect 10-0 against Wake Forest in Durham since 2010. In fact, the Deacons haven’t beaten the Devils in Cameron since January of 1997. The streak will continue as Mike Krzyzewski’s team cruises to an easy win:
The Blue Devils will travel east to Raleigh take on the Wolfpack of NC State in PNC Arena. Since 2000, Duke is an even 7-7 against State outside of Durham. More recently however, the Blue Devils have dropped four of the last five in Raleigh. A young Duke basketball squad will fall to the Wolfpack again:
The Blue Devils make one of two trips to the Sunshine State to face a Florida State program they have beaten on the road nine times in the last 14 tries since 2000-01. Coach K’s visit ends in another win, though by a narrow margin:
In Duke’s third set of four, Georgia Tech and Louisville await in Durham while the Devils travel to Miami and Virginia Tech...
Predicting Duke basketball record in ACC play next season: Group Three
The Yellow Jackets haven’t beaten Duke in Cameron since the 2003-04 season. The Devils are a perfect 10-0 at home during that span. The Jackets haven’t scored more than 67 points in Durham in nearly two decades, and so perfection prevails as the Blue Devils pound Georgia Tech:
The Cardinals have only traveled to Durham four times in the Coach K era and split those four contests with the Blue Devils. Such a small sample size makes this prediction somewhat imprecise. Duke narrowly escapes with a win at home over Louisville:
Duke’s second trip to the state of Florida results in another win. The Devils are 9-4 against the Hurricanes under Mike Krzyzewski and sweep the Sunshine State series with a victory over Miami in their only meeting of the season:
Duke makes its first and only trip into the state of Virginia to visit the Hokies in Blacksburg. The Devils are just 7-5 against Virginia Tech in Cassell Coliseum and more recently have dropped three of the last four. Duke suffers its second road loss of the year by the slimmest of margins:
In the Blue Devils' fourth group of four ACC contests, they draw Clemson and Virginia at home and the Yellow Jackets and Cardinals on the road...
Predicting Duke basketball record in ACC play next season: Group Four
Since 2000, Duke is a perfect 13-0 against Clemson in Cameron Indoor Stadium. In fact, the Tigers have not come away with a road win in the series since January of 1995. Clemson has scored more than 70 points in Durham just three times in the last two decades, and this contest is not even close. Duke cruises to remain perfect on Coach K Court:
Although Tony Bennett’s squad is still defending national champions, the Hoos have only notched one win in the last 15 tries in Durham. Under Bennett, Virginia is just 1-5 in Cameron. Although the Cavaliers hold Duke to its lowest conference win point total on the season, the Blue Devils escape with a narrow win.
Duke splits its visits to Atlanta and Louisville in their second meetings with the Jackets and Cardinals. The Devils are 13-2 in the last two decades against Georgia Tech in Atlanta and come away with an easy W:
However, Duke has won just twice in five attempts in Louisville under Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K’s team shows its inexperience with another road loss:
The Blue Devils finish their 20-game conference slate with visits to Winston Salem and Chapel Hill and home games against the Panthers and Irish...
Predicting Duke basketball record in ACC play next season: Group Five
The Blue Devils are 11-1 against Notre Dame in Durham. This game doesn’t buck that trend:
The Blue Devils complete their 10-game home conference schedule with their second win against the Panthers, this time in Durham. Pittsburgh has won just once in five tries at Duke, and the Devils beat the Panthers a fifth time and finish an unblemished 10-0 on Coach K Court:
Coach K’s squad wraps up the 2020-21 conference regular season with games at Wake Forest and North Carolina. Since 2010, Duke has taken eight of the last 10 in Winston Salem. However, in the decade prior, the Deacons owned a 5-3 record against the Blue Devils. Duke’s uber-talented six-man recruiting class gets the better of Wake:
The Blue Devils conclude their regular season in Chapel Hill for North Carolina’s senior night. The bluebloods have split the last 10 games in the Dean E. Smith Center. A back-and-forth game ends with a missed Duke three, and the Heels hand the Devils another road loss:
So, the young and inexperienced 2020-21 Blue Devils, led by senior and likely captain Jordan Goldwire, will finish with just under their head coach’s historic average number of conference losses.
Will a 16-4 record be good enough to claim the ACC regular crown?
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