Shedding new light on what the Duke basketball schedule may look like

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Fresh talks spur an educated guess at the 2020-21 Duke basketball schedule.

Factoring in new intel on Friday from Stadium insider Jeff Goodman, the future seems a bit clearer in terms of 1) how many games the 2020-21 Duke basketball team may play in the regular season, 2) which opponents the Blue Devils are most likely to face, and 3) when the whole shindig figures to begin.

Beginning with No. 3, Goodman reported that the latest proposal among the big wigs is for college hoops to start on Nov. 21. That would be 11 days later than the originally scheduled date of the season-opening Champions Classic, which is supposed to feature Duke versus Michigan State and then Kentucky versus Kansas this go-round.

But it seems safe to say that if the Nov. 21 plan stands, then ESPN would see to it that the above ratings-boosting blueblood matchups remain intact. So let’s go ahead and pencil in that date against the Spartans as the Blue Devils’ first contest (as usual, all four squads, each with recurring invites to the annual tipoff event, figure to rank among the top 15 in the Preseason AP Poll).

Besides, an article on Wednesday from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports all but put to rest concerns as to whether Michigan State and the rest of the Big Ten intend to take part in non-conference action in November and December (all signs, for now, say that won’t be an issue).

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Now, in terms of Chicago playing host to the two feature openers as originally planned, that likelihood seems slim. What looks more likely at this point, based on recent chatter from those in the know on Twitter, is that Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will go from being an NBA bubble to cocooning several big-name early-season college tournaments and showcases.

As for the total number of games that Duke is likely to play this season — possibly to include a handful more in Orlando, as we shall examine here in a moment — Goodman noted in his tweet a proposed limit for each Division I team:

“Also on the table is limiting the maximum number of games to 24 (plus three in a multi-team event) or 25 (plus two in an MTE).”

Assuming the ACC slate happens on campuses (bubble also possible) and aligns with the normal rotation, 20 of those outings for Duke will consist of the following: home and away against North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Pitt; home versus Boston College, Clemson, Syracuse, and Virginia; at Florida State, Miami, NC State, and Virginia Tech.

Predicting the rest of the Duke basketball schedule

Now, let’s go back and revisit late November. Duke is one of eight teams with an invite to the Battle 4 Atlantis; the others are Creighton, Memphis, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Utah, West Virginia, and Wichita State. The three-round tourney is always in the Bahamas but appears more probable this year to also be in Orlando (yet on roughly the original Nov. 25-27 dates).

Should the Battle 4 Atlantis indeed have a 2020 edition, Duke would fall in the group with the proposed 24-plus-three schedule that Goodman conveyed (down from 28-plus-three in recent years). Subtracting from that number the meeting with Michigan State plus the 20 ACC contests, the Blue Devils would then need three more games to fill out their regular season.

Well, many months back, the Duke basketball program agreed to two non-conference home games against Appalachian State (no scheduled date) and Cleveland State (Dec. 18). And there’s no reason to think, at least for now, that those two foes are somehow out of the question for the 2020-21 Blue Devils. Therefore, let’s not break out the eraser there just yet.

OK, just one spot left to fill. In this scenario, it’s a decent bet that would go to Duke’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup (opponent TBD). That entire event could be in Orlando or, like under normal conditions, be an actual home game for one of each game’s participants.

So there you have it, the best guess right now at what the Duke basketball calendar will look like in the 41st season under Mike Krzyzewski. All in all, despite plenty of uncertainty and question marks remaining, the prospect of the Blue Devils returning to the hardwood for a nearly full season looks fairly promising (knock on wood).

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more on the 2020-21 Duke basketball schedule plus other news and views regarding all things Blue Devils.