Duke basketball on the wrong side of history early in 2021

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball program is on the wrong side of history early in 2021. 

There was a hope that the 2021 calendar year would be much better than 2020 for the Duke basketball program, but that has not been the case.

For the first time since 2016, the Blue Devils are not in the Associated Press Top-25 Poll after their most recent loss to then-No. 20 Virginia Tech.

Duke started the year as the AP Preseason No. 9 team, rising all the way to No. 6, before dropping to No. 10, No. 21, No. 20, No. 21 (again), and No. 19 before exiting the poll.

This week is the first time since 1961 that neither Duke, North Carolina, nor Kentucky has been included in the Top-25 Poll.

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The Blue Devils received 43 votes to be included in this week’s poll.

No. 13 Virginia, No. 16 Virginia Tech, and No. 20 Clemson are the only teams from the ACC ranked in the Top-25 this week, although Louisville and Florida State are right on the outside looking in.

In the last year Duke did not receive votes in the AP Top-25, the 2015-16 season, the Blue Devils were out of the rankings for two straight weeks after losing three of four games in mid-January before rallying to earn a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, eventually falling in the Sweet Sixteen.

That Blue Devils squad was led by Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen.

Duke basketball still with reason for optimism

Despite the overall pessimism surrounding Duke, the Blue Devils have a great chance in front of them to get back in the Top-25 next week with two road matchups looming against Pittsburgh and Louisville this week.

Duke will be healthy once again following its seven-day break as Jalen Johnson (foot) made a brief return in the loss to Virginia Tech.

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The Blue Devils also have been without graduate transfer Patrick Tape (back) and Henry Coleman (non-COVID illness).

Tipoff against Pittsburgh is scheduled for 9:00pm EST (ESPN) on Tuesday, January 19, and the game against Louisville is on Saturday, January 23 at 4:00pm EST (ESPN).

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