The Duke men’s basketball team in 2016-2017 is favored to perform well as it always does. Their team is quite talented, and it is poised to perform on a level that may take them to yet another national championship. The season is quite unpredictable as teams are left with injuries, hard losses and difficult schedules, but Duke may do quite well considering a downswing at North Carolina. This is a tale of the system and program that will take Duke to higher heights.
#1: Their Schedule
The Duke schedule includes several non-conference opponents at the beginning of the season who wish to test their mettle against a team as good as Duke. Playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium is one privilege of putting Duke on the schedule early, and the team will roll through that part of their schedule with relative ease. They will find their difficulty in the conference schedule they must face.
#2: Unpredictable Conference Opponents
The ACC has changed quite a few times since it first began, and it is missing teams such as Maryland. Those match-ups were replaced with teams such as Miami and Virginia Tech, and the team must ensure they play well against lesser opponents who may be poised for an upset. The conference schedule will become quite gritty when the team must play NC State, North Carolina and Wake Forest. Playing the Tobacco Row teams in close succession makes the Duke schedule difficult, and this portion of the schedule is what makes the schedule for every other team difficult.
Duke has a long history of injuries setting back their teams. They rarely go through a season with their team secure once the conference tournament starts, and they will prepare with a deep bench that may be called to action early. The team will show how strong it is when they meet their first setback, and they must work through their injuries to reach the conference tournament. It is no doubt they will be good enough to qualify for the NCAA tournament, but how they play in the conference tournament says quite a lot about their chances of success.
#4: The Conference Tournament
The seeding for the conference tournament has little bearing on how Duke will play, but they prefer to win the tournament if they have a clear path. Some of the finest games in tournament history have been played by Duke and North Carolina. These two teams may well meet again in the final, and Duke would prefer to avoid North Carolina before reaching the NCAA tournament.
#5: Matching Up With North Carolina
Both teams will perform well during the balance of the season simply because they are so strong. They will play each other well, and they will match up well no matter the season. Duke will set the pundits on their ears by beating North Carolina, and they will put the rest of the conference on notice if they defeat North Carolina early. Losing to North Carolina will be quite a setback, and the team must avoid such a setback if possible.
The Duke basketball team will be a favorite when the season opens, but only they will determine how far they go. They will likely have a good seeding for the Big Dance, but they cannot obtain their seeding without hard work, a clean schedule and few injuries. Anything may change the way the team plays, and the coaching staff must adjust as every new challenge is presented. Nobody will overlook Duke on their schedule, and they will get everyone’s best game irrespective of the day, the team or the setting.