Duke basketball working to finalize roster, schedule

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski directs his team during the ACC tournament final on March 11. The Blue Devils will play two regular-season games in New York next season.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski directs his team during the ACC tournament final on March 11. The Blue Devils will play two regular-season games in New York next season. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Duke’s men’s basketball schedule is currently as incomplete as its roster.

But like the roster, which is in flux because of guard Frank Jackson’s NBA declaration without hiring an agent and pending recruiting decisions by Kevin Knox, Trevon Duval and Mohamed Bamba, the schedule is coming together.

While Duke won’t formally announce its complete schedule for a few more months, some games are known.

This week, South Dakota of the Summit League announced it will come to Cameron Indoor Stadium to play the Blue Devils on Dec. 2. The two schools have never met in men’s basketball but South Dakota coach Craig Smith pushed hard to make the game happen.

“We were very persistent about it and we were a little lucky – we wanted a game at Duke, but so do a lot of other programs,” Smith told the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus-Leader. “We definitely want to win the game but we also want to give our student-athletes an experience they’ll never forget.”

It’s Duke’s only home non-conference game made public so far.

The Blue Devils, of course, have plenty of high profile neutral site games set up.

It starts with the annual Champions Classic event. This year it will be held at Chicago’s United Center on Nov. 14. Duke plays Michigan State while Kansas faces Kentucky. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has won his last six head-to-head meetings with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, including Duke’s 78-69 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium Nov. 29.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Duke joins rival North Carolina in Portland, Oregon, for an exempted tournament. The PK80 - Phil Knight Invitational features 16 teams from around the country playing in Portland from Nov. 23-26 in a megasized tournament to celebrate the Nike founder’s 80th birthday.

Along with Duke and UNC, other teams involved are Michigan State, Ohio State, Arkansas, Florida, Butler, Georgetown, Connecticut, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Oregon, Portland, Portland State, Stanford and Texas.

The event will be structured as two separate eight-team tournaments. Duke and UNC will be in separate brackets, as will other teams from the same conferences like Michigan State and Ohio State, Butler and Georgetown.

When Duke is done with that tournament, the Blue Devils will participate in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, which is Nov. 27-29. Having been at home in five of the past seven years, Duke will almost certainly be on the road this year.

ESPN has yet to announce the pairings but Duke playing Michigan State in the Champions Classic means a trip to East Lansing, Mich., for the ACC-Big Ten is unlikely.

Duke is working on a neutral-site game in New York City in December, although the opponent and venue have yet to be announced. That will be one of two games the Blue Devils will play in New York this season.

The Blue Devils have finalized a Feb. 3, 2018, game against St. John’s as those two teams renew their on-again, off-again series that goes back decades. St. John’s will visit Cameron Indoor Stadium the following season.

As for the ACC schedule, Duke knows its opponents and its home-and-road arrangements but the league and its television partners have yet to finalize the dates.

In 2017-18, the Blue Devils will play home and road games against North Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh.

Duke will face Florida State, Virginia, Louisville, Syracuse and Notre Dame once next season, all at home. The Blue Devils’ also meet Miami, Georgia Tech, Clemson, N.C. State and Boston College only once, but all on the road.

For the first time since the league expanded to 15 teams in 2013-14, Duke doesn’t travel to Syracuse, Notre Dame or Louisville.

In 2014, Duke played at Syracuse and at Notre Dame, losing both. In 2015, Duke won at Louisville and Syracuse but lost at Notre Dame. In 2016, Duke lost at Louisville. Last season, Duke lost at Louisville and Syracuse.

Steve Wiseman: 919-419-6671, @stevewisemanNC