Duke Basketball: How Blue Devils Match Up with Every ACC Team

David AldridgeFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2013

Duke Basketball: How Blue Devils Match Up with Every ACC Team

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    The 2013-14 season marks the dawn of a new era for the ACC.

    The conference welcomes three schools with some fantastic basketball tradition in Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Then, the Louisville Cardinals are scheduled to join the ACC prior to the 2014-15 season as Maryland departs to the Big Ten.

    Yet, even as the conference undergoes a makeover, Duke is expected to maintain its status as one of the ACC's best.

    Here's how Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils match up with every ACC team next season.

    (Preliminary schedule information via Laura Keeley of NewsObserver.com)

Boston College

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    Boston College has a great chance to be one of the most improved teams in the country next season.

    Steve Donahue is building a solid program in Chestnut Hill, Mass., and he will have one of the ACC's most dangerous duos in Ryan Anderson and Olivier Hanlan. If the Eagles can get consistent production from players like Eddie Odio, Joe Rahon and Patrick Heckmann, they will be an NCAA tournament team.

    The preliminary list of opponents has Duke traveling to Boston College for what will be a very difficult road game.

    The Blue Devils will have a better record than Boston College next season but don't be surprised if the Eagles score a big upset over Duke.

Clemson

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    Things weren't good for Brad Brownell at Clemson last season and next season isn't looking too promising either.

    The Tigers lose Milton Jennings and Devin Booker to graduation and it will be interesting to see who steps up to lead the team.

    Brownell is trying to create a culture that centers around physical play and defense but he still needs to find players who can knock down shots.

    Even if the game is on the road, Clemson should be one of Duke's easier wins next year.

Florida State

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    After a disappointing 2012-13 campaign that saw them fail to reach the NCAA tournament, the Florida State Seminoles are looking to rebound next season.

    Leonard Hamilton will have to replace one of the most clutch performers in the history of the ACC in Michael Snaer but he has some nice pieces in Ian Miller, Okaro White and Kiel Turpin.

    Florida State could also have a potential X-factor in 7'0", 290-pound Michael Ojo. The big man from Lagos, Nigeria is still very raw but could develop into a force in the post if he can refine his skills.

    With Florida State slated to travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium next season, it will be difficult for the Seminoles to score enough points to keep up with Duke.

Maryland

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    The 2013-14 season will be the ACC farewell tour for the Maryland Terrapins as the school is scheduled to depart for the Big Ten next year.

    Much to the delight of Duke fans, the Blue Devils are not scheduled for another trip to College Park, Md., but Maryland will be making one last stop in Durham, NC., for an ACC contest.

    Duke struggled against Maryland last season and had one of its worst losses of the year with a lackluster 83-74 defeat in the ACC tournament.

    Mike Krzyzewski needs to devise a plan to stop Dez Wells but it's unlikely Maryland will be able to stop all the weapons Duke will have on offense.

N.C. State

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    The Wolfpack failed to live up to all the preseason hype last season and expectations will be considerably lower going into next season.

    That tends to happen when you lose five of your six top players.

    Mark Gottfried will build next season's team around T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis, which might not be enough to get N.C. State back in the NCAA tournament. After creating a great deal of excitement in his first season at N.C. State, fans are starting to wonder if Gottfried is just the latest in a string of mediocre coaches in Raleigh, NC.

    Duke will host N.C. State at home next season and it would be a major surprise if the Wolfpack could get the upset.

Syracuse

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    It's clear the ACC wants Duke and Syracuse to quickly become conference rivals and that's a matchup many Blue Devil fans are already excited about.

    Jim Boeheim's team will have a seamless transition to the ACC and become one of the conference's best right away.

    Syracuse is one of the only conference opponents Duke is scheduled to have a home-and-home series with next season and the atmosphere for both games should be electric. Mike Krzyzewski and his staff will be forced to prepare for Syracuse's vaunted zone defense and the Orange have the type of length that typically gives Duke problems.

    Next season's games between Duke and Syracuse should be some of the best the ACC has to offer and the Blue Devils will certainly have their hands full.

Wake Forest

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    The disaster that is the Jeff Bzdelik era at Wake Forest will continue for another year as the school announced he will be retained for next season.

    With a 33-59 overall record and 10-39 conference record in his first three seasons in Winston-Salem, NC., you'd have to think Wake Forest has to significantly improve next season in order for Bzdelik to keep his job.

    The team will go as far as Travis McKie and Devin Thomas can carry it but they still won't match up well against the 2013-14 Duke Blue Devils.

    The Demon Deacons might be able to steal a win over Duke at Lawrence Joel Coliseum but even that is unlikely.

Georgia Tech

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    Similar to what Steve Donahue is doing at Boston College, Brian Gregory is laying a solid foundation at Georgia Tech.

    The Yellow Jackets are a young team that is continuing to improve and Mfon Udofia is the only player not returning from last season's squad. Chris Bolden has shown potential to be a deadly long-range shooter and this team has the length and athleticism to be very dangerous.

    Duke is slated to have a home-and-home series with Georgia Tech next season and the Blue Devils should not take this opponent lightly.

    It looks like winning on the road against the Yellow Jackets is about to become very difficult again.

Miami

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    The Miami Hurricanes were one of the biggest surprises of the 2012-13 season in college basketball.

    They were one of the best teams in the country for much of the year and they were led by arguably the best point guard in the country in Shane Larkin.

    Unfortunately for Jim Larranaga and Miami fans, Shane Larkin is moving on the NBA and the Hurricanes are losing a lot of other experienced pieces along with him. Rion Brown is the only player returning from Miami's eight-man rotation last season.

    Last season was a magical ride for the Hurricanes but it looks like next season will be quite rocky. Expect Duke to exact some revenge from last season's blowout loss when they return to Coral Gables, Fl., next season.

North Carolina

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    Before Reggie Bullock declared for the NBA draft, North Carolina had a chance to be the best team in the ACC next season.

    With his departure, the Tar Heels are still likely to finish in the top five in the conference standings but not the favorite to win the league. However, that could still change if UNC lands the services of Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 ranked high school player in this year's class.

    The games between Duke and North Carolina should be as exciting as ever next season. The Tar Heels will be looking to rebound after getting swept by Duke last season and who Mike Krzyzewski uses to defend P.J. Hairston and James Michael McAdoo will be very interesting.

    Until then, Duke fans can enjoy an entire offseason of bragging rights over their rivals from Chapel Hill, NC.

Pittsburgh

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    The schedulers in the ACC didn't do Duke any favors when it decided to send the Blue Devils on the road for games against Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.

    With all three schools being new to the conference, the fans at each school will be ecstatic to have a home game against Duke and the environments will be extremely hostile for a group of Blue Devils that are relatively young.

    Fortunately for Mike Krzyzewski and his players, Pittsburgh likely have some growing pains next season after the unexpected departures of Steven Adams and Trey Zeigler.

    Duke will be the more talented team but winning on the road at Pittsburgh is always difficult for anyone.

Virginia

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    Watch out for Tony Bennett and the Virginia Cavaliers next season.

    Virginia has a deliberate style of play that frustrates opponents and now the Cavaliers have become more efficient on offense.

    Joe Harris will be one of the best players in the ACC next season and Akil Mitchell and Justin Anderson have the ability to create mismatches against anyone. If UVA gets solid point guard play from Teven Jones, this is a group that can compete for the league's top spot.

    Duke fans should be thankful the only game on the schedule against the Cavaliers next season will take place in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Virginia Tech

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    Last season was the Erick Green show for Virginia Tech and it did not go particularly well. The Hokies were competitive in nearly every game but finished the season 4-14 record in conference play.

    With Green now graduating, players like Jarell Eddie and Cadarian Raines need to step up and show that they can be consistent scorers, which they weren't able to do last season.

    James Johnson is bringing an exciting, up-tempo style of play to Blacksburg, Va., and his team competes hard but it still lacks the talent to play with the ACC's best.

    A home game against Virginia Tech will be one of the easier opportunities for a conference win for Duke next season.

Notre Dame

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    Notre Dame should be one of the stronger teams in the ACC next season with the talented backcourt of Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant.

    Both players are seniors and have the ability to break down a defense off the dribble, which is something Duke has had trouble defending in the past.

    The bigger question for Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish will be whether or not they have enough frontcourt depth to make a deep run in March.

    Mike Krzyzewski probably isn't looking forward to coaching against one of his former assistants, especially on the road at a place with a rich history of big upsets.