When it comes to Duke basketball, every game is a big game.
Playing against Duke is often the most high-profile game of the season for an opponent, and the Blue Devils always get the other team’s best shot.
However, some of these contests take on special significance for the program each year.
Whether it’s a non-conference showdown with another marquee team in a Final Four-type atmosphere, or a huge battle with a bitter ACC rival, there are certain games that stand out on the schedule.
Let’s take a look at the five biggest games in the 2013-14 season.
Note—Because Duke plays some opponents twice, I selected five different teams to help add variety to the list.
It’s a big deal anytime Duke and UCLA square off against each other.
It’s an even bigger deal when the teams face each other under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden as part of the CARQUEST Auto Parts Classic.
The game will be an opportunity for new UCLA head coach Steve Alford to get a win against one of the best teams in the country, which would give him some great momentum in his first season with the Bruins.
For Duke, it’s a chance to take on one of the most storied programs in the history of college basketball in one of the most historic venues in sports, and a place where the Blue Devils have had great success over the years.
Duke always gets paired with one of the best teams in the country as part of the annual ACC-Big Ten challenge, and this season is no different.
On December 3, the Blue Devils will welcome the Michigan Wolverines to Cameron Indoor Stadium.
These two teams developed an interesting rivalry in the 1990s and it will be very exciting for both schools to be playing again in Cameron Indoor Stadium. It will also be the first time in the season the Cameron Crazies get to see Duke take on a ranked opponent at home.
Hosting Michigan means the Cameron Crazies will get an opportunity to greet Mitch McGary, who made some interesting comments during his recruitment about Duke’s big men just being known for setting screens.
It’s a big opportunity for Duke to carry the ACC banner and also knock off one of the best teams in college basketball.
Duke and Kansas fans have been looking forward to this game since it was announced a few months ago.
The Blue Devils and Jayhawks will meet on November 12 at the United Center in Chicago as part of the State Farm Champions Classic.
Not only will it be a battle between two teams that will likely be ranked in the Top 5, it will also feature the top two prospects from last year’s high school class in Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins.
Both players are regarded as NBA-ready prospects and both are expected to make an immediate impact at the college level. Though they have different games, they’ve been linked together as rivals and the media will have a field day promoting the “Wiggins vs. Parker” angle.
This will grab headlines, but this is still about two of the best programs in the country playing against each other. Both teams are well-coached and have extremely talented rosters.
It should be a game college basketball fans around the country can look forward to.
As I mentioned in the opening slide, I’m only selecting one Syracuse game for this list because I wanted to offer some variety. Otherwise, both games against the Orange would be included.
The game at the Carrier Dome is of particular importance because it’s the first time these two teams face each other in ACC play, and it will be an electric atmosphere.
This is one of the matchups everyone was immediately excited about when Syracuse announced it would be joining the ACC, and the dynamic between Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski will be fascinating.
It’s also an opportunity to see how Duke handles its first experience against Syracuse’s fantastic 2-3 zone.
Similar to the situation with Syracuse, I’m only selecting one game against North Carolina.
This season, Duke will host the Tar Heels for Senior Day in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke’s a relatively young team, but it will still be the final home game for Josh Hairston, Tyler Thornton, Andre Dawkins and Todd Zafirovski.
Any game against North Carolina is huge for Duke, but there’s added emotion when it’s the final home game of the regular season. It usually carries significant bearing on ACC standings and possible NCAA tournament seeding, and it’s also a special day for the seniors.
Duke would love nothing more than to end the regular season with a win over the Tar Heels, and North Carolina would love to spoil Duke’s senior day.
Which games on Duke's schedule are you looking forward to most? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.