It's becoming more and more apparent that Duke simply refuses to schedule more than one challenging away game. Of course, I'm referring to non-conference games.
Sure, the Blue Devils play in competitive tournaments when the season begins, but the atmosphere faced in an opposing team's arena is different than the atmosphere at a neutral site.
Here are a few of the away games from recent years.
Away Neutral (@ MSG)
2007-08: Temple No. 11 Pittsburgh
2006-07: NONE* No. 2 Gonzaga, St. John's
2005-06: Indiana, Temple No. 11 Memphis, Drexel
2004-05: Valparaiso* Oklahoma, St. John's
*That season they did play St. John's at Madison Square Garden, which is 30 minutes from Carnesecca Arena.
I think it's important to note that many consider Duke's fan base to be large enough in New York to classify those matchups as home games for Duke. That sounds absurd, if you ask me, but I just wanted to put that out there.
From the look of these schedules, Duke has been somewhat overrated over the past few years.
Don't think so?
In both the '05 and '06 NCAA tournaments Duke was awarded a No. 1 seed. Results: Sweet 16 both times.
In '07 Duke was awarded a No. 6 seed and made an early first round exit. In '08 Duke barely made it past the first weekend, even as a No. 2 seed!
I'm not hating on Duke, but I think their non-conference away schedule seems weak and inflates their team's performance during the season compared to other teams.
Maybe Coach K doesn't see the need to schedule non-conference away games when you play in the ACC, but I think there must be some type of correlation between underachieving and schedules.
Bottom line: Duke has trouble playing outside of intimidating Cameron Indoor Stadium—which, I might add, is slightly larger than a high school gym.