The college basketball season is steadily approaching, and excitement and anticipation by fans from schools across the country is beginning to increase.
Sure, the college football season is just starting to get interesting, with the release of the BCS Rankings last week, but what could be better than the start of the college basketball season?
From Tobacco Road to the Big East Conference, out west to the Pac-10 and so on, teams are preparing for a long, yet fulfilling, start to the season.
Although some teams may be feeling down and out with injuries and new coaches early on, everyone's primary goal from the start will be winning the national championship in March.
One team that knows a thing or two about winning national championships are the Duke Blue Devils, the defending NCAA Champions from last year and winners of four titles with coach Mike Krzyzewski at the helm.
While the defending champions over the course of the past few seasons have all had to rebuild after winning the previous year's title, the Blue Devils have done the opposite.
Sure, Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek, and Lance Thomas will be missed, but with the likes of Seth Curry and Kyrie Irving making their debuts, I'm sure the Cameron Crazies will have a lot to cheer about this year as well.
The list that follows are "way too early" game-by-game predictions for the winner of each game currently on Duke's schedule.
The first true game of the year for the Blue Devils, they should have no trouble dealing with the Princeton offense (as they have dealt with it nicely the past couple of seasons) and should easily start the season off 1-0.
It really tells you something when a basketball team from Miami University isn't making a trip from Florida to Durham, but from Ohio. The RedHawks, as they are better known, should be a short roadblock for Duke as the Blue Devils look to start the season off with two back-to-back blow-out wins.
I hate to say it, but why in the world would Colgate University want to play the Blue Devils in Durham? Are they asking for an embarrassing loss just so they can get on national television?
Regardless, Duke should have no problem starting the season 3-0.
Marquette has had good, and even great, basketball teams over the course of the past five years, but the Golden Eagles are currently in a rebuilding mode.
They will no doubt put up a fight, but ultimately I see Duke getting past Marquette rather easily and advancing to the final of the CBE Classic.
Regardless of the winner between Kansas State/Gonzaga, the championship game is sure to be filled with exciting plays and talented players, all looking to make a mark on the country in the early stages of the season.
This game will also be the first in which I believe Duke will be tested.
It's hard to tell if the Blue Devil front court could handle the size that Kansas State offers, but the Duke back court has the ability to blow the Wildcats out of the gym.
I see the Blue Devils winning in an unexpected nailbiter.
It's a homecoming for Kyle Singler, as the Medford, Ore., native returns to play in his first competitive basketball game in Oregon since committing to the Blue Devils in 2007.
While Oregon's basketball program is currently in a rebuilding phase, the Ducks' football team, on the other hand, could possibly put up big points against Duke.
I do, however, see Singler leading the way in yet another early-season win for the Blue Devils.
What a matchup.
And what a great way to welcome in the month of December!
Two teams, which are likely to be ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country, will face-off in a winner-take-all blockbuster game in Durham.
Although I'd like to think that this game would end in a Blue Devil victory, this definitely could be a trap-game for Duke, as they may be looking ahead to their next game against Butler.
Regardless, I see the Blue Devils keeping their nation-leading non-conference home winning-streak intact.
Three days after the big game against Michigan State, Duke will face Butler in a rematch of last season's national championship game.
Although the Bulldogs were able to push the Blue Devils to the limit last March, the loss of Gordon Hayward will be too much as Duke prevails in a hard-fought win.
Well, after two highly anticipated games, the Blue Devils will essentially have a "bye-week" against Bradley.
Although I'd like to say that the Braves have a shot, there's just no way that they have enough firepower to knock off Duke in Durham.
Perfect 9-0 start to the season for the Blue Devils.
Once again, Duke gets another easy opponent in the Saint Louis Billikens. What in the world is a Billiken, you might ask? Well, don't look at me; I have no earthly idea.
Regardless of the mascot, I'm sure it will take much more than an unknown team to knock off the Blue Devils at home.
Although the Phoenix football team gave Duke's football team a scare early in their season, I highly doubt that their basketball team can back that performance up.
I do think that the Phoenix will have a decent season, don't get me wrong; I just can't see them upsetting the Blue Devils, yet alone in front of the Cameron Crazies.
In Duke's first game back from Christmas break, the Blue Devils will travel to the Greensboro Coliseum to face UNC Greensboro.
Although this is an away game on schedule, the Coliseum has been more of a home-court advantage in favor of the Blue Devils, winning the 2010 ACC Tournament there.
Once again, Duke will have to shake off some rust after not playing for over a week, but I think the Blue Devils will once again be victorious.
The first ACC matchup on Duke's schedule is against the Miami (FL) Hurricanes, led by the high-flying and athletic guard Durrand Scott.
A key conference game, the first for both teams, Duke's backcourt must keep Scott in check if they want to escape with a win.
However, I just see the Hurricanes as too young of a team to enter Cameron Indoor and leave with a win at this point.
Once again, the Blue Devils will have an easy opponent after taking care of their first ACC foe Miami.
What better way to start the conference season off than by dominating a small school after being victorious in your first conference game?
UAB will be a small challenge for Duke at home as the Blue Devils roll to yet another victory.
For memories sake, I decided to put a picture of Grevius Vasquez as the main photo for this slide, indicating how much he will be missed by Gary William's and the Terrapins this season.
That being said, after finishing last season as conference co-champions with Duke, Maryland will definitely be in a rebuilding mode this season and will have to fight to have a conference winning percentage above .500.
At this point, Duke is 15-0 and looking stronger than ever.
The Florida State game is one the looks scary on paper, considering that Duke has never fared well playing the Seminoles in Florida.
And although Florida State lost an important defensive-minded player and their leading scorer from last year in Solomon Alabi, the Seminoles return the likes of Derwin Kitchen, Chris Singleton, and Michael Snaer, each of whom will play major roles in the 2010-2011 campaign.
This is a game that could end up being a loss for the Blue Devils if they don't stay focused and hit a number of three-point baskets.
I see Kyle Singler making his mark in this game, proving why he will be a leading National Player of the Year candidate and leading Duke to a 16-0 start.
Again, after a tough road game and key conference matchup, the Blue Devils will again have the luxury of facing a struggling team, the Virginia Cavaliers, at home in Durham.
If the game was held in Charlottesville, it may be closer -- or even a different outcome -- but because it's at home I see Duke rolling to yet another ACC win.
For those of you that didn't know, during Duke's title season in 2009-10, the Blue Devils lost just three ACC games: to Maryland, Georgia Tech, and NC State.
That's saying a lot for the Wolfpack, considering they finished the season with a mediocre 20-16 record and won just five ACC games. This could be another loss for the Blue Devils, just as they lost in Raleigh last year, but if they do win it will be a hard-fought victory!
Regardless, the back court of Duke is too much as the Blue Devils now stand at 18-0.
Yet another team that is in a "rebuilding mode" in the ACC, Wake Forest will definitely struggle against Duke.
However, because Wake Forest will be in front of its home crowd, this game has the potential to be a nailbiter if the Blue Devils don't stay focused on their primary goal: winning.
That said, I see the Duke backcourt taking control of this game, notching another crucial ACC win.
Just a few seasons ago I would have picked the Boston College-Duke game as one of my "must-watch" games of the year.
Now, with both teams headed in completely opposite directions, it's hard to imagine that this game could be filled with any drama, being that it will be held in Durham.
If the game was played in Chestnut Hill it may be a little more interesting, but I don't see the Eagles winning on the road in this rivalry anytime soon.
Madison Square Garden, in New York City, is yet another "home away from home" for the Duke Blue Devils, as they've fared well in most of the games they have played there the past few seasons.
That said, facing the St. John's Red Storm, and new coach and former ESPN analyst Steve Lavin, will be no easy task.
I do see Duke winning this game, but it's going to be closer than most may anticipate.
The second game against these two bitter rivals is sure to be more entertaining than the first, given the fact that it will be played in College Park, Md.
Although the Terrapins are surely not in store for a stellar year, they will definitely pull off some big upsets at home.
I don't see the Duke game being one of those upsets; however, I do see Maryland putting up a big fight due to its hostile crowd.
Record to this point is 22-0.
In the first of two home games in a row for the Blue Devils against Tobacco Road rivals, it's hard to tell which game will be tougher for Duke: NC State or North Carolina.
We all know how they both had less than memorable seasons just one year ago, but thanks to great recruiting classes, both should be able to compete for the ACC title once again.
This game could be interesting, and it could be a let-down for Duke if it overlooks the Wolfpack in getting prepared for the Tar Heels' visit the next game.
The biggest rivalry in college sports has to be the one between Duke and North Carolilna.
Although I'd like to say that the first game of two between the rivals will be close, I can't help but remember last season's home game for the Blue Devils against their archrival from Chapel Hill, a massive 32 point win for the men in "Duke" blue.
I'm going to go with a Duke win yet again, but Harrison Barnes and Co. will definitely make things interesting.
After their two home games against their two big rivals, the Blue Devils will go on the road for a two-game set against Miami (FL) and Virginia.
Although the first meeting with Durrand Scott and the Hurricanes most likely won't be close, the game in Coral Gables has the potential to be a great one.
If the Blue Devils are 1-0 on their road-trip before heading to Virginia, it will be a great effort by the Duke players.
The second consecutive road game for the Blue Devils seems to have a lot less room for a potentially drama-packed matchup.
Although you know that the Cavaliers will play well in front of their home crowd, and their defense has certainly improved over the years, I see Duke sweeping the season series from Virginia rather comfortably.
Yes, the Duke-Georgia Tech ACC Championship Game from a year ago was thrilling and went down to the wire.
This season, however, the Yellow Jackets are in unfamiliar territory. They're rebuilding, and doing a lot of it.
Although I'd like to see another drama-packed game against the two schools, I see Duke winning this game by a small margin, but ultimately it's a win.
Temple should have the ability to hang with the Blue Devils as long as the Duke football team hung in their game against No. 1 Alabama this season.If you didn't watch that game, let me just say that it wasn't pretty.
I see Duke running the Owls out of the gym after the first half, ultimately resting starters and gearing up for their big game at Virginia Tech.
Malcolm Delaney, along with Jeff Allen and Dorenzo Hudson, will look to help lead the Virginia Tech Hokies to an ACC title this upcoming year. That isn't to say, however, that it will be an easy task.
One of the primary ways they can inch closer to that elusive title is getting a huge win at home against the Blue Devils.
What is anticipated is a great game against two high-caliber teams in the ACC, and better yet Duke moves to 29-0 with the hard-fought victory.
The final regular-season home game for the Blue Devils couldn't come at a better time. After either an emotional loss or win at Virginia Tech, Duke will get to come home and face-off against yet another team in the ACC that is rebuilding.
Although in year's past the Tigers have given Duke several scares, including being the victors in a couple of big games, it's a new year for the Clemson basketball program as they hope not to get embarrassed on the road in Durham.
Unlike the first meeting between the two rivals, I see this game as being an extremely close affair due to the home crowd and the rivalry game atmosphere.
The young stars for North Carolina will finally have one game against Duke under their belts and will be able to play more freely the second time around in front of their home crowd.
That said, I like the Blue Devils pulling one a win in one of their toughest games of the season. A perfect 31-0 season?! I guess we'll just have to see.
Regardless of how accurate these predictions are, the Duke Blue Devils sure are set for yet another outstanding season, one in which they hope to repeat as the National Champions!
Of course, I couldn't complete this slideshow without providing a list of potential losses for the Blue Devils - Due to the fact that running the table in college basketball is nearly impossible to do anymore.
Nov. 23: Kansas State Wildcats/Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Duke
Kansas State, if they do advance to the finals of the CBE Classic along with Duke, will have a huge advantage in the front court. If the Plumlee brothers aren't up to speed by the time this game takes place, Duke could be in store for a loss.
Dec. 1: Michigan State Spartans at Duke
The most highly-anticipated game of the college basketball season is sure to be filled with drama. If Tom Izzo's team comes into Cameron and plays an exceptional game, Duke's non-conference home winning-streak could be in jeopardy.
Jan. 12: Duke at Florida State Seminoles
As I previously stated in the slideshow, Duke hasn't played well the past few times they've made the trip to Florida to play the Seminoles. If the back court has a slow game, and they can't knock down outside shots, Duke may collect their first ACC loss of the year.
Jan. 19: Duke at NC State Wolfpack
After what happened in the RBC Center last year against the Pack, there's no telling what might go down this year when the two teams face off. Not to mention the fact that NC State should be a significantly better team than the one that knocked off Duke last year.
Feb. 26: Duke at Virginia Tech Hokies
This game may ultimately determine the ACC Regular Season Champions, and if the Blue Devils aren't up to the challenge when they arrive at Virginia Tech, they could be setting themselves up for a major disappointment. Plus, Malcolm Delaney could always go off and score at will, thus making the game an uphill challenge for the Duke.