Assessing Duke’s Easy/Hard Non-Conference SchedulePosted by KCarpenter on October 4th, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, Andy Glockner called out Duke in a column discussing teams that had easy non-conference schedules. The main thrust of his problem with Duke’s schedule was this:
There’s nothing wrong with the slate, per se. I just hate that Duke is only willing to play “road” games (outside of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge) if the game is moved to a pro arena in the opponent’s city.
This is almost a fair point. Sure, it seems a bit hypocritical for Duke to get so much mileage out of their home court while refusing to play on the home floors of their opponents, but I’m not sure I’d put Duke in the “Honorable Mentions” of a column about the teams with the easiest non-conference schedules.
I’m not the only one who thinks this either. Dana O’Neil, breaking down the non-conference schedules for every ACC team, ultimately gave Duke the top rating for the toughest schedule in the conference. Considering that Duke is playing Ohio State in Columbus, and Michigan State, Washington, and probably UCLA or Kansas on neutral courts, I think this is more than fair. Sure neutral court wins are less impressive than true road wins, but that’s still a hell of a murderer’s row that Duke will be facing this year.
As for the rest of the conference, O’Neil gives North Carolina and North Carolina State credit for their difficult schedules and gently chastises Boston College and Wake Forest for their cushy non-conference slates. In fairness, however, the goals of BC and Wake Forest seem pretty clear: Boston College’s schedule is focused on playing nearby New England schools in the probable hope of creating some fun regional rivalries with the likes of Harvard, Massachussets and Boston University. As for Wake Forest, given the disastrous outcome of last year’s 8-24 season, it’s hard to fault Jeff Bzdelik for trying to put at least a few wins on the schedule for his young and rebuilding team.