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Long celebrated as one of the most prolific programs in the history of college basketball, the Duke Blue Devils seem destined for great things just months removed from an Elite Eight appearance.

After losing the likes of Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter, and Grayson Allen to the NBA Draft, coach Mike Kryzyewski has restocked his program with not one but four of the top-15 rated freshman players in the country.

Duke games this season will certainly be must-watch affairs given the plethora of young talent on the team, with the likes of Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and R.J. Barrett all seeming destined to be lottery picks in the 2019 NBA Draft.

With the 2018-19 college basketball season set to tip off in less than a week, we’ve looked at the Blue Devils schedule and highlighted the team’s five best upcoming games.

Duke vs. Kentucky

November 6 (9:30 PM)

Duke’s season starts off with what will likely be their toughest opponent all year as they will face off against the second-ranked University of Kentucky on opening night.

These two teams don’t play each other very often, having not faced each other since 2015. When Duke and Kentucky do square off, the stakes are always absurdly high given the fact that both teams have been ranked in the top 10 each time they’ve faced each other since 1992 – including the infamous “The Shot” Game in the 1992 NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky is a team that mirrors Duke in some respects, as they also have a tremendous freshman class this year. The Wildcats will feature three of the top 15 freshmen in the country in EJ Montgomery, Ahston Hagans and Keldon Johnson. This game will surely be one worth watching. Shop tickets here.

Duke vs. Clemson

January 5 (Time TBD)

Perhaps overshadowed by the school’s football team, Clemson basketball has gone a bit under the radar as of late, but the Tigers will be a tricky opponent for Duke in January.

Clemson advanced all the way to the Sweet Sixteen in last year’s tournament and they hung tough against Duke on the road in 2018, losing by just nine points back in February.

This Tigers team returns a trio of players that averaged more than 10 points per game in 2017-18 with Marcquise Reed, Shelton Mitchell and Elijah Thomas. Given the building blocks that are already in place, it’ll be interesting to see if Clemson is able to clinch back-to-back tournament berths for the first time since 2011. A win on the road against Duke would be a fantastic feather in their cap for their tournament resume. Shop tickets here.

Duke vs. Florida State

January 12 (2 PM)

Just one week after their matchup against Clemson, Duke has another noteworthy game, this time on the road against Florida State. The Seminoles have made the tournament two years in a row and are coming off a fantastic year which saw them make it all the way to the Elite Eight for just the third time in the school’s history.

These two schools faced off at Cameron Indoor Arena back in December of 2017, where the #24 ranked Seminoles pushed Duke to the brink before losing by seven points. This year’s matchup should be just as good. Shop tickets here. Shop tickets here.

Duke vs. University of Virginia

January 19 (Time TBD)

The month of January is going to be a make or break period for the Blue Devils, as they play three ranked teams in the span of 14 days, culminating in a matchup against #5 Virginia at home.

The Cavaliers have had their fair share of trouble in the tournament over the past handful of seasons, but they’ve demonstrated a winning pedigree as they’ve been selected as a #1 seed in three of the last five NCAA tournaments.

Duke will surely have this game circled on their calendar since Virginia vanquished the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor in January. The Cavaliers prevailed by two points thanks to a 17-point game from sophomore guard Kyle Guy. Shop tickets here.

Duke vs. North Carolina

March 9 (6 PM)

Duke and North Carolina share one of the fiercest rivalries, not only in college basketball but in sports in general. These two teams face off against each other twice every season, and the hatred between the two teams makes for tremendously entertaining contests.

The Tar Heels and Blue Devils split the regular season series last year with each team winning on their home court, but North Carolina was able to come out on top when the two met in the semi-finals of the ACC Tournament. Any time these two teams meet, it’s appointment viewing for any basketball fan, and this game should be no different. Shop tickets here.

(Cropped image courtesy of Eric Wong via Flickr. | CC BY-ND 2.0)