The Duke Blue Devils start out the Preseason NIT at Cameron Indoor Stadium against UNC Asheville and then face the winner of East Carolina/Norfolk State matchup. This will come after a tough first two games of the season against Davidson and Kansas. In between those two games and the Preseason NIT is Florida Atlantic, but Duke shouldn’t have trouble with them.
The Duke Blue Devils do have a game between the first round of the Preseason NIT and the finals in New York. The game is against Vermont, another mid-major school that should be improved from last year. This should be another win for the Blue Devils, but this game could be a dangerous one if Duke is looking ahead to New York. This game is at home so it shouldn’t be any real problem for Duke and could give them a game to get ready for NIT final.
The Preseason NIT starts out at home with games that should be easy wins for the Blue Devils to get to Madison Square Garden. They should get past their home games with ease and look to meet up with at least Alabama and Arizona in New York. The only team that won’t come out of their region is Rutgers. Rutgers went through so much last season with their basketball team and that will certainly affect their program going forward.
The toughest team and the team that should meet Duke in the championship game is Arizona. These are the two best teams in the Preseason NIT and it should be quite a game. Arizona and Duke have top incoming freshmen coming in for this season and also both should be one of the top teams in their conference. Arizona is another top team that is very young which could hurt them early in the season; they won’t have many upperclassmen and this could lead to struggles early in the season.
This will be another game that will give Duke problems inside in the paint and challenge their post players. This season is important for Marshall Plumlee to stay healthy and be a contributor to the team because of the lack of depth at the center position which could be this team’s Achilles heel. Duke will likely look to run and exploit their advantage in the backcourt.
Arizona will look to get the ball inside to one of the best incoming post players in Aaron Gordon. The Wildcats won’t look to run as much as some of the other teams that Duke will play this year; they will want more of a half-court game and just let Gordon go to work down low.
The Preseason NIT tournament will have Duke as the champions. The Blue Devils will be challenged in this game because of their lack of size which will be a theme of the season, but their experience will prove to be big and get them the win over Arizona.