Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is a big fan of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. His team’s 7-0 record is no doubt a major reason why.
The 11th-ranked Blue Devils (5-1) put that perfect mark on the line Tuesday night when Indiana (3-1) makes its first visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium in a matchup of programs that have combined for eight national championships.
The play of Duke has been a big factor in why the ACC has never lost a challenge to the Big Ten. The Blue Devils have won every game despite being seriously tested in some of them, including a 75-67 victory at Indiana on Nov. 30 that dropped the Hoosiers to 2-3 in the tournament.
“It’s a huge event,” Krzyzewski said. “I think it kicks off the season better than the tournaments that are played, to be quite frank with you. It’s a big-time event. I’m so glad that our conference and the Big Ten are doing it.”
Indiana has won five national titles (1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, 1987) while Duke has won three (1991, 1992, 2001).
The game will feature a terrific matchup at power forward between Duke’s Josh McRoberts and Indiana’s D.J. White. The rugged 6-foot-11 McRoberts is an Indiana native who was booed repeatedly in last season’s meeting in Bloomington. He’s second on the team with 11.3 points per game.
“Indiana’s a great team and they’re coming in here and we’re going to have to be ready to go because they’re going to be a tough team for us,” McRoberts said. “They’re just a really good team, so it should be a good matchup.”
The 6-9 White missed last season’s matchup due to a broken left foot, but is off to a decent start this season, averaging 14.0 points on 56 percent shooting.
“I missed the game last year,” White said. “We lost the game, but going to Durham is going to be a great challenge. You’ve just got to play. It’s just like another road game.
“I know everyone talks about how big this game is, how tough it is playing Duke. We’ve got to go in focused just like we’re playing here, and put the crowd behind us and go with the game plan.”
It’ll also mark the first true road game for first-year Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson, who’s relishing the opportunity to visit Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“We’ve all seen hundreds of games at Duke,” Sampson said. “How many times have you seen the home team lose? That’s why they have a great program. It’s why it’s a great opportunity.”
Duke has played outstanding defense at home this season, limiting all four opponents to less than 50 points and holding them to 30 percent shooting. The Blue Devils routed Davidson 75-47 at Cameron on Saturday.
Krzyzewski made a lineup change for that game, reinserting freshman Gerald Henderson in place of Greg Paulus. The Blue Devils start three freshmen, with Lance Thomas and Jon Scheyer joining the sophomore McRoberts and junior DeMarcus Nelson, the team’s leading scorer.
Paulus, who has started four games, is slowly getting back into shape from a foot injury.
“Whether he starts or doesn’t start, he needs to get more minutes,” Krzyzewski said. “He had 22 or 23, but he’s got to play 28 minutes or so. How he does that doesn’t make any difference, as long as he’s doing it.”
The Hoosiers haven’t played since a 90-69 victory over Chicago State on Nov. 19. They would have played two games last week in the NIT Season Tip-Off, but failed to advance to the semifinals after a 60-55 loss to Butler on Nov. 14.
Sampson has been working on developing cohesion for his team during the layoff, and with Earl Calloway in particular. The point guard has 15 assists and 14 turnovers for the Hoosiers, who are averaging 18.5 turnovers per game.
“Our point guard play has to be more confident,” Sampson said. “We can’t worry about turning the ball over. You can tell there’s not a lot of comfortability yet.”