Duke Basketball Is Experiencing Something That Hasn’t Happened Since 1986

For the first time in a long time, Duke basketball is unranked.

In the latest Associated Press poll, the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team was left out of the Top 25 for the first time since the end of the 2006-2007 season, when they lost as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In the 167 weeks since the 2007-2008 preseason rankings were released, Duke has maintained a spot in those particular rankings — until Monday.

Ranked 24th a week ago, Duke played only one game in the past week, an 80-69 loss to then-No. 15 Miami. The Hurricanes are ranked 17th this week. As for Duke, the defeat was their fourth in the last five games and dropped the Blue Devils’ overall record to 15-6, so it’s not like Duke is having the most horrific season of all time. Technically speaking, Duke finished 33rd in the voting as they did receive six total points. Yet, that’s a long way away from No. 1-ranked Oklahoma, who finished atop the poll for the third straight week, receiving 45 first place votes and 1,605 points. Finishing narrowly behind the Sooners were Duke’s biggest rivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels, who gathered 20 first-place votes and 1,578 total points. Villanova, Maryland and Iowa round out the top five.

As was to be expected when the Duke-less rankings were released, Twitter exploded as the Duke haters started trolling the Blue Devils like crazy.

The 167-week run by Duke was the fifth-longest since the AP poll debuted in the 1948-1949 season. The record belongs to UCLA, who enjoyed a streak of 221 straight weeks from 1966-1980. The longest current streak now belongs to the Kansas Jayhawks at 136.

However, the Duke run from the men’s team pales in comparison to the streak that just ended for the Blue Devils’ women’s team, who only two weeks ago dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time since November 1999. Their streak ended at 312 weeks, the third-longest in history. Only Tennessee (563) and Connecticut (425) have gone longer, and both of those streaks are still active. Connecticut and their 20-0 record received all 32 first-place votes and is No. 1 in the current poll while Tennessee snuck in at No. 23 with a 13-8 mark.

Duke didn’t do themselves any favors on Monday night as they lost to No. 3 Notre Dame, 68-61, dropping their overall record to 16-7. Again, it’s not as if Duke is in danger of missing out on the NCAA Tournament. It’s just something that people aren’t used to seeing. Duke women’s coach Joanne P. McCallie summed it up perfectly.

“It shows the tremendous work that Gail [Goestenkors] and her staff did and shows the history of the program and the power of the players in the program. Our history is so fantastic and should be cherished. It’s a different generation and time, and you have to work through things and work for each other since nothing is guaranteed.”

This is where the storied history and power of the Duke basketball program as a whole is shown. This is the first time since December 29, 1986 that neither the Duke men’s team or the Duke women’s team is ranked in top 25 of their respective polls.

That 29-year streak by Duke is the second-longest in history behind Tennessee. With the Lady Volunteers clinging to that No. 23 spot, the school has had at least one basketball team ranked for 563 consecutive weeks, according to The Chronicle.

The next scheduled game for the Duke men is Tuesday night at Georgia Tech. Including that game, Duke has 10 regular season games remaining and five of those are against teams currently ranked in the top 25.

The Duke women have seven games remaining, but only two of theirs will come against ranked opponents.

Many people are loving the fact that Duke basketball is a little off right now, but there may never have been a time, especially on the men’s side in the Coach K era, that it’s a good idea to count Duke out of anything.

[Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]