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St. John’s to renew series with Duke next season

St. John’s will welcome Mike Krzyzewski back to MSG. Fans hope it will be with a loss.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Per Jon Rothstein at FanRag sports, St. John’s will play a home-and-home series against the Duke Blue Devils, starting next season.

The first game will be at Madison Square Garden on February 3rd, with the return game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham during the 2018-19 season.

One question that comes up every time a new game is announced on the St. John’s schedule is “is Duke back?” Of all the marquee non-conference games - including the yearly pounding of Syracuse that has become so commonplace to be boring* - the matchup against Duke is the weather vane fans want to see.

It’s not as if the series has been slanted St. John’s way in any manner. St. John’s is 3-11 against Duke since 2000, with wins in 2000 (thanks Bootsy Thornton), 2003 (thanks Marcus Hatten) and in 2011 (thanks Dwight Hardy, Justin Brownlee and Paris Horne).

Still, the big-game feel of the Duke Blue Devils on the floor at Madison Square garden gives a feeling of being in the big time, measuring against the biggest of college basketball big dogs.

Next year’s team should be better than this year’s edition, with star freshmen Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds with a year of experience, training, and physical seasoning, and with the additions of transfer forward Marvin Clark Jr. from Michigan State and guard Justin Simon from Arizona.

But the issue is the production and defense in the front court. There are quite a few players, but few make consistent impact.

If the Johnnies can cobble together a better frontcourt from returnees Tariq Owens, Kassoum Yakwe, Amar Alibegovic, Darien Williams and a hopefully more developed Richard Freudenberg, and can add a grad transfer to shore up the interior rebounding, perhaps the Red Storm will have a chance to solidify an NCAA Tourney bid with an early February non conference tilt next season.