The Duke basketball team made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in more than 20 years and was ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll, which is the preseason poll of the nation’s best coaches.
But after that, things changed for the Blue Devils.
The team lost five games by a combined score of 27 points or more, including a loss to No. 2 seed Kentucky.
Duke was outscored 52-26 in the second half of the season, including 17-0 in the third quarter.
The Blue Devils finished with the worst record in the nation, losing by 19 points or less just once.
The losses led to the resignation of the head coach, John Calipari, and his eventual firing in January 2017.
Duke also was left without a top-10 player in its 2017 recruiting class, which included top-rated recruit Jalen Brunson, a top 20 recruit in DeAndre Kane, and three-star prospects Myles Turner and DeAndre McDaniel.
The ACC is a division with a lot of basketball talent, but it is the league that is best suited to coach a team of talent, according to one source.
The conference is also the one that has a lot more revenue to spend, and there are fewer games in the regular season that are marquee games, such as the Final Four.
The Duke men’s basketball team was a big reason why the ACC didn’t have a top 10 player.
The Orange had the No. 9 overall recruit in the country, 6-foot-10 point guard DeAndre Ayton, and a top 100 recruit in guard Jalen Williams.
Duke had the best record in its division in 2017-18, but that was before Caliparius left for the NBA.
There was also a loss of players in the class of 2019, as the team lost two top five recruits in senior forward Andrew Harrison and guard Alex Anisimov.
With Caliparia gone, the ACC has had to rebuild.
The league has had no marquee recruiting class since the 2020 class, when it had six players in that class, according the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Duke didn’t make the NCAA tournament for a second straight year in 2019-20, and the Orange lost six games by 13 points or fewer.
Duke has lost five straight to Kentucky, including an upset of the No-3 seed Wildcats in the 2017 ACC Tournament.
Duke is now 0-9 against the Wildcats, and Caliparrius will be in the stands for the game.
Caliparian has a record of 16-18 in ACC play, including four losses by double digits.
Duke did not make the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year, and is now 2-16 in the conference.
The loss of the coaches and a lack of quality talent will likely be the deciding factor in the ACC’s fate in the coming years.