Duke and Arizona will clash in Anaheim on Thursday evening, with the winner earning a spot in the Elite 8. The Blue Devils and Wildcats have played in several significant games against each other during their respective histories.
The Wildcats have played Duke seven times, with the last game coming in 2001 when the teams competed in the NCAA Championship Game. Their first matchup came during the 1961-62 season, when Duke clobbered Arizona 78-47. The games were much more competitive 25 years into the future.
The next time these two schools met, Duke traveled to Arizona in 1987 to play in the Fiesta Bowl Classic, a game that has been held annually for the past 26 years. The Wildcats defeated the Blue Devils 91-85 in Duke's only road game to Tucson in school history.
Arizona has gone 3-4 all-time against Duke, with the Blue Devils winning three of the last four contests dating back to 1990. These two schools have rarely scheduled each other, only meeting in the Maui Invitational and the NCAA Tournament since their last matchup in 1991. Mutual respect between Mike Kryzyzewski and Lute Olson may have kept them from locking horns too often in regular season play.
Arizona coach Sean Miller has only faced the Blue Devils once in his career, losing to Duke in the Elite Eight of the 2004 NCAA Tournament as the coach of the Xavier Musketeers. Lionel Chalmers was Miller's best player, while Duke was stacked with Luol Deng, JJ Redick, Chris Duhon, and several other quality players.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has a career record of 3-3 against Arizona dating back to 1987. Coach K has won 900 games in his legendary coaching career, and could tie Bobby Knight for first all-time with 902 wins if Duke makes it to the Final Four this season.
The last time Arizona and Duke squared off was in the 2001 NCAA Tournament Championship Game, with the Blue Devils outlasting the Wildcats for an 82-72 victory and the national title.
Both teams were absolutely stacked with talent in 2001, and many of the players on both teams went on to have illustrious NBA careers.
As a point of reference, there are currently six players from those two teams still playing NBA basketball: Duke alums include Shane Battier, Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Carlos Boozer, while Arizona spurred the careers of Richard Jefferson, Gilbert Arenas, and Luke Walton. Other players, such as Loren Woods and Jay Williams, also were in the league from those squads
In terms of sheer talent, both schools have excelled since they began playing each other. Arizona has had 31 NBA draft picks since 1989, topping the list of any school during that timespan. Duke is a close second place with 29 NBA draft picks.
At the end of the day, these are two of the most storied programs in college basketball history, and to see them face off in the NCAA Tournament for their eighth all-time matchup will be a treat for fans of the sport. With a spot in the Elite Eight on the line, expect both coaches to have their teams prepared and ready to go come 6:45 Pacific time on Thursday.