Cal Basketball: Bears Will Face Powerhouse Duke at MSG in November

Duke coah Mike Krzyzewski has another talented group of freshmen coming in.Photo by Bob Donnan - USA TODAY Sports
Jake Curtis

Mark Fox's first season as Cal's head coach just got a little more difficult.

Cal will get a chance to test itself against the nation's best in 2019-20 as the Golden Bears will face Duke on November 21 at Madison Square Garden in the first round of the Empire Classic. Tournament officials confirmed the pairings on Thursday afternoon after Jon Rothstein tweeted the news.

The other first-round game in the event will pair Texas against Georgetown, with Cal facing one of those two teams November 22.

Amazingly, Cal has an all-time record of 2-1 vs. the Blue Devils, including one of the most memorable victories in program history.

The Bears upset the two-time defending national champions 82-77 to advance to the Sweet 16 round of the 1993 NCAA tournament, thanks to 28 points from Lamond Murray and 11 points, 14 assists, 8 rebounds and 4 steals from Jason Kidd, whose performance earned him a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

In the only meeting of the schools since then, Duke beat Cal 68-53 in the second round of the 2010 NCAA tourney.

This game will be the Bears' fifth of the season, not including an exhibition game.

Both Duke and Cal will look very different from last season, with a number of key players gone. Cal finished 8-23 last year, but the team's high scorer, Justice Sueing (Ohio State), as well as 7-foot-4 Connor Vanover (Arkansas) and Darius McNeill (SMU) transferred from Cal after last season.

Duke went 32-6 last season and was the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. But the Blue Devils lost Zion Williamson (the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft) as well as R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, both of whom were lottery picks.

Nonetheless, Duke has the nation's No. 3 recruiting class of incoming freshmen, according to 247Sports, with four recruits ranked among the nation's top 36 prospects.

The Blue Devils are ranked No. 3 in the country in the preseason rankings by Sports Illustrated and No. 4 by ESPN.

All four games in the event will be televised on one of the ESPN Networks.