Where Duke's Nine-Spot Poll Drop Ranks In History


Duke fell nine spots in the AP poll, from No. 1 to No. 10. That is the farthest any top-ranked Duke team has fallen in the 70-year history of the AP poll.

Duke has fallen from No. 1 within a season (i.e. not counting times when the Blue Devils ended a season at No. 1 and started the next season lower) 25 times and fell an average of 2.5 spots each time.

The Blue Devils have dropped from 1 to 2 a total of five times, to 3 on 11 occasions and from 1 to 4 on five different occasions, most recently two years ago, when Marvin Bagley and company lost to Boston College on the road and dropped three spots.

Here are the top four drops before this week:

Four spots: After making the 1978 Final Four, Bill Foster’s Blue Devils opened the 1978-79 at No. 1 and won their first six games. Then Duke went to the ECAC Tournament at Madison Square Garden and lost on back-to-back days, to Ohio State in overtime, 90-84, and to St. John’s, 69-66. That dropped them to No. 5 the following week.

Four spots: Duke didn’t return to the top spot until the following year, when the Blue Devils opened the season with 12 straight wins. In early January, Duke lost in overtime at No. 18 Clemson, 87-82, then turned around and lost to No. 15 UNC at Cameron, 82-67. The two losses again dropped Duke from 1 to 5.

Five spots: Duke opened the 2016-17 season at No. 1, and hopes that highly rated freshmen Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden would play soon. In the first week of the season, Duke lost to No. 7 Kansas in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden, 77-75. That loss, and the realization that the three freshmen would be out significantly longer than expected, dropped Duke to No. 6.

Eight spots: Coming off a loss in the 1988 National Championship Game, Duke opened the 1988-89 season at No. 1 and won its first 13. Then No. 13 UNC knocked the Blue Devils off in Cameron by a lopsided 91-71 score. Duke followed that up with a loss to Wake at the Greensboro Coliseum, 75-71 and fell to No. 8.

Duke has actually only had six steeper drops anywhere in the poll in its history.

The Blue Devils fell from ninth to out of the then-top 20 rankings (a 12 spot drop) in 1957, following a 16-point loss to UNC and a 22 point loss to NC State in the Dixie Classic. Duke lost three straight—to Michigan, Virginia and East Tennessee State, to drop out from the 9 spot again, in 1969. The Blue Devils dropped from 9 to 20 in 2016, after losses to Clemson and Notre Dame, from 7 to 18 in 2017, after losses to Florida State and Louisville. They twice fell from 16 to out of the top 25—in 1995, after losing four straight ACC games following Coach K’s back surgery, and 2007, after another four-game ACC losing streak.