DURHAM, N.C.--A capacity crowd of 8564 is expected at Duke's Cameron indoor stadium tonight, when the Harvard men's basketball team will make it's first-ever appearance in the heart of Atlantic Coast Conference basketball country
Harvard, whose non-Ivy schedule and longest road trip of the year comes to a close here tonight, is a decided underdog to Duke, the King of the ACC and the nation's sixthr-ranked team
ven so Harvard's visit has generated interest usually reserved for schools who consider the NCAA tournament part of their annual schedule
"We're approaching this game as if it were an ACC game," says the Blues Devils' Mark Alaric of the game than can be heard on WHRB-95 FM at approximately 9:45 pm today. "It could be very similar to a first round NCAA game."
What's got the powerful Blue Devils (15-3 overall, 5-3 ACC) concerned is the nagging memory of what happened one year ago in Cambridge.
Before a record Briggs Athletic Center crowd, the visitors surprisingly found themselves in a game, and with one minute to go, found themselves in a heap of trouble.
Only three Johnny Dawkins free throws in the final minute kept Harvard from pulling off the upset of the year, and allowed Duke to escape with an 89:86 victory.
"If we doubted Harvard at all," says Duke Coach Mike Kryzewski, "I hope we learned our lesson last year.
"We have a lot of respect for them," adds Coach K, "and that's why we look at this as a big game"
For Harvard, (11-2 overall, 3-1 Ivy) Duke's the "dt" of a five day, three-game road swing, says Crimson Coach Frank McLaughlin.
"Before we left, everyone was talking about Duke," says the eighth year Crimson mentor "But I explained to the guys that this was the Lehigh-Lafayette-Duke trip."
With a split in those first two games, Harvard knows it's now dessert time But Harvard also knows might just be the dessert.
"We know we're way overpowered," McLaughlin says. "But we're not concerned as much with Duke as we're concerned with ourselves.
"We've played well so far this trip, especially considering the long [19 day] layoff," adds McLauglin. "If we play well, it could mean a for as as the Ivy League goes."
That's what happened last year, when the Crimson used Duke as a springboard to its best Ancient Eight Finish in 40 years.
Since that much-ballyhooed game of a year ago. Harvard has run off 19 victories against just four deteals.
"I'd be nice at the same thing happened this year." laughs Mcl aughlin.
Unlike last year though. Harvard will tonight meet a Duke club that's struggling.
Ranked second in the nation just three weeks ago, the Blue Devils have lost three of their last six games and have tumbled in the national rankings.
"We've had some problems," says Dawkins, who scored a game-high 33 points in last year's meeting between these two clubs. "And that's one of the reasons this game is so important."
The Blue Devils did pick up a huge ACC win last Wednesday night in nearby Greensboro, where they defeated Wake Forest, 76-70, in overtime
Dawkins, Alaric, and Jay Bilas are the keys to this year's highly touted squad and spent yesterday's practice alternating tancy dunks with twenty-five tool jump shots.
While Duke has spent the last three days recovering from assorted bumps and bruses. Harvard has spent it's last three days on three planes, in three hotels, and getting ready for three different teams.
The Crimson, whese starting five will be an average of five inclies shorter than the Blue Devlis's starting five, will look to senior Co-Captain Joc Carrabino to keep things close.
Just 137 points shy of the all-time Harvard scoring record. Carrabino will work inside, while fellow CoCaptain Bob Ferry and junior Arne Duncan work the perimeter.
"We're not afraid, and we're not in awe." says Carrabino, "because we know what we did last year.
"If we do that again, who knows what'll happen.