Cal men’s basketball will be flying back to the East Coast next season for another business trip, but this time around, the Bears will be hooping at the “Mecca of Basketball.”
Along with Duke, Georgetown and Texas, Cal will participate in the 2019 2K Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden next season from Nov. 21 to 22. The team that Cal will play in the opening round has yet to be released.
Cal’s last trip to Madison Square Garden also came in the 2014 2K Classic. With Cuonzo Martin at the helm, Cal beat No. 23 Syracuse in the opening round before, coincidentally enough, falling to a Rick Barnes-led Texas team in the championship game.
Of the potential matchups, a meeting with the Blue Devils is perhaps the most tantalizing for the Bears in more ways than one.
While the star quartet of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish and Tre Jones will all, more likely than not, declare for the NBA draft, Duke will boast some new star power next season.
Legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s latest incoming class of freshmen features Vernon Carey and Wendell Moore, two five-stars who are consensus top-25 prospects of their class. Carey, in particular, is rated the nation’s top prospect by Rivals and third by 247Sports and ESPN.
In addition to star power, there’s also the matter of legacy. One of the most iconic moments for Cal basketball came when Lamond Murray and Jason Kidd led an upset of Duke in the second round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament.
The last time these two teams met was in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. This time around, Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils bested Mike Montgomery’s Bears, 68-53.
Cal’s last encounter with Georgetown came in the postseason as well during the 2000 National Invitation Tournament when Ben Braun’s Bears defeated Craig Esherick’s Hoyas, 60-49, at Haas Pavilion.