Prior to taking his team down to Duke this weekend, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker was asked if he wanted the Wolverines to eventually adopt a style similar to how the Blue Devils play and win.

“I think most people would like to emulate them,” Amaker said.

But can Michigan work toward emulating Duke if the teams no longer play each other?

A Michigan Athletic department release dated May 23, 2000 said that the rivalry between Duke and Michigan was to be extended for four years, meaning that the teams would play each other next year, and the year after that. The games are scheduled for Dec. 13, 2003 in Ann Arbor, and Dec. 11, 2004 at Duke.

But at this weekend’s game, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski joked that as far as he knew, his contract said the teams would not be playing anymore. He added that if the contract extends through 2004, they would play those games as scheduled.

Since Amaker, who played at Duke from 1984-87, became the head coach at Michigan last season, his mentor no longer wanted to continue the series. Krzyzewski doesn’t like coaching against his former players and assistant coaches, and Amaker is no exception.

“I coached against (Tommy Amaker) last year,” Krzyzewski said. “I’d rather not play against guys who have been on my staff or who have been on my team. I don’t see where it’s a lot of fun.”

Michigan Associate Athletic Director Warde Manuel, who is in charge of scheduling, said that it would be possible to cancel the remaining two years on the contract if both schools’ athletic directors and coaches agree to it, but he has heard nothing on the topic from anyone.

“As of now, these games are contracted and they will be played,” Manuel said. “I don’t know if they’ve had discussions about canceling them.”

Meanwhile, on the other side, Amaker said he wasn’t sure if he wants to continue the series in the upcoming seasons. While he still views Krzyzewski as his guide and teacher, he must decide whether playing Duke while Michigan is in the rebuilding process is the best thing for the Wolverines.

The series, which was renewed in 1989, was competitive and exciting for several years, with Michigan even holding the edge during the mid-’90s. But since 1997, Duke has won five straight, and has even embarrassed the program with several long early-game scoring runs.

But the series does serve as a highlight each year on the Wolverines nonconference schedule, which is mostly made up of games against smaller teams with much less national prominence. And if the Wolverines do improve in the next few years with their highly touted recruiting classes, this game would be a valuable challenge and an asset.

Tonight, Michigan will attempt to get its first win of the season as it takes on Bowling Green (2-2) at home. The Falcons are coming off a two-point road loss to Northwestern.

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