Wake Forest vs. Duke Preview

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The Demon Deacs will likely play their toughest game of the season tonight as they take on Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium (8:00, Fox Sports Net).  Click through for what to watch for as the seniors try one last time to get a victory at the home of the Blue Devils.

According to our main man KenPom, Wake has a 6% chance of knocking off Duke at their house.  Obviously, the Deacs are going to have to do a lot of things right in addition to Duke not getting hot from deep in order to steal this one.

Main matchups

The biggest story of the game is who will be covering Jon Scheyer of Duke and Ish Smith of Wake.  Scheyer is having an ACC POY-type season, averaging nearly 20 points and 6 assists per game to only 1.3 turnovers per game.  Furthermore, he is a matchup problem for the Deacons since he measures in at 6'5" while Wake's starting guards are 5'11 and 6'1.  Scheyer can beat you in several way, as he is a dangerous weapon from deep (39.5%), great at the FT line (90%), a very good distributor and much better this season at scoring off the bounce.  I'm sure you will see several different guys trying to cover Scheyer throughout the night, but Duke's tall starting lineup probably prevents Wake's defensive leader L.D. Williams from getting the chance in the beginning.

On the other end of the floor, Duke will likely have trouble staying in front of speedy Ish Smith.  According to media reports, Nolan Smith will have this assignment for most of the night.  Ish shouldn't have any trouble getting into the lane, but it is what he does when he gets there that will be key for Wake.  If he is able to connect on the majority of his runners or find guys in traffic for easy lay-ins, the Deacs should be able to make a game of it.  As always, it will be important for Ish to take care of the ball as he has been doing so far this season (90 assists to 40 turnovers) against the intense defensive pressure of Duke.

Since Singler (at the 3) and Aminu (at the 4) should be able to handle their respective matchups, the other one to keep an eye on will be at the shooting guard position.  Wake will need the scoring of C.J. Harris to help complement that of Aminu and Smith.  Harris had a great game against Maryland, knocking down three deep threes in the first half.  He also has a knack for getting to the free throw line on drives to the basket.  While it is tough to expect a freshman to deliver in his first game at Cameron, Harris has the calm demeanor to do just that. 

For Duke, Nolan Smith is flying under the radar (due to the play of Scheyer) and having a spectacular junior campaign. He is averaging just over 18 points and shooting an astounding 50% from deep.  Whether Ish Smith or Harris gets the assignment, it will be imperative not to get caught watching Scheyer or Singler and let him get hot. 

Other points of interest

  • Wake Forest has not won at Duke since Tim Duncan's senior year
  • 1st year Deacon Assistant Coach Rusty LaRue was 4-0 in his career at Cameron Indoor
  • Wake Forest leads the ACC in 3-point % defense at 26% while Duke is second in the conference in 3-point % at 39.5%
  • Duke is ranked #1 in the KenPoms
  • Vegas likes Duke by 14
  • Wake is 3rd nationally in effective FG% defense
  • Duke is 1st nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency

BSD prediction: Wake Forest 68 - Duke 80

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