This preview is the second of a four part series leading up to the 57th edition of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. In this part, we will examine the 2PM matchup on Thursday of the #5 seeded Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the #12 seeded Miami Hurricanes. We will also take a look at how well the winner will matchup with the #4 seed, Virginia Tech on Friday at 2 PM.
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The Demon Deacons (19-9, 9-7) and the Miami Hurricanes (18-12, 4-12) split the season series, with each winning their home meeting. The 'Canes had a disappointing conference season to say the least. After starting the season 15-1, Miami won just 3 of their last 14 games. They made those four conference wins count though, beating Wake, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, along with Virginia.
The Deacs righted the ship after a four game skid with a Senior Day win against Clemson, while the 'Canes lost their last three games by a combined 13 points. Needless to say, Miami would love to have something good to end their season on. For the Demon Deacons, a win would set up a rematch against Virginia Tech, a game that stung the Deacs, and would help their seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
Miami will win if...
They are able to zone the Deacs into submission and get hot from three. The 'Canes have had Wake's number when it comes to zone defense the last couple years and Head Coach Frank Haith is going to need to keep Wake's bigs in check and force the Demon Deacons to shoot over the top. Miami is down Dwayne Collins and desperately needs to hit their shots in bunches to stay in this game. They would also be wise to slow the tempo down and make Wake work in their half court set.
Wake will win if...
Al-Farouq Aminu and Chas McFarland can establish themselves down low. Both had great games against Clemson and should be able to exploit their matchups. A good game out of those two will take pressure off of Wake's guards and will give C.J. Harris and Ari Stewart more open looks on the perimeter. Another big key is the ability for the Demon Deacons to get out in transition. Wake is at it's most effective when they can get out and run.
WakeJake- Wake 64, Miami 58
MRickman- Wake 75, Miami 63
BJohnston- Wake 63, Miami 55
RAJohnston- Wake 68, Miami 60
BSD Average- Wake 68, Miami 59
It was a clean consensus that the Demon Deacons would be able to handle Miami on a neutral floor without Collins. Wake should have won the first meeting and was way out in front in the second meeting before struggling offensively down the stretch. The Deacs seemed to find their confidence and have fun again on Sunday against Clemson and they should be able to carry that into Thursday's afternoon matchup.
The winner will take on the fourth-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies. VT won a huge matchup against the Deacs at home, but lost their next three before recovering to beat N.C. State and Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Hokies are obviously extremely dangerous with Malcolm Delaney, but the status of Dorenzo Hudson is up in the air.
If Wake plays the Hokies, they can expect a better free throw differential than the last meeting, which should be a big advantage. The game on a neutral floor is a huge boost as well. Wake's gameplan will need to be the same--get out and run, shut down VT's other options and contain Delaney. But they need to stay out of foul trouble and keep their bigs on the floor. The freshmen will need to hit shots as well.
If the 'Canes are able to pull the upset, they will need to get great production out of Durand Scott, Malcolm Grant and James Dews. The three will need to carry the team and keep the pace up. Miami would be able to win this game if they were able to score in the upper 70s.
Wake definitely wants another crack at Virginia Tech. The game set the Deacs back and started their losing streak and they would love to take down the Hokies in Greensboro. They have a good shot too, especially if Hudson is unable to go or has to play limited minutes. Ish Smith needs to play under control, get in the lane and finish around the hoop, something he did a great job of in the first half of the meeting in Blacksburg. It is imperative for AFA to put up a solid 16 and 10 game. For VT, they need a huge game from their leader Delaney and have to get a strong performance from Jeff Allen.
BSD Odds to win ACC Tournament:
Virginia Tech- 3%
Wake Forest- 3%