Battle 4 Atlantis Preview: Wake Forest vs. USC

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Deacs fought very hard against Kansas yesterday, but ultimately lost by a score of 87-78. Yesterday's result means that the Demon Deacons will square off against the University of Southern California today at 3:30 as a result of their 94-79 loss to Villanova. Who will emerge victorious?

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will look to move to 6-1 on the season when they take on the University of Southern California of the Pac-12 in this afternoon's contest against the Trojans. USC enters this afternoon's game with a record of 4-2 (one of those wins came against Division II West Alabama) with losses to Utah State and Villanova. The Trojans are led by head coach Andy Enfield, who is in his first season in SoCal after spending his previous two seasons building the Florida Gulf Coast program into "Dunk City" and a Sweet 16 team. I also think it's fair to say that Enfield won't be exchanging Christmas cards with USC's former head coach, Tim Floyd.

The Trojans finished last season 14-18 with a loss in the first round of the Pac-12 to Utah. They lost leading scorer Eric Wise from last year's team, but Byron Wesley has stepped up this season and is averaging a team-leading 19 points per game. Wesley is also impressive on the offensive glass and averages 9 rebounds per game. They will be without third leading scorer, and former Demon Deacon, J.T. Terrell, who is academically ineligible. The Trojans currently have an offensive rating of 103.0 (194th) and a defensive rating of 100.3 (99th) compared to the Demon Deacons who have an offensive rating of 106.0 (120th) and a defensive rating of 99.2 (76nd).

Offensively the Trojans will look to push the ball. The team only has the 77th fastest tempo in the nation, but that is mostly a result of the opponents they have faced so far. USC's average offensive possession only lasts 14.7 seconds, which is is the 21st fastest in the country. This falls right in line with what Wake Forest likes to do as their average offensive possession is 15 seconds, which is 27th fastest in the country. Look for a very high scoring affair in paradise this afternoon.

USC's weaknesses could be exacerbated considering those are strengths of the Demons Deacons. USC only forces turnovers on 16.1% of defensive possessions (273rd nationally), while Wake Forest only turns it over on 13.5% of possessions (11th nationally). The Trojans also allow 36.1% of offensive rebounds, while the Deacs are very strong on the offensive glass. The Trojans are also simply woeful when it comes to 3 pointers and free throws (Wake can relate). If Wake Forest's Codi Miller-McIntyre, Travis McKie or Coron Williams can knock down some threes, then the Trojans could have a hard time catching up. Additionally, USC scores more than 58% of their points off 2 pointers and the Demon Deacons have excellent field goal defense inside the three point arc.

After researching these teams, it just appears that Wake Forest is the more talented team and matches up very well against this USC team. I apologize for not making any Trojan puns. Really poor effort on my part.

Prediction:

Wake Forest 90

USC               82

The winner of this game will take on the winner of the Tennessee vs. Xavier game. As always, go Deacs!

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