Battle 4 Atlantis Preview: Wake Forest vs. Tennessee

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons dominated the USC Trojans 77-63 and as a result they will take on the Tennessee Volunteers who defeated Xavier 64-49. Find out who will win 5th place in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Wake Forest will look to improve to 7-1 on the season, including 2-1 in Atlantis, when they square off against the Tennessee Volunteers in this 5th place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Tennessee, a member of the Southeastern Conference, is 4-2 on the season with losses coming to Xavier and UTEP. They are led by Cuonzo Martin, who is now in his third season on the sidelines in Knoxville. In his first two seasons at the helm, he led the Volunteers to 19 and 20 wins, respectively.

Tennessee enters this afternoon's contest with an offensive efficiency of 112.1 (38th nationally) and a defensive rating of 97.9 (61st nationally). They don't achieve that efficient offense by having an outstanding effective field goal % (48.7%), but they do it by limiting turnovers (15.9%) and DOMINATING the offensive glass (46.8%). That means they grab nearly half of all of their missed shots. Needless to say, boxing out will be critical. On the season, Wake Forest has only allowed their opponents to grab 25.6% of offensive rebounding opportunities, so that battle on the boards could very well determine the winner of this game. Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon are both very strong offensive rebounders, so our bigs must be ready to box-out for 40 minutes. Stokes, Maymon as well as Jordan McRae all do a nice job of drawing contact and getting to the foul line. The Deacs will have problems if Devin Thomas gets in foul trouble.

The Volunteers have one of the slowest tempos in the country, but that is misleading based on the opponents they have played. Tennessee's average offensive possession is 16.2 seconds (78th nationally). Meanwhile, Wake Forest averages 15.5 seconds per possession (40th nationally). I wouldn't anticipate this game being as up-and-down as yesterday's game against USC, but I would expect teams to try and push the ball a considerable amount.

On the defensive end, Tennessee has done a good job limiting the amount three pointers that their opponents have taken, but part of that is due to the fact that their opponents do not attempt that many three's in the first place. If Coron Williams can get loose, that will be huge for the Demon Deacons.

I will be interested to see whether Wake Forest matches up in either man-to-man or zone defense. On one hand, Tennessee struggles with perimeter shooting and it could limit their offense, but at the same time it is more difficult to rebound out of a zone and that will playing into Tennessee's strengths. Personally, I would go man-to-man, but I see the merits for both.

Call me crazy, but I'm actually going to take the Deacs to win this one. I believe Devin Thomas will be a monster on the glass and that will really limit Tennessee's offensive production. I also believe the 3-point shooting of Coron Williams, Travis McKie, Tyler Cavanaugh, and Codi Miller-McIntyre will be a factor today and that Wake Forest is arguably the best 3-point shooting team the Volunteers have faced to date.

Prediction:

Wake Forest 71

Tennessee  67

As always, go Deacs!

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