The Battle for North Carolina: Wake Forest-UNCG

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The basketball season continues at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons take on the Spartans of UNC Greensboro in hopes of moving to 10-2.

The basketball season continues this afternoon at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons look to remain undefeated at home with a win over the Spartans of UNC Greensboro. UNCG, a member of the Southern Conference, is 6-6 on the season and are led by coach Wes Miller. Coach Miller has an up hill battle as his team is one of the most inexperienced teams in the country, bringing in 9 new players to try and replace all-around contributor Trevis Simpson.

The Spartans are coming off a 78-65 win against James Madison University and are averaging 75.3 points per game. The Spartans have an offensive efficiency rating of 99.3, which is well below the D-1 average. When Frank Miller and Lynn Varley created the name for "300" -the epic Spartan story- they must have been thinking about UNCG's turnover rate, as they do so on 21.5% of possessions. The Spartans rely heavily on the deep ball, connecting on 39.3% of these shots. The Deacs will need to keep an eye on junior Nicholas Paulos, who takes 43% and hits on 38.2% of shots from behind the arc. If you're ever challenged by a Spartan player in a game of H-O-R-S-E make sure you shoot from inside the arc, because despite shooting well from deep the Spartans struggle nearly everywhere else. UNCG makes less than half of their shots from inside the arc (46.9%) and shoot a mediocre 67.8% from the charity stripe. One exception to the lack of shooting is Arizona transfer Kyle Cain, who is averaging a team high 16 PPG and 8 rebounds while also taking 29% of the shots.

Defensively the Spartans have been atrocious, giving up 1.13 points per possession (340th). Coach Miller's squad is one of the worst in the country at protecting the paint; their inability to block shots (3.3%), and limit open 2's (54.8%) results in an effective field goal of 54.5%. Wake has been dominant in the paint in recent games, so I expect guys like Codi Miller-McIntyre and Travis McKie to attack the rim. The Spartans are a bit better at protecting the perimeter, though opponents still manage to shoot 35.8% from behind the arc. I expect Coron Williams to take full advantage of this flaw in the Spartan defense.

I believe this will be a high scoring game as both teams like to push the ball and run in transition. The Spartan's play at a tempo of 70.7 (72nd) and their average possession is only 16.4 seconds (67), turnovers probably play a factor in this pace. Wake Forest's tempo numbers are nearly identical at 70.6 and an average possession length of 16.6 seconds, the major difference is turnovers as the Deacs only do so on 16.7% of possessions. Though UNCG shoots well from deep, Wake has been able to limit damage from 3 as opponents connect only 30.3% of the time. I don't expect the Spartans to provide a problem for the Deacs, but if Wake doesn't limit open 3's they could be in some trouble. I think Wake takes the air out of the ball and spends a lot of time in the paint, so look for Tyler Cavanaugh and Devin Thomas to thrive.

Prediction

Wake Forest 91

UNCG 67

Please come out to the Joel and support the team. As always, go Deacs!

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