Preview: Wake Forest vs. Xavier

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will look to finish their non-conference schedule at 11-2 when they travel to Cincinnati to face Xavier in their first true road game of the season. It will be the fourth installation of the Skip Prosser Classic.

I broke down each of the four factors of basketball in this article, now let's see how Wake Forest and Xavier compare in each of the four.

Effective Field Goal %

Xavier is better than Wake Forest when it comes to effective field goal%. A big reason behind this is that the Musketeers shoot nearly 40% from beyond the arc, which is 33rd nationally. Fortunately for Wake, just over 25% of Xavier's field goal attempts are three's, so they do not utilize the three point shot as well as they should.

Wake Forest is superior in terms of effective field goal % defense. The Deacs only allow opponents to have an eFG% of 44%, which is 24th nationally. A main contributor to this is that opponents have shot less than 29% from beyond the arc so far this season. Being able to limit how many three point attempts Xavier has will be a critical piece in this game.

Turnover %

Xavier is one of the least experiences teams in the country and it shows with their high turnover percentage. Xavier turns it over 1 out of every 5 offensive possessions, which places them 250th nationally.  Wake Forest has only forced turnovers on 16.4% of their opponents. If Wake cannot force turnovers against this team, that is not a good sign moving forward to ACC play. It's troubling enough that Wake has only managed to force such a limited amount of turnovers given their schedule.

Xavier's packline defense does not force many turnovers, and Wake does not turn the ball over much, but Wake's patience will be tested. Xavier also has shot blockers on the interior, so pump fakes will be necessary.

Rebounding %

Both teams are very good rebounding teams, but Wake Forest has had the better numbers so far this season. Again, those numbers are unadjusted, so this test against Xavier could be very telling for ACC play. Both teams have similar effective height in addition to rebounding numbers, so this Xavier team is not just some small team. They have five rotation players who are 6' 8" or taller, including 6' 10" Matt Stainbrook, who is an excellent player. He has rec specs, but don't let his look fool you, the man can ball. Stainbrook has an offensive rating of 115.2 and is one of the best rebounders in the country.

We know that Devin Thomas will get his rebounding numbers, but it will be imperative that Arnaud Williams Adala Moto and Andre Washington continue their high rebounding rates. Xavier's point guard Semaj Christon is excellent at drawing contact and getting to the foul line, so a variety of players are going to have to be ready to contribute on the glass.

Free Throw Rate

Wake Forest is better than Xavier at getting to the foul line and they are much better at preventing opponents from getting to the foul line. With regards to shooting free throws, both are simply woeful. In a road game, Wake is going to have to get to the line and manufacture points that way.

Conclusion

It's quite possible I could have skipped that entire analysis and just pointed out that Wake Forest is playing a road game and Jeff Bzdelik is the coach. Wake Forest has won just three road games under Jeff Bzdelik, and one of those was against High Point.

Patience on offense against this packline defense is going to be essential, especially considering it will be a difficult road environment.  As much as I'd love to pick Wake to win this game, I just cannot pick them a road game.

Wake Forest 70

Xavier             72

You can catch the action on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 28th. Some of the BSD crew will be at Red Hot & Blue in Winston-Salem, so come on out to the viewing party. As always, go Deacs!

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