Preview: Wake Forest vs. Notre Dame

Andy Lyons

The Deacs had a big road win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday night. Can the Deacs knock off Notre Dame and move to 4-3 in the ACC?

The Irish of Notre Dame enter Saturday's ACC contest with a 2-4 conference record and are just 1-4 over their past five contests. Can the Deacs keep their undefeated record at home intact? Let's see how the teams compare.

Four Factors
Categories Wake Forest Notre Dame
Effective FG% 49.4% 52.8%
Effective FG% Defense 44.7% 50.5%
Offensive Turnover% 17.4% 15.3%
Defensive Turnover% 16.6% 17.5%
Offensive Reb% 32.7% 32.8%
Defensive Reb% 69.0% 71.6%
FTA/FGA 48.0% 33.5%
FTA/FGA Defense 38.6% 30.0%


A quick disclaimer on those statistics is that those numbers reflect 12 games in which Jerian Grant played. Grant had academic issues and is no longer enrolled at Notre Dame.

Effective Field Goal %

Notre Dame has a strong effective field goal percentage and that can be attributed to roles that are very well defined by head coach Mike Brey. They also have assists on 60% of their field goals, which is top 25 nationally. The big man duo of Garrick Sherman and Zach Auguste both shoot over 52% from two's and neither has attempted a three pointer all season. Pat Connaughton, however, has attempted 118 three pointers on the season and has made 41% of them. The dude pops threes like Bieber pops pills. He is a sniper from deep and it is essential that whoever is defending him not lose him when he moves without the ball. I would even say that whoever is guarding him should not offer as much help on defensive rotations. The only exception would be if Eric Atkins can start to drive better than Justin Bieber. Okay, I'm done.

Defensively, the Irish leave a bit to be desired. They aren't quite as bad as the New York Knicks, but they certainly aren't the Bad Boy Pistons either. They allow opponents to shoot a whopping 37% from three this season, and allow 34% of opponents' field goal attempts to be from beyond the arc, which is 232nd nationally. I would expect Coron Williams, Tyler Cavanaugh and Travis McKie to be able to get some clean three point looks.

Turnover %

The Irish know how to protect the rock, and only turn the ball over on 15.3% of possessions, which is 26th nationally. Wake is below average when it comes to forcing turnovers, so I would expect the Irish to be able to take care of the ball pretty well on Saturday.

A similar story can be told when Wake Forest has the ball. The Deacs only turn it over on 17.4% of possessions, while Notre Dame is below average at forcing turnovers. This, along with poor three pointer defense, can be at least partially attributed to the fact that they run zone on 25% of possessions according to Synergy.

Rebounding %

The Irish and the Deacs are roughly equivalent with regards to rebounding. The Deacs grab 32.7% of offensive rebounding opportunities, while the Irish grab 32.8%. I think it's safe to say there is not a statistically significant difference between the two. On the defensive glass, the Deacs grab 69.0% of opportunities, while the Irish grab a few more at 71.6%. Wake has to look to limit Garrick "Sherman, Sherman," Sherman, as he is top 100 nationally in both offensive and defensive rebounding. Come on, a Richard Sherman reference would have been too easy. The battle between Garrick Sherman and Devin Thomas should be a great one to watch.

Tom Knight is another solid rebounder for Notre Dame, but he has missed the past four games with a combination of an ankle injury as well as the flu & pneumonia. He practiced Thursday, but it appears likely that he will miss Saturday's tilt as well.

Free Throw Rate

This facet of the game is going to be an area where something has to give. The Deacs have a free throw rate of 48%, while the Irish have a stout defensive free throw rate of 30.0%, which is 15th in the nation. On the other hand, the Irish struggle to get to the line and the Deacs are above average at keeping opponents off the line. I wouldn't expect Notre Dame to spend much time at the charity stripe this Saturday.

Conclusion

I'm taking the Deacs to win this one. I really liked what I saw out of Travis McKie against Virginia Tech and I think he will continue to play at a high level. I also expect the great Bill Moto (#DaDaDa #DaDaDa) to continue to clean the glass like Windex. Wake is very tough at home and I do not believe that Notre Dame will get enough stops.

via goingconern.com

Notre Dame: 65

Wake Forest: 70

Tip off is at 3 p.m., so come on out to the Joel and support the team. As always, go Deacs!

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