The Battle for North Carolina: Wake Forest v. North Carolina

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Deacs continue to sleepwalk through the ACC schedule or will the trip to Chapel Hill be able to wake them up?

The last time these teams squared off Wake Forest was able to send the #24 ranked Tar Heels back to Chapel Hill with a loss. Senior Travis McKie led the way with 16 points, and the Deacs received 38% of the minutes from their bench. Will the Deacs be able to wake up or will the Heels continue to roll?

Four Factors
Category Wake Forest North Carolina
Effective FG% 49% 48.9%
Effective FG% Defense 46.2% 44.9%
Turnover% 18.2% 17.4%
Turnover% Defense 16.9% 19.7%
Offensive Rebounding 31% 38.5%
Defensvie Rebouding 67.9% 68.7%
FTA/FGA 49.6% 44.4%
FTA/FGA Defense 38.8% 41.2%

*Before the UNC-Duke game

Effective Field Goal %

Despite a very inconsistent start the Tar Heels have found a way to turn it around. UNC's recent success is due to the play of sophomore guard Marcus Paige. Paige is a smart player who can score in a variety of ways, he has an eFG% of 52.6% to go along with a nationally ranked true shooting percentage of 58.6%. Paige's deep ball range goes further back than Nate Britt's hairline, as he accounts for 51% of attempts and 62% of his teams points from behind the arc. The Heels also receive contributions from the "Dietary Duo" of Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson, who go together like beer and brats.

Turnover %

Last time out, Wake Forest was able to win the turnover battle (17-13). The Deac's defensive efforts were led by Aaron Rountree and Madison Jones who were able to rattle two of the Tar Heel's best players, as James Michael McAdoo (5) and Paige (4) had a difficult time staying composed. The Deacs also did a decent job of taking care of the basketball, turning the ball over on 17.3% of possessions.

Rebounding

Last time around Wake was absolutely blasted on the boards. In fact, if their rebounding effort were a drunken rant it would be Mel Gibson's. North Carolina collected offensive rebounds on 44.7% of their opportunities, while Wake managed a meager 14.7%. The Tar Heels received rebounding from a variety of sources including; J.P. Tokoto (9), Johnson (9), and Meeks (9). Though Wake crowded the paint and got nine rebounds apiece from Devin Thomas and Bill Moto, UNC's size and athleticism proved to be too much.

Free Throw Rate

At 52.4%, Wake Forest is the best in the ACC at getting to the foul line. However, that's where the success stops as the Deacs shoot merely 65.5% from the foul stripe, which is 10th in the conference. Luckily enough, UNC has one of the lowest free throw rates in the conference (35.4%) and shoots a miserable 61.9% from the line. The ability to get to the foul line is a clear advantage for Wake in this and nearly every game. Wake's assault on the rim resulted in 33 free throws attempts, translating to 1.15 points per possession despite shooting merely 57.6%. The Deac's ability to attack the rim also put Carolina's best players on the bench with foul trouble.

Conclusion

I may sound crazy but I think Wake Forest can win this game. I've watched the last game a few times and some things really stuck out to me. The Deacs did what all teams should do against a more athletic UNC squad, limit efficient possessions. Anyone who has watched UNC knows, especially early in the season, that they cannot operate a half court set and are built for the transition game. Coach Bzdelik played the bulk of the rotation, allowing the Deacs to stay fresh defensively and free to foul before transition and on easy buckets without getting meaningful players into major foul trouble. Though the Heels dominated the offensive glass, Wake collapsed around the offensive rebounder and forced the Heels to kick the ball back out. UNC's lack of shooters rewards teams that keep them out of transition. If Wake is going to win this game they're going to have to use all their pieces and finish at the foul line. Wake can't be afraid to dish out hard fouls on guys like McAdoo and Tokoto who struggle at free throw line. I also think the Heel's defense can be exploited through back door cuts, so Thomas and McKie will need to be on the same page. Ultimately, I think Marcus Paige and the Heel's rebounding is too much for the Deacs.

Prediction

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via 24.media.tumblr.com

Wake Forest 70

North Carolina 76

Tip off is at 12 p.m., so tune in and support the team. As always, go Deacs!

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