Preview: Clemson vs. Wake Forest

Michael Hickey

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have lost seven straight, while the Clemson Tigers have won two in a row. Can the Deacs snap their five-game losing streak against the Tigers?

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons enter Tuesday's matchup against the Clemson Tigers with a seven-game losing streak, which is their longest losing streak since the 2010-2011 season that ended on an 11-game losing streak. The Clemson Tigers will be looking to defeat Wake Forest for a sixth-consecutive time in basketball, which would set a school record.

Four Factors
Category Wake Forest Clemson
Effective FG% 49.2% 46.6%
Effective FG% Defense 47.0% 43.2%
Turnover% 18.3% 18.5%
Turnover% Defense 16.8% 18.3%
Offensive Rebounding 30.7% 36.3%
Defensive Rebounding 67.6% 67.9%
FTA/FGA 49.2% 36.1%
FTA/FGA Defense 39.2% 28.8%

Effective Field Goal %

Brad Brownell, Clemson's head coach, has a history of having excellent defensive teams. This year is no different as the Tigers have the 11th best adjusted defense in the country and the sixth-best effective field goal percentage defense in the country. Opponents shoot only 28% from beyond the arc against them and less than one-third of opponents' shots come from deep. Wake Forest does not choose to attempt many three's, so that's a classic example where nothing has to give. Devin Thomas shoots a very impressive 55% from the field, so his matchup against the Clemson bigs, who block nearly 16% of 2 point field goals attempted against them will go a long way in determining the winner of this game.

Clemson is elite on defense, but they can't hit the ocean from a boat on offense. They have the 296th best effective field goal percentage in the country at just 46.6%. Wake Forest is top 80 nationally in effective field goal percentage defense, the offensive explosion by North Carolina is certainly cause for concern. Clemson lacks great shooting from the perimeter and K.J McDaniels, as good as he is, is their only player who can create for himself on the offensive end.

Turnover %

Clemson is completely average at both protecting the ball as well as forcing turnovers. They do both of those on slightly more than 18% of their possessions. Players like Adonis Filer, Josh Smith and Sidy Djitte have high turnover rates, so it will be important to force turnovers when they touch the ball.

Wake Forest is average at limiting turnovers, but they are below average in forcing them. As good as Devin Thomas is, a big area of improvement for him is in limiting turnovers. Bill Moto and Travis McKie have respectable steal rates, so perhaps they will be able to help trap Clemson's bigs and force turnovers that lead to transition opportunities.

Rebounding

Clemson is horrendous at shooting the ball, but they attempt to make up for it by grabbing more than 36% of their misses, which is 40th nationally. The aforementioned K.J. McDaniels as well as Landry Nnoko and Jaron Blossomgame are all excellent offensive rebounders. They're also excellent at defensive rebounding, but they are better relative to par on the offensive glass. Unfortunately for Wake Forest fans, the Deacs are last in ACC play in defensive rebounding and allow opponents to grab 38.7% of their misses. I expect Clemson will grab their fair share of offensive rebounds on Tuesday night.

Wake Forest is 14th in ACC play in grabbing their misses as they do so only 26.7% of the time. Meanwhile, Clemson allows opponents to grab 34.5% of their misses, so hopefully the Deacs can take advantage of that and earn a few extra field goal attempts.

Free Throw Rate

Getting to the charity stripe continues to be what Wake Forest does best. Unfortunately, making the free throws continues to be the greatest of struggles as the Deacs are making just over 63% of their free throws this season. To make matters worse, Clemson is seventh nationally in defensive free throw rate. They are first nationally in "free throw percentage defense," but I'm assuming we all know that isn't a real thing.

Clemson struggles getting to the charity stripe, but as a team they knock down nearly 75% of their shots, which is top 10 nationally. K.J. McDaniels shoots 87% from the line, so if it comes down to fouls late in the game, that's not going to be favorable for Wake Forest.

Conclusion

I hate to say I expect Clemson to come out with more energy, because I don't believe we've quit, but Clemson is fighting for a NCAA Tournament berth and Wake is just fighting to avoid an eight game losing streak and a winless February. Clemson is just not a good matchup for us in terms of physicality and I believe over the course of the game we will wear down and ultimately allow too many offensive rebounds to Clemson. I expect Codi Miller-McIntyre and Devin Thomas to have good games, but I think the Deacs come up short. I hope I'm wrong.

Prediction

via 24.media.tumblr.com

Clemson 65

Wake Forest 59

Tip off is at 7 p.m., so come on out and support the team. As always, go Deacs!

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