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Wake Forest vs Duke Preview


Same teams. Different situation.

Going into their first meeting this year, Duke and Wake Forest were a combined 34-2. But after a tough stretch of ACC games, both teams are just 3-3 since that January 28 contest, struggling to get back to the form that earned each team a #1 ranking at some point earlier this year.

In fact, these teams might have more in common than you think...

Wake Forest (20-4, 7-4 ACC) will try to use back to back 18+ point wins as momentum heading into one of college basketball's most unique and difficult venues, Cameron Indoor Stadium, home to the Duke Blue Devils (21-5, 7-4 ACC).

These teams met less than a month ago, with the Demon Deacons pulling out a 70-68 win on a last second layup by James Johnson. And when you compare the teams, it's not surprising that they were tied with two seconds to go.

Both Wake and Duke started off the season 16-1 (or better). They have each lost three of their past six including both schools losing by 27 on the same night (February 4). Both squads are currently 7-4 in conference. And oddly enough, both schools are 4-0 against the ACC teams that the other school has lost to.

Maybe most importantly, both the Devils and the Deacons rank in the top ten in the nation in defensive efficiency:

                                    DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY      
Team Adjusted(Rk)

Memphis (CUSA) 81.4 ( 1)
Purdue (B10) 83.7 ( 2)
Louisville (BE) 83.8 ( 3)
Connecticut (BE) 84.4 ( 4)
Illinois (B10) 85.5 ( 5)
West Virginia (BE) 86.1 ( 6)
Duke (ACC) 86.2 ( 7)
Wake Forest (ACC) 87.3 ( 8)

Florida St. (ACC) 88.0 ( 9)
Missouri (B12) 88.1 ( 10)

You might expect a low scoring game due to each team's defensive mindset, but their high-octane tempos suggest otherwise. With tempos ranked 8th and 94th in the nation respectively, Wake and Duke might have a high scoring affair this Sunday.

The X-factor in this game is how Wake's young players will respond to playing at Cameron. In conference play, Duke is averaging about 10 PPG more at home than on the road, and Wake has is averaging about one PPG less than their opponent on the road in the ACC this year. This will be many of the Deacs' first times in Cameron, as Wake did not play at Duke last year.

Wake does have a tendency of getting up for big games though, so expect another tight one between the Blue Devils and the Demon Deacons.