VMI, a member of the Big South Conference, is 2-0 on the season with victories over The Citadel and Air Force. Last season the Keydets went 14-17 and that was with 2012-2013 Big South Player of the Year, Stan Okoye. Okoye averaged 21.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, so clearly there is a lot of production that head coach Duggar Baucom must replace.
One player who has made headlines in the first couple of games has been Jordan Weethee, who is debunking the myth that white men can't jump. Weethee went #DaDaDa and landed himself on SportsCenter. In addition to the great white hope, who has averaged 9 points and 11 rebounds when he isn't putting other players on posters, the Keydets are led by a pair of freshmen QJ Peterson and Rodney Glasgow. The duo have combined for 40 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5 steals per game. Obviously these stats are inflated due to inferior competition and an up-tempo pace, so we will see if the Deacs can give them a "welcome to college basketball" game on Tuesday.
VMI's possessions last as long as Rick Pitino does in an empty restaurant. In each of Duggar Baucom's eight seasons at VMI, the Keydets have finished top 13 nationally in number of possessions played. This season has been no different. Granted it is a small sample size, but VMI is currently second nationally in adjusted tempo. They look to push the ball and they look to shoot a lot of threes. The past several seasons the Keydets have been top 10 nationally in having the highest percentage of their field goal attempts be three pointers. This has to be a cause of concern for Jeff Bzdelik and the Demon Deacons The Deacs are used to playing up-tempo basketball given that last season Wake Forest was 33rd nationally in adjusted tempo, but in their games against Brevard (exhibition) and Colgate, they allowed far too many three point attempts. There is really no variance in terms of three point field goal percentages allowed across college basketball, but the number one predictor of three pointer defense is limiting the number of threes your opponent takes. VMI is only shooting 21% from beyond the arc on the year, but surrendering open threes is never a good thing. That being said, although VMI scores a lot of points, they are not the most efficient offensive team in the world and only average 0.978 points per possession, which is 246th nationally.
VMI's defense is truly poor. The Keydets are ranked 272nd nationally in defensive efficiency and allow 1.05 points per possession. I fully expect the main trio of Codi Miller-McIntyre, Devin Thomas and Travis McKie to score with ease. Wake definitely struggles at times in the half court, but if they can get out in transition, Wake has the athletes and depth to simply overpower VMI in an up-tempo game. VMI relies on forcing turnovers as part of their gameplan, and the Deacs did a great job of possessing the rock against Colgate.
Overall, this game should be exciting, but Wake Forest should absolutely pull away in the second half and win with relative comfort. On the podcast I predicted that Wake would win by 14, but I'm changing my mind because there are no rules here.
Wake Forest 90
This game is the inaugural Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Classic. All current/retired military members and their families will receive free admission. The game starts at 7:00 so get on out there if you can because you gotta support the team. If you are unable to attend, the game will be shown on ESPN3. As always, go Deacs!