Following a dominant performance over an overmatched Nicholls State team on Monday, Wake looks to continue their winning ways as Mount St. Mary's rolls into town for a pre-Thanksgiving contest Wednesday night. The Demon Deacons jumped out to a 47-20 halftime lead over the Colonels on Monday en route to a 75-48 blowout. Despite the final scoreline head coach Danny Manning sent a message to several starters in the second half, benching them for the remainder of the game following a lackadaisical beginning after halftime. These guys will get a chance to redeem themselves against another non-conference opponent expected to be in over their heads against an ACC foe.
Mount St. Mary's, led by third-year head coach Jamion Christian, enters the game with a 1-2 record following their first win of the year on Saturday against Bucknell. Christian led the Mountaineers to the NCAA Tournament last season as the NEC champion where the team fell to Albany 71-64 in the opening round. Mount St. Mary's enters the game ranked 269th in KenPom and prefers to play a slower pace compared to the relatively quick Wake Forest offense. The Mountaineers are averaging just 56 points per game this season and will need to display a considerably higher level of performance in Winston tonight to have a shot against the Demon Deacons.
Christian's squad employs a relatively balanced offensive attack, led by Croation senior Kristijian Krajina who averages 11 points a game and sophomore Brian Shaw who chips in 10.3 per contest. Similar to Nicholls State, the Mountaineers have struggled to rebound the ball on the offensive glass, leading to a large number of one-shot possessions. In a 23 point season-opening loss to nationally ranked Arizona, Mount St. Mary's recorded only four offensive rebounds despite only losing the overall battle on the boards by seven. Indeed, the Mountaineers are pretty good rebounding the ball defensively, ranking 97th in the country despite their poor offensive glass output - likely a result of the team looking to get back on defense quickly to avoid giving up transition buckets.
Defensively, teams are shooting a whopping 60% from inside the arc against Mount St. Mary's which is an area the Deacons will no doubt look to exploit led by Devin Thomas. Despite only playing for 15 minutes on Monday night against Nicholls, Thomas recorded seven points and six rebounds but at times looked out of sync turning the ball over four times. The 15 minutes of action was the fewest minutes Thomas has played since a non-conference contest his freshman year against Nebraska. He should find success inside tonight against a team who has some height, junior Taylor Danaher is 7'0" while the aforementioned Krajina is 6'11", but does not block very many shots (Danaher is the only player on the team to record a rejection all season).
Ultimately the Mountaineers are the second game this holiday week against teams in the bottom 100 in the nation and a game where Wake should be able to dominate from start to finish. While I expect this team to be a step up from the performance put on by Nicholls on Monday night, Wake enters the game ranked 99th in KenPom and is a double-digit favorite who is slated to win 70-59 on KenPom with an 89% chance of prevailing. My expectation is that Wake will hold a double-digit lead for large stretches of the game and will only tighten up down the stretch when Manning empties out the bench for BLACK ICE time once the contest is no longer in question. I believe Wake wins this one 76-57.
If you are in Winston, the game tips at the Joel at 7 P.M. Locally Stan Cotten will have the call and is accessible to listen to for free out-of-market through an app called TuneIn. Similarly the game will be on ESPN3 and feel free to stop by Blogger So Dear for the game thread, as there is certain to be discussion on the site about how our Demon Deacons are doing. If there are any questions, comments, or general observations let us know in the comments section below. As always, go Deacs!