Fresh off a solid 83-49 performance on Wednesday night against Mount St. Mary's, Wake Forest looks to extend their current winning streak to three entering the ACC-Big 10 Challenge next Tuesday. The Demon Deacons stand at 4-2 through six games and take on the Delaware State Hornets who are 2-3 with wins over Penn and Baptist Bible College. After a quick 2-0 start, the Hornets have fallen in their last three games to North Texas, Arkansas, and Iona by a combined total of 85 points.
Led by first year head coach Keith Walker, a member of the 1980 Clemson team who made it to the Elite Eight, Delaware State of the MEAC looks to gain some momentum before heading out to Hawaii over the weekend. On paper, the Hornets are utterly overmatched by the Demon Deacons. Walker's squad faced off against Iona on Wednesday, a team Wake fans will remember defeated the Demon Deacons 85-81 just one week ago, and were handed a resounding 126-76 defeat as the Gaels shot an incredible 24-39 from behind the arc while putting up a remarkable 70 points in the second half. Despite the blowout loss, senior guard Amere May was able to put up 18 points in just 21 minutes to help pace the Hornets offense.
The leading scorer for the Hornets is actually a reserve player Larry Haley, who saw a lot of action in a dominant win over Baptist Bible College, but he is not expected to play a major role in tonight's game as he has not appeared in any of the other four DSU contests. Wake's biggest concern on the night will likely be 6'2" guard DeAndre Haywood who averages 15.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per contest but the Demon Deacons will also need to keep an eye on senior forward Tyshawn Bell who at 6'7" is shooting 70% from outside on 23 total shots on the young season to go along with just over four rebounds a game.
Ultimately the Hornets should be an easy victory for Wake Forest who will likely round up the holiday week a perfect 3-0 in three relatively straightforward home games. After the big win over Mount St. Mary's on Wednesday, in a game where the Deacs were projected to win only by eleven points, Wake jumped into the top 100 of the KenPom ratings at 91st in the nation. In contrast, Delaware State sits at 300th with a squad that is ranked 293rd in offense and 290th in defense. Of particular concern for the Hornets is their inability to defend the three (where teams are shooting almost 45% on the season) and their inability to consistently rebound (where they rank 264th on the offensive glass and 279th on the defensive glass). Wake should be able to capitalize on the rebounding front, particularly when the Hornets are on offense, as the Demon Deacons currently lead the nation in defensive rebounding percentage through their first five games rebounding an incredible 80.4% of all misses by the opposing team.
Quite frankly this should not be much of a contest at all and the KenPom projection reflects that as Wake is slated to win 75-60 with a 93% chance of prevailing. Similarly, my prediction is for the Deacs to continue rolling like they did earlier in the week en route to a large 83-56 win where Manning continues to get some bench players a substantial amount of time to figure out what lineups he wants to run next week against Minnesota and N.C. State.
Swing by Blogger So Dear to chat with fellow Wake fans if you're unable to make it out to the Joel for this one. The game tips at 7 P.M. and is broadcast on ESPN3 (online) if you are not in Winston to watch. This should be a great chance for Wake to move to 5-2 on the young season and gain some more confidence before the season begins to pick up a little bit more moving towards the Christmas break. As always, go Deacs.