Place: LJVM Coliseum
KenPom Odds: Wake -6
Coming off an emotional, buzzer-beating win at Richmond on Saturday, Wake Forest is looking to build a bit of momentum going into 2015. They will need it, as the Deacs continue their ACC schedule against two top 10 teams, Louisville and Duke, following today's contest. However, it will be important for Wake to come prepared and not looking over Princeton on a sleepy Wednesday afternoon or it could be another long 40 minutes for the home team.
Princeton comes into the game ranked #166 in KenPom, which would be Wake's second best win on the season (Richmond was 96th at the time). As you may expect, the Tigers are better on offense than defense and shoot 38.4% from 3 as a team, good for 43rd in the nation. They have 3 players who have made more than 20 threes this season and all 3 shoot greater than 41%. Obviously, a clear key to the game for Wake will be to limit good looks from deep and rebound long misses.
The Tigers are led by Spencer Weisz and Hans Brase, who both average about 13 ppg and who are included in the three-point shooters mentioned above. While Brase is 6'8", 34 of his 52 made FG attempts so far this year are from deep. Therefore, Devin Thomas, Darius Leonard and Dinos Mitoglou should be conscious of this when he is their responsibility on the defensive end.
Princeton is currently 268th in tempo and Wake is 45th, so an important aspect of the game for the Deacs will be to force turnovers and push the pace. WF will likely look to get out on the break and use their superior athleticism to convert easy buckets, as their lack of shotmakers in the half-court has been a problem thus far this season.
One big boost for the Demon Deacons today will be the return of starting guard Mitchell Wilbekin, who served an unspecified NCAA suspension the last 3 games. Wilbekin is Wake's best long range threat and also one of the few trustworthy ball-handlers on the roster. Look for possible big days for Wilbekin and Cornelius Hudson, as the Tigers are one of the worst teams in the country at defending the 3.
Overall, this will be a sneaky tough game for Wake in front of what will be an especially light crowd due to its odd timing. If Wake can push the pace, dominate the boards and limit 3-point opportunities for the Tigers, they should be in good shape heading into 2015. However, if Princeton makes some early deep shots and builds confidence it may come down to the wire.