Despite playing solid basketball thus far in 2015 the Wake Forest Demon Deacons sit at 9-9 (1-4 ACC) and have only one win in the new calendar to show for it. Close losses at home to top ten Louisville and Duke and an overtime loss to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome reveal marked improvement for Danny Manning's squad and the Deacs have an opportunity to finally get over the hump and knock off a nationally ranked opponent as 15th ranked UNC rolls into town to square off tonight at the Joel.
The Tarheels, ranked ninth in KenPom, have hit a bit of a stride lately following a loss to Notre Dame on January 4th and have rattled off three straight wins including an ugly 68-53 home win last time out over cellar dweller Virginia Tech. For the Deacs to have a chance in this one they will need to limit turnovers, keep a hand in Bryce Johnson and Marcus Paige's face, and win the battle on the glass. The Heels enter this one as the best offensive rebounding team in the nation recovering a ridiculous 44% of every missed shot they take while the Deacs rank third in the nation in defensive rebounding, allowing opponents to only rebound just over 23% of all their misses. Expect the pace to be up in this one as both teams like to get out and push the tempo, best indicated by the average possession lengths on offense where both teams are in the top 25 in the country well under 17 seconds per possession.
So with these dynamics does the staff believe that Wake will emerge victorious and get to double digit wins tonight on national television? Surprisingly, yes. Let's take a look at the picks:
Riley: UNC 75-74
Rob: Wake 72-70
Jake: Wake 77-72
Bart: UNC 71-69
Chris: Wake 74-69
Matt: Wake 80-75
Griffin: Wake 76-74
Shayn: Wake 71-70
BSD Average: Wake 74-72
KenPom: UNC 78-70 (21% chance of Wake winning)
KenPom probably gives a valid assessment of Wake's chances, providing Wake with roughly one win every five games. We here at BSD are not normally optimistic but I would certainly believe that in this regard (beating UNC) we are eternally prepared to do so and hope the team can carry out our prognostications. The lone two picks against Wake, Riley and myself, will hopefully end up being dead wrong. Regardless of the outcome it appears that all the writers believe this will be a tightly contested game throughout.
Join us at BSD tonight if you aren't going to the Joel as the game tips at 7 P.M. on ESPN2. What do you think will happen tonight? If you have any questions, comments, or opinions let us know below. And as always, go Deacs!