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Wake Forest vs. Louisville: Preview

What you can expect to see when Wake Forest hosts #5 Louisville.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-6,0-1) will host the #5 Louisville Cardinals (12-1,0-0) tonight at 8 p.m. in the LJVM Coliseum. It marks the first time the two schools have played each other since the 1996 Sweet 16, where the Demon Deacons won 60-59. Deacon fans would be thrilled with a similar outcome tonight, but the numbers are not in Wake's favor.

Wake Forest Offense vs. Louisville Defense
Wake Forest Offense Ken Pom Statistic Louisville Defense
97.6 Rating 82.4
47.1% eFG% 39.5%
21.4% TO% 26.9%
36.0% Reb% 69.9%
48.0% FTA/FGA 31.2%

Wake Forest's biggest disadvantage in this matchup is their propensity to turn the ball over, and the fact that Louisville has an aggressive defense and traps/presses a lot. If Louisville can force Wake Forest to turn the ball over, then that will lead to a number of easy baskets for Louisville. Terry Rozier and Chris Jones have two of the highest steal %'s in the country, which spells trouble for Wake Forest. If they get the ball, then it's off to the races and two points for Louisville. Wake really cannot afford to fall down by more than 10 points at any point in this game if they are going to win. Wake's second biggest issue is Louisville's half-court defense is also excellent. They hold opponents to an eFG% of below 40%, which is 6th best nationally. The Deacs are going to have to find other opportunities to score, and that includes crashing the offensive glass and getting to the foul line. Those are areas of the game where Wake can win, and I believe they'll have to capitalize there to win this game.

Louisville Offense vs. Wake Forest Defense
Louisville Offense Ken Pom Statistic Wake Forest Defense
105.0 Rating 93.6
48.2% eFG% 48.9%
19.6% TO% 20.5%
38.7% Reb% 77.9%
45.7% FTA/FGA 36.6%

Danny Manning is quietly building a team that is very strong on the defensive end. The Deacs currently have the 49th best adjusted defensive efficiency in the country, which is up from last year's finish of 106th. Wake actually matches up quite well with Louisville when they are in half-court defense. Louisville shoots just 29% from beyond the 3-point line, which is 293rd nationally. Louisville's above-average offensive efficiency comes from the fast break opportunities they generate of their press. If Wake Forest can limit turnovers, then I expect Wake Forest to more than hold their own against Louisville in half-court sets. Wake Forest is the 2nd best defensive rebounding team in the country, while Louisville is the 16th best offensive rebounding team in the country. That battle will be massive in half-court defense.

Ultimately, however, I believe Louisville's press is going to be too much for Wake Forest to handle.

I'll take Louisville to win 67-50. I hope to be very wrong.