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Wake Forest vs. Richmond Preview: Will the Deacs Move to 3-0?

What to expect in Wake's midweek matchup against the University of Richmond.

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The annual Richmond-Wake Forest basketball matchup is once again upon us and I’d be willing to bet it won’t fail to disappoint. One of the most famous moments of this 52 game rivalry came last year as Devin Thomas’ buzzer beating heroics allowed the Deacs to steal a victory on the road against a UR team that reached the NIT Quarterfinal.

Don’t let the barnburner of last year make you forget about the highly entertaining games that recently preceded it as well: An OT matchup in 2013-14 at the Joel and a down-to-the-wire game the year before that Richmond held on to for a two-point victory. There are a lot of new faces for both teams this year, but that shouldn’t alter the competitiveness and intensity we’ve become so used to in this matchup one bit. Let’s dive in and look at what this game has to offer before tip-off tonight.

First off, it must be said that the Spiders have had no trouble scoring so far this season. Richmond is averaging 91.5 PPG through two games and just recently put on an offensive showcase against a weak Stetson side over the weekend. Now, it’s obvious Stetson isn’t exactly suffocating opponents anytime soon with their defense (After all the team did finish 336th in Kenpom last year and 2nd from the bottom in the Atlantic Sun), but Richmond shooting 48.4% from 3’s with over 30 attempts is nothing to sneeze at either. Shawndre’ Jones, Marshall Woods, and TJ Cline (You may remember Cline had a field day against us last year with 22 points on 75% shooting) are the perimeter threats that Wake will need to shut down and force to find points in other ways.

If the shots aren’t falling from range for Richmond, they’ll know exactly who to go to. Senior F Terry Allen is leading the team in…wait for it… Points, Assists, Rebounds, Steals, Blocks, Turnovers, and Minutes through two games this year and has taken a team-high 26 FGA. Expect UR to try and run things heavily through Allen if things aren’t clicking offensively for Kline or Jones, and his athleticism in his 6’8 frame should allow him to cause problems for Wake all night long.

I think McClinton should see a slight bump in his minutes (He’s at 22.5 MPG currently) as he’s the only guy that really matches up well with Terry at the position. Putting in Van Horn, Dinos, or O’Brien at the 3 would be a disaster waiting to happen and putting Devin on him could put DT in foul trouble in a game Wake can’t afford it.

If the Deacs can keep Terry under 15 points I would feel fairly confident we will pull out the victory, but given the fact he has been in double digits in 20 of his last 21 games (Multiple times over 20 points) I really don’t see that as likely. Wake will win this game by keeping guys like Kline and Jones quiet, not Allen.

However, perhaps I’m overselling Richmond and the quality they have overall on the roster. After all, UR did lose to James Madison by 12 at home in their opener even with Allen going 10-15 from the field and scoring 27 points on the day. Where Wake will have a significant advantage is on the boards, with the Deacs coming into the game a top 20 rebounding team in the nation and Richmond sitting at a struggling 259th.

Not to mention that 259th ranking is even after a game against Stetson who didn’t have a big man in their lineup over 6’7. If Wake is going to pull away in this game it is going to be limiting Richmond to one shot per possession and finding ways to get second chance points through Thomas, Mitoglou, Collins, and Moore on the offensive glass.

It’s also important to note that Stetson and James Madison were a combined 46.8% from 3 against Richmond, which hopefully means Wake shooters will have some open looks to finally get into a rhythm from beyond the arc.

Wake Forest is coming into tomorrow as 5.5-point favorites and I feel like that margin is where I expect this game to end. Although Allen will be extremely difficult to stop, ultimately Wake’s size on the glass and home court advantage will allow the Deacs to pull away late. I don’t expect it to come easy tonight, but the Deacs, even with their roster complications, are in a very good position to move to 3-0 Wednesday night.

Wake 74-68 Richmond