The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will look to build on their strong performance at the Maui Invitational when they face Rutgers on Monday evening. Rutgers enters the game with a 3-3 record, but one of those games was against a Division III opponent. Rutgers most recent performance was a 17-point loss to Clemson in Las Vegas. What can Wake Forest fans expect to see in tonight's matchup?
This game should be a very up-tempo game. If you think Wake Forest plays fast, Rutgers actually plays even faster. Rutgers has the 35th fastest offense in the country. While I don't believe it's in Rutgers' best interest to play an up-tempo style, it should lead to some solid transition and secondary break opportunities for the Demon Deacons.
Wake Forest should have a significant advantage on the offensive glass. On the season, the Deacs have rebounded nearly 40% of their misses (20th nationally), while Rutgers is one of the 80 worst defensive rebounding teams in the country. In a road game, it's difficult to know how well a team is going to shoot, but Wake Forest should be able to rely on gathering rebounds and generating easy points through put backs.
Rutgers is very inefficient on the offensive end, and this is largely due to them having a high turnover rate, and being a poor shooting team. They turn the ball over on nearly 21% of their possessions, and are shooting just 31.1% from beyond the arc. Wake Forest is currently allowing opponents to make 38.1% of threes, so I'm hopeful that perimeter defense will improve now that Cornelius Hudson and Rondale Watson are back in the lineup. Mike Williams, however, is shooting 37% from threes on the season and needs to be checked wherever he goes.
The Scarlet Knights have started two different lineups so far this season, with freshman Corey Sanders taking over the starting point guard position from Bishop Daniels. Freshman Jonathan Laurent started the first two games before playing limited minutes the next four.
They also may be without Sanders and Laurent, who are both dealing with injuries, Sanders has a turf toe injury sustained during the Clemson game, while Laurent is dealing with an ankle bruise.
It will probably not matter, but it bears noting that the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) does not have air conditioning. I actually took in a game there a few years back and it got pretty hot, even though it was a winter game. Coming off of a 5 day break I doubt cramps will be an issue, but could be something to look out for.
I expect Wake Forest to be with everybody except Codi Miller-McIntyre, so it will be good to have Crawford, Watson, and Hudson all back at the same time. Hudson looked great against UCLA, and it is encouraging that he can play some at the guard position to help bolster that depth.
Wake will be the third straight top 75 Ken Pomeroy team that Rutgers has faced (Creighton- 53, Clemson- 50), and will hopefully send the Scarlet Knights to its third straight double-digit loss, although a win of any kind would be very nice.
The Deacs will be looking for its second road win the year, which, as of this article being written, would be two more than the rest of the ACC has combined. That's correct, Wake Forest is the only team in the ACC that won a true road game this season. Hopefully win number two comes tonight.