The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have been off since their 88-85 victory over Arkansas on December 4th, but they will return to action tonight when they host the UNC Greensboro Spartans. The Deacs enter the contest with a record of 6-2, and will get back Codi Miller-McIntyre, who missed the first 8 games of the year due to surgery on his fractured foot. He led the Deacs in scoring over each of the past two years, and will be an outstanding boost to this Wake Forest team. UNC Greensboro comes in with a 4-5 record, but just 1 of those 4 wins came against a Division 1 opponent. They are coached by Wes Miller, who is in his 5th year with the program.
UNC Greensboro is simply not a very good basketball team. They are ranked 291st in KenPom, and Wake Forest has a 92% chance of winning this game. They are below average at both offensive and defensive efficiency, but they are strong in a few components of the game.
UNC Greensboro's biggest advantage is that they do an excellent job of limiting turnovers. They have the 31st best turnover rate in the country, meanwhile, Wake Forest is literally second worst in the country at forcing turnovers. Hopefully the addition of Codi Miller-McIntyre will help that, but Wake has been atrocious at forcing turnovers this season. That's unfortunate, because Wake has the athleticism to thrive in the open court.
The Spartans have good defensive rebounding numbers, while Wake Forest is excellent at grabbing offensive boards. I expect Wake Forest to get the better end of this battle, but UNCG's numbers entering the game are impressive. Another thing that should potentially concern Wake is that 45% of UNCG's field goal attempts are threes. Fortunately, they don't make a very high percentage, but the Wake guards are going to have to do a good job of contesting shots, and fighting through screens. Wake should not go underneath any screens, because a shot is probably going up if they do. Hopefully they don't start magically making all of their shots on Tuesday. Connecting from deep is definitely UNCG's best shot to be competitive in this one. Francis Alonso (#10) and Asad Lamot (#2) shoot around 40% from deep and will be the ones to watch out for.
Have I made you worried yet? I got myself slightly concerned over the last few sentences. The good news is that Wake Forest has a decided advantage in a lot of areas. Despite UNCG shooting a lot of threes and not turning the ball over very often, they are still a below average offensive team. Meanwhile, Wake has a very good offense, and it should only get better with the addition of CMM. Wake also has a massive height advantage. They are 19th in the country in "effective height" (which weights minutes played), compared to UNCG being 304th. Yes, UNCG has done well so far at defensive rebounding, but Wake's height and athleticism should allow them to do very well on the glass.
UNCG also has a very poor effective field goal percentage, despite shooting so many threes. They also have a defensive effective field goal percentage of nearly 56%, which is dreadful. I fully expect Wake Forest's Devin Thomas and John Collins to feast on the inside. Bryant Crawford, Codi Miller-McIntyre, and Cornelius Hudson should all be able to slash and finish at the basket. UNCG has no shot blockers, and they get a lot of their shots blocked. That should translate to a lot of dunks and layups for Wake Forest in half court sets, and Wake's blocks could also lead to some nice transition opportunities.
The action starts at 7 p.m. ET. I urge you all to get out to LJVM Coliseum, and support the team. If you can't make it, then you can catch the action on ESPN3. As always, go Deacs!