With an ACC schedule and a ruthless non-conference schedule, few teams endure a more challenging schedule that your Demon Deacons. But tonight, Wake Forest gets the allure of playing (indubitably) the nation's most gifted player. Unlike most years, this is not against Duke or UNC or Syracuse. Ben Simmons plays in Baton Rouge.
The 6-10 point-forward crossed the Pacific from Down Under with higher expectations than Outback Steakhouse (sorry guys). In his one year in high school, he led Montverde (FL) to a national championship (teammates with Doral Moore) and has amazed fans with his vision, physicality and grace. This will be a great test for the Demon Deacon defense. I imagine Danny Manning will constantly throw different looks at him with defenders like Cornelius Hudson and John Collins guarding the future No. 1 overall pick.
LSU has had their share on superstar basketball players with Pistol Pete and Shaquille O'Neal. In terms of talent and excitement, is Ben Simmons near their superstar pedestal for what he means to this Tigers team and LSU basketball overall?
Not too much. Baton Rouge is a football town through and through, and after the teams middling start, the hype-train that has surround Simmons has lost some momentum. Because of his play style (makes his teammates better, rebounds tastefully, isn’t a go-to scorer except for in transition) casual fans aren’t necessarily wowed by his performances night in and night out. If you love and understand the game, though, it’s hard to deny how special he is. Because of the timing, and because Wake Forest is a bigger name school, there will be a decent crowd, but towards the end of the game (and god forbid should things go to overtime), I imagine plans for the Texas Bowl will become the priority.