On Saturday the Wake Forest Demon Deacons will face their toughest test of the season when they travel to Charlottesville to take on the Virginia Cavaliers at 2:30 p.m. Virginia is ranked 2nd in the country and is 22-1 on the season, with their lone loss coming to Duke at home. Let's examine Virginia's team and how Wake Forest matches up.
As you probably guessed, Virginia is very good at basketball. That's the kind of hard-hitting analysis we like to provide here at Blogger So Dear. But seriously, they are very good at almost every facet of the game.
Virginia has allowed just 57 fast break points all season. I repeat, 57 fast break points all season. Wake Forest has scored 345 fast break points this season, which is nearly 14 per contest (about 20% of Wake's points). UVA has allowed just under 2.5 per game. That's beyond remarkable. Virginia is able to do this despite having the 45th best offensive rebounding rate (35.6%) in the country. Usually a team has to make a philosophical decision of attacking the glass or getting back on defense. Perhaps the key reason why UVA has allowed such few fast break points is that they turn the ball over on just 14.8% of their possessions, which is 5th nationally.
Wake Forest is going to look to push tempo in this game, as they do in every other game they play. Wake has the 35th fastest offensive tempo in the country, while Virginia has one of the 10 longest average defensive possession lengths in the country. Wake has the 10th best defensive rebounding % in the country. If they can win that battle, then it's possible they can dictate tempo in this game.
Virginia's half-court defense is exceptional, as they have the 2nd best effective field goal % defense in the country, so Wake must capitalize on every fast break opportunity they get. Pack-line (drink) teams are typically very good at defending the pick-and-roll due to the defense clogging space in the middle, which is a problem because Wake looks to PNR with Codi Miller-McIntyre quite often.
Post entries will also be difficult, as the pack-line typically fully fronts the post players when the ball is at the top of the key, and 3/4 fronts when the ball is on the wing. It will be interesting to see how UVA defends Devin Thomas in the post once he receives the ball. If we can get him the ball with shooters such as Mitchell Wilbekin or Cornelius Hudson on the same side, then UVA will probably be forced to defend him one-on-one.
Virginia gets a lot of publicity for their defense and their tempo (drink), but they are very sound on offense. They have the 12th best adjusted offensive efficiency in the country. Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, Darion Atkins and Mike Tobey all have offensive ratings greater than 100. It's not sexy, but it's highly effective. They shoot a solid percentage from three, don't turn the ball over, grab offensive rebounds and hit free throws. Their biggest weakness is that they have a poor free throw rate. Wake's pressure man-to-man defense is going to be tested. Virginia forces teams to defend for longer periods of time, and wears opponents out mentally. When defenses make a mistake, then UVA picks them apart.
Ken Pom predicts that Wake Forest will lose this game by 19 points and says that the Deacs have a 3% chance to win. The real numbers are slightly different given the Justin Anderson injury. This will be Wake's biggest test, and I'm intrigued to see how they look against such an excellent opponent.