Warning: This following statement is ominous and can produce severe eye sores and an increased heart rate.
WAKE FOREST HAS NOT BEATEN DUKE IN CAMERON INDOOR SINCE TIM DUNCAN'S SENIOR YEAR!
While, the 38-year-old legend has won five NBA titles, the Demon Deacons haven't scored a single victory in Durham. And none of the games have evenbeenclose.
Since Wake's 81-69 triumph on January, 11th, 1997, the Blue Devils have won 15 straight on their home court. None of those games were even in single digits. In those games, Wake faced the nation's No. 1 team four times, and only played one team outside of the top 10.
With history on the mind, does Coach Manning have the personnel to pull off the monumental upset?
In early January, the Deacs sent a message across college basketball going neck-and-neck with Duke for 35 minutes, only three days after dueling with Louisville.
An optimistic would argue that Wake is a more mature and dynamic team than in January. But a realist recognizes that Coach K will replay that seesaw battle over and over and over. The Blue Devils will not underestimate Wake on Senior Night. Also, the raucous Cameron Indoor crowd could greatly disrupt the youthful Demon Deacons.
But most importantly, Duke is a far more talented team.
Wake Forest Offense vs Duke Defense
Wake Forest features the 116th best offensive efficiency, according to KenPom. All season long, the Deacs have played at a frenetic pace and sped up in transition. They rely heavily on half-man, half-bulldozer Codi Miller-McIntyre to ransack his way to the rim. His ability to get to the hoop causes defenses to collapse and results in open looks for spot-up shooters Dinos Mitoglou and Mitchell Wilbekin (see: Pittsburgh). They will need to continue to play quick and aggressive against Duke's "porous" defense ranks 71st in the nation.
At 6-11, Jahlil Okafor gets his share of blocks but is not very agile or vertical on the defensive end. Amile Jefferson also has some length to alter shot attempts. However, the dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon- their best wing defender- has been a serious blow to Duke's wing depth. Expect Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones to get the assignment on Miller-McIntyre.
In their meeting in January, Devin Thomas- as he so often does- stepped up to the plate on the big stage. He dominated the paint, converting 12-20 field goals (somehow was granted zero free throw attempts) for 24 points. Duke limited Miller-McIntyre's clean looks at the rim, but he still managed an impressive 14-9-8 line. No other Deacons, however, scored in double figures.
This time around, Coach K will probably double Thomas more in the middle and clog the paint even more to prevent Miller-McIntyre from penetrating. For Wake to have any chance, a third (and probably fourth) option needs to step up. The Demon Deacons must convert their free throws to have any chance at keeping up with Duke's transcendent offense. Hopefully the #CameronRims will help with that.
Duke Offense vs Wake Forest Defense
The Blue Devils have a plethora of threats that could quickly turn a Demon Deacon dream into a nightmare. Duke boasts the second best offensive efficiency in the nation and it all starts with Okafor, who is averaging 18.2 ppg and 9.6 rbs, in the middle. Offensively, he is the most skilled freshman big man that college basketball has seen in over ten years. His game compares favorably to Al Jefferson, so Wake big men (namely Devin Thomas and Darius Leonard) need to hold their position and not fall for his feverish fakes and nimble footwork.
Meanwhile, his fellow freshman Tyus Jones and lead ballhandler has matured dramatically throughout confereence play. In the past 13 games, Jones is averaging 13.8 ppg and 6.6 asts and he has been incredibly clutch in late game situations. His backcourt counterpart, Quinn Cook is also very savvy with the ball, but is even more effective off ball. He moves well off of screens, finding just an inch of space to capitalize. The senior ranks second in ACC history with 39 straight games with a three-pointer. Also, forward Justice Winslow provides tremendous athleticism and some shooting range on the wing.
Overall, the main key for the Demon Deacons is to limit Okafor's touches, contest every three-point shot and lock up the defensive glass. Wake ranks 22nd in the nation on the defensive boards, but they allowed 17 offensive rebounds to Pittsburgh on Sunday. This must change for the Demon Deacons to pull off the first win in Durham since Dinos Mitoglou was seven months old.
Wake Forest 67