The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will escape the snow and travel to sunny Coral Gables, Florida when they take on the #15 Miami Hurricanes. The Deacs will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak, but in order to do that they must beat a team that is 14-3 on the season. How does Wake Forest match up against the Hurricanes?
Miami is led by senior guard Sheldon McClellan. McClellan is leading the team in scoring at 16.1 points per game, and also shoots better than 40% from beyond the arc. In addition to that, he can penetrate, get to the charity stripe, and also rarely turns it over. My best guess is that Wake Forest head coach, Danny Manning, will put Codi Miller-McIntyre on McClellan to start the game. Given that Miami starts a tall three guard lineup of Ja'Quan Newton (6'2"), Sheldon McClellan (6'5") and Davon Reed (6'6"), I wouldn't be shocked to see Manning start Cornelius Hudson over Mitchell Wilbekin. Especially given the fact that Wilbekin played only 8 minutes against North Carolina. However, if Wilbekin starts, then I anticipate that he will defend Newton, and Bryant Crawford will defend Reed.
Miami is a very balanced team. They have four players who average double-figures in scoring, while Wake Forest has only three (Devin Thomas, Dinos Mitoglou and Bryant Crawford). Miami also doesn't have any obvious weaknesses. They are 21st nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, and 18th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Miami's biggest strength is that they get excellent looks at the basket from inside the arc, and as a result make 55% of their 2-point field goal attempts. Sheldon McClellan makes a whopping 61%. That's phenomenal for a shooting guard. Wake also has to be very concerned with Tonye Jekiri, who stands at 7' tall, and makes 56% of his shots. Miami has four other players who are making more than 50% of 2-point field goal attempts and have attempted more than 60 on the year. That type of ball movement and versatility is going to be very problematic.
If Wake Forest is going to pull off the upset in this one, then it's critical that they crash the offensive glass. Wake is 41st nationally in offensive rebounding percentage, while Miami is 35th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage. Wake is also 14th nationally at offensive free throw rate, while Miami is 38th nationally in defensive free throw rate. Given Miami's ability to block shots, Wake is going to have to draw fouls instead of just getting swatted around the rim.
Miami is below average at forcing opponents to turn the ball over, but Wake turns it over on more than 20% of possessions. Wake has the 54th fastest offensive tempo in the country, and it's my opinion that the Deacs should look to play a bit slower. I think it would reduce turnovers, and allow Devin Thomas to get more touches on the interior.
Wake can win this game, but Miami's length on defense will be a real issue, as was Syracuse's. Patience on offense and making proper and swift defensive rotations are the keys to the game. You can catch all of the action this Saturday at noon on the ACC Network. As always, go Deacs!