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Wake Forest vs. Bucknell Preview

The Deacs are looking to start the season 2-0.

NCAA Basketball: Bucknell at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons opened the season on Friday night with a 21-point victory over Radford, but less than 48 hours later the Deacs will be hosting the Bucknell Bison. Bryant Crawford helped Wake overcome a 13-point deficit to defeat Bucknell on the road last season. What can we expect this afternoon?

Bucknell defeated Manhattan 76-64 at home on Friday evening and moved from 189th to 168th in Ken Pom. The Bison were led by forward Zach Thomas, who finished with 23 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Point guard Stephen Brown also chipped in with 11 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. Thankfully Chris Hass has finally graduated.

The Bison, however, are not a deep team, and had 4 of their players play 30+ minutes on Friday night. That shouldn’t lend itself well to a game just two days later. Wake Forest did not have any players play more than 30 minutes, and had 7 players play 20+ minutes. Wake’s depth and balance should be a major advantage in this one.

Bucknell shot the ball very well on Friday night, but it’s questionable whether they will be able to do that against Wake. The Bison shot 53% on two-point field goal attempts, but I doubt that they will be able to do that with shot-blockers like John Collins and Doral Moore on the interior. One that is is worrisome is that Bucknell drained 7 of 18 3’s (39%) against Manhattan. Another thing that’s worrisome is that Manhattan turned the ball over on 32% of possessions against Bucknell. I didn’t actually see that game, so I don’t know whether they were forced turnovers or unforced errors, but this will definitely be a thing to track given Wake’s tendency to frequently turn the ball over.

The biggest weakness Bucknell has is that they truly struggled to rebound the ball, and that should be a major advantage for Wake. Bucknell got out-rebounded by 13, and Wake’s combination of Doral Moore, John Collins, and Dinos Mitoglou should have a big advantage here. That’s not to mention that players like Bryant Crawford and Keyshawn Woods rebound very well from the guard position. Wake should be able to utilize size to win the rebounding battle and also dominate down low on the offensive end.

Ultimately, I expect that Wake has too much talent and size in this one. I’ll take Wake to win by about 15. What are you all expecting in this one?