On Wednesday night, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons will attempt to do something that the program hasn't done since 2004, and that is defeat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. It doesn't seem to matter how good either team is, the Deacs continually find a way to lose in Atlanta. Tonight, the Deacs find themselves in the role of the underdog. Can they pull off the upset and sting the Jackets?
Georgia Tech is just 2-8 in ACC play, but they are ranked 60th in Ken Pomeroy's rankings. They have played some very good teams close, both home and away, but typically come up short. What are the strengths of the team?
Georgia Tech's biggest strength is their ability to protect the ball. They turn it over on just 15% of possessions, which is 13th best nationally. Adam Smith, a.k.a. the "Invisible Hand," averages less than one turnover per game, despite handling the ball often. Marcus Georges Hunt is also good at protecting the ball. Georgia Tech is one of the oldest teams in the country, and that experience shows when it comes to limiting turnovers. On the flip side, they are very poor at forcing turnovers. Wake tends to turn it over regardless, but hopefully they'll play more in control in this one.
The Yellow Jackets also crash the offensive glass with ferocity. Charles Mitchell and Nick Jacobs are undersized at 6'8" a piece, but both have very high rebounding rates. Charles Mitchell is currently averaging 10.1 rebounds per game, and is a very wide body. Devin Thomas is going to have to work very hard tonight at boxing out Mitchell. He cannot simply rely on jumping to grab the ball, and must be very fundamentally sound. They are also very good at defensive rebounding, which could potentially limit one of the strengths of the Wake Forest offense.
Wake Forest's opponents have been shooting an astounding 78% from the foul line during ACC play. The good news for Wake is that Georgia Tech doesn't do a very good job of getting to the foul line. Hopefully that will also translate into Wake Forest big men staying out of foul trouble.
Georgia Tech does not look to shoot too many threes, but Adam Smith can drain them when he gets a chance. He has made 42% of his shots from deep all year. Wake needs to do everything they can they force him off of the three point line and go three-to-two. He has made just 38% of his twos, so they should encourage him to take it inside.
Georgia Tech is probably going to be too disciplined for the Deacs to handle. Wake's inability to consistently grab defensive rebounds is going to prove to be too costly in this one. Wake has an outside shot to win, but given how they've played over the past month, it's difficult to imagine them coming home victorious.