The last time the Wake Forest Demon Deacons played the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Deacs were 10-5 overall, and still well in the thick of things for an NCAA Tournament berth. Virginia Tech won that high scoring affair, despite Wake Forest shooting 59% from the field. Now, six weeks later, Wake Forest has just 11 total wins, while Virginia Tech sits at 7-8 in ACC play, and has essentially reversed Ken Pom positions with Wake Forest. The Hokies have moved from 127th to 99th, while the Deacs have dropped from 98th to 127th. On Sunday, Devin Thomas and Codi Miller-McIntyre will play their final games in the LJVM Coliseum. Can their senior nights end with a win? Let's examine how the teams match up.
Wake Forest should have a decided advantage inside. Devin Thomas will be back after serving a two-game suspension, and will hopefully be able to duplicate his performance from the last time the Deacs played the Hokies. Thomas finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, on just 10 field goal attempts. John Collins and Doral Moore played just six combined minutes in that contest, and that number has to increase this time around. The two played very well in Thomas' recent absence and deserve more minutes. Dinos Mitoglou has been just as productive offensively as he was last season, but this year his defensive rating is 5 points worse per 100 possessions.
Zach LeDay made the Deacs pay last time by hitting all four of his three-point attempts. If Wake is going to play Dinos big minutes, then I'd like to see them switch to that zone that has been very effective at times. Virginia Tech is undersized, but they have a serious quickness advantage at the 4 spot, and took full advantage of that mismatch in Blacksburg.
In the last contest, Virginia Tech's Justin Bibbs lit up the Deacs for 32 points, and he did it on just 18 field goal attempts. He's 6'5" and can create matchup problems. Bryant Crawford and Codi Miller-McIntyre will have to do a solid job of defending him, as will Rondale Watson when he enters the game. The guards will also have to do a far better job of protecting the ball. The Deacs outrebounded the Hokies by 9 in the last contest, but had 10 more turnovers. Bryant Crawford had 5 by himself, while the entire Virginia Tech team had just 6. That cannot happen again, and the Deacs have to value the basketball.
Wake Forest should win this game. They are at home, it's senior night, and I believe they are the more talented team. They will have to be ready for a battle, however, as Buzz Williams' teams consistently look to attack the basket and play with outstanding energy.
The action starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. Please get there early and support the seniors. It's so hard to believe that it's already senior night for the 2012 recruiting class. As always, go Deacs!