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Wake Forest vs. Florida State Preview: Can Wake Handle FSU's Backcourt?

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A preview of Saturday's home contest against Florida State.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will host the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday in what will be a battle of teams going in opposite directions. The Deacs have lost 7 in a row, while the Noles have won 3 in a row. Can Wake reverse that trend? Let's see how the two teams match up.

FSU has great size and athleticism in the backcourt. They feature 6'4" Xavier Rathan-Mayes at point guard, 6'5" Malik Beasley at shooting guard, and 6'7" Dwayne Bacon at small forward. This can create some matchup problems for the Deacs, as they typically start Mitchell Wilbekin, who is listed at 6'2", but that's probably somewhat generous. I'm really not sure who he is going to guard in this one. My initial thought is that Danny Manning will put Codi Miller-McIntyre on Bacon, much like he put CMM on Ben Simmons when the Deacs played LSU. Overall, FSU struggles to shoot from deep, but they do have two players (Beasley and Devon Bookert) who shoot at least 39% from deep. Given this, Wake would probably best be suited to sag off a bit and dare them to make jumpers.

When they do miss jumpers, however, they do a very good job of crashing the offensive glass. Boris Bojanovsky and Terance Mann are both nationally ranked in offensive rebounding percentage, and FSU also rebounds well at all positions. This is problematic for the Deacs who are below average at grabbing defensive rebounds. Far too many times they will get initial stops only to get up second chance opportunities to opponents.

Florida State is a good defensive team and is ranked 39th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. They have great size as a team, and have the third highest average height in division 1. They aren't spectacular at any one aspect of defense, but they are above average at each of the four factors: effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage, defensive rebounding percentage, and free throw rate.

Wake's best chance of attacking the Seminoles is going to be by grabbing offensive rebounds and converting opportunities around the rim, as well as getting to the foul line and (hopefully) making free throws. Wake is currently shooting 66% on the year from the foul line, including just 60% in conference play. That's abysmal, and that's essentially a 40% turnover rate in a one-and-one situation.

Wake has to value the basketball in this game and be very decisive when making passes. Wake Forest turns it over on more than 20% of possessions, while the Seminoles force turnovers more than 19% of the time. Those turnovers have the potential to lead to fast break opportunities, and Wake Forest has no chance if Florida State gets consistent transition opportunities.

This game is probably going to played at a high tempo, as both teams typically look to push the ball on offense, but I think Wake should look to slow it down. This gives them more opportunities to get the ball inside to Devin Thomas, and let him go to work. FSU can also get careless at times with the ball, so the Deacs have to maximize when they force turnovers and get out in transition.

I'm curious to see that kind of effort that the Deacs bring in this one. I worry after the Clemson game that they will mail it in. I hope to be very wrong, and to see a lot of effort and intensity in this one. As always, go Deacs.