The Wake Forest Demon Deacons and North Carolina State will meet for the third and final time of the 2015-2016 season. The conference season has been one to forget for both of the teams. The two teams went a combined 19-6 in non-conference play, but have gone a combined 7-29 in ACC play. Two of those seven wins had to happen by default. Still, both teams enter Tuesday's contest with an opportunity to finish the season on a positive note and take some momentum into the offseason.
North Carolina State is a very efficient offensive team. While they have a very bad effective field goal percentage, they do an excellent job of protecting the ball (it helps when Cat Barber handles the ball for 500 minutes per game), and they also do a great job of crashing the offensive glass. Abdul-Malik Abu is a terror on the offensive glass, and Devin Thomas and company will have to consistently seal out and finish defensive possessions. Far too many times Wake Forest will get an initial stop, but give up second chance opportunities. If Wake allows those second chance opportunities, then they will have very little chance in this one.
How can Wake do better than the current defensive rebounding rank of 242nd? Quite frankly, Danny Manning needs to play Doral Moore solid minutes. He was an instant force in Raleigh, and matches up well with the Wolfpack. Wake actually matches up well against State because Dinos Mitoglou does not have to defend on the perimeter.
Codi Miller-McIntyre was sensational the last time the Deacs played the Wolfpack. He finished with 24 points on just 17 field goal attempts. That was the Codi we had known over his first three years in Winston-Salem. That game has sparked a great run for the senior. Over the past six games, which includes that contest, he has averaged 15 points. If CMM can continue to play at that level, he and Bryant Crawford will form a very dynamic backcourt. Another benefit of Wake Forest controlling the defensive glass, is that they can hit outlet passes to either Crawford or CMM, which will create excellent scoring opportunities.
Wake should have an advantage on the offensive glass, but they have make sure their guards ready to drop back in transition to try and slow down Cat Barber's one-man fast break. I'm hopeful that Mitchell Wilbekin and Dinos Mitoglou can knock down perimeter shots. Devin Thomas was a noticeable snub from the All-ACC teams, so I hope that he comes out with energy and plays in at least one more game as a Demon Deacon.
I hope this isn't the last preview that I get to write this basketball season. As always, go Deacs!