Wake suffered another tough loss this weekend to a ranked Virginia team on the road, and unfortunately things aren’t going to get any easier this week. The Deacs head home this Wednesday night to take on the 11th ranked UNC Tar Heels, who sit at 14-3 overall and 2-1 in the ACC. UNC is basically a complete 180 from the Deacs’ last opponent; whereas UVA likes to slow down the pace and use the entire shotclock, UNC prefers to push the ball in transition at every opportunity and get easy shots before the opposing defense can get set. Keep your eye out for these Tar Heels to have a big impact on the Wednesday’s matchup:
Joel Berry II | Junior Guard | #2
Berry is the second 1st Team All ACC preseason selection that the Deacs will face this week. He finished off the 2015-2016 season on a high note, picking up ACC Tournament MVP and All Final Four Team honors, and has continued to play at a high level this season averaging 15.4 points, 4.4 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game. He has significantly improved his shooting percentage from last season, shooting 49% from the floor (up from 44% last season) and 43% from the 3-point line (up from 38% last season). With over half his shots coming from beyond the arc, Berry likes to shoot the ball from deep. He has impressive range and is 9th in the ACC in 3-pointers made with 36.
Berry is one of the better guards in the country in pushing the ball on missed shots. He is looking to attack off the outlet pass and if no one stops the ball he will take it all the way himself. Wake will definitely need to hustle back down the court after shots to ensure UNC doesn’t get any easy fast break layups.
That being said, he always keeps his eyes down the court looking for the open guy to pass the ball too. His ability to make smart decisions while pushing the ball in transition is one of the many things that makes UNC such a tough team to defend.
It has been pointed out by several people that the Wake Forest guards have not been doing a very good job as of late defending the perimeter. Against Berry and Jackson, if the Deacs continue their matador defense on the perimeter, it will be extremely difficult to beat a highly ranked UNC team.
Kennedy Meeks | Senior Forward | #3
Meeks is a very skilled big that is close to averaging a double double this season with 12.6 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game. He ranks 10th in the nation in offensive rebounds per game with 3.94. The Deacs will need to make sure they get a body on him when UNC takes a shot because he is a monster on the offensive glass.
Meeks also has a nice repertoire of moves he can use in the low post with hooks, fadeaways, and drives which are helping to shoot almost 52% on the year. I highly doubt Wake Forest will double team him in the post, so Collins will want to be careful not to get into foul trouble trying to stop him from scoring.
If the Deacs do decide to bring an extra guy to defend Meeks when he gets the ball in the post, they will need to be wary of his ability to pass the ball. Meeks has very good court vision and has no problem giving the ball up to the open man for an easier shot.
I think Meeks will have the biggest impact on this game on defensive end. At 260lbs, he is very solid physically. John Collins may have trouble backing him down and getting good position in the post to score. If Collins is struggling to score, I don’t think I need to tell you what that means for our chances in this one.