Wake Forest will try to get back on the right track tonight after a woeful 1-4 start to the 2017 basketball season. The Demon Deacons will welcome the 4-1 UNC-Greensboro Spartans to Winston-Salem for a 7 PM Black Friday tipoff.
The Spartans lost its season opener to Virginia 60-48, but have since reeled off four straight wins, just two of which were against Division I opponents.
Wake Forest is currently a 6 point favorite in Vegas, with an over/under of 149.5. KenPom predicts Wake to win 78-71 (right at the Vegas projection).
UNC-G is led by junior shooting guard Francis Alonso out of Malaga, Spain. He is averaging 19 PPG against D-1 competition and missed his first 10 three-point attempts of the year before going 14/23 in his last three games, including an 8/10 effort in a comeback win against Delaware.
Overall UNC-G is good at rebounding, ranking 37th nationally in offensive boards, and 14th nationally in defensive boards, primarily spurred by Marvin Smith and James Dickey. The Spartans are an experienced team, starting two seniors, two juniors, and a sophomore, ranking 30th nationally in “continuity minutes” from last year (around 70%).
The Spartans also attempt a lot of threes, but only shoot 33% as a team on the year so far. On the flip side, Wake is allowing opponents to shoot above 41% from behind the three-point line, ranking 307th in the country.
It will be interesting to see if Keyshawn Woods or Mitchell Wilbekin gets the start at the shooting guard position, as Woods started the first three games of the year before sitting out the Quinnipiac game in a decision by Danny Manning, and then coming off the bench in the loss to Houston on Sunday.
Wake ranks 43rd in offensive efficiency and a horrific 176th in defensive efficiency. UNC-G is more balanced, ranking 151st offensively and 126th defensively.
This is a contrast of tempo-styles, with UNC-G preferring to slow it down and Wake preferring to run up and down the court. I would expect it to be around a 70 possession game.
Wake Forest has a lot of things that it needs to work on defensively, but the three-point defense and defensive rebounding has been very poor so far, and those are things that UNC-G does well this season. Unless the defense has substantially improved then I would expect the Spartans to have a lot of open looks from behind the line.
Ultimately I expect this game will be tight to the end and hopefully Wake Forest can figure out enough to do to get the win and move on to Illinois on Tuesday night.