In a battle of perhaps two of the coolest mascots in the entire NCAA, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-4) travel to Conway, South Carolina to take on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (6-5).
In what is a final “tune-up” before hosting nationally ranked Tennessee on Saturday, the Deacs will enter a presumably raucous HTC Arena (capacity of 3,600, the 280th largest in D-1) to try to get its seventh win of the year.
The game will unfortunately not be available for viewing of any kind (how this happens in 2017 I have no idea), but will be broadcast on the radio by the great Stan Cotten, so be sure to tune in for that.
If Danny Manning and his team want to take down one of Chaucer’s greatest literary inventions in the Chanticleers, it will have to bring its best efforts tonight.
Wake is going for its fourth straight 20 point win, defeating Army 109-80 in its last game ten days ago. Coastal defeated Montreat 83-70 on Saturday in a game that was likely closer than most Chants fans would have wanted.
While a 6-5 Coastal Carolina team may not strike fear into the hearts of Wake fans, it is not a game that should be taken lightly, particularly given what we already know about the proclivity this team has for losing to seemingly inferior opponents.
The Chanticleers pushed in-state rival South Carolina to the brink last weekend in Columbia, ultimately falling 80-78 to the Gamecocks in a closely contested battle.
Overall on the season Cliff Ellis and his Chants have defeated three Division I opponents in UTSA, Iona, and Hampton, while padding the win column with three non-D1 wins as well.
KenPom projects Wake Forest to get a hard fought 79-74 win over Coastal Carolina.
A quick look at the Chants shows us that they are a decent offensive team (153rd in KenPom’s offensive efficiency), and below average in defense (211th). They start two seniors, two juniors, and a sophomore, ranking 37th nationally in experience on the season.
They excel at crashing the boards on the offensive side, ranking 20th nationally, while also cracking the top 100 in defense rebounding as well at 98th. This will present a challenge for the Deacs, who have struggled at times this year to secure the ball on the defensive side to win the possession, ranking 268th nationally in defensive rebounding.
Coastal is also a good three-point shooting team, making 37% on the year, but only attempting 35% of their shots from behind the arc, which is good news for the Deacs.
Senior point guard and former South Carolina Gamecock Jaylen Shaw leads the way for Coastal, averaging 16.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 4.5 APG. He is a career 40% three-point shooter and is shooting 39.4% on the season with three attempts per game.
Shaw thrives in the pick-and-roll, as well as isolation sets, deriving nearly 57% of his shots out of those two sets. He is a high usage player with nearly 30% of possessions ending on his watch when he is in the game. He can be careless with the ball at times, racking up a 26% turnover rate. For comparison, Bryant Crawford has a 22% turnover rate.
Offensively the Chants focus on spot-up shooting within the flow of its offense (22% of the shots), transition basketball (14%), and a good bit of pick-and-roll as well (15%).
They have faced man-to-man defense nearly 88% of the time, while going up against a zone defense approximately 12% of the time, where they have exceed, averaging 1.11 points per possession against the zone.
Wake Forest’s Doral Moore will experience another game with a substantial height advantage, boasting 3 inches over the tallest Coastal Carolina player. As I have suggested in the past, I would hope that the Deacs try to exploit this advantage and go to him early and often.
While I think this game is a good matchup for Wake again with the height advantage, this game definitely makes me nervous. Coastal is a good team that has won 20 games in four straight seasons. The Deacs defeats the Chants 86-74 last year in Winston-Salem in a game that saw Wake jump out to a 30-5 lead, but Coastal pulled back to 44- 40 before John Collins flexed his muscles to stretch the margin back out.
This game should be a close one throughout and it will be interesting to see how the Deacs handle an intimate environment that will no doubt be rocking. I think Wake will pull this game out late thanks to free throws down the stretch, but I don’t ever know what to expect after a ten-day layoff due to finals.
Freshman Chaundee Brown is slated to return to the lineup tonight after missing the Army game due to a foot injury sustained in practice leading up to that game.