The ACC Tournament is upon us, and the Deacs are set to take on the last place Boston College Eagles for the 3rd time this season. This means that we have 2 previous games of information to help show us what we can expect in the first round. It should come as absolutely no surprise that this article focuses on the ACC’s Most Improved Player and rightful heir to the Player of the Year throne, John Collins.
In Wake Forest’s previous 2 games against the Eagles this season, Collins averaged 21.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game while shooting 60% from the floor and getting to the free throw line 17 times. Collins is a nightmare matchup for the Eagles mainly due to the fact that outside of the 6-9, 240 lbs Mo Jeffers, they have no one that can even hope to stop Collins in the post. And while Jeffers did a great job using his strength to force Collins away from the basket, he couldn’t really stop Collins from scoring without fouling once he got the ball.
“Without fouling” is the key phrase, as Jeffers only managed to play a total of 32 minutes and fouled out of both games against the Deacs this season. With Jeffers on the bench, the Eagles are forced to change the way they play defense, as it is exremely unlikely that Nik Popovic is going to be able to defend Collins one on one. Whether the Eagles went to zone or fronted the post and immediately brought help when the entry pass was made, the defensive focus on John Collins was very beneficial for Wake Forest’s perimeter players; the Deacs shot an impressive 47% from the 3-point line against the Eagles this season.
As you can see, this also works in the pick and roll. Turner is forced to slide into the lane in order to cut off any potential pass to Collins, which gives Arians and great look at a 3-pointer. Collins is also a beneficiary of the BC’s lack of a scoring threat in the post. This not only keep Collins from spending a ton of energy on defense, but it also keeps him out of foul trouble. JC played a total of 56 minutes and only picked up 5 total fouls against the Eagles this season (I don’t think I need to tell you that the more John Collins plays, the better our chances of winning will be.). It also means he can help defend the drive without having to worry much about his man scoring.
With the way John Collins has dominated Boston College this season, the Deacs should have a great chance at advancing to the second round of the ACC Tournament.