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Preview: No. 10 Wake Forest vs. No. 7 Virginia Tech

Wake Forest faces off against Virginia Tech in the 2nd Round tonight

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Wake Forest (19-12, 10-9) defeated No. 15Boston College 92-78 yesterday to advance to the second round the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, New York. Their reward is a matchup with the No. 7 Virginia Tech Hokies (21-9, 10-8) tonight at 7 PM from the Barclays Center.

The game will air on ESPN2, as well as your local ACC affiliate if you live in an area that broadcasts those games.

One would think the win yesterday afternoon by the Demon Deacons has all but guaranteed an NCAA Tournament bid, as they can no longer have a “bad loss”, and will, at worst finish .500 in ACC play including ACC Tournament games.

While another win tonight would make me feel even better about our chances, I think tonight is more about moving up the S-Curve than actually getting in the Tournament itself. If the Deacs can manage a second win in 5 days vs. the Hokies they have a great chance of playing their way out of the play-in games in Dayton next Tuesday and Wednesday.

As comical as it may sound right now, if Wake wants to have a legitimate chance to make a run in the Big Dance then they need to avoid playing an extra game. Tonight is the perfect opportunity to show the committee that they should make the main field and not just the First Four.

It will be a tough task to knock off Virginia Tech and Buzz Williams again. Wake is playing on 24+ hours of rest, while the Hokies haven't played since the loss on Saturday.

Vegas actually likes Virginia Tech -2, while KenPom likes Wake Forest by 2. The discrepancy is likely due to the fatigue factor for Wake Forest, but I would not be surprised at all if this closes in to a “pick-em”, or Wake is favored by tip-off.

Wake Forest actually opened as a 2.5 point favorite, as the site that I usually use for lines (VegasInsider) was off in their opening.

In the 89-84 win on Saturday, John Collins got into foul trouble early as Virginia Tech built a 5 point lead at halftime. They pushed that lead to as much as 11 before Collins came back in, put the team on his back, and Bryant Crawford finished the Hokies off by scoring at will, and getting to the free throw line.

Crawford has gotten to the free throw line 26 times in the last two games, making 24 of them. I think the Deacs will need him to continue to be aggressive and the second option (or first if Collins is double-teamed) for offensive purposes.

The Hokies shot just 8-26 (31%) from the three-point line in the loss, and I don’t expect that to happen again. The Wake Forest 3-2 matchup zone that was displayed during the second half took the Hokies out of their game a little bit, but they still had plenty of open shots in the corners that they just didn’t hit. As a 41% 3-PT shooting team on the year I think they will come out better than that tonight.

It will be interesting to see if Wake goes into that zone from the start tonight, which would accomplish a couple of things. First of all it protects John Collins in the middle of the defense and doesn’t leave him as vulnerable to picking up early fouls.

Secondly, it also doesn’t put as much stress from a fatigue standpoint on the defense. While the style of zone that we ran saw our defenders follow their drivers until they were back out of the lane, it will still save some energy.

This is crucial because given the smaller size of Virginia Tech, Wake can’t really get a lot of minutes out of Doral Moore or Samuel Japhet-Mathias, meaning it will likely be a 7.5 man rotation again tonight. Greg McClinton gave Wake some solid minutes yesterday, so if he can provide that again then he’s got some minutes in this matchup.

Collins played 35 minutes yesterday and will likely need that many again tonight if Wake wants to move on to the Quarterfinals against No. 2 Florida State tomorrow night.

Zach LeDay had a field day on Saturday against the interior defense of John Collins, especially after he picked up the early fouls. It will be interesting to see if Coach Manning has something different in store for him, or if we go with what wound up being a 5 point victory.

It’s hard to double LeDay because they have so many good shooters, and since 2 points are less than 3 points, it’s not an awful decision to just let that be down low while the defenders stay out on the perimeter.

Overall this should be a pretty good game. Despite Virginia Tech being favored, I wouldn’t advise betting against the Deacs right now. They are clicking at the right time of the year, and these are two pretty evenly matched teams.

I expect another high scoring affair, with the winner getting close to 90 again. We will have a few more articles up today ahead of the game, but are excited to be covering the second round of tournament basketball.

As always, Go Deacs!