Wake Forest (8-6, 2-1) has left the frigid confines of Winston-Salem to head to the absolute tundra of Chestnut Hill where it will take on Boston College (10-5, 1-2) at 4 PM today.
The game will air on RSN live from the Conte Forum as the Eagles try to get back to 2-2 and the Deacs try to push it to 2-1 in conference play. It would be the first time Wake has an ACC record of above .500 at any point in the regular season since January 5th, 2014, when it was 1-0 after a home victory over North Carolina in Winston Salem (1,461 days).
Technically the Deacs were 10-9 in the ACC after a win over Boston College last year in the ACC Tournament, but it has been a while since Wake was above .500 in ACC play in the regular season
The Deacs will be without its second-leading scorer in Keyshawn Woods (14.8 PPG) while he recovers from a lower leg injury sustained in the mid-week win over Syracuse. Hopefully he will be back for Virginia Tech on Wednesday night in Winston-Salem.
The Eagles come into the game looking to stop a mini two game losing streak in ACC play after losses to Virginia (on the road), and Clemson (at home). It lost these two games by a combined 5 points and also defeated Duke back on December 9th behind a 15-26 shooting performance from behind the three-point line.
Boston College is a much better team this year than it has been the past few years and this will be a tough game for the Deacs.
Wake Forest will have to figure out a way to limit the sensational backcourt duo of Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson, who combine for 34 points per game, 11 rebounds per game, and 8 assists per game.
I fully expect Chaundee Brown to draw the defensive assignment on the 6-5 Robinson, and given the absence of Woods, should get plenty of additional minutes. If he does not defend Robinson a lot then it will fall to either Bryant Crawford or Mitchell Wilbekin, which is, put simply, a mismatch of epic proportions.
Brown in that case would defend the 6-5 junior Jordan Chatman, who is averaging 14 PPG himself from the SF position.
Ideally the bench will be limited to 8 guys for Wake, with Melo Eggleston getting spot minutes when needed for foul trouble and breathers.
The starters for Boston College play a lot of minutes, with head coach Jim Christian playing just 7 players so far in ACC play, with sophomore Johncarlos Reyes and freshman Luka Krajevic getting limited minutes behind the starters.
Overall the Eagles play its starters the 9th most minutes in Division I, which has been exacerbated by the season-ending injury to Deontae Hawkins, sustained in the November 29th 71-62 loss to Nebraska.
The Eagles rank 75th in offensive efficiency and 92nd in defensive efficiency, while the Deacs rank 30th in offensive efficiency and 163rd in defensive efficiency.
On the offensive side of things the Eagles shoot 53% eFG, good at both three-point shooting (36%), and two-point shooting (52%), both ranked in the top 120 in the nation. Also, the Eagles do well on both sides of the court at rebounding, which is a bit surprising given the strength of the team being its backcourt, but the effective and average height for Boston College is both in the top 35 in the country.
It does not get to the line very frequently as a team at just 28% (compared to 40% for Wake Forest), and also is careless with the ball at times, turning it over on approximately 19% of its possessions.
On defense the Eagles thrive on not fouling, which makes sense given the short bench, and it will be interesting to see who wins that battle today, as the Deacs love to get to the line (ranking 53rd nationally).
To oversimplify things, Wake will have a hard time stopping the backcourt of Boston College while the frontcourt of the Deacs should thrive. The Eagles have no good answers for defending Doral Moore, (and to a lesser extent, Olivier Sarr and Terrence Thompson) and Nik Popovic will have to stay out of foul trouble or Reyes and Kraljevic will get a lot of minutes.
I am immensely worried about even limiting Robinson in particular, and that is why I have been pushing for a lot of minutes from Chuandee Brown over the past two days.
Ky Bowman has struggled in the first part of the ACC this season, but is a dynamic player who can turn it on and get it going very quickly, especially from behind the three-point line. Crawford and Wilbekin will have their hands full there as well.
KenPom projects a 76-73 victory for the Eagles, but that does not account for the absence of Woods.
For some reason I have a bad feeling about this game, probably because I worry about their backcourt and whether or not the coaching staff will actually put Brown on Robinson instead of Crawford or Wilbekin.
I think this one will be tough for the Deacs with the Eagles getting a sizable win, verging on double-digits, 78-69. As always with these guesses, I hope I am completely wrong and the Deacs prove me wrong.