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Wake Forest Basketball: Key Matchup vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

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The Deacs are going to need to box out in this one

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Miami-Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons are finally taking on an unranked opponent for the first time in over two weeks when they face off against the North Carolina Tar Heels tonight. The Heels are currently 8-5 overall and 3-3 in the ACC, with losses to NC State, Georgia Tech and Florida State. The Deacs haven’t won a game in Chapel Hill in exactly 11 years to the day, so they have their work cut out for them. Let’s take a quick look at the key matchup for tonight’s game.

Sophomore forward Armando Bacot has become one of North Carolina’s most important players this season. He currently leads the Heels in points per game, rebounds per game, and field goal percentage. He has hit double digit points in 9 of UNC’s 13 games and double digit rebounds in 5, combining for 3 double-doubles on the year. He is currently 4th in the ACC in both field goal percentage and rebounds per game.

It is no secret that the Tar Heels have really struggled shooting the ball this year. In fact, UNC is currently dead last in the conference in field goal percentage at 41.8% from the floor and second to last in the conference in 3-point percentage at 30.6%. The Heels have just 2 players shooting over 50% from the floor and 1 player shooting over 33% from beyond the arc (minimum 5 attempts). This is where Bacot has really helped UNC as the Heels are currently the best offensive rebounding team in the country, grabbing 16.4 offensive rebounds per game. Bacot is currently second on the team with 44 offensive rebounds this season (3.4 orpg), helping UNC to score 18 second chance points per game. His ability to get the ball in scoring position off of missed shots has resulted in his high shooting percentage and his 61 free throw attempts this season, the second most in the ACC.

With the Tar Heels getting an offensive rebound on somewhere around 45% of their missed shots, it is going to be absolutely critical that the Deacs keep Bacot and the rest of the Heels off the offensive glass and hold them to 1 shot per possession. If they can do that, they should put themselves in a great position to pick up their first conference win of the season.