Wake Forest is finally in the ACC win column. After defeating the Pitt Panthers this weekend, the Deacs are headed to Raleigh this Wednesday to take on the NC State Wolfpack for a chance to move out of last place in the ACC. The Pack are currently 6-5 overall and 2-4 in the ACC, and they sit at 11th in the conference after losing 4 straight games. With one team trying to break a streak and the other trying to build one, let’s take a look at the key matchup for Wednesday night’s game.
This one is not really a head to head matchup, but rather a battle of the 2 most important players for their respective teams. Devon Daniels has improved in almost every statistical category from last season, which has really helped the Wolfpack fill the void left from the loss of Markell Johnson. He has scored in double digits in all but one game for the Pack this season, and is currently 9th in the ACC in scoring. Where he really impacts the game is on the defensive side. Daniels is currently tied for 4th in the ACC with 1.8 steals per game and is 1 of 3 players for NC State that has a defensive rating under 100. It’s well known that Kevin Keatts loves to ramp up the pressure on defense, which has made NC State the best team in the ACC and the 16th best team in the nation at creating turnovers, forcing opponents to over 16 turnovers per game.
That mention of turnovers should worry every Wake Forest fan, as the Deacs have been pretty loose with the basketball so far this season—it was just last game where Wake almost gave away a 10 point lead in the closing minutes because of turnovers. The Deacs are currently 14th in the ACC and 254th in the nation with 14.8 turnovers per game. That doesn’t bode well against a team that thrives off of steals and fast break points. In their 2 ACC wins this season, the Wolfpack averaged 20.5 points off of turnovers; in their 4 losses, they averaged just over 11 points off of turnovers. That is a pretty good indication that this game could very well come down to how many times Wake gives the ball away. Since the Deacs rely on Daivien Williamson almost exclusively to bring the ball up the court against a press, his ability to navigate the pressure will be key in this game.