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Game Preview: Wake Forest vs Boston College

Seven-foot center Quinten Post presents a challenge for the Wake Forest defense

William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

Following a 83-60 dismantling of Virginia Tech to open up conference play, Wake Forest faces another opportunity to boost its outlook and resume with a game against a much improved Boston College team in Conte Forum Tuesday night. Prepare with our in-depth preview below.

Game Info

Teams: Wake Forest (9-3, 1-0 ACC), Boston College (9-3, 0-1 ACC)

Date: Jan. 2

Time: 7pm

Location: Conte Forum; Chestnut Hill, MA

TV: ACCN

History

Steve Forbes’ first two games against Boston College as Wake’s coach ended in wins. The third matchup, though, is perhaps one of the most painful in the Forbes era. With the team apparently primed to make its first NCAA Tournament since 2017, the Eagles dispatched the Demon Deacons in the second round of the ACC Tournament, sending Wake Forest to the NIT instead of the dance. While Wake purportedly may have had to do more than just beat BC in Brooklyn, it was a heartbreaker.

In the 2022-23 season, Wake Forest played Boston College twice, winning the first matchup before the Eagles once again played the role of season killer, beating the Deacs on Senior Night and eliminating any remaining hopes of an at-large bid.

Despite BC’s ability to hurt Wake Forest with tough losses, it has yet to beat Forbes and the Deacs in Conte Forum.

The Metrics

Boston College is currently ranked No. 90 in KenPom, but significantly better in NET at 75. Wake Forest is the opposite — rated as the 43rd best team in the nation by KenPom, but 64th by NET.

The Eagles are a relatively balanced team, featuring a top 100 offense (70) and the 123rd ranked defense per KenPom. Boston College is 72nd in effective field goal percentage (53.1) and is incredibly adept at avoiding turnovers, nearing the top 20 in the country. Despite being a good three-point shooting team, BC takes those attempts few and far between, instead heavily opting for shots inside the arc. The team is not very good on the offensive boards (No. 199).

The Games

Q1: 1-1

Q2: 0-1

Q3: 3-1

Q4: 5-0

Best Win: 86-80 win over St. John’s (Neutral, Dec. 10)

Troubling Loss: 68-71 defeat to Loyola-Chicago (Neutral, Nov. 23)

The Lineup

Boston College, for the most part, boils down to two main players — Quinten Post and Jaeden Zackery. Post features in the Eagles’ eight most-frequently used lineups over the past five games. BC is not a team that goes to its bench often, instead relying on much of its experienced talent.

The Starters

G Jaeden Zackery

The junior guard is averaging nearly 33 minutes per game as the motor of the Boston College offense. He is shooting 50% from the field, and does not project as much of a three-point threat; Zackery has just once attempted more than three shots from behind the arc this season, and he only made one in that game.

He seldom turns the ball over and gives Boston College a solid 13 points per game. He’s the 1B name to keep an eye on.

G Claudell Harris Jr.

Harris has started 10 of BC’s 12 games, averaging 30 minutes per game in his first season up north — he transferred in from Charleston Southern. He is a huge three-point threat for the Eagles, chucking up over five per game and making 43.5%. More than half his shots this season have come from behind the arc. He scored 29 points in Boston College’s most recent game, draining seven threes.

G/F Prince Aligbe

The 6’7” guard/forward combo averages 23 minutes for the Eagles, while starting all 12 games this season. He averages under six shots per game, with 6.4 points to go with it. He’s a solid rebounder, but otherwise doesn’t show a great deal statistically. His size as a 3/4, though, can certainly be advantageous.

F Devin McClockton

Like Aligbe, McClockton has started all 12 games for coach Earl Grant this season, averaging 27 minutes and eight points per game. McClockton is a good rebounder, averaging six per game, and boasts a lack of turnovers. He is, though, a danger to BC when it comes to foul trouble. He has reached four or more fouls six times this season.

C Quinten Post

Post was a fixture on my Preseason All-ACC ballot, and he is playing like he deserves the votes at the end of the year. His minutes have surged up to nearly 32 a game, and he consistently scores 20 or more while averaging 18.3. Despite his seven-foot frame, Post can shoot the three-point ball pretty well and can be a rebounding machine. He keeps himself out of foul trouble and is good for a few blocks per game.

He is the 1A guy for Boston College. Eyes should be on him at all times.

The Depth Pieces

G Mason Madsen

Madsen gives the Eagles 17.4 minutes off the bench, often filling in at the “two” spot. He doesn’t shoot the ball often from two or three and averages roughly six points per game. Despite his 6’4” stature, he is quite good at coming down and rebounding on the defensive end.

G Donald Hand Jr.

The redshirt freshman also averages 17 minutes for Boston College, taking about five shots per game. He has a solid three-point percentage, but lacks much in terms of assists/ball distribution.

G Chas Kelley

One should not let the 13 minutes a game fool you; it’s possible Kelley is the third starting guard for Boston College against Wake Forest. He’s started three of the last four filling in for Harris Jr. He’s not much of a scorer, but did record 13 points in the Eagles’ victory over St. John’s.

C Armani Mighty

He fills in down low during the few minutes that Post is not on the court.

Essex’s Take, Keys to the Game

This is another huge opportunity for Wake Forest, one that can keep the momentum going from a throttling of VT in the Joel on Saturday. Additionally, the Deacs could finally have its first Quad 1 victory of the season by defeating the Eagles. The eyes are starting to get trained on Wake Forest. The hype is beginning to build. Now is not the time for a let down.

Contain Quinten Post

Efton Reid and Zach Keller each performed admirably in a big matchup down low with Virginia Tech’s Lynn Kidd. On Tuesday, it won’t get any easier. It will get harder. The size of Post is one thing. That can be dealt with pretty well, as the Deacons’ pairing has proved. What will be new is Post’s mobility. Post often initiates a lot of Boston College’s offense, meaning that he handles the ball at the top of the key nearly as much as he does down low, which in turn can open shots for him on the outside.

It will be imperative for Wake Forest to find ways to stop Post from getting open looks on the outside, which could mean some help from the guards. In addition, Reid and Keller will again have to step up in the paint when Post makes his way down.

Keep Saturday’s momentum alive

Against Virginia Tech, Wake Forest did just about everything right. The team started incredibly hot, managed Lynn Kidd and almost completely neutralized the very worrisome threat of Sean Pedulla and Hunter Cattoor. Plus, the offense was humming at nearly every step along the way.

Wake Forest avoided mistakes, mostly stayed out of foul trouble and rebounded very well. It also forced a large amount of Hokie turnovers.

To win Tuesday, it would be helpful if the Deacs played with a similar intensity on defense and efficiency on offense. That effort on Saturday was the kind that wins a team a lot of games. But, a few fixes would be nice, too.

Those few fixes

The fixes are minimal from Saturday, but are still worth mentioning. One negative on Efton Reid’s scouting report is his tendency to record unnecessary fouls. Those fouls kept him on the bench for 20 minutes against Virginia Tech. When facing a player like Post, Wake Forest having its most-talented big man available for a full game is critical.

Additionally, the Deacs were impressive with their commitment to high-percentage shots in the first half, but started jacking up some ill-advised threes in the second. Sure, the game was pretty much a blowout, but one must keep an eye on those three-point attempts. Sometimes, a better look is available.

The Prediction

On the scale of “never too high, never too low,” Wake Forest’s biggest key right now is ensuring it stays grounded as a team and not developing an over-confidence. On Saturday, Steve Forbes asserted that would not be a problem, and I agree.

It’s not just Saturday. Throughout its seven-game winning streak, Wake Forest has often looked like a truly powerful basketball team, aside from some close halves against Q4 opponents. The Deacs’ high-octane offense is a nightmare for an opponent, the defense can be suffocating and the rebounding has vastly improved. Combine all that, and Wake Forest is a team that is hard to stop.

If the Deacs can mitigate Boston College’s risks — Post and Zackery — while playing a similar brand of basketball as they have the past few weeks, it’s hard to pick against them.

Wake Forest wins 75-64