Location: Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, VA
TV: The ACC Network, and online on ESPN3
After beating Georgia Tech last Saturday, the Hokies hope to make it two in row when Wake Forest visits Cassell Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
Wake comes to Blacksburg with a 9-7 record, and they are 2-2 in ACC play. The Demon Deacons beat UVA and Boston College in narrow three-point games at home, and were blown out by Duke and Clemson on the road. This is a team that has struggled the last few seasons, and they have three freshmen in the starting lineup this year.
The coach: Jeff Bzdelik is in the process of trying to save his job. He went 8-24 overall and 1-15 in the ACC in his first season. Last year was better, with a 13-18 finish and four ACC wins. If he can improve upon that this year then the possibility remains that he’ll return for the 2013-14 season, but Wake Forest fans haven’t been pleased with the results of his tenure thus far.
We could see as many as four Wake Forest players get 30+ minutes of playing time in this game. Besides the three freshmen in the starting lineup, the Demon Deacons also use three freshmen and a sophomore off the bench. On the whole, this could be the youngest rotation the Hokies face this year.
G Codi Miller-McIntyre (6-3, 195, Fr.): Miller-McIntyre is playing over 28 minutes per game as Wake’s starting point guard. He’s a competent outside shooter (37.5%), and he’s averaging 7.8 points per game.
G C.J. Harris (6-3, 190, Sr.): Harris leads Wake with 15.2 points per game while shooting 52.5% from the field and 46.7% from three-point range. He’s a very good shooter, and it’s important that Tech not leave him open outside the arc.
F Travis McKie (6-7, 220, Jr.): The Richmond native averages 15 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He also leads Wake with 27 steals. Though McKie is better close to the basket, he’s very capable of knocking down outside shots if left open.
F Arnaud William Adala Moto (6-6, 225, Fr.): The undersized freshman power forward is averaging five points and 3.6 rebounds. C.J. Barksdale needs to take advantage of this matchup.
F Devin Thomas (6-9, 240, Fr.): Thomas averages 6.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He has started all 16 games for the Demon Deacons.
As you can see, that starting lineup is very young. The bench is even more inexperienced.
G Madison Jones (6-1, 160, Fr.): Jones averages 19 minutes per game as Wake’s backup point guard. His specialty is distributing the basketball. Jones has only take two outside shots all season, and averages 4.4 points per game.
F Tyler Cavanaugh (6-9, 230, Fr.): Cavanaugh is a talented power forward with shooting range. However, like many freshmen, he has struggled with his shot this season. He’s shooting only 29.2% from the field and 19.4% from three-point range.
G Chase Fischer (6-3, 190, So.): Fischer has a scholarship to Wake Forest to shoot the basketball, and he does that extremely well. He’s shooting 46.5% from beyond the arc this season.
F Aaron Rountree (6-8, 190, Fr.): Rountree averages 3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds in 12 minutes per game. He’s a taller forward who can shoot with range.
That playing rotation features six freshmen and a sophomore, so it’s not surprising that Wake Forest has struggled this season. They’ve won their two ACC home games. However, like many young players, they haven’t responded well on the road. That’s an advantage for the Hokies.
Winning the Games You Should Win
Playing at home against six freshmen, I feel like this is a game that Virginia Tech should win. Wake Forest is 1-3 on the road this season, with that one win coming at UNC Greensboro. However, the Hokies have already lost two home games they should have won against Georgia Southern and Boston College, so this is by no means a done deal.
I do think Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik faces a dilemma in this game. Which player will he use to defend Erick Green? He could use freshman guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, but that would be a mismatch for the young guard. He could use senior C.J. Harris, but with Erick Green’s ability to draw fouls, that could potentially put Wake’s leading scorer on the bench in foul trouble.
If the Hokies can win this game, they’ll improve to 11-6 overall and even their conference record at 2-2 with two winnable games coming up. The Hokies will host UVA next Thursday night, and play at Clemson the following Sunday.