2011-12 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Wake Forest

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The real basketball season begins tomorrow for Virginia Tech. The Hokies will
travel two hours down the interstate to take on Wake Forest, where they’ll look to
get off to a good start in conference play by beating the Demon Deacons for the
sixth straight time.

The last time Wake Forest beat Virginia Tech in basketball was December 23,
2007, when Ish Smith nailed a 17-foot jumper from the top of the key at the
buzzer that gave his team a 77-75 win. Since then, it’s been all Virginia Tech.

Virginia
Tech vs. Wake Forest, Last 5 Meetings
Date Place Result
Feb. 22, 2011 Winston-Salem 76-62 VT
Jan. 15, 2011 Blacksburg 94-65 VT
Feb. 16, 2010 Blacksburg 87-83 VT
Jan. 21, 2009 Winston-Salem 78-71 VT
Mar. 4, 2008 Blacksburg 80-58 VT

Those five games included three blowouts, a win over the #1 team in the country
(78-71) and one of the best ACC basketball games you can ask to see in person
(87-83).

Tech has beaten Wake Forest a lot recently, and it’s been common to look up
and down the Demon Deacon roster and see players that Seth Greenberg recruited
out of high school. This year is no different.

Wake
Forest Starting Lineup
Pos. Player Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G Tony Chennault 6-2 195 So. 11.4 2.9
G C.J. Harris 6-3 190 Jr. 18.7 3.4
F Travis McKie 6-7 210 So. 17.9 5.9
F Nikita Mescheriakov 6-8 220 r-Sr. 7.2 3.9
C Carson Desrosiers 7-0 240 So. 5.6 5.6

Virginia Tech wanted C.J. Harris badly out of Mount Tabor High School in
Winston-Salem, and they were also involved with Travis McKie of Richmond, VA.
Tech was also mentioned with Nikita Mescheriakov when he transferred from
Georgetown.

Wake Forest is 9-5 on the season, and while they’ve improved since last year,
their numbers aren’t especially impressive. They have wins over Loyola (#98),
Georgia Southern (#240), NC Central (#219), Texas Tech (#215), Nebraska (#116),
High Point (#222), Gardner-Webb (#280), UNC-Wilmington (#104) and Yale (#94).
Many of those wins came in very close games, such as Yale by one point,
Gardner-Webb by eight, Nebraska by two, Georgia Southern by nine and High Point
by four.

The Demon Deacons have lost to #26 Dayton, #171 Arizona State (by 28 points),
#118 Richmond, #3 Seton Hall and #142 Wofford. At times Wake can be an
offensively challenged team, as they failed to reach 60 points in losses to
Wofford, Seton Hall and Arizona State, and only scored 62 in the loss to
Richmond.

Nevertheless, they still have ACC talent, and they are capable of beating
Tech if they get hot and the Hokies don’t play well. If you look at the numbers,
the Demon Deacons are middle of the pack in the ACC in most categories, but
still well behind the Hokies despite playing a weaker schedule overall.

Stats
Comparison, Wake vs. VT
  Wake VT
Category Stat Rank Stat Rank
FG% 45.3% 7 45.4% 6
FG% Def. 43.4% 11 39.2% 5
3Pt.% 36% 7 37.9% 4
3Pt.% Def. 32.7% 7 24.1% 1
FT% 71.2% 5 74.8% 2
Reb. Margin -4.6 11 +5.0 6
TO Margin +1.64 3 -0.64 7
Assist-TO Ratio 1.0 8 1.1 4
Points For 70.5 ppg 7 71.2 ppg 6
Points Against 69.8 ppp 12 59.4 ppg 3

Average
  7.8   4.4

Wake Forest has the second and third leading scorers in the ACC, with C.J.
Harris at #2 and Travis McKie at #3. Harris is shooting well over 50% from
three-point range, and McKie is a versatile forward who can score from inside
and outside.

The starting point guard is Philadelphia native Tony Chennault, who has solid
numbers on the season, but who was also outplayed several times in high school
and on the AAU circuit by former Virginia Tech point guard Tyrone Garland. He
will have his work cut out for him with Erick Green, though the Demon Deacons
could elect to assign C.J. Harris to the Tech point guard.

Nikita Mescheriakov plays power forward for Wake, but he’s more of a finesse
player. He has attempted 35 three-pointers on the season, but averages just 3.9
rebounds per game. Cameron Derosiers has great size and he has blocked a total
of 36 shots on the season, but he’s not a particularly skilled scorer.
Considering his height, and the fact that he plays 26 minutes per game, he’s not
a very good rebounder either.

The Demon Deacons will bring some big guys off the bench. Freshman forward
Daniel Green (6-10, 210) has great length, but he only gets around seven minutes
per game. Senior center Ty Walker (7-0, 230) is the X-factor. He returned from
suspension five games ago, and he has averaged 4.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in
just over 15 minutes per game. He is Wake’s best and most talented post player,
when he’s healthy and in shape.

The numbers in the last table show that Virginia Tech is the better team, and
so do the numbers below.

The Computer Comparison
Statistic Wake VT
Off. Efficiency 160 35
Def. Efficiency 195 55
Ken Pom 168 35
RPI 111 39
SOS 138 57

Ken Pomeroy does offensive and defensive efficiency ratings (based on tempo), as
well as an overall ranking. His numbers are well-respected, and considered by
basketball junkies to be more reliable and accurate than the RPI because they
are based on what happens in games rather than just the outcome and the record
of your opponents’ opponents. Tech ranks a lot higher than Wake Forest in all
three of his rankings, as well as much higher in the RPI and SOS categories as
well.

Last week we saw Virginia Tech pick up a rod win at Oklahoma State and jump
about 15 spots in the RPI. The Hokies fan further help their computer numbers
with a road win tomorrow, and it would also serve as a good starting point for
ACC play. The game will tip-off at noon, and it will be televised by The ACC
Network.

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