TV: The ACC Network
Mike Young’s Virginia Tech Hokies (12-4, 3-2) will be looking to pick up their third consecutive ACC victory when they travel to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest (8-7, 1-4) on Tuesday night.
These two teams were picked to finish 14th (VT) and 15th (Wake Forest) in the ACC this year by the media. One of them has exceeded expectations and finds themselves being mentioned as a possible NCAA Tournament team. The other is doing about as expected, currently sitting in a tie for last place in the ACC.
The last place team is, of course, the Demon Deacons. Danny Manning’s fight to save his job has not gone particularly well so far this season. Wake Forest has some talent, as usual, but they are struggling on the defensive end of the court, which has been typical of Wake during the Manning era. Check out their defensive efficiency numbers during his tenure…
2014-15: No. 125
2015-16: No. 128
2016-17: No. 176
2017-18: No. 130
2018-19: No. 186
2019-20: No. 136
Manning was 65-93 overall coming into this season, as well as 24-66 against ACC competition. Barring an unforeseen turnaround, this season will be his last in Winston-Salem.
So far in 2019-20, Wake Forest has shown the ability to beat a team such as Xavier, and they also won on the road against Pitt. However, they also lost to Charlotte and Boston College. Still, five of their seven losses have come against top 50 opponents in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, with four of those five being top 35 programs (Arizona, Penn State, Duke and Florida State). They are a battle-tested team, though most of those battles haven’t gone particularly well for them.
Here’s the starting lineup Danny Manning used in Wake’s most recent game against Duke…
G Brandon Childress (6-0, 195, Sr.): 14.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg.
G Torry Johnson (6-3, 175, r-Sr.): 6.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg.
G Andrien White (6-3, 200, r-Sr.): 7.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg.
F Isaiah Mucius (6-8, 195, So.): 6.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg.
F Ody Oguama (6-9, 205, Fr.): 2.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg.
Take that starting lineup with a grain of salt, however. Two of Wake’s best players come off the bench on a regular basis, and they have both won ACC Player of the Week honors this season.
G Chaundee Brown (6-5, 220, Jr.): 13.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg
C Olivier Sarr (7-0, 255, Jr.): 12.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg
Brown has missed the last two games with an injury, and may or may not play against the Hokies.
Sarr averages nearly a double-double, so he could be trouble against Virginia Tech’s undersized lineup. The Hokies need to deny him the ball, and in fact they need to stop Wake’s penetration at all positions. 25% of the points scored by the Demon Deacons this year have come from the free throw line, which ranks No. 2 in the country. If you can keep Wake off the free throw line, you’ve got a great chance to win.
One area where Virginia Tech has a big advantage on paper is the turnover battle. The Hokies are No. 4 in the country in turnover percentage, whereas Wake Forest is No. 329 out of 353 teams in forced turnover percentage. Assuming the Hokies continue to keep their turnover numbers down against a team that doesn’t force turnovers, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to score against the Deacs.
If Tech wins on Tuesday night, they’ll move to 13-4 heading into a big home Saturday game against the Syracuse Orange.