Date: Saturday, January 31
TV: RSN (check your local listings)
Virginia Tech will take the short trip to Winston-Salem on Saturday afternoon to take on Wake Forest. The Hokies will be looking to start a winning streak after defeating Pitt on Tuesday night. Both teams have struggled this year, and both teams have a first-year head coach who is trying to turn the program around.
The Demon Deacons are 9-12 on the year, and sport a 1-7 record in the ACC. Their eight ACC games have gone like this…
78-65 L at NC State
85-76 L vs. Louisville
73-65 L vs. Duke
76-69 W vs. Georgia Tech
86-83 (OT) L at Syracuse
87-71 L vs. UNC
59-57 L at Clemson
82-76 (2OT) L at Florida State
Wake Forest been blown out a few times, and they’ve also lost some very close games to Syracuse, Clemson and Florida State. They are similar to the Hokies, though they do have more experience overall, as well as more size.
This is the lineup that first year head coach Danny Manning started in the previous game against Florida State.
G Codi Miller-McIntyre (6-3, 205, Jr.): 14.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 83 assists. Miller-McIntyre leads Wake Forest in scoring. Though he’s not a good outside shooter (26.8% 3Pt%, 60.9% FT), he can get to the basket and he helps the Demon Deacons on the glass as well.
G Mitchell Wilbekin (6-2, 165, Fr): 8 ppg, 34 assists, 26 steals. Though he’s slight of frame and lacks strength, Wilbekin is a good three-point shooter (40.5%). He shoots just 37.9% overall, which shows that he struggles in tight against bigger bodies. He leads Wake Forest in steals with 26.
F Greg McClinton (6-7, 200, r-Jr.): McClinton averages 4.2 points and 3 rebounds per game. Though he will probably start, he only averages just over 15 minutes per game.
F Darius Leonard (6-9, 225, r-Sr.):Leonard is a transfer from Campbell who is averaging 5.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. He chose Wake Forest over the Hokies when he decided to transfer from Campbell. He is capable of knocking down the open three-pointer, so Tech must guard him out to the free throw line.
F Devin Thomas (6-9, 255, Jr.): 13 ppg, 10 rpg, 20 blocks. Thomas is averaging a double-double, and he is one of the best rebounders in the country. However, he has 57 turnovers in 21 games, and he shoots just 59.7% from the free throw line. Tech needs to get physical with Thomas and try to turn him over.
Wake plays a lot of guys, including Cornelius Hudson (6-6, 180, Fr.), Madison Jones (6-1, 165, Jr.), Aaron Roundtree (6-8, 200, Jr.) and Dinos Mitoglou (6-10, 225, fr.). Hudson came off the bench to play 37 minutes in their most recent loss to Florida State. They are somewhat similar to the Hokies. The starting lineup can be unpredictable as a first-year head coach gets used to his personnel and tries to figure out his best options.
The Demon Deacons don’t shoot it particularly well…
They also have 299 turnovers on the year, an alarmingly high number. When you struggle to shoot and you turn the ball over a lot, naturally you aren’t going to be a very efficient team offensively. The stats back that up.
Here’s how the teams compare in the advanced stats…
Offensive Efficiency: VT #165, Wake #197
Defensive Efficiency: VT #193, Wake #131
Rebounding rate: VT #331, Wake #22
Turnovers per Possession: VT #154, Wake #213
Opp. Turnovers per Possession: VT #114, Wake #234
The Hokies are a little better offensively, Wake Forest is a little better defensively, and Tech has a pretty good advantage when it comes to turnovers. However, the Demon Deacons have a huge advantage on the glass, as they boast much better rebounding numbers. Wake is #82 nationally in offensive rebounding, while Tech is #343 (8 from the bottom) in defensive rebounding.
The only teams in the country who are worse at defensive rebounding than Virginia Tech are Savannah State, Coppin State, Central Arkansas, Northwestern State, Farleigh Dickinson, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Prairie View and Mississippi Valley State. If the Hokies can overcome their main weakness and minimize the damage on the boards, they can certainly defeat Wake Forest. However, if they allow Devin Thomas to go wild on the inside, it could be a long afternoon.