The Hokies will be going for the first three-game ACC winning streak of the Buzz Williams era when they take on Wake Forest tonight in Winston-Salem.
The Demon Deacons are 11-17 overall and just 2-14 in conference play under second year head coach Danny Manning. Despite being left with better cards to play than Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams, he hasn’t been able to gain much traction in Winston-Salem.
2014-15: 13-19, 5-13
2015-16: 11-17, 2-14
Total: 24-35, 7-27
Despite having players like Devin Thomas and Codi Miller-McIntyre on the team, Wake Forest is losing entirely too much. Here’s a look at their advanced numbers, per TeamRankings.com.
Offensive Efficiency: #204
Defensive Efficiency: #303
Offensive Rebound Rate: #62
Total Rebound Rate: #136
Turnovers per Possession: #277
Opp. Turnovers per Possession: #99
Wake Forest is bad offensively, and even worse defensively. They turn the ball over entirely too much on the offensive end, which obviously impacts their scoring ability. Their defensive efficiency would be even worse without their decent ability to force turnovers. The Demon Deacons are good on the offensive glass, so the Hokies will have to work hard on the boards to prevent second chance scoring opportunities.
Here’s how Tech compares…
Offensive Efficiency: #173
Defensive Efficiency: #124
Offensive Rebound Rate: #153
Total Rebound Rate: #212
Turnovers per Possession: #200
Opp. Turnovers per Possession: #161
Tech has been a little better than Wake offensively, and much better defensively, despite the fact that their rebounding isn’t as good, they don’t force turnovers, and they turn it over a little too much themselves. Overall, the numbers indicate that this is a pretty evenly-matched game.
That’s what the first meeting between these two teams would indicate as well. The Hokies squeaked out a 93-91 victory in Cassell Coliseum back in January. Tech won that game despite allowing Wake to shoot 58.9% from the field and 54.2% from three-point range. They won because of two factors…
Free throws: Tech was 29-of-35 (82.9%), while Wake was 12-of-18 (66.7%)
Turnovers: The Hokies turned it over just six times, while the Demon Deacons had 16 turnovers.
Since then, Tech’s defense has improved, but their ability to get to the glass and create free throw opportunities has diminished a bit as teams have learned how to better defend them. Wake obviously hasn’t been as good offensively as they were that night in Blacksburg.
Wake Forest will likely start the following lineup…
G Codi Miller-McIntyre (6-3, 205, Sr.): 8.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg
G Mitchell Wilbekin (6-2, 175, So.): 7ppg
G Bryant Crawford (6-3, 200, Fr.): 13.4 ppg, 117 assists, but also 91 turnovers
F Dinos Mitoglou (6-10, 245, So.): 9.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg
F Devin Thomas (6-9, 245, Sr.): 15.8 ppg, 10.2. rpg
Devin Thomas is a very good player who is the ACC’s active leader in rebounds and double-doubles. He is coming off a two-game suspension, and his first game back will be tonight. Wake also recently dismissed Cornelius Hudson (7.8 ppg) for a violation of team rules.
Thomas is the big name, and he’s a great player, but to win tonight the Hokies must stop the dribble penetration of Codi Miller-McIntyre. Here are his numbers in his last three games against Virginia Tech…
Jan. 13, 2016: 22 points, 8-of-11 FG, 3-of-3 3-Pt., 4 rebounds, 5 assists
Mar. 10, 2015: 23 points, 8-of-17 FG, 2-of-5 3-Pt., 4 rebounds, 11 assists
Jan. 31, 2015: 19 points, 7-of-7 FG, 8 rebounds, 1 assist
In those three meetings, he averaged 21.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists while shooting 65.7% from the field and 62.5% from three-point range. Obviously Miller-McIntyre’s eyes light up when he sees maroon and orange. However, he needs some help from his teammates. Wake Forest has beaten the Hokies just once in those three games, and Tech has averaged 80.7 points per game.
Despite their record, Wake Forest is a capable team. They defeated Indiana, UCLA and LSU in the non-conference portion of their schedule, and lost to Xavier by just two. Tonight’s game should be fun and entertaining.