Wake is 14-5 (6-2 ACC), tied for second in the conference with Virginia, Pitt and Miami. However, these he ranks the lowest among the four teams with KenPom, Bart Torvik, and ESPN BPI. They haven’t lost at home yet this year, with a win over Duke and just giving Clemson their first ACC loss on Tuesday.but they mediocrely lost LSUs team and a mediocre Loyola Marymount team (which actually just ended Gonzaga’s 76-game home winning streak, so it might not actually be a bad loss).
The strength of this Wake Forest team is shooting rocks. They are 63rd in 3-point percentage and 30th in 3-point percentage. Take a lot of threes and make a lot of threes. This is a good recipe for winning basketball games. All five starters average at least two tries from deep per game. Damari Monsanto, who joined from East Tennessee last season, has scored seven or more tries per game, more than his 40% success rate. Monsanto didn’t play much last year and didn’t participate in Deacon’s win at JPJ, in fact, of his 63 points in that game, he’s only 12 coming back in this game. They came from Daivien Williamson who hadn’t started yet.
That’s partly because of the transfer. Topping out is point guard Tyree Appleby, who graduated from Florida (after starting with the Cleveland St.) and is shooting 43% on about five attempts per game. Appleby leads the team in minutes, utilization, field goal attempts, free throw attempts, assists and steals.
Appleby’s role is very similar Virginia Techof Sean Pedula. Pedulla is averaging over 16 points per game, but on Wednesday he only had 10 points on 4/9 shooting. Kihei-Clark spent most of the game on Pedula, haunting him all court.
Clark fights over the screen, picking up Pedula’s pocket and making layups easier. Clarke was the best player in the long game, with his 20 points and he recorded 5 assists. Clark has career highs in points, assists, steals, free throw percentage, field goal percentage, and 3-point percentage. Clarke ranks 14th in the nation in assists per game and is playing his fourth slowest pace in the nation. He’s simply playing at the All-ACC level, and I hope the ACC Media is aware.
Come on, this is ridiculous.
Like the Hawkeyes, the Deacons have very good offense. Their offense may be better than the Hawkeyes. But their defense is much worse. The Deacons rank him 32nd in offensive efficiency and 139th in defensive efficiency. They’re small on the perimeter and have size up front, but they don’t really have shot blockers or strong internal defenders.
Seven-footer Matthew Marsh has started the last nine games but has only two blocks all season. Despite starting appearances, Marsh has only averaged 14 minutes per game over the past three years. If Virginia continues to play small ball, Marsh may not play a big role in this game.
For a team with so many 3-shooters, it’s no surprise that they’re dominated in the backcourt. The three guards are the team’s top scorers. Those three are Appleby (6ft 1in), Monsanto (6ft 6in) and Cameron Hildreth (6ft 4in). Monsanto will take over his three-quarters of his shots downtown. Hildreth, on the other hand, only shoots his 20% of his shots from downtown (and doesn’t shoot well).
This is a 4-point play (he converted a free throw) from Monsanto. Appleby’s penetration helps, opening up shots.
If both teams go big, we can see Reese Beekman at the bigger Monsanto. We’ve seen wreaths guarding larger wings that mostly only shoot threes. Beekman can prevent larger players from getting possession of the ball. And since Monsanto isn’t a post-his player, Reece doesn’t have to worry about being overwhelmed internally.
As the team gets smaller, we may see Ben Vander Plath defending Monsanto, as expected. This is due to the emergence of Ryan Dunn, a solid small ball his Four. In this case, Dunn would be riding Wake’s big man, Andrew Carr. Carr is a transfer from Delaware and while he can shoot a bit (35% for him on 3 attempts per game), that’s not his strong point.
Kerr is a physical man who can play with his head up or his back to the basket. He will have a hard time getting through or through Dan. The matchup for the Virginia side will likely be reversed.
It’s hard to wake up at home. They are allowing just 0.97 points per possession at home. 1.1 points per possession on the road. Part of it is due to the quality of the opponents, but obviously playing at home is better. They played at Clemson in December and lost by 20 points, but in the rematch he won by 10 points.
The best defensive team Wake has played in this year RutgersWake scored 0.83 points per possession in that game, his worst number of the season. The Rutgers are larger in size and force a lot of turnovers, so they don’t quite match Virginia’s defense. That’s what this game is about. Virginia needs to improve its defense more than it did Wednesday. Otherwise, you may lose this game.