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Previewing the Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake Forest (8-13, 1-5) comes to town to take on Florida State (15-6, 5-2), in a game certain to generate zero interest as Wake is the worst team in the conference, FSU is coming off a terrible effort at Clemson, it’s the eve of National Signing Day, and the game isn’t televised. Still, this is an absolute must win for the Noles, as a loss would have us back to playing our way off the bubble. Currently most brackets have us projected as an 8 seed.

Wake is led by first year head coach Jeff Bzdelik (buzz-DEL-ick). In a strange move last year Wake fired 3rd year head coach Dino Gaudio who had just led them to consecutive NCAA appearances (after 3 years of missing the tourney), and then replaced him with Bzdelik who failed to win half his games in any of his three seasons at Colorado, and left with a 36-58 (10-38) record (granted, the team he took over was awful). His previous stops as a head coach (UMBC, Denver Nuggets, Air Force) were all 2-year stints. So far this year the Deacons are 1-9 against teams ranked in the top 100 by KenPom, and also have losses to Stetson (home), Winthrop (home), UNC Wilmington and Presbyterian (home).

Don’t assume Wake is untalented just because they’re bad. Though they lost the 8th pick in last years’ NBA draft  they still have 7 consensus top-100 recruits on their roster (just like FSU). That talent has led them to the 230th ranked offense and 263rd ranked defense in the country. Bzdelik’s Colorado squads had defenses ranked 11th, 12th and 12th in the Big 12, and obviously this year they’re the worst defense in the ACC.

Wake Forest has five players averaging double figures, led by 6’7" freshman Travis McKie’s 13 PPG, an active wing player with an all-around game. If he adds muscle and improves his outside shot he should be an All-ACC type player. McKie, who leads ACC freshmen in scoring, does the same in rebounding at 7.6 per game. Fellow freshman SG J.T. Terrell is 2nd at 12.2 PPG, though he’s highly inefficient and comes in with a reputation as a selfish player. Still, if he gets hot, he can bury four or five 3’s in a row. On the defensive end keep an eye on 7-foot junior Ty Walker who blocks almost 3 per game.

The game tips at 7pm, and is not televised. Jimbo Fisher will be in attendance to accept the bowl trophy at halftime. Pomeroy has the Noles by 20, and the line is -19 in Vegas.