Pick – Analysis
North Carolina is back to its full roster and that again makes the Tar Heels one of the best teams in the country. They remain the only team with an undefeated ACC record and should have no problem carrying that mark after a Game with Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons had some nice non-Conference wins, but after a difficult start to their ACC Schedule, they’ve had a tougher time. To make things worse, they are coming off a terrible 28-point home loss to Syracuse. Things haven’t been working for them and it’s doubtful a meeting in Chapel Hill will help that.
After Syracuse’s zone dominated Wake Forest last Game, it’s a wonder if Roy Williams will take that approach in this Game. Of course, they probably won’t have to. The Tar Heels are cruising and will use their size to dominate this Game.
Along with that, Wake Forest has one of the worst defenses in college basketball, giving up a ridiculous 79 points per Game. In their last road Game, they gave up 93 points to a mediocre Virginia Tech team. Throw in a deep North Carolina team that hasn’t had trouble scoring on anyone, and the Heels could put up 100 points here.
Stopping Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks will be the first order of work for Wake. Meeks is back from an injury and dropped 23 points against a big NC State team over the weekend, while Johnson leads the team with 16.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per Game. A couple Games ago, Johnson put in a monstrous 39-point, 23-rebound effort. While worrying about those guys on the inside, you still have Marcus Paige and Joel Berry on the outside. Paige has been struggling with his shot, but one of these Games he’ll put it together and it won’t good news for the opposing team. And then there’s small forward Justin Jackson, who creates matchup problems with his shooting and size.
It’s going to be a tough matchup for Wake Forest, there’s no doubt about that, but if they are to have some success, big man Devin Thomas can’t get into foul trouble. Thomas averages a double-double for the Demon Deacons, but against the towers of UNC, has to play it safe on the defensive end. Elsewhere, one of their shooters has to get going whether it’s Bryant Crawford, Konstantinos Mitoglou or Mitchell Wilbekin. against the Syracuse zone, Wake shot just 2-for-20 from long range and 14-for-43 from the field.
The Tar Heels may not be as good of defensive team as Syracuse, but their length usually creates problems for their opponents. That’s where Mitoglou comes in as he can step back and shoot with his 6-10 size and that will keep some of UNC’s bigs out of the paint.
But these are extreme chances and even if the Demon Deacons have some success on the offensive end, it’s hard to see them stopping the Tar Heels enough. If UNC gets an early lead, that could be it for Wake, just like in the ‘Cuse Game. But any time with a big spread, there’s always the chance for a late cover.
Predicted Score- North Carolina 99 Wake Forest 80