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Game Preview: Wake Forest at UNC

Head coach Jeff Bzdelik of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons watches the horror. Every game, the horror.
Head coach Jeff Bzdelik of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons watches the horror. Every game, the horror.

Poor, poor, Wake Forest. After last year's senior-laden team only made it to the second round of the NCAA, the athletic department reacted by firing coach Dino Gaudio, who had only managed two tournament appearances in his three years of coaching. Into the breach came Jeff Bzdelik, formerly of the Denver Nuggets, Air Force, and Colorado, in that order. His first season can most accurately be described as a disaster; the Deacons have lost 9 of their last 11 and are pretty much regarded as awful.

It's too early to tell how much of this is the fault of Bzdelik; Wake only returns three players who had any significant minutes last season. But Bzdelik's last gig at Colorado produced finishes of 12th, 12th, and 8th in the Big XII; I don't expect him to be an ACC fixture any time soon What he is doing is continuing Gaudio's uptempo style of play, which of course is exactly how the Heels like to play.

Let's cut to the chase. Wake is awful, on both offense and defense. And they're especially bad on the road; the Deacons have one one game outside of Winston-Salem, a neutral-court match against Elon College. It was on the road in Atlanta where they were held to 39 points by Georgia Tech. It was on the road where Richmond and N.C. State each scored 90, and Virginia Tech 94. This is a horrible, horrible team.

Wake doesn't field a starter taller than 6'7", so naturally, they rely on the three quite a bit. Gary Clark is the go to guy here, shooting a ridiculous 60%from beyond the arc, but he's only take 75 threes; he's a role player. You'll see more of freshman J.T. Terrell taking the shots. Tony Chennault was supposed to run the point, before an injury kept him out of almost all of the non-conference season. He now splits time with C.J. Harris; they two, like everyone else on the Demon Deacons, have an assist-to-turnover ratio of less than one. Unsurprisingly, Wake Forest leads the ACC in turnovers.

Inside, well, Wake isn't any better. They're the worst rebounding team in the conference. Travis McKie, another freshman, is their best on the boards. The fact that he's getting more rebounds than near seven-footers Carson Desrosiers and Ty Walker says something about this team. Those two will probably bear the brunt of defending the UNC bigs, and it won't go well. This is a team that just lost to State by 25 at home; for UNC to do worse in Chapel Hill is inconceivable. This is a game that will earn ticketholders biscuits, and give the Tar Heels a light workout before things get serious. There's nothing closer to a sure thing this season than a home game against Wake Forest.