Where: Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC
When: Tuesday, January 31st, 9:00 PM
Records: UNC 18-3, 5-1 ACC; WFU 11-10, 2-5 ACC
Well, at least Jay Bilas is doing the game and not some wretched combination of Mike Patrick/Dick Vitale/Len Elmore/Jimmy Dykes.
There really isn't much to say about this game. Wake Forest is ranked 206th according to KenPom has the 213th ranked offense and the 196th ranked defense. On the KenPom Game Prep page it has all the stats laid out side-by-side. Stats shaded in green are ones a team is highly ranked nationally in. If it is shaded in red it means the team is ranked on the low ended nationally. There are multiple statistical areas where UNC has green shading and the corresponding category for offense/defense is red in the Wake Forest column. This is a mismatch in every way imaginable except for free throw shooting. If this were a non-conference foe in December, this would be par for the course. However this is an ACC team and historically speaking ACC teams are almost always in the top 100. Going back to 2003, the first year of KenPom ratings available, only three ACC teams finished worse than 100. Clemson in 2003, Virginia in 2009 and Wake Forest last season. This year five ACC teams are outside the top 100 and two of them, Wake and Boston College are outside the top 200.
In other words it is highly unusual for UNC to play a team with a KenPom ranking this low at this point in the season with the only other occurrence being last year vs this same Wake team that finished 251st. What it boils down to here is the old intensity question for this team. It is a road game and Wake Forest does have a couple of nice players as well as a seven footer who blocks three shots per game. For that alone UNC shouldn't simply waltz into Lawrence Joel expecting a party. In fact UNC should take this opportunity as a exercise in bringing it in a game that may be somewhat challenging for this group in the intensity department.
For the sake of keeping everyone as fresh as possible, blowing this puppy wide open at the start and allowing Roy Williams to rotate half the team through the point guard position while everyone stays healthy would be the best possible outcome.
UNC 84 Wake 61