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UNC vs. Wake Forest: Game Preview

The Tar Heels head to Winston Salem looking for their third win in a row.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of a historic victory on Sunday against NC State, the Tar Heels now head to Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum to take on Wake Forest. The game will tip-off on Wednesday at 8:00, and will be televised by ESPN2.

Wake Forest:

Danny Manning’s Demon Deacons come into Wednesday’s game with a record of 10-6 on the season. They currently sit in last place early on the ACC season with a 1-3 record. In their most recent game, Wake led at the half on the road against Virginia before eventually going on to lose by 17. The Demon Deacons have lost 3 of their last 4 games, and 4 out of their last 6; however, the team does have a home record of 6-1 at LJVM.

Manning is still searching for his first big win while coaching at Wake Forest. He comes into his third year as head coach at Wake with a record of 34-45. He is 1-22 vs. ranked teams, with the only win being against #13 Indiana last year in the Maui Invitational.

Wake Forest will need to rely heavily on John Collins, Keyshawn Woods, and Bryant Crawford, if they are going to pull off the upset and get their first big win in the ACC for Manning. Collins has stepped up in a big way this season and has filled some big shoes with Devin Thomas graduating last year. He has anchored the low post position for the Demon Deacons and gives them a scoring threat down low. He leads the team in points, rebounds, and blocked shots (16.4, 9.3, 1.6). He has a big task at hand, as he will need to keep UNC’s front court off the glass in order for his team to have a chance to win on Wednesday.

Though it may not get the hype that Sunday’s point guard match-up received, Crawford and Joel Berry is another match-up of two very good ACC point guards. Crawford doesn’t get the media attention that Berry, Dennis Smith Jr., and London Perrantes receive; however, he is a very talented guard that is the floor general for his team. Crawford averages 14.3 points and 5.9 assists per game.

Woods and Konstantinos Mitoglou are two other players that will need to have big games in order for Wake Forest to pull off the upset. Woods does a lot of things for the Demon Deacons, as he is third on the team in rebounds and points and second in assists. He, along with Mitoglou and Austin Arians, have also shown the ability to step out and knock down the three-point shot.

Wake Forest is one of the worst defensive teams in the country, as they currently are ranked 225th in number of points per game allowed at 73.6. Going up against a Tar Heel team that is ranked 7th in the country in scoring with 89.1 points per game, the Demon Deacons will need to clamp down defensively (and rebound) in order to keep the game close.


Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels come into Wednesday night’s game after their record setting performance on Sunday against NC State. UNC’s 107-56 victory over the Wolfpack was the most-lopsided victory over an ACC opponent in program history. The victory also showed why many people consider the Tar Heels to be one of the best teams in the country. UNC sits at 14-3 overall, 2-1 in the ACC (tied for 3rd place), and is ranked #11 in the AP Top 25 Poll.

Wednesday’s game could potentially fall into the “trap game” category, as the Heels have a big match-up at home on Sunday against the #9 ranked Florida State Seminoles. However, I am sure that Coach Williams will once again remind his team that they shouldn’t take any team in the ACC lightly (Exhibit A: Georgia Tech). UNC is currently favored by 7.5 points in the game.

Wednesday night’s game will also be Theo Pinson’s second game back, so it will give Coach Williams another chance to tinker and experiment with some different line-ups (some critics may say that is not a good thing). With Pinson back in the line-up, will Coach Williams experiment more with a smaller line-up, especially with Mitoglou being able to step out and hit outside shots?

The Heels will also look to get another solid performance from their bench on Wednesday. UNC’s bench outscored NC State’s starting five on Sunday 38-36. The Heels should have an advantage with their deeper bench over Wake Forest, so look for players like Tony Bradley, Luke Maye, and Nate Britt to have good games.

UNC will be looking for their third win in the ACC, their third win in a row overall, and their third win in a row in the series against Wake Forest. If the Heels bring defensive intensity, get strong offensive performances from Joel Berry (Berry was named ACC and National Player of the Week for last week’s performances) and Justin Jackson, and Kennedy Meeks is active on the boards, then they become nearly unbeatable.