(Image – Jeremy Brevard – USA Today)
Despite a postponement of their contest against Virginia Tech last Saturday due to a positive COVID-19 case in the program, the Wahoos are back Wednesday night for a 9:00 PM tipoff against a struggling Wake Forest team. While Virginia will only have three coaches on the sideline including Tony Bennett, Johnny Carpenter, and Ronnie Wideman, this ought to be a very winnable game for the ‘Hoos.
What Wake Forest has done so far
In four games so far this season, the Demon Deacons are yet to be all that impressive. They’re currently 3-1 with wins over Delaware State, Longwood, and Division 2 program Catawba and a sixteen-point blowout loss to Georgia Tech. They’re yet to put together an admirable performance so far this season as through four games they haven. In fact, they only beat Catawba by eight points, 70-62.
Their lack of top-tier competition will be gone shortly as their next four games are against Virginia, Duke, Louisville, and Virginia Tech — all dangerous teams in the ACC. It will soon be obvious whether or not the Demon Deacons are a competitive ACC team.
Breaking Wake Forest down
On the offensive side of the ball, the Deacs aren’t necessarily great at anything. They’re a poor shooting team (30.9% from deep so far this season), but do have a few guys who take a high volume of shots from behind the arc and can be dangerous if they get hot. Specifically, senior guard Jonah Antonio (42.1% on 6.3 three-point attempts per game) and fellow senior guard Jalen Johnson (42.9% on 3.5 three-point attempts per game) can both light it up from deep and stretch the floor.
Outside of the shooters, look for 6’9″ big man Ody Oguama versatile 6’8″ wing Davien Williamson to lead the Deacons on offense. They’ll likely challenge Virginia’s frontcourt as the ‘Hoos have had issues with their interior defense.
Keep an out for how the ‘Hoos guard ball screens, particularly off ball. Against the Irish, they used the defender two passes away as the “MIG” (most important guy) who would help heavily into the paint to pick up and tag rollers to the hoop. Of course, this resulted in a more spaced floor and an open backside, so expect Wake to try and exploit the ‘Hoos with ball screens.
On defense, the Deacs are a solid rebounding team who are unlikely to be bullied on the interior. Nonetheless, look for the Wahoos to roll with their three man motion/triangle offense to generate as many touches for their three best players — Sam Hauser, Kihei Clark, and Jay Huff — as possible. Wake Forest has struggled to contain guards who can score (Jose Alvarado and Michael Devoe scored a combined 42 points against the Deacs), so hopefully Clark can continue to score the ball at a high rate.
UVA will win if:
The Wahoos can take care of the ball, play smart, and maintain their level of defensive intensity from the Notre Dame game. Obviously, with a week off from play, the team may come out a bit rusty. But, they should still be able to take care of business.
Wake Forest will win if:
The Deacs get going from behind the arc while also preventing the ‘Hoos from getting easy offense.This is a huge step up in terms of competition for Wake Forest, and they’re going to need their A-game out of the gate.
Virginia 61 – Wake Forest 48
This contest shouldn’t be too tall a task for a Wahoo squad who seem to be on the up and up while the Deacons are incredibly unproven and are still meshing with new head coach Steve Forbes at the helm.