Game Preview: Syracuse vs. Wake Forest

Opponent: Wake Forest

Location: Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC

Date: Wednesday, January 3

Time: 7:00pm EST

TV: ESPNU or stream on WatchESPN app

Line: Syracuse +1

Disappointing season for Demon Deacons thus far

Wake Forest has been one of the most disappointing teams in the ACC this year with a 7-6 overall record and a 0-1 record in ACC play. The Demon Deacons started the season 0-3 with bad losses against Liberty (265 RPI rank) and Drake (162 RPI rank). After beating Quinnipiac and losing to Houston, the team went on a 6-game win streak including a win against Illinois in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Most recently, Wake Forest lost to #21 Tennessee by 19 and lost their conference opener on the road to #11 North Carolina 73-69 on Saturday. North Carolina stormed back and won behind an 8-0 run to close the game. Although the season has been largely disappointing the Demon Deacons showed they can be a dangerous team against North Carolina.

Top Players

Wake Forest is led by a trio of juniors. Guard Keyshawn Woods leads the team with 15.7 points per game and shoots 39% from the three-point line. Guard Bryant Crawford (pictured below) averages 15.4 points, 4.7 assists and is an underrated defender with 1.8 steals per game. Last season, Crawford was the first Demon Deacon to average 15 points and 5 assists since Chris Paul in 2004-05 when he averaged 16.2 points and 5.5 assists. Center Doral Moore is an imposing figure at 7’1” and 280 pounds but he has been inconsistent on the offensive end of the floor. He only registered 4 points against Tennessee and North Carolina. Moore also averages 7.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks, which is good for 41st in the nation.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

There aren’t many strengths for the Demon Deacons outside of the guard play of Keyshawn Woods and Bryant Crawford but the team has shot well from the 3-point line. Wake Forest is ranked 59th in the country at 39% but is only 261st in 3-point field goals attempted. Expect the Demon Deacons to attempt more than their average of 21 3-point attempts against Syracuse. Orange fans should watch out for senior guard Mitchell Wilbekin. Wilbekin makes 1.9 3-pointers per game and he shoots 45.6% from beyond the arch.

Two of Wake Forest’s biggest weaknesses are rebounding and defense. The team has a +1.5 rebounding margin which ranks 175th in the country. Syracuse should own the boards against the Demon Deacons as the Orange possess a +10.5 rebounding margin which is good for 5th in the nation. Wake Forest allows 72.6 points per game which puts them in the bottom half of the country while Syracuse’s scoring defense is one of the team’s strengths. The Orange are 18th in the country allowing only 62.2 points per game.

Syracuse vs. Wake Forest All-Time Series

Syracuse holds a 5-0 all-time record against Wake Forest. The Orange beat the Demon Deacons 81-76 last season at the Carrier Dome behind 27 points from Andrew White (pictured below). The teams met for the first time in 2001 at Madison Square Garden in the Preseason NIT tournament. DeShaun Williams led Syracuse with 23 points and the Orange won 74-67.

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Prediction

Syracuse wins 72-65

Quick Hits

Wake Forest’s RPI rank is 140 while Syracuse’s rank is 11

Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning is 50-59 since taking over in 2014

Wake Forest has not been in the AP Top 25 since the 2009-10 season

Mitchell Wilbekin’s older brother, Scottie, was the SEC Player of the Year and led Florida to the Final Four in 2014

Syracuse received 4 points in the AP Top 25 poll on Monday tying the Orange for 9th in the “other receiving votes” section.

The Orange was last ranked in the top 25 the week of November 28, 2016 when the team was #22.

Syracuse forward Bourama Sidibe’s status for the rest of the season has yet to be determined.

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