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50 Days to Tipoff: Opponent Previews - Duke and Wake Forest

Expect the Blue Devils to be one of the top teams in the country. Wake may be harder to predict.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Duke Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

As we near the end of our game-by-game breakdown of Tech’s opponents for the upcoming basketball season, the time has come to take a look at two more ACC opponents: Duke and Wake Forest.

Countdown to Tipoff: 17 Days


2016-2017 Record: 28-9 (11-7)

Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski

Key Departures: Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard, Amile Jefferson, Harry Giles, Frank Jackson

Key Returnees: Grayson Allen

Key Recruits: Trevon Duval, Gary Trent, Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter

Picked last week by the media to finish first in the conference, expect Duke to once again be one of the top teams in the country. Despite losing five of their top six players from a year ago, the Blue Devils are hoping to get things done next year with a strong group of freshmen after Coach K pulled in the top recruiting class in the country. The Blue Devils won’t be all youth though. They also return the ACC’s most polarizing, but no doubt talented, player in Grayson Allen.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Louisville vs Duke Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Bagley leads the talented group of Duke freshman. Projected by many to be the top pick in the NBA draft next season, Bagley was easily picked by the media as the projected rookie of the year in the conference. Bagley will look to fill into the role that Jayson Tatu, Justice Winslow, and Brandon Ingram have played in recent years. A freak athlete with a polished game, Bagley should have no issue handling ACC play. Alongside Bagley in the post will be another polished freshman big man in Wendell Carter. Carter will pour in points and dominate the boards with his only weakness being on the defensive side. Bagley should help to cover that up with his wingspan and athleticism.

Replacing Frank Jackson will be the best point guard Duke has landed since Kyrie Irving was on campus. Trevon Duval is an explosive scorer, passer, and defender. As a senior at IMG Academy, he averaged 16.2 ppg and 7.7 apg. He should come in and be the true point guard the Blue Devils have been missing the last few years. Also on the perimeter will be five star wing Gary Trent Jr, who will immediately become one of the top shooters in the conference.

Leading this strong group of freshman with his senior leadership will be Grayson Allen. Despite consistently being placed in the limelight due to on-court antics, Allen still managed to average nearly 15 ppg last season. This year, he will be hoping to be improved and more consistent. The Blue Devils will need him to be a leader and model for the younger players on the team.

With such a young team, the Blue Devils may not hit their stride until later in the season. By the time the tournament rolls around however, the Blue Devils have the pieces to be one of the national title favorites.

The Jackets will take on Duke at home on Sunday, February 11.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Media Day Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest

2016-2017 Record: 19-14 (9-9 ACC)

Head Coach: Danny Manning

Key Departures: John Collins, Dinos Mitoglou

Key Returnees: Bryant Crawford, Keyshawn Woods, Doral Moore, Brandon Childress

Key Recruits: Chaundee Brown

It’s tough to overstate the impact of losing John Collins, one of the top players in the conference. Collins led the team in points, rebounds, and blocks, earning him most improved player in the conference and a spot on the first-team all-ACC roster. Collins chose to forgo his final two seasons and was drafted 19th overall by the Hawks. Also leaving the Demon Deacons was Dinos Mitoglou, who chose to forgo his senior season to pursue a professional career in Greece. Mitoglou was fourth on the team in scoring and second in rebounding. Together, the pair represented 34% of the teams scoring and 44% of the rebounding.

Due to the loss of those two big men, Wake will likely have to go with a small lineup for much of the season. 7’1” junior center Doral Moore will be the first one called upon to fill that production, however due to foul trouble, Moore averaged just 8.4 minutes per game last season. 6’11” freshman Olivier Sarr will be another option for Danny Manning in the post, but Sarr comes into Wake Forest very raw and may not yet be strong enough to battle in the post night in and night out.

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

The perimeter should be much less of an issue for the Demon Deacons. Second leading scorer and leading assist man Bryant Crawford returns for his junior season after a breakout year last season. If he is able to again improve upon his 16.2 ppg and 5.5 apg from last year, NBA teams may come calling. Keyshawn Woods, who transferred in before last season, should have another strong year. Last season, he averaged over 12 ppg, in large part due to a 44% three-point shooting percentage.

Wake Forest will also add four star guard Chaundee Brown, who saw his recruitment explode in his final season of high school. The 6’5” wing will immediately add a major scoring threat on the perimeter.

Last season, Wake got things done with an offense ranked 7th in the country in adjusted efficiency. Defensively, the nearly ranked outside the top 200. This year, things should be much of the same with such little talent in the post. For Wake to be competitive, they will need to once again have one of the nations top offenses.

The Jackets will take on the Demon Deacons on the road on Wednesday, February 14 and at McCamish Pavilion on Saturday, March 3.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Wake Forest vs Boston College Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports