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Georgia Tech Basketball: Wake Forest Preview

The Demon Deacons Return to McCamish on Senior Day

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

This year’s seniors get to play their final home game in a thrilling matchup between #13 in the ACC Georgia Tech and #14 in the ACC Wake Forest. The standings in the ACC could change a lot on the final day of the season, so predicting an ACC tournament opponent is difficult. If the Yellow Jackets win today, their most likely opponent is Boston College. If they lose, options are more wide open.

This has not been the season that Wake Forest fans were hoping for in Danny Manning’s third season at the helm. They started off the season disastrously, with losses to Georgia Southern, Liberty, and Drake. They pulled it together some, but sit at just 4-13 in conference play. They have only lost one ACC game within 5 points (UNC on the road by 5), so it isn’t like they have just been missing wins. This is a team that has not handled the loss of their best player (John Collins) well at all.

Wake Forest’s best player by far is wing/point guard Bryant Crawford. He can carry the team when nobody else is doing much. He averages 16.5 points per game on 40.7% shooting and 35.6% from deep. Their next best player is 7’1” Doral Moore. Moore lacks a lot of offensive skill, but he is one of the best rebounders in the country (#16 in OR% and #12 in DR%) and could give Tech absolute fits. Sometimes it seems like Wake’s best offense is to chuck up a wild shot just to let Moore get the put back. Wing Keyshawn Woods is also capable of scoring, but he probably won’t go off on Tech either. He averages 12.6 points per game and has scored between 9 and 15 points in each of the last 8 games. Brandon Childress and Mitchell Wilbekin round out Wake’s back court. Each is capable of hitting threes, but isn’t much threat to make plays (both shoot better from 3 than inside the arc). Much like NC State, Wake Forest is weak in the front court despite having a solid center. The Deacons play Terrence Thompson, Donovan Mitchell, Sunday Okeke, and Olivier Sarr to complement Moore. None of them are particularly effective on either end of the floor. If Moore gets in foul trouble, that could be a big advantage for Tech.

Last game saw Tech with a solid size advantage. They took advantage, particularly Tadric Jackson and Ben Lammers. One might think they could do so again, but possibly not. NC State uses their small guards to roam the perimeter and snuff out three pointers which leaves them vulnerable inside. Wake is the opposite. They play some zone and when they play man, they tend to pack it in a little. This makes them tough inside, but leaves them vulnerable from deep. That’s not great for this Tech team. The Jackets have been good in back-to-back games from deep, hitting 50% both times. They may need to keep up the shooting to win this one.

This game takes place at noon today at McCamish Pavilion. The Yellow Jackets will honor Ben Lammers and Tadric Jackson for senior day. Lammers has emerged as one of the best defensive players in the nation these last two seasons and has been vital to this team. Tadric has seen his up and downs, but has had several huge games that won Tech games (VCU last year, Northwestern and NC State this year). Congratulations to both of them.

Wake beat GT just a few weeks ago in Winston-Salem, but I think Tech returns the favor on their home court. My prediction is 68-62 Yellow Jackets.