Coming out of the non-conference season, the Jackets and the Demon Deacons are almost mirror images of each other. They both have five losses, including losses to Tennessee and Gardner Webb in common. Both have been consistently picked to finish in the basement of the ACC. The main difference is that while Pastner’s seat might be starting to heat up a little, Danny Manning’s seat is as hot as can be, and he looks to be fighting for his job this season.
Players to watch
#0 Brandon Childress – 6-0 JR Guard – 16.4 Points, 3.6 Rebounds, 4.3 Assists, .431% 3-PT
Childress has become the go to scoring option this season, doubling his points per game average from last season and scoring in double figures in every game and having two 20+ point performances. His 3-pt shooting has increased as well, even though he is taking more shots from behind the arc this season. The Jackets will have to find a way to get a hand in the face of this sharp shooter and look to disrupt his scoring.
#10 Jaylen Hoard – 6-8 FR Forward – 15.2 Points, 7.7 Rebounds, 1.4 Assists, .504% FG
Hoard was the star of the 2018 recruiting class, ranked 24th in the nation by 247. He has come in and shown that a high ranking was well earned and has adjusted to the college game quickly, only scoring below double figures in one game, vs Tennessee. Hoard is a lengthy wing that the Jackets will have to slow down to have a chance at winning this match-up.
#23 Chaundee Brown – 6-5 SO Guard – 11.5 Points, 4.8 Rebounds, 1.4 Assists, .377% 3-PT
Brown is the third Deac that averages double figures in points. Brown also significantly increased his scoring from last season, moving up from 7.6 points per game.
The Deacons only have seven players that average more than 20 minutes per game, and only one other who averages in double digits. As ACC play begins, there would be no reason to think this would change.
#1 Isaiah Mucius – 6-8 FR Forward – 8.3 Points, 4.0 Rebounds
Another member of Wake’s 23rd ranked recruiting class, Mucius has become a solid contributor for the Deacs. Has five double figure scoring games this season, including team highs against Charlotte, Richmond, and St. Joseph’s. With no starts this season, he looks to be the main option off the bench.
#2 Sharone Wright Jr – 6-5 FR Guard – 7.3 Points, 2.6 Rebounds
A third member of the class of 2018 that has worked their way into the rotation. Has five double figure scoring games and five starts.
#30 Olivier Sarr – 7-0 SO Forward – 6.5 Points, 5.2 Rebounds, 1.2 Blocks
Sarr is the main option in the post and a talented defender. Two double figure scoring games and seven starts. Leads the team in blocked shots this season.
#4 Torry Johnson – 6-3 SR Guard – 6.1 Points, 1.8 Rebounds, 1.4 Assists
After sitting out last season as a transfer from Northern Arizona, Johnson has become an option off the bench as well as a spot starter for the Deacs. Has two double figure scoring games.
#35 Ikenna Smart – 6-10 SR Forward – 2.2 Points, 3.1 Rebounds
The Buffalo transfer is the only other player averaging double figure minutes played. Has played in ten games with five starts.
This is a match-up between teams that have consistently finished at the bottom of the ACC standings the last few seasons. If the Jackets want to entertain any idea of making the NIT this is a must win game. This is also a must win for Danny Manning as he fights to keep his job against mounting resentment.