The Deacs have gotten solid production from Devin Thomas and Codi Miller-McIntyre, as expected. Thomas is averaging nearly a double-double at 10.7 and 9.6 and McIntyre is leading the Deacons in scoring with 13 PPG. Wake also has a solid core of freshmen playing well in Dinos Mitiglou, Mitchell Wilbekin, and Cornelius Hudson. If this group continues to grow Wake could pull off a few upsets in conference play.
Wake Forest rebounds the ball well and shoots pretty decently from long range, but they have a few glaring weaknesses holding them back. The first is free throw shooting. This has haunted them a few times this year, particularly against Minnesota when the Deacs lost by 15 while shooting 18-31 from the line. They do a good job of consistently getting to the line, with the second most free throw attempts in the nation this season, but leave too many points there to stay in games. Defensively their biggest problem is that they give up too many easy baskets. Despite holding opponents to under 29% shooting from 3-point range, the Deacon’s defense allows 52% shooting inside the arc. Most of their losses are a product of getting behind early and not being able to make key stops, and Wake has allowed 78 or more points in 4 of their 6 defeats.
The Demon Deacons have an almost comically difficult start to ACC play, with their first five games featuring matchups against Louisville, Duke, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and UNC. These 5 games will potentially determine what kind of season Wake can have. The tournament is a long shot at this point, but wins against GT and Syracuse can establish a pattern of consistency in ACC play, and the Deacs typically pull off one upset a year, which could happen in this stretch. A 2-3 start to conference play would be satisfactory for Wake fans, although they are already in a 0-1 hole due to an early conference game against NC State on December 6th.
This is a Wake Forest team with a lot of potential. Veterans are playing well and young players are emerging. As Danny Manning continues to recruit well the Deacons are still a year away from making a splash, but during this ACC campaign they have a chance to prove that they aren’t another Jeff Bzdelik team and they need to be taken seriously.