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Previewing Wake Forest: Demon Deacons young, flawed, and dangerous

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 8 p.m. ET, Sunday, Jan. 10

TV: ESPNU (Anish Shroff, Cory Alexander)

Online streamingWatchESPN

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Wake Forest vitals

Record: 9-5 (0-2)
RPI: 60
Pomeroy ranking: No. 99
Best win***: 82-78 over Indiana (KenPom No. 25)
Worst loss: 91-82 to Richmond (KenPom No. 92)

(***Best win or loss based on opponent's Pomeroy Rating, not the scoring margin.)

Adjusted tempo: 71.6 poss/40 minutes (ranks 92nd)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 108.2 (ranks 78th)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 101.6 (ranks 153rd)

WF roster
WF schedule
WF stats 2015 2016

The Wake Forest offense and starters

WFU Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 47.8 (225) 19.3 (187) 31.8 (136) 41.5 (63)
2015-16 49.4 (175) 19.7 (241) 36.1 (35) 46.6 (18)

It's early desperation mode basketball in the ACC, with both NC State and Wake Forest entering the game Sunday at 0-2 in league play. Both have formidable stretches remaining in January--Wake has a run of UNC-UVA-Miami-ND to close out the month, while State has a FSU-UNC-Pitt-Duke stretch ahead. So this game is pretty important.

Wake is looking much more competitive in Danny Manning's second season, and the Deacs already have solid resume-building wins against UCLA, Indiana, and LSU. Their tough non-conference schedule, which also included Xavier and Vanderbilt, has them in decent shape RPI-wise to make a run at the NCAAs. They have no bad losses, but they will need a few breakthough wins in the ACC to put themselves in position to nab a bid.

If they're going to get there, it's likely going to be on the backs of Codi Miller-McIntyre and Devin Thomas, who have been pace-setters on this team for a long time now. Miller-McIntyre has been slow to round into form after missing most of the non-conference season because of injury, but Thomas is having his finest season in college.

The Deacs have been able to cover for Miller-McIntyre thanks to a deeper, more diverse cast of supporting players. Manning might not necessarily have brought in a bunch of headlining talents in his two years, but many of them have proven to be solid-to-good contributors, taking some weight off of CMM and Thomas.

Imrpovements in two-point accuracy, offensive rebounding, and free throw rate have the offense producing more efficiently. And it's no coincidence that Thomas has improved in each of those categories. But the Deacs still lack for threats from outside, and with so many underclassmen in the rotation, they can be prone to mistakes.

The question for NC State's defense going into any game is can it dictate ... anything? So far in league play, the answer is a resounding no.


Bryant Crawford (6-3, 200) -- For a freshman, he ain't lacking confidence, which is both good and bad. The good: he is shooting 41.4% from three. The bad: he is 28-83 (.337) inside the arc. Better decision-making will come with time, but right now ... whew. He does have an excellent assist rate, though it comes with a high turnover rate.

Mitchell Wilbekin (6-2, 175) -- As was the case last season, his usefulness is pretty much limited to jump shooting. He's hitting only 32.9% from three after knocking down 38.6% as a freshman in 2015.

Codi Miller-McIntyre (6-3, 205) -- CMM's strength has always been his ability to create offense inside the arc, but in the six games since his return from injury, his impact has been relatively minimal. His usage is down considerably after leading the team in scoring last year. His two-point accuracy is way down, as is his free throw rate; he's also committing more turnovers. His track record suggests these are not permanent things.

Dinos Mitoglou (6-10, 245) -- The Greek Deac is putting some robot-level consistency on display after 1.5 college seasons. For example, he shot 38.5% from three last year; he is shooting 38.5% this season. He hit 52% of his twos as a freshman; he is hitting 52.2% as a sophomore. That is weird and I am frightened. One big difference, though: an improved free throw rate, and improved free throw accuracy from 71.8% in 2015 to 85.1% this season.

Devin Thomas (6-9, 245) -- Thomas is averaging 16.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, which will put him in the All-ACC discussion if he can keep it up. His 58.7% shooting on twos is a career-best--and well above his career average--and he has been one of the best in the country at drawing fouls. If he weren't still the same sub-60% free throw shooter he's always been, he'd truly be scary. His rebounding rates at both ends are career bests; so are his block, turnover, and assist rates.

The Wake Forest bench and defense

Reserves: John Collins (6-10, 255), Cornelius Hudson (6-7, 195), Rondale Watson (6-3, 195), Greg McClinton (6-7, 200). Collins is having one hell of a breakout freshman season, with foul trouble cutting into what otherwise would be a higher profile at this point. He's been an absolute monster on the offensive glass, grabbing an elite-level 15% of available offensive boards while on the court. He is hitting nearly 60% of his twos and makes 70% of his free throws. He blocks shots and isn't prone to turnovers. Love this kid. Just gotta do something about that average of 6.8 fouls committed per 40 minutes.

McClinton is an excellent offensive rebounder who is scoring effectively inside the arc this year, though he isn't likely to have a major hand in the offense. Hudson is more assertive and has done a better job of getting to the line after being more of a jump shooter in 2015. That's good news for Wake since he's not much of a jump shooter (.310 career from three).

WFU Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 50.9 (248) 17.1 (289) 26.4 (22) 35.2 (142)
2015-16 50.2 (205) 15.3 (325) 29.2 (131) 34.9 (141)

The Deacs are more disruptive this season, in terms of blocked shots, but they've seen their steal rate fall off a cliff, and their 2FG% defense--while improved--remains below national average. Their inability to force many turnovers is an encouraging note for NC State's offense, which is one of the best at taking care of the ball.

State can have success here, but there is the whole nagging gotta-make-shots thing. The Wolfpack's effective field goal percentage in ACC games is under 40.0. Eep.

The Pomeroy Predictor has Wake by two.