2011-12 ACC Preview: #11 Wake Forest

The 2011-2012 ACC season is about to begin. Over the next three weeks, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order that we think they’ll finish this season – from the bottom up.

Let’s take a look at our projected 11th-place finishers, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest struggled against ACC competition last season, winning only one game (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

2011-2012 Record: 9-5

Key Wins:
November 30- Wake Forest 55, Nebraska 53
December 21- Wake Forest 87, UNC-Wilmington 78

Tough Losses:
December 3- Richmond 70, Wake Forest 62
December 10- Seton Hall 68, Wake Forest 54

Starting Lineup:[table id=16 /]Last Year Against Duke:
January 22, 2011 in Winston-Salem- Duke 83, Wake Forest 59

This Year Against Duke:
January 19, 2012 at Duke
February 28, 2012 in Winston-Salem

The Good: After a 8-24 season last year that boast just one ACC victory, this year’s Wake Forest team has nowhere to go but up. That being said, just because this team is on the rise doesn’t mean it will rise very far. So far this year’s Demon Deacons have been no slouch on the offensive end, averaging just over 70 points per game and shooting 45.6% from the floor. They have also taken pretty good care of the ball, turning the ball over an average of 12.5 times while maintaining a positive turnover margin.

The Bad: This team struggles to crash the boards and will get beaten inside. On average Wake Forest has been out-rebounded by five rebounds per game this year. This is not a huge margin, but the Demon Deacon’s greatest struggles have come on the defensive glass, allowing over 11 offensive rebounds per game to their opponents. Allowing this many second chance points has hurt them thus far, as they’ve allowed 70.5 points per contest, including 83 points to a lowly High Point team.

The Crazie: This year’s Wake Forest squad definitely appears to be a second-half team. In four of Wake’s seven victories this season they’ve gone into halftime leading by five points or fewer. These include games against Loyola (MD) (leading by five), North Carolina Central (tied), Nebraska (trailing by one), and Gardner-Webb (trailing by three).

Player We Love to Hate: Though in the past this player would certainly by Travis McKie, Duke’s significantly improved inside presence should be able to shut him down this season. I think we’ll end up hating C.J. Harris much more this year. Harris has started off hot this year, averaging 17.9 points per game and shooting a ridiculous 51.2% from beyond the arc. Harris is a quick guard that scores in bunches, which is something Duke has struggled with in the past. He’s the type of player that if we catch him at the wrong time, he could put up one of those “opponent’s guard absolutely takes over the game and Duke can’t do anything to stop him” type performances like Boston College’s Tyrese Rice in 2009 or Wake Forest’s own Chris Paul in 2005.

The Bottom Line: Don’t expect too much from this team, but don’t be surprised if it plays a couple strangely competitive games with teams in the top half of the ACC this year. With a team that’s built on hustle, heart, and streaky scorers, anything can happen. And after last year’s Wake Forest squad set the bar extremely low, this team isn’t exactly playing with much to lose.

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Crazie-Talk’s 2011-12 ACC Preview:

Boston College | Wake Forest | Clemson | Miami | Georgia Tech | Maryland

North Carolina State | Virginia Tech | Florida State | Virginia | Duke | North Carolina