Miami vs. Wake Forest Game Preview (via @HardwoodU)
Coming off an impressive victory at Pitt, Miami continues its three game road trip in Winston-Salem, NC on Wednesday night.
Before we get into the preview, let’s take a second to recognize Coach L on achieving 600 career wins. Coach L is now one of 14 active coaches with at least 600 wins (five of whom are in the HOF). 600 wins is an extremely impressive feat, let alone getting most of those wins at Bowling Green and George Mason. Coach L said Saturday that he wants to coach until he’s 120 to catch Roy Williams and Coach K, so here’s hoping he sticks around for another 53 years. Congrats Coach!
Wake Forest comes into Wednesday night’s matchup at 10-7 overall and 1-4 in the ACC. The Deamon Deacons’ record is deceiving, however, as they have losses at the hands of Villanova, Northwestern, Xavier, FSU, Clemson, UVA, and UNC. With no bad losses on the resume (all losses came to top 50 RPI teams) and decent wins over Bucknell, Charleston, and Richmond, Wake comes into the game battle tested and as ready as any ACC team to defend their home court. Wake currently sits at 26th in the RPI rankings with a strength of schedule ranking of 5th in the country.
Leading the way for the Deacs is 6’10”, 235 lb. sophomore forward John Collins. Collins, a West Palm Beach product, is currently averaging 15.8 PPG and 8.9 RPG for Wake. Collins has struggled against opponents with a strong interior presence (2 points vs. FSU and 6 points vs. UNC), but that won’t be the case facing a young, undersized Miami frontcourt.
Collins is joined by sophomore point guard Bryant Crawford (14.8 PPG, 5.8 APG), sophomore guard Keyshawn Woods (12.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.4 APG), and 6’10” junior forward Konstantinos Mitoglou (10.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG), who hails from Greece.
The Deacs, particularly their bench, are lethal from long range and rank in the top 40 in the nation in three point percentage. Woods (42% from 3PT), Austin Arians (44%), Mitchell Wilbekin (42%), and Mitoglou (38%) all command attention outside the arc and will stretch Miami’s defense all night.
Wake Forest also ranks 34th in the country in #YGTMYFT. The Canes? 173rd.
What to Watch For
In this year’s loaded ACC, there’s no such thing as a trap game, but this game comes close. Wake is battle tested having played one of the toughest schedules in the country and shoots well from deep, making them capable of beating anyone at home on any given night. With ESPN’s College Gameday heading to Durham for Miami’s matchup with Duke Saturday night, it’s essential the Canes don’t sleep on Wake.
Turnovers continue to plague the Canes (18 vs. Pitt on Saturday, including 7 from “point guard” Ja’Quan Newton), and it will prove difficult to continue to win ACC games at the rate Miami is turning the ball over, particularly on the road.
Anthony Lawrence appears to have broken out of his slump against Pitt, logging 9 points in 26 minutes on 4-5 shooting. If Miami can get more production from Amp and Dewan Huell (12 points in his last four games and no double figure games since November), that would go a long way toward fixing the team’s offensive inconsistencies and depth issues.
Bruce Brown is coming off a monster game against Pitt (17 points, 6 rebounds), so look for the freshman to continue to improve against a Wake team with inferior talent. Brown is shooting 58% on three point attempts in his last six games, so look for him to continue to get good looks from deep.
Defensively, the Canes are more athletic than Wake Forest, so look for them to try to force turnovers and attack in transition. Miami has been extremely strong defensively thus far, ranking 4th in scoring defense, 3rd in fouls, and 10th in field goal percentage defense.
We like the Canes in this one, but anything can happen in the ACC, particularly on the road and particularly with an inconsistent, young team like Miami. Miami is only 3-2 against Wake under Larranaga, including a loss in 2013 that prevented the Canes from earning a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
How to Watch
When: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 8:00pm EST
Where: Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC
TV: ACC Digital Network – CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR REGIONAL AFFILIATE
Stream: WatchESPN.com (blacked out in some regions)