Tuesday, January 8, 2013

game preview: Wake Forest

Date/Time: Wednesday, January 9; 9:00


Record against the Deacons: 59-69

Last meeting: UVA 68, Wake 44; 2/8/12, Charlottesville

Last game: UVA 61, UNC 52 (1/6); Duke 80, Wake 62 (1/5)

KenPom stats:

UVA: 60.2 (#344)
WF: 69.0 (#89)

UVA: 104.8 (#85)
WF: 100.4 (#151)

UVA: 86.7 (#14)
WF: 99.2 (#172)

UVA: .8751 (#27)
WF: .5301 (#156)

Projected starters:


PG: Teven Jones (4.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 2.3 apg)
SG: Paul Jesperson (4.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (15.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.4 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (12.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.9 apg)
PF: Darion Atkins (7.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.6 apg)

Wake Forest:

PG: Codi Miller-McIntyre (8.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.8 apg)
SG: C.J. Harris (14.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 2.0 apg)
SF: Travis McKie (15.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.1 apg)
PF: Devin Thomas (6.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.3 apg)
PF: Arnaud Adala Moto (4.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.2 apg)

Coming off a big win, the Hoos are in great shape these days.  Slaying the Carolina dragon will never get old, but in a way, an even bigger opportunity looms on Wednesday.  The RPI formula heavily rewards road wins, and the road is exactly where UVA is going, to play one of the conference's weakest teams.  A win could be worth a 15-rank leap in the ol' RPI; a loss could mean a 20-rank plunge.

-- UVA on offense

Left up in the air at this point, as it probably will be until about 30 minutes from tip-off, is Akil Mitchell's status.  If he doesn't start, I would hazard a guess that Evan Nolte moves into the starting lineup, but only Tony Bennett knows what he's thinking in that regard.

Probably the biggest threat that UVA will face offensively is Wake's freshman forward Devin Thomas.  Thomas can match Mitchell and Darion Atkins in size and is a good shot-blocker.  Thomas and Travis McKie both rebound well.  Fortunately for the Hoos, Thomas at 6'9", 240 is as big as the Deacons get.  6'8" beanpole forward Aaron Rountree can also get up and block shots, but Rountree sits at the bottom of the rotation and only averaged 6.5 minutes in their last two games.

In the backcourt, reserve guard Madison Jones is an interesting case: Jones is only 6'1" yet is third on the team in blocked shots with nine.  Jones is a gambler; he can get steals but will also foul.  Wake's other guards prefer to play conservative defense, rarely fouling and rarely causing turnovers.  Most of the rest of Wake's steals are the work of the forwards.  This could present an opportunity for Paul Jesperson to use his height and shoot over the defense, as he might well find himself with some room, what with that 6'6" frame of his.

There's otherwise very little that's remarkable about Wake's numbers on defense, either good or bad.  That's an improvement over their situation last year, although they haven't yet run the ACC gauntlet other than an uncompetitive loss to Duke, which tells us nothing.  For the Hoos it will be mainly a question of taking advantage of opportunities.

-- UVA on defense

As with last year, Wake is a two-man show....mostly.  Travis McKie is good, and C.J. Harris is outstanding.  Harris is shooting .619 from two and .417 from three, which I don't need to tell you is halfway decent.  It's McKie that takes the most shots, though, when really it should be the other way round.  It would've been like if Sean Singletary had deferred to someone else.  Not that McKie is lousy, but he's been way off on his three-pointers this year after shooting respectably last year, and, like, .619.  C'mon.

Frankly, the usage rate for both of these guys is too low.  Jeff Bzdelik opened the Duke game by running a play for Devin Thomas.  Thomas is nice on defense and all, but his O-rating is a pathetic 82.6, and the dude is a turnover factory.  Of course, on that play, Thomas "bobbled the ball before missing a layup" which is because he tried to drive on Mason Plumlee.  That had better pay dividends for Wake when Bzdelik's freshmen are juniors, because this is why you're losing games, man.  Thomas and fellow freshman forwards Tyler Cavanaugh and Arnaud Adala Moto have O-ratings 92.5 or worse - trust me, that's a span from bad to lousy - and all have higher usage rates than C.J. Harris.  That's inconceivably stupid and why Wake fans should be screaming for Bzdelik's head.

The offense is run by a pair of freshman point guards.  Madison Jones (the backup) shoots well from the field but pathetically from the free-throw line and turns the ball over a ton.  Starter Codi Miller-McIntyre has done a nice job.  Miller-McIntyre's A/T ratio of 1.4/1 is pretty good for a freshman passing to forwards who can't shoot.  He's also a good shooter - dangerous from three - but probably defers to teammates more than he should.

Last year, UVA throttled Wake partly thanks to limiting Harris to 6 points from the field.  The pack-line did a nice job of keeping Harris out of the paint and turning him into a jump shooter, mostly.  The pack-line is a good match for Bzdelik's Princetonish offense because the offense likes to catch the defense napping with back-door cuts from outside the arc and Tony Bennett will let you hang out beyond the arc without the ball all you like, and not open himself up to backdoor cuts.  (A true Princeton, with the whole offense hanging out above the free-throw line, would be a very interesting sight to see when run against a good, stubborn pack-line defense where the defenders ardently refuse to wander outside the pack line.  But I digress.)  Combine UVA's tough, miserly defense with the inane self-limitations that Wake puts on Harris and there's a good chance he won't be a factor yet again.  Nobody in Wake's frontcourt, not even McKie, is all that scary, and Atkins and Mitchell (if the latter plays) should have a field day shutting them down.

-- Outlook

Having said all that, this is Virginia, where nothing easy is ever easy.  If we were a regular-good ACC team, I'd chalk up a win already.  But it's on the road and we have all sorts of underclassmen running the show, and banged-up upperclassmen.  Should we win?  Yes, and rather easily.  I'm going to make my prediction with only a little bit of these bad-gods intangibles factored in, but you're required to take this with the ever-present Extreme Youth grain of salt.

Final score: UVA 64, Wake 50

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Brendan

Please stop picking UVA to win.

Every UVA fan