Where: Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC
Where to Watch: Raycom (yuck); will have internet streams in the gamethread
Line: Vegas: Maryland by 11 KenPom: Maryland by 18
- Perfect timing. Maryland's sitting at 0-2 in the ACC and are preparing for a crucial game at Villanova. In other words, it's the exactly perfect time to play Wake Forest on the road. If they were playing, say, Clemson on the road, the potential that they'd lose three straight (and maybe even four) would be frightening. Instead, they get an easy win, a morale booster, and another warm-up for a near must-win. And I'm not trying to sell Wake short, but compared to Duke and Villanova, they're approaching cupcake status.
- Can Terrell Stoglin bounce back? Stoglin is a freshman, and tough games - especially against teams like Duke and in atmospheres like Cameron - are to be expected. What's more telling than the occasional clunker (he was 1-10 from the field on Sunday) is how he bounces back. A good performance against Wake - a team without a point guard - would settle most fears about his ability to be The Guy over the long run. Another bad performance may be a harbinger of things to come.
- Wake Forest is desperate for a big win. The fan base is as apathetic about the basketball team right now as they were pissed off about the Bzdelik hiring. The players are talented, but inexperienced, and I'm sure they're getting fed up about the constant hate on the program. This is their ACC home opener, and they'll be looking to make a statement. They should be more fired-up than usual.
- Injuries: Maryland is without Ashton Pankey, of course. Wake is missing their only point guard, Tony Chennault. Backup junior center Ty Walker inexplicably played only five minutes against N.C. State.
- Exploit the middle. Wake Forest lost Chas McFarland from last year and Tony Woods transferred to Louisville after doing some stuff. In his place are Carson Desrosiers, a rail-thin and inexperienced freshman, and Ty Walker, a 7-0 junior who is inexplicably in Bzdelik's doghouse. Jordan Williams should be able to dominate in the post, as usual.
- Stay solid on the perimeter. Wake Forest is nearly as good at threes as Duke. J.T. Terrell is a marksman from deep and Gary Clark, though he doesn't receive that much playing time, is shooting upwards of 50% from deep. If Wake Forest is going to pull the upset, they'll do it from the perimeter.
- Take care of business. Wake Forest is the worst ACC team in years, and probably the worst high-major team in the country. Stetson beat them by double-digits. Wake will be excited for their ACC home opener, and they stuck with Gonzaga for much of the game in their last home game. But this is a game that, barring some terrible play from Maryland, the Terrapins should win.
Maryland has a significant advantage in rebounding, Wake has one in FT rate. Maryland has slight advantages in the first two. Maryland has a significant Four Factors advantage, all told.
Prediction: Wake kept within striking distance of Gonzaga at home, and they'll be more focused for an ACC home opener. I expect the first ten minutes to be a tight affair, tighter than most expect. Besides, Maryland's struggled with these types of games in the past from time to time. Still, Jordan Williams is such a huge advantage for Maryland that I have trouble believing they'll end up losing this game. Terps win, 80-69.