• Joshua Marlow

Heel Tough Blog: Wake Forest Preview


Somehow, we’ve reached the final week of the regular season for college basketball, and the 2020 edition of Senior Night for the Carolina Basketball program. Despite a season that hasn’t gone the way anyone expected, the season has once again flown by. The last time we saw the Tar Heels, they made the Syracuse zone look silly, in a 92-79 road win. It was the second consecutive win for the team, after dropping 7 straight, and seeing their season collapse. But the back to back wins, has the team and it’s fans believing that they can make a run in the ACC tournament next week in Greensboro. Before that happens though, they need to close strong starting with Wake Forest.


These two teams played 3 weeks ago to the day, and Wake Forest, basically ran the Tar Heels out of the gym. The Demon Deacons at one point led by as many as 26, in a game that wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated. It appears that the team is playing for Danny Manning’s job, as they’ve continued a upward trend of improved play. Last week they upset Duke at home in overtime, then followed that by upsetting Notre Dame. Unlike the Blue Devils, the Fighting Irish are currently trying to win their way into the NCAA tournament. The reason for all the recent success? Look no further than senior guard Brandon Childress. Childress basically willed the Deacons to the upset of Duke, and while realizing his college career is ending, is leaving it all on the court. He leads the team in both scoring and assist, but more importantly his leadership and heart can’t be questioned.


While it appears that Carolina waited too long to get it going, it’s refreshing to seeing the team play the quality of basketball their capable of. While this senior class isn’t like the ones in years past, there will be plenty of emotions in the Smith Center. How the Tar Heels handle that emotion is just a small part of the process to beating Wake Forest, as they continue to try and keep on winning:


  1. Containing Childress: When the two teams met 3 weeks ago, Childress was the best player on the court and it wasn’t even a discussion. In no way is this a slight to Childress, that can’t happen this time around. Not when you have a healthy Cole Anthony, and Garrison Brooks is playing at the level he currently is. Wake and Childress in particular are going to come in with confidence, having already beaten Carolina, and riding the high of 2 upsets last week. The Tar Heels need to be locked in defensively on Childress, or he’s more than capable of taking over the game.

  2. Continued Offensive Success: In back to back games Carolina has scored over 80 for the first time all year. They’ve also scored over 40 in 4 straight halves, again for the first time all season. In the first contest, they shot 33% from the field, and 1-16 from deep. On Saturday at Syracuse they shot 52%, and made 11 triples. They might not shoot that good this time, but they need to continue to execute at a high level on offense.

  3. Handling the Emotions: It’s always an emotional night when we say goodbye to players that have meant so much to this program. Even Roy Williams is a little emotional before the game, because he wants to send his kids out with a win. That’s only possible if the seniors can get past the nerves, and just play basketball. Maybe it helps that this particular Senior Night, isn’t a Duke game, or that there’s a regular season title on the line. Nonetheless, this team needs a win, and it’ll needs its seniors to play a big part in doing so.

Series History: Carolina is 161-67 all time against Wake Forest. They are 76-18 in Chapel Hill, including 22-5 in the Smith Center, with 5 straight wins apart of that record. Roy Williams has only lost twice in his head coach career, on Senior night.


KenPom:


UNC - 84th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 106.7 ( 85th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.6 ( 80th )

Wake Forest - 91st overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 108.2 ( 66th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 99.9 ( 123rd )

TV Info: Like the first time these two teams met, it’ll be the ACC Network carrying the broadcast, with a scheduled 8 pm tip time.