Heel Tough Blog: Wake Forest Preview

This is an important week for the Tar Heels as they have two scheduled home games against very winnable opponents. Coming off a road loss at Florida State on Saturday, Carolina sits at 8-5 overall, and 3-3 in the ACC. Their first of two home games this week is against Wake Forest, who is 3-5, and 0-5 in the ACC.


Despite losing on Saturday, Carolina showed improved play on the offensive end of the court. The return of Anthony Harris in the game gave the Tar Heels a glimpse of what the backcourt can and will be with him back from injury. With that in mind, Carolina still needs to play through their trio of bigs, as that’s where they excel the most. Defensively, Carolina is still a work in progress, but you can see this team slowly starting to put it all together.



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Wake Forest may not have won a game yet in conference play this season, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of playing with, and beating Carolina. While 4 of the 5 losses have come by double digits, the Demon Deacons have been in every game in the second half. They are led by Daivien Williamson and his 11.4 points per game scoring average. The only member of the team to average double figures scoring is Isaiah Mucius at 10.3 points. Steve Forbes is his first season running the program in Winston-Salem, and while the results aren’t there, he’s on his way to establishing his culture and vision for the program.


Even with Carolina playing in an empty Smith Center, they’ve yet to lose at home, and they’ve played marginally better on their home floor. To continue their winning ways at home, here’s what they’ll have to do:


  1. Bounce Back Performance Inside: Carolina was affected and limited by the size of the Florida State on Saturday. The Tar Heels were out-rebounded for only the second time this season, and that was a big reason why they got beat. Wake Forest doesn’t have the size that the Seminoles have, which means this is a good chance for Carolina to get back on track in the interior. Expect a big game from at least one of their primary big men.

  2. Continued Maturation on the Perimeter: Caleb Love, Kerwin Walton and R.J. Davis all scored in double figures on Saturday, the first time that has happened this season. Even though it came in a loss, they’ll need more of that scoring contributions moving forward. The return of Anthony Harris should ease the burden to produce, but they’ll still need to be prepared to play at a high level to give this team a chance.

  3. Turnovers: We all know Carolina needs to protect the basketball, but this is a good opportunity for them to turn the opponent over. Wake Forest averages 14 turnovers a game, a lot like Carolina they have a hard time taking care of the basketball. Roy Williams has been aggressive this season trying to force turnovers, but hasn’t had a lot of success doing so. This game gives them the chance to force some turnovers, and create some offense which they desperately need. On the flip side, if they don’t protect the basketball it’ll allow Wake Forest a chance to steal one on the road.

Series History: Carolina is 162-67 against their Big Four foe, including 78-18 in Chapel Hill. The two teams split their meetings last season, with the home squad winning each game. Roy Williams is 16-6 against Wake Forest since becoming the head coach of the Tar Heels.


KenPom:


UNC - 34th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 110.0 (40th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 91.6 (20th)


Wake Forest - 128th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 104.1 (126th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 100.2 (142nd)


NET:


UNC - 51st.


Wake Forest - 142nd.


TV Info: The ACC Network will have the broadcast, with a tip time set for 7 pm.


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