Duke (18-1) vs Wake Forest (16-1)
Winston Salem, N.C. - Lawrence Joel Coliseum
TV: ESPN / Tip: 7:00 PM EST
Program Vitals Conference: ACC Nickname: Demon Deacons Colors: Gold and Black Head Coach: Dino Gaudio (2nd season) Career Record at Wake Forest: 33-14
Projected Starters: 1 Al-Farouq Aminu (6-9, 215, Fr.) – 12.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg 23 James Johnson (6-9, 245, So.) – 13.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg 13 Chas McFarland (7-0, 235, Jr.) – 9.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg 0 Jeff Teague (6-2, 180, So.) – 21.5 ppg, 3.9 apg 42 L.D. Williams (6-4, 210, Jr.) – 9.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg Key Reserves: 4 Harvey Hale (6-3, 195, Sr.) – 5.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg 10 Ishmael Smith (6-0, 175, Jr.) – 3.3 ppg, 3.5 apg 44 David Weaver (6-11, 235, Jr.) – 2.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg 55 Tony Woods (6-11, 245, Fr.) - 3.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Storylines For Wake Forest:
How They Got Here:
Duke has started 18-1 and raced out to the top of the ACC standings with a perfect 5-0 record in conference play. In each of those five wins it has been the Blue Devil defense that has been the difference maker - holding opponents to less than 60 points per contest including Saturday's 44 point limitation placed on Maryland.
Meanwhile the Demon Deacons enter the game coming off their first loss after racing out to wins in their first 16 games which included wins over North Carolina and Clemson. Prior to starting the conference season the Deacons had not faced a single ranked team in their first 12 non-conference match-ups, though they did stop the nation's longest home court winning streak with a 94-87 victory over BYU.
This will be the 232nd meeting between the two programs. The Blue Devils hold the all-time lead by a 155-76 margin. It is the ACC's oldest and most frequently played series. Last season the Demon Deacons upset then No.2 ranked Duke by an 86-73 margin on February 17th at Lawrence Joel. This season the teams will play twice including February 22nd in Durham.
Both teams appear to be mostly healthy entering Wednesday night's game.
Duke Reaches The Tops Of the Polls:
Duke is ranked No. 1 for the first time since the final AP poll of the 2005-06 season. Under Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils have been ranked No. 1 in the AP poll 93 times. Since 1990, Duke has held the top spot in the country for 80 weeks, more than any other school in the nation.
The Deacons enter the game with experience as the opponent for the nation's top team. Wednesday's game will mark Wake Forest's 29th meeting with the top ranked team. The Demon Deacons are 4-24 all-time against No.1 - though they are 1-1 at LJVMC against Duke when they are No.1. Wake last played the No. 1-ranked team in the country on Jan. 8, 2006, when No. 1 Duke came away with an 82-64 defeat of No. 23 Wake Forest at the Joel Coliseum.
Look Out For....
Sophomore scoring guard Jeff Teague who has burst onto the national scene in his second season in Winston - earning serious consideration for not only First-Team All-ACC honors, but also Player of the Year consideration. Currently the 6'2 combo guard leads the ACC in scoring at 21.5 points per game overall and a remarkable 27.5 points per game in conference games. He's scored 10 or more points in each of Wake's first 17 games and has been the team's leading scorer in 12 of those 17 contests. When he's not torching defenses on his own, Teague is getting his teammates involved - averaging just under four assists per game. Other notable statistical strengths include steals (2.1 per game leads the league); free throws (9th in the league at 83.2%); field goals (54%); and 3 pointers (53.1%).
Big Time Year From Young Gun:
Freshman forward Al-Farouq Aminu, a former five star prospect and McDonald's All-American has established himself as, perhaps, the league's top freshman - if not one of the best in the country. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 12.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest, while also leading the team in blocks with 26. So far he's been named as the league's top freshman three times so far this year.
Much of the reason for the Deacon's success to date has been the team's ability to control the paint and the boards. It's hardly surprising given that the team starts three players who are 6'8 or taller and has a roster of six players fitting that category. All that height has combined to contribute 54% of the team's scoring while limiting opponents to just 38% of their scoring in the paint. On the glass the Deacons rank second in the ACC with just under 43 rebounds per game, and are 15th in the country with a +7.5 rebounding margin.
While Wake Forest has probably not seen a defensive team like Duke, the Deacons do appear to be a match-up problem for the Blue Devils. Over the last few years Duke has struggled against teams with a good deal of athleticism and length - both of which Wake Forest has in abundance. The question will come down to how Duke attempts to play the Deacons. Will Coach Mike Krzyzewski try to match the Deacons size with Duke's options of 7'1 Brian Zoubek, 6'10 Miles Plumlee, 6'9 Lance Thomas, and 6'8 Kyle Singler or will Coach K attempt to go small and force the Deacons to match up with Duke off the bounce. Either way it's going to be a tall task for the Blue Devils and it seems that Duke always struggles at Lawrence Joel. In order to pull off a victory the Blue Devils will need to attack the basket and get to the line while also hitting a reasonable percentage from the outside. If that doesn't happen, it could be another double figure Deacon win. Duke will battle, but history and momentum seem to be working against them.
Wake Forest 85