GAME 19: Wake Forest (10-6 overall, 1-3 ACC) vs. Syracuse (11-7 overall, 1-4 ACC)
ALL-TIME SERIES: Syracuse, 3-0 (Last Meeting 2015 – Syracuse: W, 86-83 OT)
DATE: Saturday, January 18th, 2016
GAME TIME: 12:00 PM EST
LOCATION: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum (Winston-Salem, NC)
TV: ACC Network
Coming off four straight losses to start the ACC season, a 62-40 win over longtime conference rival Boston College was exactly what the Syracuse Orange needed to get the season back on track, especially with a key, three game road trip that could determine the season on the horizon. That road trip tips off Saturday when the Orange take on Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are the only conference opponent the Orange are unbeaten against, leading the all-time series three games to none.
Wake Forest can sympathize with the situation the Orange have been in this season, having a nearly identical overall and conference record. Both teams have some really big victories, like Syracuse's wins over UConn or Texas A&M or Wake Forest's early season victories over Indiana, UCLA and LSU, and some really bad losses, like at St. John's for Syracuse and at home against Richmond and Xavier for the Demon Deacons. Both teams have one conference win with Wake's lone win against a winless North Carolina State.
The Demon Decons are putting up 78 points a game, a plateau the Orange have hit only six times this year. Danny Manning's team can put points on the board, something the Orange will probably struggle to stop. Leading the charge is forward Devin Thomas, averaging a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds a contest. Syracuse will struggle to stop him, much like virtually everyone else has this year.
Here are three things to watch out for if Syracuse wants to make it two straight ACC wins and keep the undefeated streak against the Demon Deacons alive.
Tyler Roberson will probably be charged with stopping Thomas in the middle. He will have to watch the foul situation, because Thomas makes his free throws at a 60 percent rate. Roberson has been a force rebounding the ball as of late, an area the Orange can't seem to get much of anything going in. If the Orange want to have any success on the boards, they will have to watch their fouls. Roberson has collected at least three fouls eight times, fouling out just twice. DaJuan Coleman might also try to stop Thomas, but he's been worse about picking up fouls, getting three fouls in 10 contests thus far. The Deacons don't foul, shooting almost 100 more free throws than their opponents on the season. The Orange will have to watch that stat closely.
2) Dinos Mitoglou
Last year, Mitoglou kept Wake Forest in the game, going for 26 points. He is the prototypical European big man who can stretch the defense and knock down threes, something that goes so well with the zone Syracuse is so well known for playing. On the year, he's connecting on 38 percent of his shots from downtown, and I would only expect him to put up a lot of them against the Orange, especially with the success he had last year, knocking down six threes.
3) Road Woes
So far this season, the Orange have played four true road games. And they haven't won any of them. The start of this three-game road trip is pivotal to the rest of the season. Jim Boeheim will have to figure out what the problem is not playing at the Dome and get this team turned around in the right direction if they want to be competitive in the ACC. The next three games will go a long way in determining the rest of the season, and a win Saturday at Wake Forest would be a huge step in the right direction.