The hits just keep on coming for the BC Eagles as they head down to Winston-Salem to face a hot Wake Forest squad. Wake is fresh off of a 64-61 overtime victory at Virginia, and the Demon Deacons have won four of five heading into Tuesday's matchup.
It's going to be an uphill battle for Al Skinner's group, as their postseason chances were decimated at the hands of Duke on Saturday. Now they have to try to find a way to regroup, get on a plane, and get up for another contest against a tough team. This game has letdown written all over it for the Eagles, and it should be interesting to see how much fire they come out of the gate with. The Eagles are 1-3 on the road this season in ACC play.
Wake Forest Leaders
PPG Aminu 16.1
REB Aminu 11.1
AST Smith 5.8
FT Harris 84%
BLK Aminu 1.5
PPG Trapani 14.4
REB Trapani 6.5
AST Paris 4.8
FT Trapani 81%
BLK Dunn 0.9
Why Wake Forest Will Win
Ishmael Smith is a one-man fast break for the Demon Deacons, and he can go coast-to-coast in a heartbeat. Transition defense has been a main area of concern for BC, and the Eagles better not celebrate too much after making a basket, as Smith will run it right up their backs the other way for a layup. Smith is one of the better point guards in the nation, and he can do it all - score, dish, and rebound.
Al-Farouq Aminu is going to cause some serious matchup problems for the Eagles down low. He's averaging a double-double (16.1 pts, 11.1 reb), the only player in the ACC to do so. Aminu is a terrific offensive rebounder who has a nose for the ball, and the Eagles simply do not have anyone to guard or box him out.
If BC decides to front and double Aminu on the block, look for C. J. Harris and Ari Stewart to drain some open looks. Both Harris and Stewart shoot around 40% from behind the arc, and they went a combined 7 for 11 from three point land in Wake's decisive win at North Carolina last month.
Wake also plays terrific perimeter defense, only allowing opponents to shoot 27% from three-point range. BC's long range shooting left much to be desired as they went 2 of 14 from downtown against Duke last Saturday.
Overall, the Deacs will look to play a high-tempo game up in the 80's. This team seems to be hitting their peak at the right time of the season.
Why BC Will Win
The Eagles will be able to stay in this one if they can improve their outside shooting. Rakim Sanders has upped his game as of late, and looks to finally be taking over as the man to go to on offense. Al Skinner needs to get him more touches on offense as he's been tough to stop recently.
For a team that is usually undersized against its opponents, BC certainly does a lousy job of closing out, then boxing out perimeter shooters. The Eagles have to keep 7-0 center Chas McFarland, and 6-9 Aminu off of the offensive glass, as well as limit long offensive rebounds.
As a team, BC tends to be of a fragile mindset, and they need to come to reality in regards to their season. They need to come into this matchup with the same fire as if they are playing Duke, and build on their strong second half from last Saturday.
Matchup to Watch: Biko Paris vs. Ishmael Smith
This will be the game where we can begin to start the Biko Watch. BC's guard play in general has been disappointing, and Coach K felt he had such an advantage at the 1 and 2 that he kept his starters in for all 40 minutes.
The reason I believe this is the matchup to watch is that I saw something in Biko Paris that hasn't been there all season - confidence. Not to sound like a broken record, but sometimes you can pick up more from a loss than a win. And many times those things have less to do with the physical and more to do with the mental aspect of the game.
Biko will need his best output of the season in order to keep Smith in check. Ishmael has started to operate in a controlled-chaos manner, where he's still able to turn the jets on when brining the ball down the floor; however he has gained the ability to see plays develop in front of him while moving at near-light speed.
I cannot foresee how this Eagle team will get over the hangover from the Duke loss. Add to that mix how hard the Deacs have been playing as of late and this one could get ugly early.
Wake 80, BC 59.
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