Later today, Syracuse will take the floor in Winston-Salem for a crucial showdown with Wake Forest. Ahead of that game, we welcome Robert Reinhard, from Wake Forest's SB Nation blog, Blogger So Dear, to answer a few questions related to the Demon Deacons.
This looks like perhaps the best Wake Forest team in recent years. Can it be the first one since 2010 to reach the NCAA Tournament?
I hope so. We have the non-conference resume (wins over Indiana, UCLA, Arkansas, and at LSU), but we're currently 1-3 in ACC play, and will only be favored in maybe five or six more ACC games this regular season. If we can get to 8-9 ACC wins, then we should have a good chance, but that's going to require winning a lot of toss up games. Statistically speaking, that just isn't likely.
Devin Thomas has always been a solid player, but he's seemed to make a jump this season. What's changed for him?
Devin has definitely made a noticeable jump this year. He has transformed his body to be more muscular. He is competing harder. He's also really worked on his right hand, and also has more refined post moves. I have to give Danny Manning a lot of credit for this. He has a history of developing big men during his time at Kansas, and he has once again demonstrated his ability to improve players who are already talented.
Wake has struggled with committing and forcing turnovers this season. Is it fair to say that's the biggest concern with this group?
Those are definitely concerns, but my primary concern is just overall defense. It's not just not forcing turnovers, though I agree we are pathetic at that, it's that we are so slow in our rotations, and we do a really poor job of stopping dribble penetration. Regarding turnovers, those are also concerns. Too many times we are careless with the basketball. It doesn't always result in a "live ball" turnover, but too many times it results in a wasted opportunity.
For Syracuse to have a viable path to the NCAA Tournament, I see this as almost a must-win game. Do you think the same is true for the Demon Deacons?
Definitely. Wake has had a three-game stretch this week of NC State, at Virginia Tech, and Syracuse. Honestly, we probably needed to win all three of those games to keep hopes alive, but we split the State and Virginia Tech games. Given that our schedule after Syracuse is at UNC, at Miami, home versus Virginia, and at Notre Dame, we really need this one.
Prediction time: Who wins this one?
I really would not be surprised to see either team win this game by 10+, so I don't have much of a feel for it. That said, I'll go with Wake because I think we will move the ball well against the zone, and will hopefully win with depth.