Day & Time: Wednesday, January 3, 2018, 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Wake Forest blog: Blogger So Dear
Rivalry: 5-0, Syracuse
Current Streak: 5, Orange
First Meeting: These teams played just once before SU joined the ACC. Syracuse beat Wake 74-67 in the 2001 Preseason NIT. DeShaun Williams put up 23 points to lead the Orangemen, and four Syracuse players scored in double digits. SU was down three at the break, then pushed past the Deacons late in front of a partisan MSG crowd.
Last Meeting: Wake Forest led by five with nine minutes to go, then the Orange started pouring it on. Some clutch free throws and a 27-point performance from Andrew White III helped Syracuse come back for an 81-76 victory. It was a much-needed win that kept the team’s slim (at the time) NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (42nd year, 1,016-359); Wake Forest: Danny Manning (4th year, 50-58)
Coach Bio: After leading Kansas to the 1988 NCAA title as a player, he was drafted first overall by the Los Angeles Clippers. Manning was right back at his alma mater after his playing career wrapped up in 2003, serving as a team manager through 2006 and then an assistant through 2012. Tulsa hired him for his first head coaching gig afterward, and he swiftly got them to the NCAAs by year two. Wake was impressed enough by that to bring him aboard. The Deacs finally made the tournament in year three.
Last Year: Wake Forest went 19-14 overall and 9-9 in the ACC. Despite losing in the second round of the league tournament (after an early game vs. Boston College) and a head-to-head loss to Syracuse, the Deacons squeaked into the NCAA Tournament’s First Four. They lost to Kansas State. It was pretty pointless. John Collins left for the NBA Draft afterward too.
Last Game: The Deacs pushed UNC for 40 minutes but ultimately fell by four, 73-69. Wake and the Heels shot pretty comparably from the floor, but North Carolina owned the boards 49-34 and that ultimately provided the difference between the two teams. Though the result was disappointing on the scoreboard, it was encouraging for Wake Forest to bounce back and test the Tar Heels given their rough start to the season.
"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": Similar to Virginia Tech, this team’s reasonably balanced on offense. Five different players score nine or more points per game, but the output is clearly led by Keyshawn Woods and Bryant Crawford, who both score between 15 and 16 points per game. Both are great free throw shooters and reasonably efficient from the floor overall. Woods is the more accurate shooter of the two, however, hitting over 47 percent of his shots and nearly 39 percent from three.
Random Three-Point Performance: Mitchell Welbekin is the team’s leading three-point shooter, so while it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go off, it’s worth keying in on him beyond the arc. He’s hit 45.5 percent from outside so far, so could easily get hot (and surpass his 9.4 points per game average). If someone’s coming from out of nowhere, it’s Donovan Mitchell, who’s hit 8-of-11 from three this year.
If Syracuse Wins: Wake Forest isn’t a top-tier ACC squad, but a win over a team that’s coming off an NCAA Tournament bid is a good one for this Syracuse squad to pick up right now. A 2-0 mark would be a first since 2014-15 (when they started 4-0 in league play), but more notably, it would help SU pick up a road win — something they’ve struggled with in recent years.
If Syracuse Loses: Wake may not be as bad as they were to start the season, but a loss to the Deacons still does much more harm than good for Syracuse right now. Beating Virginia Tech helps us stake a claim to the upper-middle of the pack in the ACC. Losing to Wake (even on the road) would throw that back into doubt).
Fun Fact No. 1: The Deacons have an opportunity to join rare air in the history of Syracuse basketball opponents. Should they lose on Wednesday, they’d be one of just a handful of current Division I schools to be winless against SU in six or more tries. Albany (0-8), Lafayette (0-8), Siena (0-8) and Northeastern (0-6)
Fun Fact No. 2: It’s not strange for Wake Forest to have a player from Gastonia, N.C. on their roster (Keyshawn Woods). But it’s worth mentioning that he shares a hometown with Syracuse running back Moe Neal. They attended different schools, however. Neal also chose between the Orange and Deacons back in 2016.