Teams: Syracuse Orange (16-8, 5-6) vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (9-15, 2-10)
Day & Time: Sunday, February 11, 2018, 1 p.m. ET
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
TV/Streaming: ACC Network (check your local affiliate)/AC Network Extra
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Wake Forest blog: Blogger So Dear
Rivalry: 5-1, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, Deacs (dammit.)
First Meeting: Syracuse took down Wake Forest at MSG to win the 2001 Preseason NIT, 74-67. That victory, coupled with the previous win over No. 13 Michigan State ended up earning the Orangemen a No. 12 ranking afterward. DeShaun Williams led the way for SU with 23 points on the evening. Just ignore the fact that SU would win up in the postseason NIT as well that year.
Last Meeting: The Orange choked away a lead to Wake Forest in a 73-67 defeat that’s become a major source of frustration when looking at SU’s resume. Despite having four players in double figures, Syracuse let the Deacons hit whatever they wanted from three, and ended up out-rebounded by a team smaller than them. It was Syracuse’s first-ever loss to Wake, robbing the Deacs of its membership in the “0-5 or more vs. SU” club.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (42nd year, 1,020-365); Wake Forest: Danny Manning (4th year, 52-67)
Coach Bio: After winning a title as a senior at Kansas, Manning spent 15 years in the NBA. He was drafted No. 1 overall by the (definitely cursed) Clippers, but still managed to make two All-Star teams. Following his NBA career, Manning served as a team manager with his alma mater, then was promoted to an assistant position with the Jayhawks in 2006. He got his first head coaching nod with Tulsa in 2012, and got the Golden Hurricane to an NCAA Tournament in year two. That was enough to get Wake Forest to hire him. The Deacs have had just one winning season (2016-17) in four years under Manning.
Last Year: Despite losing the head-to-head matchup with Syracuse, Wake made the NCAAs over the Orange. The Deacs were the benefit of the ACC Tournament’s advantageous positioning for the 10-seed, trouncing BC before losing a close one to Virginia Tech in Brooklyn. Their 19-14 record at the time was enough to get them a First Four meeting with Kansas State (which they lost).
Last Game: Wake Forest tested Miami on the road, but still fell 87-81. The Deacons actually out-shot the Hurricanes, but the difference was made at the free throw line, where Miami hit 26 shots and Wake hit just 10. Chaundee Brown and Bryant Crawford each scored 20 points or more for the Deacons, but they took on more than half the scoring load. Not ideal, but something we can relate to.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Bryant Crawford is the team’s leading scorer, putting up 16.3 points per game. And despite being a less-than-efficient volume shooter, he’s still a dangerous player to go up against, as SU themselves know from last time these teams played. He scored 19 points on 7-of-20 shooting, including hitting four from beyond the arc.
Jack Ferguson Memorial Random Three-Point Performance: “Lucky” us, Mitchell Wilbekin is probably back in action for Wake Forest in this one. In 20 games this year, he’s hit 42 percent of his threes (36-of-86). However, he’s not really out of nowhere. So we turn focus to Donovan Mitchell, who’s 11-of-23 from distance and only plays about 11 minutes per game. That’s concerning, for the typical reasons.
If Syracuse Wins: SU nabs another win, and sort of cancels out the earlier loss to Wake Forest (which was on the road, so not even as bad anyway). This is a need-to-win game, however, and it’s at home. No extra points to be had. Just another opportunity to avoid a bad loss.
If Syracuse Loses: Help. Getting swept by a bad Deacons team is not going to stop Syracuse from making the tournament, but it’s also going to be a huge knock on the resume. The Orange would need to go at least 4-2 to close the season after accounting for the dueling bad losses (albeit nowhere near as bad as St. John’s was last year).
Fun Fact No. 1: While in the NBA, Manning was the first player to come back from reconstructive surgeries on both knees. It didn’t necessarily help him become the player he was before the knee troubles. But it did help him extend his career to much longer than you would’ve guessed when the injury issues stared in the mid-1990s.
Fun Fact No. 2: Wake Forest is a stunning 5-65 on the road since 2010. Without even looking it up, I would guarantee that this is the worst road record among power conference teams. Please explain how this happens in a league that has also included BC, bad Pitt, Georgia Tech and bad Clemson (versus current good Clemson).