Date & Time: Saturday, February 8 at 8 p.m. ET
Carrier Dome, Syracuse
TV/Streaming: ACC Network
Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor says Syracuse has an 84.1% chance to win against Wake Forest
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 8-1, Syracuse
Current Streak: 3, Syracuse
First Meeting: Wake Forest and Syracuse’s rivalry is a fairly recent one, with the first game between the two teams occurring in 2001 in the preseason NIT tournament championship game. In that game, the Orange won 74-67 behind 23 points from DeShaun Williams.
The win lifted the Orange to 12th in the polls in what would ultimately end up a disappointing season for SU, missing the NCAA Tournament.
Last Meeting: Last year, Syracuse and Wake Forest squared off in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with the Orange coming out victorious, 79-54. As you can see by the score, it was a very lopsided game, with the Orange pulling away early in the second half. Tyus Battle led the Syracuse with 21 points.
The win was significant, as it was sandwiched in between two-game losing streaks, in an incredibly difficult stretch of schedule for last year’s team.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,059-387 at SU) | Wake Forest - Danny Manning (6th year; 75-105 at Wake Forest)
Coach Bio: A lot of people were surprised when the Demon Deacons brought Danny Manning back for a sixth season. After an abysmal season last year, his seat was one of the hottest in the ACC. But here he is, with yet another ACC bottom dweller. The highlight for Manning at Wake Forest came in 2017, when the team went 19-14 and made the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to coaching at Wake Forest, Manning had a two year stint at Tulsa, where he made the NCAA Tournament in 2014 with a 21-13 record. And of course, before becoming a coach, Manning was the first overall draft pick by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1988 after playing college basketball at Kansas (he is still their all-time leading scorer). He played in the NBA for 14 years, making two All-Star games and winning the Sixth Man Award in 1998.
Last Year: 11-20, 4-14 in the ACC. To say it was a rough year for the Demon Deacons is an understatement. They finished 14th in the conference, only ahead of a complete rebuild Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, who were decimated by injuries. The highlight of their season was a 71-67 win over then-No. 17 NC State at home.
Last Game: Wake Forest hung tough with Louisville on the road, eventually losing 86-76. With a win over Clemson the game prior, Wake Forest has put together back-to-back solid performances. Against the Cardinals, Olivier Saar, Andrien White, and Brandon Childress combined for 47 points to keep the Decons in it until the end.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Brandon Childress and Olivier Sarr are the dual threats for Wake Forest. While Childress has developed into one of the most consistent, composed points guards in the ACC, Sarr has quiety had an exceptional season for the Demon Deacons on the interior. At 7-foot, 255 pounds, Sarr has the size and strength to dominate the interior and could be quite the handful against the Orange.
In his junior season, Sarr has blossomed from a selective role player to a major force for Wake Forest. He’s averaging 13 points and 9.4 rebounds per game and is second in the conference in rebounding behind only John Mooney.
Bourama Sidibe is going to have to find a way to keep Sarr at bay while also not picking up too many fouls. We’ve seen that Jesse Edwards is clearly not ready for prime-time, and Marek Dolezaj at the five against someone that large is a major mismatch, so we’re going to need Bourama to step up in a big way on Saturday.
If Syracuse Wins: Whew. We can temporarily stop the bleeding after back-to-back losses to Clemson and Duke. Unfortunately, this is a game the Orange should win, so it really doesn’t boost our stock very much
If Syracuse Loses: Say goodbye to the NCAA Tournament. Barring a miracle run down the stretch or winning the ACC Tournament, a loss against Wake Forest pretty much puts the nail in our tournament coffin. This would be a bad loss. Although Wake Forest has some decent pieces, we are a better team and unless they get ridiculously hot, should win.
Fun Fact 1: The first game between Syracuse and Wake Forest is the only one in the series to occur before the Orange joined the ACC. The Orange won it and the championship of the pre-season NIT. However, Wake Forest would have the last laugh that season, making the NCAA Tournament while SU wound up back in the NIT in March.
Fun Fact 2: In 2018, Syracuse got its first ACC Tournament win, defeating the Demon Deacons, 73-64. That game is especially noteworthy because a freshman Marek Dolezaj went off for 20 points, which was a career high until his 22-point outburst against Duke this past Saturday.