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Syracuse women’s basketball: what to watch for versus Wake Forest

It’s a basketball brunch

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC/SEC Challenge-Alabama at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (12-2, 2-1) is back on the road for a Thursday morning matchup the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-11, 0-3), who currently possesses the worst overall record in the ACC.

After a much-needed home win versus the Boston College Eagles, Syracuse is looking to capitalize on its fourth road game of the year and come away with a victory against (on paper) one of its easier opponents all season.

Wake Forest enters Thursday’s game with three-straight losses, most recently a 30-point defeat to Miami. It’s definitely been a tough year for the Demon Deacons, who currently possess a combined 0-9 record versus Q1 and Q2 teams. Wake Forest finished 17-17 last season with a 5-13 record against the ACC and advanced to the second round of the WNIT.

Tip-off between the Orange and the Demon Deacons is slated for 11:30 am EST at the LJVM Coliseum in Winston-Salem. The game will be available for stream on the ACC Network+.

Here’s what to watch for:

Finding some groove on offense

Syracuse still boasts the fourth-highest scoring offense in the ACC heading into the Wake Forest game, but it has also shot below 40% in its last two games. The perimeter players in particular are getting a lot of shots up, but they aren’t necessarily making them. Dyaisha Fair shot 11/37 in the Orange’s last two games combined; the same trend goes for Georgia Woolley (4/23 shooting) and Alaina Rice (4/18 shooting).

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC/SEC Challenge-Alabama at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Wake Forest is giving up the fourth-most points in the ACC and is scoring the fewest out of anyone in the conference. Could we see the Orange take advantage and build up a comfortable margin, or will this be another closer than expected finish?

Another spark off the bench?

Against Boston College, Sophie Burrows became the latest non-starter to give the Orange some energy, particularly on offense. If this game plays out like it should, we could see Felisha Legette-Jack involve her bench a lot against Wake Forest.

Building up confidence from some of the Orange’s contributors off the bench, whether Burrows or someone else (Kennedi Perkins, Saniaa Wilson, etc.) will be critical once the ACC slate really ramps up about a week from now.

Capitalize on every chance

The ACC stat sheet doesn’t bode well for Wake Forest — there are more occasions where the Demon Deacons rank in the bottom-five than the top-half in the major statistical categories. The Orange should be a clear favorite, even on the road, but even a game like this can still impact the team’s future postseason chances.

Syracuse has had several big-time wins, but is also boasts no bad losses (which is equally as important). Losing this game wouldn’t be the end all, be the be-all and end-all for this season, it would certainly be a big dud in what’s been a great start for the Orange this season.

Syracuse versus Wake Forest preview by the numbers

All-time: Syracuse is 8-3 all-time versus Wake Forest dating back to the 2013-2014 season, which includes a 3-2 record when the Orange played the Demon Deacons on the road.

Last matchup: In Syracuse’s lone matchup versus WF last season, the Orange squeaked by with a 67-58 win at home in December 2022.

Win/loss implications: A win gives the program its first road win over Wake Forest since the 2017-2018 season and would be the 780th win in team history. A loss moves the Orange back to .500 against the ACC this year and to 1-3 on the road.

Prediction: Wake Forest is a tough environment to play in when you look at the history, but Wake Forest doesn’t have nearly as much upside or talent compared to last year. I’m expecting this to still be a close-ish game, but I’ve got the Orange winning 78-64.

Syracuse vs. Wake Forest Team Stats

Statistical Categories Syracuse Wake Forest
Statistical Categories Syracuse Wake Forest
PPG 78.6 59.4
Opponent PPG 62.4 65.8
Margin of Victory plus-16.2 minus-6.4
FG% 44% 38%
Defensive FG% 38% 42%
3FG% 32% 28%
Defensive 3FG% 30% 33%
FT% 74% 72%
RPG 45 32
APG 13.9 21.2
T/O 15.7 15.3
A/T ratio 0.9 0.8
SPG 9.6 8.5
BPG 5.1 2.3