Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Sunday, February 24th, 6:30 PM
Records: UNC 25-2, 10-2 ACC; Wake Forest 16-8, 6-5 ACC
Lawson doubtful, Thompson probable.
One week ago, Wake Forest managed what no other ACC school had up to that point and that was winning over Duke. In doing so they revealed to anyone who was watching how good their guard play was and some serious chops on defense. The Demon Deacons also got a week off to enjoy it and prepare for a trip to Chapel Hill. And while that were readying for the #3 team in the country, the middle of the pack feeding frenzy continued in the ACC and the dust settled to show Wake sitting a half game out of 3rd place at 6-5. So as Wake board the bus to travel east, they do so looking for a 3rd place tie with idle over the weekend Clemson. The downside for the Deacs is the actual boarding of the bus aspect of the whole situation since they are 14-1 at home but only 2-7 on the road. In short I really have no idea what we will see from Wake in this game. The big win over Duke and the week off screams flat start but the potential for an ascension in the standings says they will be highly motivated.
UNC comes off two impressive performances, one on the road in a building Wake lost in earlier this month. Ty Lawson is still not ready to play but did take limited practice. The good news is Deon Thompson is getting better and is listed as probably. Hopefully he can go for a full game after a part of truncated stints. In many respects it would have been nice to get Lawson back at full speed to face the quick Wake guards. However most of that concern is mitigated with how well Quentin Thomas has played of late. Still, handling Ish Smith and Jeff Teague is something Duke could not do and UNC’s perimeter defense ain’t the prettiest belle at the ball. Dribble penetration has been a huge bugaboo for the Heels at points this season. The positive for the Heels is the fact the defense has been playing much better and the Duke win means Wake will not be sneaking up on anyone. Also, UNC has an interior game which can make life difficult for the Wake Forest post players which was not the issue against Duke.
Now that Duke has lost two and UNC is in position to control their own destiny in terms of winning the ACC regular season, all games from this point on are must wins. Given how well Wake has been playing, there is opportunity here for the Heels to really establish themselves as the team to beat with a decisive win over the Deacs. Which for me is more preferable than the way they handled the last opponent they play at 6:30 on a Sunday night.
UNC 90 Wake 75