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Louisville-Wake Forest preview

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The Cards return to the court Wednesday night.

Louisville Cardinals (7-4, 1-0) vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (11-1, 1-0)

Game Time: 8:01 p.m.

Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.

Television: ACC Network

Announcers: Mike Monaco (play-by-play) and Cory Alexander (analyst)

Favorite: Louisville by 5

Officials: : Lee Cassell, Mike Roberts, Tim Comer

Series: Louisville leads, 8-2

Last Meeting: Louisville won, 77-65, on Jan. 13, 2021 in Winston-Salem

Series History:

Possible Starting Lineups:

Statistics:

Wake Forest’s Season to Date:

Relevant Videos:

About Wake Forest:

While most of the ACC has been a disappointment through the season’s first eight weeks, Wake Forest might be the league’s most pleasant surprise. The Demon Deacons haven’t exactly played the world’s toughest schedule, but they’re 11-1 with a respectable loss to LSU, and victories over Virginia Tech, Northwestern and Oregon State.

Second year head coach Steve Forbes has the Deacs in solid shape thanks in large part to the contributions of Oklahoma transfer Alondes Williams. He enters Wednesday night’s game tied for the ACC lead in scoring (21.0 ppg) and is second in assists (3.9 apg) and fourth in field goal percentage (.580).

In Wake’s most recent outing, an 82-79 win over Charlotte, Williams became the first Demon Deacon over the past 25 seasons to record at least 30 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in a game when he hung 34, 8 and 7 on the 49ers. Against USC Upstate on Dec. 11, he became the first Wake player since Tim Duncan in 1996 to post a triple-double. The 6’5 senior guard will be a load for Louisville to handle.

Jake LaRavia, who was widely viewed as the least important of the four transfers Forbes brought in this season, is the team’s second-leading scorer (14.0 ppg) and rebounder (5.7 rpg). The former Indiana State Sycamore is a bruising slasher and finisher inside who can also also step away, face up and attack from the perimeter. He had a rough night against Louisville as a freshman two seasons ago, playing 10 minutes, committing four fouls and finishing with no points and one rebound.

Daivien Williamson, a 6’1 senior guard who followed Forbes from East Tennessee State two seasons ago, returns as a rock solid presence in the backcourt. He’s averaging 13.4 ppg and has made at least one three-pointer in 11 of Wake’s 12 games so far. He was effective against U of L a season ago, scoring 19 points and dishing out four assists. Defensively, Williamson remains a bit of a gambler. Louisville’s guards must be wary of his stabs at the ball, and must be aggressive at times when he reaches and misses.

Isaiah Mucius was the team’s leading scorer for much of last season, but has been more of a supporting role player so far this season, which better suits the 6’8 senior. Mucius can score from just about any spot on the floor, and had been making a concerted effort to be more of a post presence before the arrival of 6’10 senior transfer Khadim Sy, who is a far more natural five.

Overall, Wake remains a bit of a mystery. Their team numbers are sparkling as we prepare to flip the calendar to 2022, but how much of that is due to playing one of the more abysmal non-conference schedules of any power conference team is still to be determined.

Notable:

—Louisville is coming off a Covid pause that forced the postponement of its Dec. 22 game against rival Kentucky. U of L went on two extended pauses last season, losing its first game back both times by a combined 82 points against Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Louisville is 6-1 against Wake Forest since joining the ACC, and has won each of the past four meetings by double digits. The Cardinals are 3-0 against the Demon Deacons at home.

—Chris Mack was an assistant coach for three seasons at Wake Forest (2001-04) under the late head coach Skip Prosser when the Demon Deacons posted a 67-29 record.

—Wake Forest defeated Louisville by a single point in the Sweet 16 round of the 1996 NCAA tournament, but most basketball historians actually consider the Cardinals the victors of that game since Tim Duncan both fouled out and walked in the game’s most crucial moments, and neither violation was called.

—Wake Forest is 26th in the nation in scoring offense (81.2 ppg) and 27th in field goal percentage (.487), ranking second in the ACC in both statistics.

—Wake guard Alondes Williams is tied for the ACC lead in scoring (21.0 ppg) and is second in assists (3.9 apg) and fourth in field goal percentage (.580).

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Louisville is a 5-point favorite in this game. The Cardinals are 5-3 straight up as a favorite so far this season.

—Louisville is unbeaten this season when out-rebounding its opponent (6-0), shooting a better percentage from the field than the opposition (6-0), or shooting more free-throws than its opponent (5-0).

—Louisville has a 61-18 record in conference home games over the last 10 years (.772).

—Louisville is 216-12 over the last 20 seasons and 13-0 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more.

—Louisville is 166-7 over the past 20 seasons when shooting 50 percent or better and 13-0 over the last three.

—Louisville has a 49-15 record in the month of December over the last eight years.

—Louisville is 33-3 over the last three seasons when scoring at least 71 points.

—Louisville is 14-0 over the past 10 seasons when limiting opponents to no more than one three-point field goal.

—Since 2004, Louisville is 130-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.

—Louisville has won 162 consecutive games when holding an opponent under 50 points.

—Louisville has won 156 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.

—Louisville is one of only five schools to be ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at least once during each of the last 18 seasons (others: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, & North Carolina).

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 73, Wake Forest 68