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Louisville at Wake Forest preview

Go Cards.

ACC Mascots Visit the Empire State Building in Advance of the Tournament Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust

Louisville Cardinals (6-11, 1-5) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (12-5, 4-2)

Game Time: Noon

Location: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum: Winston-Salem, N.C.

Television: ACC Network

Announcers: Anish Shroff (play-by-play) and Josh Pastner (analyst)

Favorite: Wake Forest by 16

Series: Louisville leads, 9-4

Last Meeting: Wake Forest won 80-72 on Jan. 7, 2023

Series History:

Probable Starting Lineups:

Louisville

  • G Skyy Clark (6-3, 205, So.)
  • G Hercy Miller (6-3, 175, Jr.)
  • G/F Mike James (6-5, 200, R-So.)
  • F Danilo Jovanovich (6-8, 220, So.)
  • F Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (6-10, 240, Jr.)

Wake Forest

  • G Kevin ‘Boopie’ Miller (6-0, 175, R-So.)
  • G Cameron Hildreth (6-4, 195, Jr.)
  • G Hunter Sallis (6-5, 185, Jr.)
  • F Andrew Carr (6-11, 230, Sr.)
  • F/C Efton Reid (7-0, 250, Jr.)

Statistics:

Relevant Videos:

About Wake Forest:

As we turn the corner towards late January, Wake Forest finds itself as one of six or seven ACC teams that appears to be headed squarely towards the NCAA tournament bubble. With that being the case, the Demon Deacons can ill afford to pull a Miami and suffer what would be a Quadrant 4 home loss to Louisville on Saturday.

Steve Forbes’ enters the weekend coming off of a gut-punch loss to NC State on Tuesday and knowing that it needs to get on a bit of a roll. Wake is No. 37 on Ken Pom — the third-highest of any team in the ACC — and No. 46 in the NET Rankings, but has yet to secure a Quadrant 1 victory.

While far from a slouch on the defensive end, Wake Forest has been carried primarily by its offense so far this season. The Deacs are the only power conference team and one of just five schools in all Division-I to have three players averaging 15.7 points or more on the season. In league play, they rank first in the ACC in points per game (80.0), three-point FG percentage (40.0) and free throw percentage (82.9), and their 9.0 made three’s per game is fourth-best.

Wake Forest has been led so far this season by Central Michigan transfer guard Kevin “Boopie” Miller (17.8 ppg), who is the only player in the ACC to rank in the top 10 in scoring, assists, steals and free throw percentage. He is also the only player in league play to rank in the top five in scoring and assists. It’s not difficult to make the case that Miller has been the best point guard in the ACC so far this season.

Hunter Sallis (17.6 ppg) and Cameron Hildreth (15.7 ppg) are both names that Louisville fans should be familiar candidates. Both are candidates to win U of L’s weekly “refuse to guard and watch made five threes and score 20+ points” award.

Senior forward Andrew Carr broke out of a slump in the loss to NC State with a career-high 28 points. The 6’10 big man knocked down three triples against the Wolfpack and is a threat to score at all three levels now that he has his confidence back.

Adding a little bit of gasoline to the Wake fire was Friday’s news that both Damari Monsanto and Jao Ituka have been cleared to play for the first time this season against Louisville. Monsanto dropped a team-high 21 points in Wake’s 80-72 road win over the Cards last season.

Wake Forest’s only major weakness on offense this season has been its propensity for turning the ball over. In their three most recent games, the Deacs gave it away 20 times at Florida State, 17 times against Virginia, and 16 times against NC State. Two of those performances resulted in losses.

Because of its turnover issues, Wake has been a bit of a feast or famine team when it starts playing too fast. It’ll be interesting to see if Kenny Payne tries to speed the game up. It could result in Louisville having its best shot to spring an upset, but it could also result in the Cardinals getting run out of the gym.

Notable:

—Wake Forest is 10-0 in home games so far this season, and 41-5 at home since the start of the 2021-22 season.

Louisville is heading into the fourth game of a stretch of five straight matchups against teams in the top six in the ACC standings. Those teams are a combined 22-7 in league play.

—Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes is 2-2 in games against Louisville, and currently riding a two-game winning streak.

—Louisville associate head coach Danny Manning served as head coach at Wake Forest for six seasons from 2014-20.

—Offensively, Wake Forest is the only ACC team, only Power conference team and one of five schools in all Division I to have three players averaging 15.7 points or more on the season.

—In league play, the Demon Deacons rank first in the ACC in points per game (80.0), 3-point FG percentage (40.0) and free throw percentage (82.9) and their 9.0 made three’s per game is fourth-best.

—The Deacs have the second-best rebounding defense (32.0 pg) in the ACC and out-rebound teams by +4.83, the third-best mark. They are fourth in blocked shots (4.3 pg) and are second in league play in defensive rebounding percentage (76.8%).

—Over the last four games, the Cardinals are 36-for-77 (46.8%) from 3-point range. They shot 28.4% from 3 over the first 13 games of the season. Louisville has also had at least 14 assists in four of the last seven games after not tallying more than 13 assists in any of the first 10 games. The Cards have outshot three of their last four opponents from the field.

—Louisville is 3-24 in ACC games under the direction of head coach Kenny Payne.

—Louisville is 223-15 over the last 20 seasons and 20-3 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more. The Cards are 4-1 in such games this season.

—Since 2004, Louisville is 129-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.

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

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Wake Forest 85, Louisville 69