The Demon Deacons open their conference schedule tonight with a nationally televised game from the Joel Coliseum. NC State enters the game with an 8-1 record, but that record may be a bit misleading, as the Wolfpack have not exactly cruised through that schedule. In fact, they needed a late comeback to top the Elon Phoenix on Thursday night, only winning the game by three points. Will the Deacs take care of business and start the ACC season on the right foot? You'll have to watch tonight to find out.
Through the first nine games of the season Wake Forest has most definitely been inconsistent, but their inconsistency has looked better than most of what NC State has done, despite having won one fewer games. Other than the Elon game, State has victories over opponents like New Orleans, Georgia Southern, and Austin Peay, and none of them by more than 20 points. Their loss came to Northwestern in the Big 10 ACC Challenge, but they do have one good win on the road over Marquette.
Power forward Tracy Smith leads the Wolfpack, nearly averaging a double-double with 18.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. He will certainly be challenged down low by all of Wake's bigs, but he will definitely keep them on their toes all night long.
Wake Forest has battled its share of ups and down through the first part of the season, and it has made it very hard to know what to expect from the team in any given outing. One night you may get a great game from seniors Ishmael Smith and L.D. Williams. The next night freshman C.J. Harris and Ari Stewart might steal the show. The good news is someone seems to step up in a big way in every game. They not so good news is this team has not really had a game where every single one of the team's major contributors played particularly well.
Against the Wolfpack tonight the Demon Deacons can probably get away with that once again, relying on outstanding performances from one or two players and "good enough" performances from everyone else. In fact, until January that will likely continue to work just fine. The Deacs should be using these next few games to work towards finding a way to get everyone on the same page, or else trouble may come in January.
No reason to get too far ahead of ourselves right now. Wake Forest and NC State tip off at 7:45 EST tonight. The Demon Deacons should be able to take care of business and earn a 1-0 ACC record. As impossible as it is to know who is going to lead the way on any night for this team, I'll put my two cents in and predict a slump-breaking performance from Al-Farouq Aminu. Will it happen? We'll hall have to stay tuned to find out.