Wake Forest vs. Nebraska in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge
Tip-off: Wednesday at 9:15 PM ET
Wake Forest: 4-2 (Beat Texas Tech 70-61 in the seventh place game of the Old Spice Classic).
Nebraska: 4-1 (Beat South Dakota State 76-64).
Series history: This is the first ever meeting between the Demon Deacons and the Cornhuskers. Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik went 3-3 against Nebraska while at Colorado.
Deacons Illustrated breaks down the matchups by position:
Small Forward - Nikita Mescheriakov, WF -vs.- Caleb Walker, Neb. After lighting up NC-Central for 15 points Mescheriakov only scored 18 points in three games in the Old Spice Classic. He has a four-inch size advantage on Walker, but the sharp-shooting Nebraska guard will be difficult to defend out on the perimeter. Though Walker starts, swingman and the team's second-leading scorer Dylan Talley (12.4 points and five rebounds per game) poses as an even greater challenge for Mescheriakov. Edge: Neb
Power Forward - Travis McKie, WF -vs.- Brandon Ubel, Neb. For an undersized power forward McKie has held his own and more, scoring at least 19 points in every game but one this season, including a career-high of 25 against NC-Central. He will have to rely heavily on his quickness and perimeter skills against the much bigger, but less productive Ubel. Edge: WF
Center - Carson Desrosiers, WF -vs.- Jorge Brian Diaz, Neb. The battle of the bigs features Desrosiers and Diaz, who are relatively the same size. Desrosiers has a slight advantage in rebounding and shot-blocking, but Diaz's 11.8 points per game to the New Hampshire native's five points per game favors the Cornhuskers. Edge: Neb
Shooting Guard - C.J. Harris, WF -vs.- Brandon Richardson, Neb. This will be a battle between two combo-type guards, but Richardson may struggle to defend Harris. The Winston-Salem product leads the Demon Deacons with 19.5 points per game. Look for the Huskers to rotate defenders on Harris by often matching stronger and taller players up against him. Edge: WF
Point Guard - Tony Chennault, WF -vs.- Bo Spencer, Neb. After missing most of last season with a stress reaction in his foot Chennault appears to be gaining confidence and a better understanding of his responsibilities, but he has not faced a challenge like the one he will face in the transfer from LSU. Spencer, a scoring point guard (16 points per game) is also the team-leader in assists (4.2 per game), and is tied for second on the team in rebounding (4.4 per game). He will be a load for Chennault, who must stay focused on managing the game by setting up Wake's primary playmakers. Edge: Neb
Bench: Wake Forest -vs.- Nebraska. Chase Fischer has been a lightning rod for the Deacs thus far, coming in off the bench to score 7.2 points per game. Anthony Fields does a good job of taking care of the ball when he relieves Chennault at point guard, and 6-foot-10 freshman forward Daniel Green provides hustle and depth upfront.
For Nebraska Talley should be considered as the team's sixth starter, and Toney McCray provides the Cornhuskers with another physical swingman. David Rivers and German big man Christopher Niemann may see a few minutes to add depth, but Nebraska's primary rotation consists of seven players. Edge: Neb
Coaching: Jeff Bzdelik, WF -vs.- Doc Sadler, Neb. Like Bzdelik, Sadler is in the process of building a program. Sadler has taken the Huskers to the NIT in three of his five seasons in Lincoln. Bzdelik has yet to enjoy that type of success at Wake Forest, but he turned Air Force into a winner and made Colorado competitive. Wake's leader is a true journeyman, who certainly has a more diverse experience than Sadler with stops in the NBA and across the collegiate ranks. The Nebraska head coach's mentors make up for that. He was under tutelage of coaching greats such as Eddie Sutton, Don Haskins and Henry Iba. Edge: Tie