Wake Forest vs. NC State
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Venue: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Tip-off: Saturday at 1:00 PM ET.
TV/Internet: ACC Network and ESPN3.com
Wake Forest: 10-6, 1-1 ACC (Lost at Maryland 70-64).
NC State: 12-5, 1-1 ACC (Lost to Georgia Tech 82-71).
Series history: The Wolfpack have an all-time series lead of 134-99. State beat the Demon Deacons twice last season by a combined 46 points.
Deacons Illustrated breaks down the matchups by position:
Small Forward - Nikita Mescheriakov, WF -vs.- Scott Wood, NCSU. The key for Mescheriakov in defending Wood (43.9-percent from three-point land) is to deny him the ball, but also to force the Pack's sharpshooter to put it on the floor. Wake cannot afford for Wood (12.8 points per game) to get open looks. In State's loss to Georgia Tech the Yellow Jackets held him to 2-9 shooting from behind the arc. Edge: NCSU
Power Forward - Travis McKie, WF -vs.- C.J. Leslie, NCSU. When focused Leslie is as good as it gets, but McKie has been focused the whole season. Check his stat sheet. The 6-foot-7 sophomore from Richmond is second in the ACC in scoring with 18 points per game. Leslie has had a tendency to zone out, not always playing up to his potential. Edge: WF
Center - Ty Walker, WF -vs.- Richard Howell, NCSU. This is a battle of length versus strength, which has proved to be favorable to the Demon Deacs, especially in the loss at Maryland. Walker scored eight points, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked eight shots against the Terrapins. However, he has not faced a post player as strong Howell, who nearly averages a double-double (12.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game). Edge: NCSU
Shooting Guard - C.J. Harris, WF -vs.- C.J. Williams, NCSU. In non-conference action Harris was lighting up the opposition for 18.7 points per game, but in conference play he has dropped down to 11.5 points per game. McKie cannot carry the scoring load by himself, which proved to be true in College Park. Williams' size may bother Harris and possibly prove to be a matchup problem for the Winston-Salem native, but look for the Deacs to call upon their go-to-guy early and often to knock down shots. Edge: WF
Point Guard - Tony Chennault, WF -vs.- Lorenzo Brown, NCSU. The Philly guard appears to growing in confidence on a game-by-game basis. Chennault dished out four assists to zero turnovers in the loss at Maryland. He will face another stiff challenge in defending Brown, who made the switch from shooting guard to the point this season. The 6-foot-5 NC State sophomore is third on the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game and is second in the ACC in assists with 6.8 dimes a contest. Edge: NCSU
Bench - Carson Desrosiers has seven points and four rebounds in the last three games, and Chase Fischer has been nearly as unproductive. Since returning from Christmas the freshman from West Virginia is 3-16 from downtown. Daniel Green hustles, but is only good for a few rebounds, fouls and a garbage basket. Anthony Fields has been everything, but stable.
NC State's lack of pine production rivals Wake's. The Pack consistently go seven deep, but like the Deacs subs DeShawn Painter and Alex Johnson are up and down. Painter averaged 14 points the first three games of the season, but has dwindled to 7.2 points a contest. Edge: Tie
Coaching - Jeff Bzdelik, WF -vs.- Mark Gottfried, NCSU. Last season's team would have folded down 18 points in the second half in College Park, or when the Hokies came back to take the lead Saturday, Jan. 7. This team has character, which is a testament to Bzdelik and his staff for instilling confidence within the Demon Deacons.
In 11 years at his alma mater Alabama Mark Gottfried took the Crimson Tide to the NCAA Tournament five times, including a run to the elite eight in 2004. He is working to build a once storied program back to its seat among the crowd of college basketball's top tier teams. For Gottfried it is just a matter of getting his squad to buy into what he is teaching on a daily basis, because the talent is there and on its way. Edge: Tie