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The Big Preview: Virginia Looks to Get Back into the Win Column At Wake Forest

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This Virginia Cavaliers basketball team badly needs some wins. They have played well in some tough losses over the past two weeks, but if the team is going to reach the NCAA Tournament, they need those close losses to turn into wins.

At 9-9 overall and just 2-6 in conference, this matchup against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons is a prime game for a needed win.

Coming off a(nother) close loss at home, this is a surprisingly important game for Virginia, which has a quick turnaround as it hosts Florida State on Tuesday. The ‘Noles have been one of the most consistent teams in the ACC, so it’ll be important for Virginia to head into that game coming off a strong performance.

Wake is led in scoring by senior PG Brandon Childress. In three career meetings, Childress is 9/20 from the field for 24 total points along with 6 assists and 5 TOs. Childress can shoot the rock a bit, but his strength is using his quickness to get into the lane and either finish or draw contact.

One of the strengths of Virginia’s defense is that they don’t foul much. That takes away one of Childress’ best weapons. He gets to the line a lot and makes his FTs. He’s fourth in the ACC in FTA, and sixth in FT%.

The Deacons like to get out and run as one of the fastest teams in the ACC (behind only UNC and Duke), and that’s where they get a lot of their points, and despite the pace, they don’t really generate a lot of turnovers. Childress, of course, is the engine of that fast break, but he needs finishers. One of the best is seven-footer Olivier Sarr. When big guys run the floor like he does, it tends to work out in their favor.

Sarr’s length causes the deflection and steal, and he ends up with the finish on the other end.

Another place where Sarr excels is on the glass. In fact, the Deacons as a team are strong on the glass, especially the defensive glass. Sarr is one of the top defensive rebounders in the country. This highlight comes on the offensive glass, but it’s indicative of his presence on the glass. He has position, then uses his height and his wingspan to grab the board and finish.

Like Childress, Sarr gets to the line a lot, and makes his FTs. He’s sixth in the conference in attempts and ninth in percentage. This is a huge part of their offense. They are generally a solid offensive team, but they’re eighth in the country in FT rate. If they don’t get to the line, they don’t score. It’s as simple as that.

This is especially true Wake is without their second leading scorer, Chaundee Brown, who is out with a lower-leg injury. With Brown out, the second option on offense is graduate transfer (Charlotte) Adrien White. White is a shooter, who is making 40% of his treys so far. He’s the best deep threat for the Deacs and somebody Virginia will key on defensively.

The Deacons are a very poor defensive team. They don’t force turnovers, they don’t block shots, they foul too much and they don’t really challenge shots very much. They’re quick to rotate, but not quick to recover.

Look how many Wake guys are in the paint when the ball gets there. And nobody seems to be in a rush to get out on the shooter. If Kihei Clark can get into the paint, there will be open shots for the Hoos. If they knock enough of them down, they’ll come away with the win. That’s a big if these days though.