Editor's Early Preview (12/15):
While Wake Forest might simply have too much talent for Richmond, the Spiders rarely find themselves trailing by double digits due to solid coaching and quality team play. Wake received a lot of off-season publicity due to their hyped freshmen, but it has been a returnee (Jeff Teague) who leads the way. Wake is the favorite, but the score might be closer than you think.
Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay
Friday night on ESPNU #10 Wake Forest (9-0) travels in their first true road test to take on the Richmond Spiders (5-4). Wake Forest was just 6-28 on opponent’s home floors the past three seasons. These teams have met eight times since 1997 with Wake Forest winning all eight meetings. Last year in Winston-Salem Wake Forest won 72-59. Both of these teams played better than expected last year with young teams, and Wake Forest finished the season 17-13 while Richmond was 16-13.
Richmond’s high hopes for this season took a hard hit over the summer when center Dan Geirot blew out a knee in a summer league game. Geirot gave the Spiders 14 ppg and over 5 rpg last year and so far Richmond has had a hard time replacing his production while getting out-rebounded by nearly three boards per game. The bulk of Richmond’s points and production comes from their two guards, as David Gonzalvez leads the team in scoring and rebounding while sophomore point guard Kevin Anderson nearly matches Gonzalvez at 16 ppg. Richmond is a selective shooting team and they hit over 51% from the field including 38.0% from three-point range. But they are not a solid or efficient defensive team and the Spiders perimeter defense has allowed opponents to hit over 40% from the arch.
That last number could be a problem for Richmond as Wake Forest has excellent guard play and the Deacons shoot over 51% from the field. Wake Forest is one of the fasted paced teams in the country and their defense has been outstanding. Coach Dino Gaudio has been pleased with the improved Deacons defense as Wake Forest has a top-5 ranking in raw defensive efficiency. However, the pace has led to some carelessness with the ball as Wake Forest does commit 18 turnovers per game and had 43 combined turnovers in recent contests versus Indiana and Wright State. Wake Forest faced a deliberate and pretty good defensive team last game and still shot 52% while dominating the boards in a 66-53 win over Wright State. The five starters all shoot at least 50% from the field and sophomore guard Jeff Teague has taken over the point this season and leads the Deacons with over 19 ppg and 4.6 assists per game. James Johnson and heralded freshmen forward Al-Farouq Aminu each score in double figures while combining for over 16 rebounds per game.
Both teams have started the same five players every game this season. Wake Forest is easing point guard Ishmael Smith back into the lineup and he’s played 20 minutes per game the last three contests in his recovery from a foot injury in September. He’s picked up 20 assists in limited action in those three games. The Deacons strength on the interior combined with solid perimeter play will prove to be too much for Richmond, as Wake Forest is one of the country’s top scoring (83 ppg) and rebounding (44) teams. With semester exams completed, a focused effort by Wake Forest should net them a double-digit win.
Winner: Wake Forest Margin 10-15 points
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About Fairway Jay
Previews & Predictions
Jay Ginsbach, also known as "Fairway Jay’"joins the CHN team and staff this season from Sportsmemo.com. He’ll provide his insight and expertise covering the college basketball scene with periodic thoughts from a Las Vegas perspective.