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Five Good Minutes: Wake Forest Hoops Preview With Blogger So Dear

To preview tonight's game between the Eagles and the Demon Deacons, we welcome Martin Rickman from the Wake Forest blog Blogger So Dear for Five Good Minutes.

In exchange, we answered some questions on BC over at Blogger So Dear.


BC Interruption: The ACC standings are a mess this year. Duke appears to be the front-runner to take the regular season conference title, but other than Duke, no clear cut second team has emerged yet. Is Wake Forest that team? Either stake your claim for Wake as the second best team in the ACC, or refute the claim and give me the second best team in the conference.

Blogger So Dear: I don't have a comfortable answer to that question. Honestly, I've had less luck predicting the ACC this year than I have had in playing the lottery (I've still never won anything). To be honest though, if you put a gun to my head, I'd say Wake has as good a shot as any to finish in second place. Their remaining schedule is one of the easiest of the top tiered teams, and Wake owns a sweep of Virginia and a win over Maryland.

If Wake goes 3-1 in their home games and 1-2 in their remaining road games, that would give them 10 wins. Will 10 wins be enough to grab second place? I'm not sure. But Maryland still has two games against Duke, two games against UVA, a game against Georgia Tech and a road game against Virginia Tech, so I'd say the schedule edge goes to the Demon Deacons there.


BCI: What were some of the factors that went into a curious, early season Deacon loss to William & Mary at home? How has Wake Forest improved since that game? What are you seeing that Wake now does differently because of that early season wake-up call?

BSD: I still don't make all that much out of the W&M game. I didn't then, either. Wake was still trying to find their identity and they flat-out shot the ball poorly. It was a bad matchup as well, and the Tribe was really playing well at the time. Those games happen. You chalk it up to an upset. I hate that it was at home, but when it comes down to it, that loss probably helped the Demon Deacons if you look at it realistically. The team was able to make adjustments and you have seen those adjustments throughout the season.

I really enjoy the makeup of this team. They play hard, they have fun and they have good chemistry. They certainly aren't as talented as last year, but they have found ways to pull out ballgames at the end (4-0 in OT this year). A lot of that I think has to do with the way that they were able to buckle down after William & Mary.


BCI: A lot of Eagles fans are familiar with sophomore big man Al-Farouq Aminu (16.1 PPG, 11.1 RPG) but may not be familiar with some of the other Deacs who are going to see significant time tonight. Give us 1-2 players who you think will be the difference in this game.

BSD: Look no further than the freshmen. You know Aminu, and everyone knows the attention Ish Smith has been getting, but the play of Ari Stewart and C.J. Harris has been the key to the season. In Wake's conference wins, they are averaging 19.2 PPG together. In the losses, just 10.7 PPG. Harris is a very heady player who has been able to make plays when Wake needs him to most, especially at the FT line. Stewart loves to jack it up, but his shot is silky smooth and he has hit some big buckets in OT games this year.


BCI: Some would say that Wake Forest benefits from the unbalanced ACC schedule this year (missing many of the teams in the top half of the Pomeroy rankings and getting Miami, Virginia, NC State, North Carolina and Georgia Tech). Some would also claim BC benefited from the unbalanced schedule last year. What are your thoughts on the unbalanced ACC schedule in basketball? All even out in the end? Or decided advantage for certain programs from year to year?

BSD: It has bothered me all year. Last week in my power rankings, I looked at the schedule a lot deeper than I had previously, and it is amazing how screwed some of the teams got. Some teams had an extremely easy first half and a murderer's row of a second half. Other teams just have an absurd amount of tough games basically in a row. It usually does even out, but you will see that certain teams have definitely had an advantage. For instance, Wake only had to play UNC once last year and it was at home. Fair? Maybe not.

But in the long run, every ACC team has years where they get the shaft and years when they have a favorable schedule. That's the problem with the number of teams in conference. When you can't play teams twice, this is going to happen, especially when certain teams unpredictably have better or worse years than expected.


BCI: Some quick hitters. What seed will Wake Forest get come NCAA Tournament time?

BSD: I'm seeing Wake as a 6 seed right now, which is really remarkable after how low the expectations were for this season. Obviously the last few games play a huge role in this, but I would be really surprised if they were not in the 4-9 range.


BCI: Your pick for ACC regular season champ? ACC tournament champ?

BSD: Regular season: Duke. Tournament: Call me crazy, but for some reason I have a funny feeling Maryland is going to do it.


BCI: Best ACC hoops coverage on SB Nation, Blogger So Dear excluded?

BSD: If this was football, it'd be Tomahawk Nation hands down. But they (and I think admittedly) focus more on football. As far as basketball is concerned, From the Rumble Seat does a terrific job, as does Testudo Times (they just did a terrific job with a recruiting article). And you guys and Gobbler Country. It's really hard to just pick a couple, and I'm not just saying this because I'm pimping the network, but we have some really terrific bloggers over here.


BCI: Best player ever to don a Wake Forest basketball jersey?

BSD: Can I do a top five instead? Muggsy Bogues, Randolph Childress, Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, Len Chappell.


BCI: Last one, prediction time. Who ya got in this one? What's the final score?

BSD: With Trapani out, I have a feeling B.C. is just overmatched in this one. Road games are really tough for teams this year in general, and Wake plays well at home anyway. I think Ish Smith is able to get things going with penetration and Harris and Stewart knock down some big shots. Aminu has his ho-hum double-double. A B.C. player gets his career high against us (probably Tyler Roche) and Reggie Jackson plays well, but Wake is able to handle this one comfortably.

Wake Forest 72, Boston College 60.

BCI: Can't say I care for that prediction, but thanks for joining us Martin.


For more information on Wake Forest athletics, be sure to stop by Blogger So Dear.