Duke vs. Wake Forest Preview & Predictions - Don't Pull a Syracuse

Duke comes into tonight's matchup well-rested after a full week without a game, while Wake Forest lost to lowly Boston College their last time out.

The Deacons have dropped to 12th in the ACC following an absolutely terrible stretch that started at the end of January, losing eight of their last nine games.

So it'll be easy for the Blue Devils to overlook Wake, especially considering the fact that they beat the Deacs by 20 on February 4. But Syracuse's surprising loss to Georgia Tech last night (what has happened to the Orange??) should serve as a warning to take every game and every team seriously, because you could end up getting embarrassed.

Projected Starting lineups

#4 Duke (23-6, 12-4 ACC)

G Rasheed Sulaimon, So., 9.3 ppg, 2.6 apg

G Tyler Thornton, Sr., 3.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg

F Rodney Hood, R-So., 16.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg

F Jabari Parker, Fr., 18.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg

F Amile Jefferson, So., 6.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg

Wake Forest (15-14, 5-11)

G Codi Miller-McIntyre, So., 13.3 ppg, 3.9 apg

G Coron Williams, Sr., 9.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg

F Travis McKie, Sr., 11.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg

F Arnaud-William Adala Moto, So., 6.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg

F Devin Thomas, So., 11.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg

What to watch for:

Intensity Levels

Wake Forest will come out playing with their hair on fire. It's their senior night, and they have a chance to knock off a top-5 team at home. That's all the Deacons really have to play for this season given their struggles, so expect them to put everything they have into this game.

That could be problematic for Duke, who hasn't played a game in a relatively long time and may not be the most motivated squad given their looming rematch with UNC.

The only way an upset could happen in this game is if Duke comes out flat and doesn't match Wake's intensity, allowing the Deacons to grab an early lead. The Devils need to make it a priority to quickly squash any sort of hope Wake Forest has and end the game early.

Duke's Shooting

Duke's offense struggled before their week off, and has failed to hit 70 points in each of their past five games. This is largely due to their recent shooting slump, although fatigue and their opposition also played a role.

Playing five games in eleven days certainly took a toll on players legs, but UNC, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech all played zone for a majority of the time on defense, tempting Duke to take a lot of long jumpers. The Devils happily obliged, but they couldn't make many and it made them complacent offensively.

Many simply chalked those shooting woes up to fatigue, but today will be the day we find out if that was the case or if there's a bigger problem facing the Blue Devils.

Prediction: Duke 73-57. Don't be surprised if the game is close for a while because Wake will likely put everything they have into this game, as they really don't have anything else to play for. However, Duke is the better team, and will eventually go on a run to put the game away like they always do, even though it may not look pretty.

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