Louisville vs. Wake Forest Prediction, Game Preview

    Louisville vs. Wake Forest prediction and game preview. The Cardinals look to win their fifth straight game, while the Demon Deacons are looking to extend their streak to three.

    February 28, 2017

    Louisville vs. Wake Forest prediction and game preview. The Cardinals look to win their fifth game in six tries, while the Demon Deacons look for a signature win in advance of the Big Dance.

    Louisville vs. Wake Forest Game Preview

    When: Wednesday, March 1 – 9 p.m. ET
    Where: Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC
    TV Broadcast: ACC Network

    Rick Pitino’s No. 8 Cardinals (23-6, 11-5 ACC) are coming off of an 88-68 home victory over Syracuse on Sunday. Louisville shot 57 percent en route to holding a 15-point lead that eventually grew to 23 early in the second half. Louisville was a little better at the free throw line, connecting on 13 of 23 attempts after hitting 4 of 13 in the loss at North Carolina. But it’s an area of concern as the Cards head toward the NCAA Tournament.

    Meanwhile, Danny Manning and the Demon Deacons (16-12, 7-9) are playing one of their biggest games in quite awhile, as they sit squarely on the tournament bubble. The Demon Deacons have been very close at scoring a couple of signature wins but have not been able to close the deal. However, they don’t have any “bad” losses and rank fairly well in key selection committee metrics. This home game against Louisville is a chance for the committee to further take notice of Manning and Co., as the Demon Deacons were one of the last four teams in the 68-team field in CBS Sports’ latest tournament bracket projections but one of the first four teams out in ESPN’s latest projection.

    These teams last met in January 2016 at KFC Yum! Center. Star Donovan Mitchell had 18 points and eight rebounds in his first start to help the Cardinals claim a 65-57 win. Bryant Crawford had 14 points for Wake, which finished just 3 of 12 from the free throw line.

    Louisville Wins If …

    … The Cardinals get another strong outing from Mitchell, who made six 3-pointers en route to 25 points in the team’s victory over the Orange. Mitchell led four Cardinals in double figures, including Ray Spalding, who had 18 points with 11 rebounds. There’s no question that Mitchell has been one of the best players in the ACC so far this season, so Cardinal fans can generally expect to get his best each game. He has been particularly hot over his last three games, connecting on 25 of his 44 shots.

    Pitino debuted a revamped starting frontcourt in the game against the ‘Cuse. Sophomore forward Spalding made 8 of 9 field goals after scoring a combined 23 points in his previous 10 games. The more scoring options the better for a team that dealt with offensive woes earlier in the year.

    Wake Forest Wins If …

    … The Demon Deacons’ offense can play at its fast pace while being efficient and limiting the number of turnovers. On Monday’s weekly ACC coaches teleconference, Pitino admitted that the Deacons have given the Cards problems in the past and have a really good offensive squad this season. “They’re an explosive offensive basketball team,” Pitino said. Wake is the 12th-most efficient offense in Division I, averaging 81.6 points while playing the second-fastest tempo in the conference. The Deacons indeed know how to score, led by star big man John Collins, who has been a double-double machine and gone underappreciated on the national radar. Pitino said that Collins is “as good a college basketball player as there is” in the conference.

    Wake has had opportunities to beat Louisville in each of the past two seasons, including last year in Louisville. Tied with three minutes left, the Cardinals ultimately were victorious. If Wake wants to make its first NCAA Tournament since 2010, closing the deal against Pitino’s squad may be necessary. If only Duke’s Luke Kennard had missed the three-point shot with 6.6 seconds left when the Blue Devils were on the verge of losing in Winston-Salem back in late January…

    Matchup To Watch

    Collins vs. Louisville frontcourt

    The 6-foot-10 sophomore Collins averages 19.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, and he has scored 20 or more points in 11 consecutive contests. That sets up quite a challenge for any frontcourt, but particularly one that had been a bit revamped heading into the matchup against Syracuse. Louisville outscored the ‘Cuse by 16 points in the paint, but Collins serves as a tough matchup.

    Louisville vs. Wake Forest Betting Odds

    Spread: Louisville -4
    Over/Under: No line as of post

    Louisville vs. Wake Forest Prediction

    It will be Senior Night for the Deacons, and there’s a chance that this could be the last game Collins plays in Winston-Salem because he could be a high NBA Draft pick this coming summer. Aided by a last-minute bucket by Collins, Wake gets its ever-elusive signature win, better positioning itself for a tourney berth assuming that there is no major slip-up along the way.

    Louisville vs. Wake Forest final score prediction: Wake Forest 74, Louisville 72

    MORE: College Basketball Power Rankings – Week 17


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