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Notre Dame Men’s Basketball vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons Preview

It’s not Pretzel Day, but it is The Office Night at Purcell this evening...can’t wait for ND to reveal their secret weapon

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday was a semi-pleasant surprise for a lot of us, as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s hoops team played toe-to-toe with the #3 Virginia Cavaliers IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, just barely ending up on the losing side of things, 60-54. T.J. Gibbs had another good game with a team-leading 17 points.

Since Saturday, the Irish (13-12, 3-9 ACC) have had a quick turnaround to get ready to play the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at home this evening, but luckily the Deacs are one of the only ACC teams who has looked decidedly worse than the Irish this season. If the Irish bring the effort they’ve brought in the past two games, it’s likely that ND will pick up another victory to build on.

Also, side note: tonight at Purcell is “The Office Night,” and the Notre Dame Men’s Basketball Twitter has been cranking out fantastic promo content for it. I am SO jealous of current students and anyone else who lives close enough to attend the game — STANLEY HIMSELF IS GOING TO BE THERE!!!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of those tweets about The Office Night below, before we dive into the facts and figures surrounding Wake Forest...

Quick Facts

  • This is the 9th all-time meeting between these two teams, with Notre Dame leading the all-time series 5-3 (per Alan Wasielewski, Associate Athletics Communication Director)
  • Junior forward John Mooney currently leads the ACC in rebounding (11.0 rpg) and double-doubles (16 in 25 games played). He’s 1 of 6 major conference players averaging a double-double this season (14.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg) (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • Mooney recorded his 10th double-double in ACC play against Virginia on Saturday. Since Notre Dame joined the ACC in 2013-14, the single-season high for double-doubles in ACC play is 13 by UNC’s Brice Johnson in 2015-16 (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • Prentiss Hubb has started 21 of 25 career games in his first season at Notre Dame and has logged heavy minutes in most of his appearances. As of February 17th, Hubb is 7th in the country among major conference teams in true freshman playing time (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • This freshman class (Hubb, Nate Laszewski, Dane Goodwin, Robby Carmody, Chris Doherty) has played 1,962 minutes so far this season, which is already the most of any freshman class in the Mike Brey era and the 6th-most ever since freshmen were first allowed to play in the 1972-1973 season (per Alan Wasielewski)

Where: Purcell Pavilion — Notre Dame, Indiana

When: Tuesday, February 19th at 7:00 PM ET

How to Watch:

TV: ESPNU with Rich Hollenberg and Debbie Antonelli

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (9-15 2-10 ACC)

The Demon Deacons are currently second to last in the ACC standings, just above the Pittsburgh Panthers, and are 189th in KenPom. And, despite one of their ACC wins coming over a likely tournament team (the North Carolina State Wolfpack), the Deacs have had very little to hang their hats on this year in terms of great showings. Their non-conference play included losses to the Houston Baptist Huskies, Richmond Spiders, and Gardner-Webb Bulldogs, and in ACC play they somehow surrendered 92 points to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who are arguably the worst offensive team in the conference.

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

With all that said, the Demon Deacons are a little like ND in that they are a very young team. Besides senior guard Torry Johnson and his 5.6 ppg average, the entirety of their key rotation guys will be back next year.

That group is led by junior guard Brandon Childress, who has been a steady veteran leader on an otherwise very young and inexperienced team. He leads the team in points (14.5 ppg), assists (4 apg), steals (1.5 spg), and 3-point percentage (36%), and also grabs 3.5 rebounds per game and shoots nearly 79% from the free throw line. This team can go as far as the 6’0” junior can lead them.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Helping shoulder the scoring load are a few young, talented guys. 6’8” freshman Jaylen Hoard is putting up 13.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while making 47% of his shots from the field, bringing a lot of length and athleticism to the paint for Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

6’5” sophomore guard Chaundee Brown helps Childress out from the wing, providing a nice scoring punch (11.2 ppg) and adding more length that allows him to grab 4 rebounds per game and get some shots off from deep, where he shoots 32%.

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The rest of the contributing members of the team are also freshmen and sophomores, as 6’5” guard Sharone Wright and 6’8” forward Isaiah Mucius are a couple frosh guys who score more than 6 points per game each while also chipping in a few boards (13.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg between the two of them). 7’0” sophomore center Olivier Sarr of course brings some solid rim protection with a 1 block-per-game average, and he also scores 5.9 points and grabs 5.5 rebounds while shooting a pretty efficient 45% from the field.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Thus, Wake Forest certainly has some raw athleticism and length that could cause some issues for the Irish, but unless Childress, Hoard, and Brown all play their A-games and Manning gets uncharacteristically strong games from one or two other guys, I don’t see a Notre Dame team fresh off of a win over Georgia Tech and a near-upset of Virginia slacking off and falling at home to these guys.

Demon Deacon to Watch

Brandon Childress, Guard, Junior

He’s the Demon Deacons’ leader, both statistically (in almost all categories) and in terms of how he’s the most veteran major contributor by a long shot. He will need to play out of his mind for Wake Forest to have a chance in this one — but considering Notre Dame isn’t exactly a defensive juggernaut, perhaps he will be able to do so.

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Irish X-Factor

John Mooney, Forward, Junior

John Mooney continues to rack up double-doubles out there, and because Wake Forest has only a couple true big men (and they’re underclassmen), I think Mooney’s continued dominance down low is key in the Irish winning another one. I predict that Mooney will take some young guys to school and will have himself a Jim Halpert-schooling-Roy kind of game. Pam is going to be impressed as hell.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Boston College Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports


Wake Forest’s length could give ND a little trouble at times, but the Irish have been playing much tougher basketball since the wake-up-call against Miami a couple weeks ago. I think Gibbs and Hubb continue to run the show well, Mooney dominates down low, and enough of the other guys contribute to win this thing for Stanley.

Notre Dame takes this one 77-69.

13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images