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By Jay Bilas, ESPNNo. 3 Wake Forest (15-0) at No. 9 Clemson (16-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Prosser said: "This is the number that will cost us. We have to get this down." He was right, and it was a struggle for that team to have a defensive mindset when it knew it could just outscore opponents and win.
Well, look at Wake Forest now. Any quarrel one would have with the Demon Deacons over the last several years would have targeted defense. This season, the young Deacons lead the ACC in field goal percentage defense (36 percent) and are third in 3-point defense (28 percent). And with a plus-7.6 rebound margin, Wake limits opponents to just one shot for the most part.
Wake Forest is guarding people, and as a result, the Demon Deacons are one of the best teams in the country. Wake is the most athletically gifted and talented team in the ACC, and that includes North Carolina.
Jeff Teague is one of the top five guards in the nation, James Johnson is a special talent, and Al-Farouq Aminu is one of the five best freshmen in the country. Chas McFarland is a big body that can finish plays, and Dino Gaudio has a lot of long and athletic bodies that he can throw on the floor and wear you down.
Clemson was expected to be good, but after losing three seniors, the Tigers were not expected to be better. So far, Oliver Purnell's team has been better than last season's version, which went to the ACC tournament final and earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Clemson is led by interior load Trevor Booker. The lefty big man is averaging 15 points, 9.1 rebounds and an ACC-leading 2.8 blocks and is shooting an ACC-leading 57 percent from the field. Booker struggled with fouls last season but has stayed on the floor in large measure because he has been put at the point of the Clemson press. Instead of being on the back end of the press and facing a 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 that might lead to a foul, Booker is guarding the ball and avoiding fouls. He is a confident scorer -- Clemson can throw it to him in the post and have him score over people. If the Tigers play through Booker, they run better offense. Another lefty, K.C. Rivers, is the primary perimeter scorer, and he has big-shot capability. Rivers has put up good numbers and is a steadying influence on the floor.
Clemson's best shooter is sophomore Terrence Oglesby, who is the J.J. Redick of the Tigers. Oglesby has deep range, and has hit 42 treys on the season, tops in the ACC and only one of two players in the league with 40 or more (along with Miami's Jack McClinton). Oglesby has done a better job of getting into the lane and diversifying his game.
Clemson loves to press full court, and any time you press, you create opportunities. There are opportunities for you to force turnovers, and there are opportunities for your opponent to get open shots once the initial line of defense is breached.
Key Matchup: Wake's Jeff Teague vs. Clemson's Demontez Stitt
Teague is the best young player in the ACC, and he is absolutely impossible to stay in front of. Teague is very good in transition and is the only player in the ACC with multiple 30-point games. Against Clemson's press, Teague will have the chance to create advantage opportunities for himself and his teammates. Stitt has been a pleasant surprise at the point. He is averaging over 8 points and 3.6 assists per game, and he is a penetrating point guard who can attack off the bounce and get to the rim and the free throw line.
Key Stats: Rebounding and Turnovers
Both teams are athletic and long and can play at a fast tempo. In this game, every possession will be valuable, even though there will be a lot of them. For Clemson to win, the Tigers have to force Wake Forest turnovers and gain more possessions through their defense. Clemson is not a great rebounding team, and if Wake can win the battle of the boards and take care of the ball while still applying pressure to score, the Deacons will have a great shot to win a road game. Wake won at BC on Wednesday but was not a good road team last season (1-7 in the ACC).
X-Factors: Al-Farouq Aminu and Terrence Oglesby
Aminu is a very talented player who can score and finish around the goal. He could get a lot of opportunities on the back end of the press offense. Oglesby has got to hit some shots against the Wake perimeter defense. He is capable of a big shooting game.
Who Wins? Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons are younger and less experienced, but they are confident, long-armed and talented. I like Wake to win on the road in a very tough environment.
By Jay Bilas, ESPNPittsburgh at Louisville: The Cardinals struggle to shoot from the perimeter against grinding defenses, and Pitt can grind it out with the best of them. The Panthers are just as deep as Louisville and are more physical. Unless the Cards hit shots, Pittsburgh will get a win in Freedom Hall. The difference can be Levance Fields and his ability to handle pressure and DeJuan Blair and his ability to dominate on the glass. Blair has the length and offensive-rebounding capability to really bother freshman Samardo Samuels.
James Lang/US Presswire
Greg Monroe and the Hoyas will look to give Duke an ultra-rare nonconference loss at home.
Arizona State at UCLA: This game features the nation's best all-around player in Arizona State's James Harden and the best point guard in the country in UCLA's Darren Collison. ASU is the most efficient offensive team in the country, and the Sun Devils face a very good defensive team in UCLA. The difference could very well be Arizona State big man Jeff Pendergraph, who is one of the most efficient big men in the country, and one of the hardest-working.
The Winner: I was leaning toward ASU at first, but I'm going to have to go with UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
Miami at North Carolina: The Hurricanes escaped the clutches of Maryland down in Coral Gables after the Terps had built a 17-point lead in the second half. Miami has size up front and a special guard in Jack McClinton, but North Carolina will be stinging from the two losses to Boston College and Wake Forest and should play with the same intensity that saw the Tar Heels win each of their first 13 games by double digits. Miami is an NCAA-tournament team, but UNC has too much to play for and is too strong.
The Winner: North Carolina will win by double digits.
ESPN Research• Duke will put its 67-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents on the line Saturday versus Georgetown. The last non-ACC team to beat the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor was St. John's on Feb. 26, 2000. Only four of the 67 games since have pitted Duke against a ranked opponent, including a 61-52 win over the Hoyas on Dec. 2, 2006.
Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
Jeff Pendergraph and ASU have had their share of road struggles against quality opponents.
-- Researchers Jeremy Lundblad, Ryan McCrystal, Tyler Korn, Jason McCallum and John Zoni contributed to this report.
11 a.m.: "College GameDay" (ESPN)
Noon: Notre Dame at Syracuse (ESPN)
1:30 p.m.: Georgetown at Duke (CBS)
2 p.m.: Oklahoma at Texas A&M (ESPN)
3:30 p.m.: Wake Forest at Clemson (ABC)
3:45 p.m.: Arizona St. at UCLA (CBS)
4 p.m.: Illinois at Michigan St. (ESPN)
6 p.m.: Pittsburgh at Louisville (ESPN)
8 p.m.: California at Stanford (FSN)
9 p.m.: Miami at North Carolina (ESPN)
Midnight: "Midnight Madness" (ESPN)
Terrence Williams, Louisville
The matchup between freshman Samardo Samuels and sophomore DeJuan Blair will draw much of the attention, but if a steadily improving Louisville team is going to pull the upset of top-ranked and undefeated Pittsburgh on Saturday (6 p.m., ESPN), the real man to watch is Williams.
Williams is also the emotional leader for a Louisville team that just a month ago looked lost. Mired in a horrible shooting night against Villanova, Williams still had the courage -- not to mention the strength and talent -- to slip in the winning finger roll, cradling the basketball like a football as he drove to the rim. He said afterward that the reason he had the nerve to take the shot was that "I'm too old not to make that shot.''
This Louisville team appears to be on the brink of a run similar to the one that took last year's Cards to the doorstep of the Final Four. Saturday will offer a more definitive answer. And the chatterbox "T-Will" will help supply it.
-- Dana O'Neil, ESPN.com
• No. 13 ND at No. 8 Syracuse, Noon, ESPN
The Big East exhibition games are clearly over for Syracuse. The Orange's first four Big East opponents are a combined 1-16 against conference foes. Cuse will play seven ranked teams in its next nine games, starting with Saturday's home game against Notre Dame at the Carrier Dome. Fighting Irish guard Kyle McAlarney had to be licking his chops after watching film of Syracuse's defense against the Hoyas. McAlarney, who has made 47.9 percent of his 3-point attempts this season, scored 19 points with five 3-pointers in an overtime loss at Louisville on Monday night. Fighting Irish forward Luke Harangody scored 28 points, his ninth consecutive outing with 20 points or more.• No. 3 Wake Forest at No. 9 Clemson, 3:30 p.m., ABC regional coverage
Wake guard Jeff Teague scored 29 points against BC, but coach Dino Gaudio told the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, "I don't think he played well." Teague apparently had too many defensive lapses and turnovers for Gaudio's taste.
The Tigers are 16-0 for the second time in the last three seasons and can tie a school record for consecutive victories with a win over the Demon Deacons. The Tigers also have won 16 straight games at Littlejohn Coliseum. Look for a close one. Each of the last four games between the schools was decided by two points or in overtime.• No. 15 ASU at No. 7 UCLA, 3:45 p.m.
But it'll be a tough task to steal a victory at the Breslin Center, where the Spartans have won 27 straight games, the third-longest active streak in Division I. How about this stat? MSU point guard Kalin Lucas -- point guard, remember -- has turned the ball over more than once in just three of his team's 16 games this season. Amazing.• No. 1 Pitt at No. 20 Louisville, 6 p.m., ESPN
He will need an even bigger effort against Pitt forwards Sam Young and DeJuan Blair, who combine to average more than 33 points and 18 rebounds per game. The Cardinals will be going for their third victory in a row over a ranked opponent. The first two weren't easy. Along with the overtime victory over the Fighting Irish, Louisville beat Villanova 61-60 on the road. Terrence Williams put the Cardinals ahead, and then the Wildcats missed two shots in the final seconds.-- Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com