Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#743 Northwestern vs.
#744 Wake Forest
Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 9:00pm EST
Written by Nathaniel Reeves

The ACC-Big 10 Ten Challenge will continue on Tuesday night when the Northwestern Wildcats visit the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Northwestern is off to a strong 5-1 start after hammering the Georgia Bulldogs 78-62 last Tuesday as an eight-point favorite to close out the Legends Classic in Newark. Wake Forest will hope to bounce back from its first loss of the season after taking a 75-61 defeat to the LSU Tigers on as a seven-point underdog on Saturday at the Emerald Coach Classic to fall to 6-1 overall.

These teams have only met once before, a 65-58 home win for Northwestern back in November of 2016.

Northwestern leaves Newark with 1-1 record

After beating up on a weak schedule to start the season, the Wildcats were tested for the first time at the Legends Classic, suffering their first loss in a hard-fought battle against the Providence Wildcats last Monday before handling Georgia one night later. Northwestern never trailed after the 13:00 mark of the first half against Georgia, as an 18-3 run spanning halftime helped extend the lead to 54-30, with the Bulldogs only getting slightly closer in garbage time.

Boo Buie had a huge game with 22 points and six assists, Pete Nance had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Ryan Young added 17 points on an efficient 6/8 shooting from the floor off the bench. The Northwestern defense keyed the victory, with Georgia shooting just 38.2% from the floor including 5/24 from three-point range.

“He’s a very talented player and now he is playing off his instincts,” Collins said via The Daily Northwestern about Nance, who is having the best season of his four-year career. “He’s playing like an older guy. He’s commanding out there and directing (the ball). We move him around (the court), He can play in different areas and get to the line more. His confidence has made it fun for us because there are a lot more things we can do with him."

The Wildcats are a strong 4-2 against the spread and have been favored in every game so far, including the 77-72 loss to Providence as a one-point favorite. Overs are an even 3-3 for the Wildcats, with two of their last three games going under the betting total.

Northwestern has been a good offense across the board, averaging 81.7 points per game to rank 40th nationally while shooting 53.7% from two and 38.6% from three. The Wildcats are also a top 60 scoring defense with 61.3 points per game on opponent shooting splits of 43.9% from two and 30.5% from beyond the arc.

Nance has been terrific, piling up 17.7 points, eight rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game on 58.6% shooting from the floor. Buie is also playing well with 17.5 points and 6.2 assists per game, while Young has been a nice bench presence with 13 points per game.

Guard Chase Audige, who averaged 12.8 points per game last season, is yet to play due to an undisclosed injury and it's unknown when he will be back. Freshman guard Brooks Barnhizer has been limited to one game with an undisclosed injury and no update about his status.

Wake Forest falls to LSU, no longer unbeaten

The Demon Deacons also return from their early-season tournament with a 1-1 record, taking down the Oregon State Beavers in their first matchup of the year against a power conference opponent before being hammered by LSU on Saturday. Wake Forest looked good early with a 10-0 run, but LSU immediately countered with a 15-0 run of its own and led by double digits throughout the second half following an 11-2 spurt just before the break.

Davien Williamson led the Demon Deacons with 20 points, while Alondes Williams stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block. It was a horrendous game for the Demon Deacons offense, which shot 31% from the floor while turning the ball over 21 times.

"We were turning the ball over and having a hard time making shots, but we were still in it. We played really hard. Our guys competed but we just couldn't overcome the turnovers. Playing in games like this is good and it's not the end of the world. We have to learn from it," head coach Steve Forbes told Wake Forest's website.

The Demon Deacons are above .500 against the spread at 4-3, although they failed to cover in their two games at the Emerald Coast Classic after also being taken to overtime by Oregon State. Overs are a strong 5-2 for the Demon Deacons after Saturday's game went under the betting total and snapped a run of five straight overs.

Wake Forest has generally been a prolific offense to start the year, ranking 32nd nationally in scoring at 82.7 points per game while shooting 58.4% from two and 35.9% from three. The Demon Deacons have been closer to average defensively, allowing 67 points per game with opponents shooting 47.4% from two and 31.1% from deep.

Williams, a transfer from Oklahoma, leads Wake Forest with 19.3 points, 3.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game on 59.3% shooting from the floor. Williamson adds 15.6 points per game, while Jake LaRavia piles up 14.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.6 steals per contest.

Everyone has been healthy and available for the Demon Deacons so far with no new injuries to report.

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Both teams enter with a similar resume, having beaten up on bad teams while losing to the best opponent they have faced, but Northwestern showed something in a competitive loss to Providence while Wake Forest is still early in a huge rebuild. Northwestern has run a very efficient offense so far, and the experienced Buie-Nance duo will be enough to lead the Wildcats past a Wake Forest team that is still gelling after a lot of roster turnover.

The Wildcats are quickly rising up the rankings in a few different offensive metrics with a 55.3 effective field goal percentage as a team backed by one of college basketball's best assist to turnover ratios. While the Demon Deacons posted some big numbers offensively to start the season, managing just 0.82 points per possession against LSU shows that might not continue much longer when the schedule gets tougher, and turnovers have been a huge problem throughout.

Northwestern is ultimately much more well-rounded, has much more continuity from last season and is over 50 spots higher in KenPom than Wake Forest, which is enough to make up for being on the road. Forbes will get Wake Forest on the right track soon enough but this is still a big rebuild, and the Wildcats will have too much offense in this one.

Prediction: Northwestern +2

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These are two of the top 40 scoring offenses in the nation, and with both defenses still having a lot to prove this could quickly turn into a shootout. Forbes has coached some very efficient offenses before in his career at East Tennessee State, and the Demon Deacons do feature a lot of size to bother the Wildcats in the paint while getting to the free throw line often.

Northwestern has been one of the better shooting teams in college basketball from every spot on the floor, and a huge part of its success has been turning the ball over on just 12.5% of its possessions as Buie is an excellent floor general. Throw in the fact that both teams are in the top 50 nationally in terms of shortest average possession length, and both hot shooting offenses will get plenty of cracks at the basket.

Prediction: Over 144

Written By Nathaniel Reeves , "Nathaniel Reeves"

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily. 
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