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January 18, 2012

Wake Forest at No. 4 Duke: Preview

Wake Forest at No. 4 Duke
Location: Durham, NC
Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium
Tip-off: Thursday at 7:00 PM ET
TV: ESPN
Current records:
Wake Forest: 10-7, 1-2 ACC (Lost to NC State 76-40).
Duke: 15-2, 3-0 ACC (Won at Clemson 73-66).

Series history: The Blue Devils have an all-time series lead of 158-77. In last season's single meeting between the two programs Duke won 83-59 in Winston-Salem.

Deacons Illustrated breaks down the matchups by position:

Forward - Nikita Mescheriakov, WF -vs.- Ryan Kelly, Duke. Since nearly notching a double-double in Wake's win over Virginia Tech Mescheriakov has only scored two points, pulled down eight rebounds in the last two games. Kelly's size (6-foot-11 and 230 pounds), versatility as an inside and outside threat offensively and his ability to block shots will be difficult for Mescheriakov to overcome. Edge: Duke

Forward - Travis McKie, WF -vs.- Austin Rivers, Duke. McKie is not quick enough to stay in front of Rivers, so look for Krzyzewski to set up plays for his freshman phenom to score. Rivers is not strong or tall enough to defend McKie, so look for Kelly and the Plumlees to take turns guarding the 6-foot-7 forward from Richmond. McKie will be on the attack early after only scoring two points and grabbing just four rebounds before his ejection in the loss to State. Edge: WF

Center - Ty Walker, WF -vs.- Mason Plumlee, Duke. In eight games back after serving a nine-game suspension Walker has been one of the few bright spots for the up-and-down Deacs since he broke into the starting lineup against the Hokies. However, he has yet to face a post player as productive as Plumlee, who is averaging nearly a double-double. Edge: Duke

Guard - C.J. Harris, WF -vs.- Seth Curry, Duke. No time like the present for Harris to rediscover his shooting touch, because the Demon Deacons need it in the worst way. Harris averaged 18.7 points per game in non-conference, but has dropped to 11 versus ACC competition. Curry steadily scores in double figures, needing only one shot to get into a flow offensively and is known for his ability to bury teams with a flurry of threes. Edge: Tie

Guard - Tony Chennault, WF -vs.- Quinn Cook, Duke. An enigma would be the best way to describe Chennault. He scored 11 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists without turning the ball over at Maryland. Chennault followed that with a three-point, one-rebound, three-assist and five-turnover effort in Saturday's blowout let-down to the Pack. Cook is Duke's starting point guard as of the last four games, but the Blue Devils still appear to lack consistent stability at its lead guard position. Edge: WF

Bench - Carson Desrosiers has twice recorded a double-double this season, but disappeared after scoring eight points, snagging 10 boards and blocking three shots against Yale. Known for his streakiness Chase Fischer still commands respect as a shooter, averaging 6.5 points in a substitute role. Daniel Green hustles, but continues to only be good for fouls, a rare garbage basket and maybe a couple of rebounds. Anthony Fields who continues to have a deer-in-the-headlights look of confusion received extended action in Saturday's embarrassing loss to the Wolfpack.

At 9.5 points per game Andre Dawkins provides as much or more bench production than any sub in the ACC. He is typically not a major offensive threat, but Miles Plumlee gives the Devils another big, athletic body to crash the boards. Tyler Thornton brings solid ball-handling and defensive capability to the Blue Devils backcourt. Josh Hairston and Michael Gbinije have also gotten into the mix some this season. Edge: Duke

Coaching - Jeff Bzdelik, WF -vs.- Mike Krzyzewski, Duke. It is unlikely one has a significant advantage over the other in X's and O's, but Krzyzewski gets the most out of his players significantly more often than Bzdelik does. Not to mention Coach K has the most all-time wins of anyone in the history of the profession at the D-I level, and is already in the Hall-of-Fame. Edge: Duke


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