Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Showdown Saturday in the ACC

As college basketball enters its conference schedule, there may be no bigger game on this week's schedule than Saturday's game between #2 Wake Forest and #10 Clemson — in spite of the fact that the Atlantic Coast Conference is known for other North Carolina schools.

Unbeaten Wake Forest (14-0), coming off its 92-89 victory over North Carolina on Sunday, still must play Boston College tomorrow, but if the Demon Deacons can win that game, it will set up a showdown between unbeaten squads when Wake Forest takes on 16-0 Clemson in the 3:30 p.m. (Eastern) game to be televised on ABC.

And what a match it should be.

Currently, Wake Forest is fourth in the nation in scoring, averaging 85.7 points per game. Clemson is 23rd, with an 80.4 average. The Demon Deacons are fifth in the country in field goals (30.6 per game), led by sophomore Jeff Teague, who is one of the nation's best at making field goals, nailing better than 57% of his attempts. The Tigers aren't bad, either, ranking 11th (29.7), and both teams are in the Top 15 in field goal accuracy — Wake Forest is fourth (51.0%) and Clemson is 15th (48.9%)

Defensively, both teams are in the Top 25 in steals — Clemson is 10th (10.0 per game) and Wake Forest is 19th (9.4).

But Wake Forest enjoys an edge in some categories where Clemson doesn't rank in the Top 100. The Deacons are eighth in the nation in rebounds (46.0 per game), 14th in free throws per game (20.4) and 17th in the nation in blocks (5.9 per game).

Perhaps North Carolina won't have the easy ride to the conference title everyone expected when the season began.

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