Wake Forest college basketball head coach Danny Manning has done a tremendous job in Winston-Salem, getting the most out of his limited roster and putting his team in a position to win close games. Indeed, Wake Forest is 7-0 SU this season in games decided by six points or less, including defeating Indiana, UCLA, Arkansas and LSU. The Demon Deacons were 5-6 last season in games decided by six points or less so the maturation of Manning’s squad is evident.
The situation favors Wake Forest, who is coming off an embarrassing 91-75 loss to Duke on January 6. I say that because the Deacons are a profitable 12-4-1 ATS in games following a double-digit home loss and 5-1 ATS in their last six games after giving up more than 90 points. Wake Forest is also 16-7 ATS versus teams with a winning record and is 20-6 SU at home in this series (3-0 SU L/3). The home team has also won the last seven meetings in this college basketball in-state rivalry.
Meanwhile, North Carolina State is coming off a highly-emotional 77-72 loss to Louisville in a “Black Out” game on its home floor. Fundamentally speaking, North Carolina State is 4.4 points per game better than average offensively (74.9 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 70.5 points per game) and 6.1 points per game better than average defensively (69.3 points per game to teams that would combine to average 75.4 points per game).
The Wolfpack’s defense will be challenged by an efficient Wake Forest attack that is averaging 79.6 points per game at home this season on 46.5% shooting from the field. However, the Demon Deacons’ nine wins this season have come by a total of 46 points, with the largest margin of victory coming by ten points in the 81-71 win over UNC-Greensboro on December 15. The good news for Manning’s squad is the fact that the Wolfpack are yielding 75.0 points per game in conference play, while their offense is only averaging 68.6 points on 39.0% shooting from the field and 32.6% from beyond the arc over the last five games.
The last three meetings in this series at LJVM Coliseum have been decided by a combined seven points so I expect another hotly-contested battle. However, the situation is favorable to Wake Forest and the Deacons have already demonstrated the ability to knock off quality foes like Indiana (82-78; 13.5-point underdogs), UCLA (80-77; 5-point underdogs) and LSU (77-71; 7-point underdogs).
Wake Forest has also proven itself capable of winning close games, which is important in conference play. Take Wake Forest on the money line in this college basketball rivalry and invest with confidence.
Oskeim Sports’ Free College Basketball Preview & Best Bet: Wake Forest (ML) (-140)