The second ranked team in the country could have a tough time covering a big number on the road Wednesday when the undefeated Syracuse Orange (19-0, 4-0 away) pay a visit to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (14-6, 12-0 home) at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC at 9:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.
The point spread at Bet365 has Wake Forest as a large home underdog for this contest with the current line at +9½ with odds of -110.
Syracuse improved to 19-0 with a nice 64-52 road win over the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday but the Orange were challenged in a close game throughout before finally putting the Canes away with a game-ending 18-5 run. Syracuse can now match the best start in school history as the only other time the Orange started at 20-0 was in the 2011-12 season when they lost their 21st game on the road at Notre Dame.
Will this be déjà vu? Well, Wake Forest has been a better team than Miami this season and the Demon Deacons are a perfect 12-0 at home, so if the Orange to get to 20-0, they will have to earn it as this does not figure to be a cakewalk. That makes getting almost double-digits with home standing Wake seem very attractive in this spot.
Now we realize full well that Syracuse does not have many weaknesses, as this is a team that is ranked fifth in the country in offensive efficiency and 15th in defensive efficiency. The Orange have even won three of their four road games by double-digits with the only challenge coming from a former Big East rival in a five-point win at St. John’s.
It should be noted though that St. John’s was the only one of Syracuse’s four road conquests currently ranked higher than 81st on the Pomeroy Rankings with the Red Storm ranked 57th. That would make Wake Forest the second highest ranked Pomeroy team that the Orange have faced on the road thus far, but the Demon Deacons probably have the strongest home court advantage of any of them.
Besides being 12-0 at home, Wake Forest has quality home wins inside the ACC over North Carolina, Notre Dame and NC State to help validate that record. Yes, the Demon Deacons are a young club led by seven sophomores including leading scorer Codi Miller-McIntyre and top rebounder Devin Thomas, but those youngsters have obviously fed off of the energy or the home crowd very well and that crowd should be frenzied tonight with Syracuse in town.
One area where the Deacons can make some headway here is from the foul line, which seems unusual to say about a team ranked 332nd in the country in free throw percentage at 64.0 percent. But we are talking about volume, as besides the home team naturally getting more free throws normally, Wake is ranked 46th in the country in FTA/FGA percentage at 47.7 percent, and that percentage is up to 48.7 percent in conference play to rank third in the ACC.
Conversely Syracuse is just 132nd in FTA/FGA percentage at 42.6 percent and 10th in the conference at 35.1 percent, apparently settling for more mid-range shots rather than draw fouls by driving to the basket.
Look for those foul shots to add up and help keep Wake Forest within single-digits, good enough to get the cover at home on Wednesday.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Wake Forest +9½ (-110)