UNC vs. Wake Forest: Preview, game info, prediction and more

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 29: Kenny Williams
CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 29: Kenny Williams /

ACC play is finally here as UNC and Wake Forest meet on Saturday in Chapel Hill

The start of Atlantic Coast Conference play is officially here for both North Carolina and Wake Forest as they meet on Saturday in Chapel Hill.

UNC is coming off a nonconference schedule in which they went 11-2 capped off by beating Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday. That came just days after a shocking home loss to Wofford in the Dean Dome.

Now they begin their quest to win another ACC regular season title and hope to get off on the right foot.

The Tar Heels dropped their ACC season opener last year on the road against Georgia Tech but managed to rebound quickly and win the regular season title. This year’s game is at home and it would be a major upset if the Demon Deacons could pull it off.

UNC also has to be careful because they have a tough two-game road trip at Florida State and Virginia next week.

The Demon Deacons enter the game at 7-5 overall but lost their last nonconference game at home to Tennessee.

Prior to that, they won six in a row including a win over Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

They are looking to pull off the upset, but it won’t be easy doing it on the road. UNC won the only meeting between the two teams last season and have won four-straight overall in the series.

Let’s learn a little more about the Demon Deacons.

One Wake Forest player to watch…

Doral Moore might cause some problems for the Tar Heels in the paint. The 7-foot-1 center from Atlanta is averaging 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this season.

In UNC’s two losses to Michigan State and Wofford, they struggled in the paint especially rebounding.

If Moore can give the Demon Deacons some second chances with his offensive rebounding, they have a shot to pull off the upset.

But it’s not just his rebounding that will have an impact on the game.

Moore is shooting 81.8 percent from the field so far this season, the best in all of college basketball among qualified players.

His size is certainly a problem and will be a good test for UNC’s freshman bigs.

One UNC player to watch…

Cameron Johnson is playing in just his third game for the Tar Heels this season.

He’s reached double-digit points in both of his previous games, dropping 10 against Wofford and then 14 against Ohio State.

Johnson gives UNC another threat coming off of the bench and will likely begin to see his minutes increased as time goes on. His role in ACC play will crucial for the Tar Heels success.

If Johnson can get UNC double-digit points on Saturday, they will likely be in good position to win the game.

Johnson struggled from the three-point line against Wofford making just 1-of-5 attempts but he had a bounce-back effort making 2-of-4 attempts.

Let’s see if Johnson can get that three-point shot going against the Demon Deacons.

The difference maker…

We talked about the Tar Heels needing to rebound well but this one might come down to the backcourt play.

Senior Joel Berry is beginning his final conference season of his college basketball career and we expect big things this season. Berry along with Theo Pinson, Kenny Williams, Jalek Felton and even Andrew Platek could be big factors in this game.

Berry recently eclipsed 200 made three-pointers this season and hopes to continue climbing the all-time UNC list.

A few big threes could go a long way for the Tar Heels on Saturday afternoon.

Next: 5 questions for UNC entering ACC play

What you need to know

WHAT? Wake Forest (7-5, 0-0 in ACC) vs. North Carolina (10-2, 0-0 in ACC)
WHEN? Saturday, December 30th, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. ET
WHERE? Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
TV? ESPN2 (Doug Sherman, Dan Dakich)
RADIO? Tar Heel Sports Network
SERIES HISTORY: UNC leads the series 159-66.
PREDICTION? UNC 79, Wake Forest 69