Once-beaten Wake Forest faces one of its toughest tests so far this season when the Demon Deacons begin a run of Atlantic Coast Conference games with a visit to Louisville on Wednesday night.
Wake Forest (11-1, 1-0 ACC), whose only loss came to LSU at a neutral site in November, remains unranked in large part because it’s had to navigate just the 209th-hardest schedule in the country, according to ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index.
The strength-of-schedule rating is based on the cumulative record of opponents to date. No ACC team ranks lower in the category.
Meanwhile, Louisville (7-4, 1-0) has had its ups and downs against the 49th-hardest schedule, the fifth-toughest among ACC teams. The Cardinals have done no better than to alternate wins and losses in their last six outings.
Both squads opened ACC play with wins within their otherwise nonconference schedule. The Demon Deacons thumped Virginia Tech 80-61 on the road on Dec. 4, while the Cardinals pulled out a 73-68 nail-biter at North Carolina State the same day.
Wake Forest has rebounded from its lone loss with five consecutive wins, including 82-79 over Charlotte in its most recent action Dec. 17 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout on the Charlotte Hornets’ home court.
The Demon Deacons were supposed to continue ACC play last week against Boston College, but had the game postponed because of COVID-19 in the Golden Eagles’ program.
“I try to control the things I can control,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said of his generally healthy roster. “We try to be very diligent. Right now, everybody’s ready to go, but things change.”
Likewise, Louisville has had a long layoff since an 82-72 loss at Western Kentucky on Dec. 18, including the postponement of its annual showdown with Kentucky last week.
The Cardinal went a full week without practice due to COVID issues. They resumed workouts Sunday.
Louisville hopes to have Malik Williams, its leading rebounder (9.7) and second-leading scorer (10.9), back from a COVID absence.
“He’s so unique,” Cardinals coach Chris Mack boasted. “He changes the game at both ends of the court.”
Louisville has beaten Wake Forest four times in a row, including 77-65 on the road last January.
–Field Level Media