ACC Men's Basketball: Wake Forest vs. Loyola (Md) Preview

Joshua AllenContributor IINovember 11, 2011

Sophomore Travis McKie will lead this year's Wake Forest Demon Deacon basketball team
Sophomore Travis McKie will lead this year's Wake Forest Demon Deacon basketball teamStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

So, it's finally that time of year again. For all the Demon Deacon fans, time has seemingly slowed down as the coming season, and possible redemption, approaches.

It is widely documented that last year Wake Forest, coming off a trip to the second round of the NCAA tournament no less, was a record setting team. Worst RPI in ACC history. Most losses (24) in a single season. Worst ACC record (1-15) in team history and league history since the expansion to twelve teams. It is also widely noted that the season started with a bang, as the Deacs lost to Stetson by ten points at the Joel.

The question now becomes: How will Wake fare against Loyola?

Since last year's debacle, three players (Ari Stewart, Melvin Tabb and J.T. Terrell) have all left the team, last year's three point specialist (Gary Clark) graduated and shot-blocking wizard Ty Walker is suspended for the first semester of the year.

They will be replaced by speedy guard Anthony Fields, Parade All-American Chase Fischer, and 6'9" forward Daniel Green. These players will have to step up if Wake has any shot at outperforming last year's miserable team.

So, it stands to reason that Wake would lose to Loyola, just like Stetson from last year. Some sources even have Wake ranked lower than a Loyola team that returns four of its starters from last year's 15-15 team.

However, the talent level at Wake Forest has been vastly underrated. Sophomore Travis McKie was in the top ten in the ACC in both scoring and rebounding and can only improve from there. C.J. Harris will finally be able to move back to the wing, where he belongs, after having to fill in at PG last year for the injured Tony Chennault. Heck, with Fields at back-up, Harris probably won't have to play that position all year.

The truth is that Wake is a much better team than people give it credit for and that will show tonight against Loyola.

Loyola has a much taller line up than Wake heading into the night, but Wake is more athletic and will move quickly down the court. Coach Jeff Bzdelik of Wake Forest has also said that last year's team had some very selfish players who were distractions during the game, who have since left the team.

Look for a focused Wake Forest team that jumps out to a big lead early and then holds on later in the game.

Predicted Final Score: Wake Forest 74, Loyola 66