North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons Pick & Prediction JANUARY 22nd 2024

A big opportunity awaits both Wake Forest and No. 4 North Carolina when the Atlantic Coast Conference rivals meet Monday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.

North Carolina (15-3, 7-0 ACC) will try to move to 8-0 in conference play for the first time since 2015-16 and solidify its spot atop the league standings. The Tar Heels have won eight games in a row.

“I’m proud of how our team has reacted and responded,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said. “Everybody is feeling more comfortable.”

Wake Forest (13-5, 5-2) covets a notable result despite consistent success since Thanksgiving. The Demon Deacons have lost their last two road games.

North Carolina had a tussle Saturday at Boston College before pulling out a 76-66 victory, while earlier in the day Wake Forest routed visiting Louisville 90-65.

Guard RJ Davis has led North Carolina in scoring in five straight games and in 14 contests this season. He’s averaging 20.2 points per game. Post player Armando Bacot had all 10 of his points Saturday in the second half.

“At the end of the day, you need your dudes to step up,” Hubert Davis said.

The Demon Deacons made 18 shots from 3-point range versus Louisville, matching the second-most in program history. Damari Monsanto made his season debut and drained four 3-pointers, adding a huge perimeter threat for Wake Forest’s offense.

“When Damari came in, I lost the bet,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. “My bet was that it was going to be an air ball or an air bank. But he splashed it right in my mouth standing right next to me. I don’t know what to say, he is a really good shooter. Damari has great size and he can get it off quick on anybody and he has tremendous confidence.”

Aside from the production, Monsanto’s much-anticipated return from injury seemed to provide an emotional spark for the Demon Deacons.

“To go through what he’s been through, it was a hard, hard road to get back,” Forbes said. “Harder than we imagined. Harder than I thought.”

Wake Forest’s defensive work pleased Forbes.

“If you look at the lessons we learned from the losses on the road, we had to play without fouling,” he said. “Coming into the game, I believe Louisville led the league in going to the line. They only went 11 times, which was huge because we fouled too much at Florida State and NC State.”

North Carolina has banked on defense in conference games, holding all seven opponents to less than 70 points. Wake Forest has reached the 80-point mark in five of its ACC games.

North Carolina had a big lead at home on Louisville last week before that margin was cut to five in the second half in an eventual 86-70 victory.

Still, the Tar Heels have won six consecutive ACC games by double-digit margins for the first time since doing that in 10 consecutive games in 1992-93.

This will be the only regular-season meeting between Wake Forest and North Carolina. They split two games last winter, with each team winning at home.

–Field Level Media

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