Struggling Wake Forest takes on No. 11 Virginia

Over the first week of the ACC schedule, not much is making sense when it comes to the standings.

Louisville sits in last place in the conference and is without a victory, while Virginia has lost two of its three conference games.

Wake Forest dropped its first two conference games before knocking off Boston College and enters its matchup on Sunday night with No. 11 Virginia at John Paul Jones Area in Charlottesville, Va., holding identical conference records.

Who would have thought it?

The Demon Deacons have lost five games this season, but are without a bad defeat and have played teams like Florida State, Xavier and Northwestern tough in close loses.

“That’s our league,” Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning said of the early conference standings. “There are teams winning games that most people probably didn’t give them a lot of percentage points to win. For us, we have to use this as momentum.”

Virginia will be the fourth ranked opponent that Wake Forest has played this season, with all of those games coming away from Winston-Salem.

The Cavaliers have dropped two straight games to Florida State and Pittsburgh and have not looked good in both loses.

Pittsburgh scored 88 points against coach Tony Bennett’s defense, which was the most against a Virginia team in almost four years.

The 3-point shot has been the Cavaliers’ weakness against the Seminoles and the Panthers as each team shot the lights out from long range, a rarity against a Virginia defense.

“Defense isn’t something we can rest on,” Bennett said of Virginia’s recent play. “We’ve played good defense. There were some big holes (against Pittsburgh) that we can’t afford against a team of this caliber.”

Wake Forest enters Sunday night’s game shooting just under 40 percent from beyond the arc for the season, and players like Keyshawn Woods and Austin Arians could provide a problem outside for the Cavaliers.

The Demon Deacons have four players averaging in double figures this season, led by sophomore forward John Collins, who is averaging 16 points and nine rebounds per game.

In the teams’ only matchup last season, Wake Forest blew a seven-point lead in the final 30 seconds and guard Darius Thompson banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to allow Virginia to escape Winston-Salem with a 72-71 victory.

Expect Sunday’s game to be close as well, as Manning should have Wake Forest ready to play.

The Cavaliers must continue to rely on the solid play of senior point guard London Perrantes, who scored a team-high 16 points in Virginia’s loss to Pittsburgh. Perrantes leads the Cavaliers in scoring at just over 10 points per game.

Fellow guard Devon Hall scored a career-high 15 points against Pitt and has found his rhythm at the off-guard position this season. The remainder of Virginia’s season could rest in the hands of those two players.