Good evening, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) sports fans.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons did something they had not done in 1,115 days – win an ACC road game. The game got far more interesting than most Wake fans would have liked down the stretch, but they made enough plays (and got a break on a bad call) to defeat NC State, 93-88.
It wasn’t always pretty, but it was a gutsy win for the Deacs. They lost the rebounding battle, but they did create a number of second chance opportunities with offensive rebounds. Wake Forest, however, won this game by being fundamentally sound and taking care of the ball. They had just 11 turnovers to NC State’s 13. The biggest difference, however, came at the charity stripe. Wake Forest was 29/33 (88%), while State was just 16/27 (59%). Danny Manning used just eight players in this one and I like that approach. I think playing too many players caused Wake problems last season, and I like this adjustment.
Wake Forest is now 12-7, including 3-4 in ACC play. The Deacs are 36th in Ken Pom and projected to finish the regular season 18-13, including 9-9 in ACC play. Still plenty of work to do, but I truly believe they are going to be in contention for the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season.
Two listing ships passed in the afternoon on Saturday, each desperately seeking a safe harbor. Wake Forest finally has an ACC road win to its credit – its first under Manning in 21 tries, its first since 2014, its second in 44 games. The Deacons are 3-4 in the ACC, done with North Carolina and Virginia and have a decent shot at 9-9, especially if they can double or even triple their road win total at Syracuse and Boston College in the next 10 days.
But N.C. State, its season hanging in the balance even before this loss, now faces what is likely to be an impassible road to the NCAA tournament at 2-5 in the ACC, lacking the non-conference wins to bolster its at-large position while requiring an unlikely five wins in Brooklyn. State being State, a home loss to Wake Forest for the first time in 12 years will surely be followed by the Wolfpack’s first win at Duke in 22 years on Monday, according to the Law of the Wolfpack or N.C. State, uh, Scatology or whatever.