Jeff Bzdelik had one week to prepare for Wake Forest's game against North Carolina State, yet somehow ACC leading scorer T.J. Warren apparently never came up in the scouting report. The star sophomore went for a career-high 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the process of the 82-67 dismantling of Wake Forest's defense. As I type this I think he scored again. The Deacs would have been down just six headed into halftime, but they failed to stop ball and allowed Anthony Barber to make a layup with 3 seconds remaining to take a 46-38 lead into the second half. The Wolfpack then outscored Wake Forest 22-9 over the first 11 and a half minutes of the second half and by that point it was all she wrote.
Coach Bzdelik had been bragging throughout the season about the team's top-10 3-point% defense, which gets worse by the game as Wake seems content to let their opponents shoot threes. As Riley Johnston and I have pointed out on numerous episodes of "Roll the Quadcast," 3-point % defense is a misinformed statistic based on a great discovery by Ken Pomeroy. The best 3-point defense is one that limits 3-point attempts. Even though N.C. State is 322nd nationally in 3 point %, Wake Forest allowed 18 attempts, which will burn you more often than not. Wake Forest has now lost four straight games and in those games allowed a combined 71 3-point attempts.
As a side note, it's an embarrassment how little our walk-ons play when the appropriate time comes. North Carolina State played five walk-ons during the final minute when the game was well out of reach, yet Jeff Bzdelik played only one. These players may not be on scholarship, but they are part of the team, and absolutely nothing is to be gained by keeping four of our scholarship players on the court at that time. Reward the walk-ons for their hard work in practice and put them into games like that.
Wake Forest is in free-fall. A little over two weeks ago, Wake Forest has 14-6 overall, including a 4-3 conference record, but they have dropped their last four by an average of 13.5 points per game and it appears imminent that there will be no post-season for a fourth year in a year. This is a program which had earned post-season berths in 18 of 20 years prior to this four year stretch. We continue to turn the ball over more than our opponents and get out-rebounded, which is just not winning basketball.
As it stands now, Wake Forest will only be favored in one of their remaining seven games (Boston College). According to Ken Pomeroy, they are expected to win just two more games total when using expected value. That would bring our total up to 16, which while it would be the high point of Jeff Bzdelik's tenure at Wake Forest, it would still be the fewest amount of wins (not counting Bzdelik's previous three seasons) since the 1989-1990 season in which Dave Odom went 12-16 during his first year at Wake Forest. That's not historically competitive.