The games are all in the books, all the teams have been seeded by the selection committee, and the Demon Deacons are all gathered to see where they'll be headed in the first round of the Tournament. Unfortunately for a handful of Wake squads, their bubble is about to burst, but that doesn't take away from any of the goals they accomplished throughout the season. There were a lot of qualified teams just not quite in the top 16 for the selection committee, but perhaps hard work in the offseason will allow history to view these teams more fondly and slate them into future Wake Forest NCAA Tournaments.
Let's take a look at what the selection committee was really trying to do with this bracket. With a variety of ways to analyze teams across the entire album of Wake Forest basketball history, it was necessary to rely on several different factors. With the number of games varying heavily across the years, the committee put a lot of strength behind both regular season championships and conference tournament championships to see how each season's team stacked up against their own competition. That's not to say record wasn't part of the decision-making process, just that other metrics might have weighed in a little more heavily.
Similarly, postseason success was one factor which the committee thought was an interesting evaluation of how good a team was throughout the season. Wake has had only one Final Four team in the school's history but have had a host of NCAA Tournament appearances. It will be interesting to speculate as to how much weight the committee really placed on wins in the NCAA Tournament.
With the RPI considered practically useless by advanced metric fanatics as well as the average Joe Schmo watching the game from home, the committee intimated to us that they were interested in KenPom over the past decade or so and then the SRS score from Sportsreference.com in order to get some sense of how teams over separate years match up with one another. The SRS takes into account margin of victory over the course of the season and strength of schedule in an attempt to normalize different seasons. It isn't flawless, but the committee stressed a need for some sort of objective statistical measurement which dated back over a while (the SRS runs back to the mid-to-late 80's).
Finally, the committee likely considered intangibles to some extent as well as fondness of particular teams. These biases are difficult to eliminate throughout a seeding process when looking over a lot of different teams so hopefully any severely mis-seeded teams will be properly advanced or left behind by the fan voting. The committee also took into account the AP rank of teams at the end of the year, which was taken between the end of the conference tournaments and the beginning of the NCAA tournaments (so they aren't perfect).
Without any further ado....THE BRACKETS ARE IN! Let's start at the very top by announcing the overall number one seed for the 2015 All-Time Wake Forest NCAA Tournament Bracket from the Odom Region (note that the names of the region are entirely unrelated to the teams in the region, simply an homage to four Wake coaches):
1. The 1994-95 Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
AP Rank: 3
NCAA Tournament: Sweet Sixteen (Lost to Oklahoma State)
The 1994-95 basketball team finished the season with an overall record of 26-6. The 95 squad is one of only two teams in Wake Forest history to win both the regular season and conference tournament for their respective conference, and did so because of Randolph Childress and Tim Duncan. Duncan, the overall number one pick in the 1997 NBA draft, averaged a double-double in his sophomore season while Childress hit one of the most memorable shots in program history, simply called "The Shot," to knock off North Carolina in the ACC Title game.
The team is the first and only squad in Wake history to grab a one seed in the NCAA Tourney, but they were ultimately knocked out in the Sweet Sixteen by Oklahoma State 71-66.
The 94-95 Deacs won't have an easy matchup in the first round as they take on a formidable squad who barely snuck into the field:
4. The 2000-01 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 23
NCAA Tournament: First Round (Butlerized)
Led by a trio of Robert O'Kelley, Craig Dawson, and Josh Howard, the 2000-01 Deacs finished the season 19-11 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament where they were promptly defeated in what has become known as getting "Butlerized" by Wake fans in the first round as a seven seed. This was Dave Odom's final year with the Demon Deacons and the team ranks a shockingly high second in SRS over the past three decades for Wake teams. This team is a mercurial one but it has a shot to knock off the top ranked 95 team.
The winner of the '95 Deacs v. '01 Deacs will take on the winner of the two-three matchup in the Odom region....
2. The 1976-77 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 9
NCAA Tournament: Elite Eight (Lost to Marquette)
One of only six Wake teams to ever make the Elite Eight, the 1976-77 team may receive some criticism as being underseeded. This team, coached by Carl Tacy, finished the season 22-8 on the heels of a balanced offensive attack which saw four players average double digits (Rod Griffin, Frank Johnson, Jerry Schellenberg and Skip Brown). The 77 team could pose a serious threat to the 95 team if it can advance to the second round as it could quite easily be one of, if not, the top teams in Wake history.
Squaring off with the 77 Demon Deacons will be...
3. The 1983-84 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 19
NCAA Tournament: Elite Eight (Lost to Houston)
The Odom region is absolutely stacked (Staaked?), with the top overall seed and two elite eight squads. The 1983-84 Deacs went an impressive 23-9 and knocked off one-seed Depaul in the Sweet Sixteen before dropping a five-point decision to Houston in the next round. Wake finished 7-7 in a tough ACC and included Kenny Green, Anthony Teachey, Delaney Rudd, and a little-played freshman Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues.
Can the 84 squad knock off the 77 team in a battle of the elite eight teams?
Let's check out who the winner of the Odom Region will take on in the Final Four as we take our first look at the Tacy Region where the top seed is:
1. The 1961-62 Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
AP Rank: None
NCAA Tournament: Final Four (Lost to Ohio State)
The lone team in Wake history to make the Final Four, the 62 Deacs won the regular season ACC crown, their second consecutive ACC Tournament title, and knocked off UCLA in the third-place game to mark Wake's greatest finish in school history. Led by Len Chappell and Billy Packer, the Deacons went 22-9 which included an impressive 12-2 mark in the ACC play. This team has a great chance to be crowned greatest in Wake history but first, they need to get past...
4. The 1980-1981 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 9th
NCAA Tournament: Second Round (Lost to Boston College)
Despite a 22-7 overall record and finishing 9th in the AP, the 1980-81 Deacs (coached by Tacy) were upset in the first round by Boston College, ending what appeared to be a relatively promising season. Frank Johnson averaged 16.2 points a game and Jim Johnstone threw in 11.9 points per game alongside 5.8 rebounds. According to SRS, this team is ranked as one of the top ten in program history coming in at ninth. They have a tough challenge matching up with the 62 team and will need to mobilize the vote to have much of a shot here.
The winner of the 62 Deacs v. 81 Deacs will advance to take on the winner of....
2. The 1996-97 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 9th
NCAA Tournament: Second Round (Lost to Stanford)
The 1997 Deacons, led by senior Tim Duncan, finished the season 24-7 but fell short in their attempt to win three ACC Tournaments in a row before ultimately falling in the second round of the Tourney as a three seed to Stanford. According to SRS this is the greatest Wake Forest team over the past three decades. Duncan capped off his career by averaging 20.8 points and 14.7 rebounds a game and was named the National Player of the Year. When he retired he was the all-time leading collegiate rebounder. This team will be VERY difficult to knock off in a one-off game but if anyone can do it, why not...
3. The 1959-1960 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 19th
NCAA Tournament: None
The lone team in the Tournament not to have advanced to the NCAA Tournament, the 1960 Deacs completed the season with a 21-7 record and won the ACC regular season. Despite this effort, they were stunned in the ACC Tournament by Duke in the Finals which prevented the Deacs from advancing any further. This team featured Billy Packer, Len Chappell, and Dave Budd along with Jerry Steele.
That wraps up the left side of the bracket, let's see what the other side has to offer starting with the McKinney Region. The top team in Bones' bracket is
1. The 2004-05 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 5
NCAA Tournament: Second Round (Pittsnoggled)
WOW the first major surprise of the bracket, not only was the 2004-05 Deacs team in as a one seed they were firmly in as the third overall seed. Despite a loss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against West Virginia, the 2005 Deacs became the first team in Wake history to reach the AP top spot. Led by sophomore Chris Paul, the Deacs went 27-6 but faltered late, losing in an upset in the ACC Tournament against N.C. State (sans CP3), before losing two games later to the Mountaineers. This team finished 7th overall in KenPom and recorded one of the best offenses ever over the KenPom Era (since 2003). They were also the third best Wake team on SRS in the past three decades
Can the 2005 Deacs avoid an upset in the first round or will they fall prey to another upstart team in...
4. The 2003-04 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 17
NCAA Tournament: Sweet Sixteen (Lost to St. Joseph's)
In an epic battle, freshman Chris Paul will take on sophomore Chris Paul in a fantastic first round matchup. The 2004 version of the Deacs went 21-10 on the season but were ranked as highly as 4th in the nation before making a run in the Tournament. After holding on to knock off VCU in the first round, Wake got a Manhattan team in the second round who had just upset Florida. The Jaspers were holding on until late, but Wake was able to advance to their most recent sweet sixteen appearance with an 84-80 win.
The winner of the Chris Paul battle will advance to take on either...
2. The 2008-2009 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 12
NCAA Tournament: Cleveland State (Cleveland Steamered)
If chalk holds in the first round, the only two teams in Wake history to be ranked number one in the AP poll will square off in the elite eight. On the opposite side, Wake fans would also get to see a matchup between the two teams with the most memorable Tournament upsets in program history. The 2009 team featured Al-Farouq Aminu, James Johnson, and Jeff Teague and was playing some of the best basketball Wake has ever seen in January. Unfortunately the Tournament takes place in March and despite a final record of 24-7, the Deacs dropped their last two contests against Maryland and West Virginia to end their season.
The 2009 Deacs will take on....
3. The 1960-61 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: None
NCAA Tournament: Elite Eight (Lost to St. Josephs)
The 1961 completes a trifecta for 1960, 1961, and 1962 for three teams in the Tournament. Despite entering the ACC Tournament with a mediocre record, the 1961 Deacs won their first ever ACC Tournament and snuck into the NCAAs before rattling off two more wins to advance to the Elite Eight. They ultimately finished with a 19-11 record and the same core of players would return for the 1962 season and advance to the only Final Four in Wake history. This team will be a difficult out in the bracket for any team.
This brings us to the final bracket of the day in the Prosser Region which is headlined by the...
1. The 1995-96 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 9
NCAA Tournament: Elite Eight (Lost to Kentucky)
Led by Tim Duncan, the 96 Deacs won their second consecutive ACC Tournament, finished 26-6 overall, and advanced to the Elite Eight where they were bounced by twenty against top-seeded Kentucky. This team was clearly one of the best squads in Wake history and Duncan pieced together a phenomenal season for the Demon Deacons. Absent a very poor first round performance, this team should cruise into the Elite Eight where it seeks redemption.
Hoping to spoil a return trip to the Elite Eight is the...
4. The 1952-1953 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 15th
NCAA Tournament: Second Round (Lost to Holy Cross)
The autobid from the Southern Conference, the 1953 Demon Deacons were the final champions before the ACC was formed the next season. They went 19-6 and finished the year ranked 15th in the country before falling to Holy Cross in their first game of the Tournament, they did however bounce back to beat something called Lebanon Valley in the third place East region game. While Dickie Hemric will almost certainly look to keep this team in the running, there is some concern that the 53 squad doesn't have much of an answer for Tim Duncan inside. That will be a mismatch the 96 team will seek to exploit.
Whoever prevails in this first Prosser Region matchup will take on either...
2. The 2002-2003 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 8th
NCAA Tournament: Second Round (Lost to Auburn)
Led by ACC Player of the Year Josh Howard, the 2003 Deacs won the ACC regular season and went 25-6 overall under Skip Prosser. Wake barely snuck by East Tennessee State in the first round before being upset by 10th seed Auburn, despite Wake being favored as the second seed in the region. This team looks like one that could be ripe for an upset in a sample size one game in Tournament play and the final team of the tournament will have a shot to do so....
3. The 1992-93 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
AP Rank: 16th
NCAA Tournament: Sweet Sixteen (Lost to Kentucky)
Behind Rodney Rogers' 21.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, the 93 squad coached by Dave Odom went 21-9 and was able to advance to the Sweet Sixteen before being blown out by a dominant Kentucky team. Randolph Childress showed that he could ball throughout the season, averaging over 19 points himself while shooting a ridiculous 44% from beyond the arc. This team has a very good chance against the 2003 squad in what could be one of the best first round matchups.
And of course what would a tournament be without the obligatory bracket provided below:
The first voting matchups will be posted on Monday which will give everyone a chance to compare matchups and figure out who they have advancing out of the first round. If your favorite team got left out the tournament or you think the committee did a horrible (or great!) job seeding the bracket, let us know below. As always we love any comments or banter related to Wake sports and this is meant to be a subjective tournament. The winner of each matchup will be picked by readers and each matchup is ripe for debate! Check back daily for updated recaps and matchups in the tournament and see who advances. As always, go Deacs!