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Simulating the Remainder of Wake Forest’s Regular Season

How many more wins is Wake Forest expected to have this season?

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

It was a great week for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, as they defeated the Miami Hurricanes by 17 and then defeated NC State en route to Wake’s first ACC road victory in nearly 3 calendar years. The Deacs now hold a 3-4 conference record with 11 conference games remaining. We wanted to simulate the rest of the season to see the distribution of ACC wins. What do the numbers tell us?

Schedule Win Probability
Syracuse 49%
DUKE 45%
Boston College 78%
Notre Dame 25%
Clemson 35%
Duke 21%
Virginia Tech 46%
Total 5.79

*Home games are in ALL CAPS

I began by taking Ken Pomeroy’s win probabilities for each of Wake Forest’s remaining contests. I then used the RAND function on Excel for random number generation and repeated this 1,000 times for every game. If the number fell below Wake’s win probability chance for an individual game then it was counted as a win, otherwise it’s a loss. For example, Wake Forest has a 49% chance to defeat Syracuse. Any random decimal created (these are very long decimals) less than .49 counts as a win for Wake.

The expected remaining wins for Wake Forest is 5.79. Obviously wins are discrete variables, so they must be a whole number. Wake clearly can’t get 5.79 more wins, but this does mean that Wake is expected to win 6 additional games more often than they are expected to win 5 games. What’s the distribution?

Wake’s most likely ACC record is 9-9, which, according to our simulation using Pomeroy’s numbers, will happen approximately 25.8% of the time. This simulation also indicates that Wake Forest is expected to win 9+ games 59.4% of the time. If Wake does that, then that’s a minimum regular season record of 18-12, including 9-9 in conference play. That would place them around 7th in the ACC standings, and that means that that a NCAA Tournament is likely.

Wake has 4 games remaining in which the Deacs will be strong (75%+) favorites to win (at Boston College, vs. Georgia Tech, vs. NC State, and vs. Pittsburgh). Win those 4, and that puts Wake at 7 ACC wins, with 7 other games to work with. The numbers suggest that Wake has just a 41% chance to win all 4 of those games mentioned, but that’s still a reasonably high chance.

Bottom line, Wake did themselves a lot of favors by winning two toss up games this week. The next two weeks are critical. In a perfect world, then Wake goes 4-0, and all of a sudden Wake is 7-4 in the ACC and ranked top 25 nationally. While odds of that happening aren’t outstanding, they also aren’t minuscule. Still, splitting the next two games while also beating BC and GT puts Wake at 6-5 in ACC play and in excellent shape moving forward.

I’m now as optimistic as I have been about the team at any point the season. There’s still plenty of ball to play, but Wake is in nice shape moving forward. Given the remaining games this season, about how many ACC games do you all expect the Deacs to win this season?