The Wake Forest Demon Deacons are the definition of a NCAA Tournament bubble team. They are 16-12 overall, and 7-9 in a brutal ACC. They have no bad losses, have very good metrics, have come painfully close to a few signature wins, but unfortunately haven’t been able to emerge victorious in any of those contests. That leads us to Wednesday’s home tilt against Louisville. I try to avoid hyperbole, but I firmly believe that Wake’s contest against the Louisville Cardinals is Wake Forest’s biggest game since 2010.
The only blemish on Wake Forest’s resume is the lack of a signature win. It’s almost sad how big of a difference one shot can make, but had Luke Kennard just missed the shot when Wake hosted Duke, then Wake is probably in far better shape than they are right now. There’s a narrative that Wake can’t win the big game, but that notion can all be put to bed on Wednesday evening if Wake is able to pull off the mild upset (4 point underdogs on Ken Pom). Wake Forest’s NCAA Tournament resume suddenly becomes much more attractive to the NCAA Tournament committee with a victory. It would just be one win, and they’d have to avoid a bad loss in the ACC Tournament, but a win over Louisville would do wonders for Wake’s resume. Outside of winning three games in the ACC Tournament, I believe this would do the most for Wake’s chance at making the NCAA Tournament.
Wake Forest has come very close to defeating the Cardinals during each of the past two seasons. In 2015, Wake was down just 3 points with 3 minutes remaining before the Cardinals pulled away. Last season, in Louisville, the teams were tied with 3 minutes to play, but Louisville pulled it out in the end. This year, Wake needs to find a way to finish. This is the first meaningful March game since 2010. There have been some other meaningful games in ACC play, like the game against Syracuse in late January of 2014, but this is clearly Wake’s best opportunity to make the NCAA Tournament since 2010. For reference, I was a sophomore in college then, and am now just over two months away from earning my MBA. Oh how the time flies.
This is a truly outstanding opportunity for the Deacons, as they will have had a week to prepare for Louisville, while the Cardinals had to focus on Syracuse up until Sunday afternoon. A win will do wonders for Wake’s NCAA Tournamet hopes, which will in turn help Danny Manning’s recruiting efforts moving forward. A win would mean so much more than a dramatic increase in Wake’s NCAA Tournament chances in 2017. I really believe that it would mean that Wake Forest is back where it belongs in the NCAA landscape.
There are a number of extremely affordable upper deck tickets still available on Stub Hub. If you prefer to buy directly from the school, here is the link to the official website. I realize that the game doesn’t start until 9 p.m. and it’s a work/school night, but if you are at all able to attend, please get there. This team deserves the support, and I truly believe that the fan base can help lift this team over the top and into the winner’s circle. Let’s get the damn job done. Go Deacs!