Wake Forest (17-15) vs. Pittsburgh (23-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 13, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Greensboro Coliseum (23,500) -- Greensboro, North Carolina. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Wake Forest 14-4, Pittsburgh 13-5. Away Record: Wake Forest 1-9, Pittsburgh 7-2. Neutral Record: Wake Forest 2-2, Pittsburgh 3-1. Conference Record: Wake Forest 6-12, Pittsburgh 11-7. Series Record: Pittsburgh leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Pittsburgh Panthers get their first taste of ACC postseason action, as they take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in Thursday's second round of the ACC Tournament from Greensboro Coliseum.
The winner of this game will move into the quarterfinals on Friday to take on four-seed North Carolina.
Just like Syracuse and Notre Dame, Pittsburgh left the comforts of year after year of dominant play in the Big East to try its hand in the ACC. Jamie Dixon's Panthers were in the conference race early on but withered from late January to late February and fell out of contention. The team still posted a strong campaign at 23-8 overall, with an 11-7 mark in-conference, earning a first-round bye with a fifth-seed in the ACC Tournament.
Jeff Bzdelik was on a hot seat in Winston-Salem this season, but that seat may just be lukewarm at the moment. The Demon Deacons finished conference play at a disappointing 6-12, but there were definitely some marquee victories with wins over local powerhouses Duke an North Carolina. The 12th-seeded Demon Deacons got the better of Notre Dame in first-round action on Wednesday, 81-69 to advance.
These two teams met for the first time ever on Jan. 11, and the result was an 80-65 win for Pittsburgh at the Petersen Events Center.
Wake Forest isn't an offensive juggernaut by any stretch, averaging a modest 69.8 ppg coming into the tournament, but putting up 81 points and running away from Notre Dame was certainly impressive on Wednesday. Coron Williams led the charge, erupting for 25 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor in the win. Devin Thomas had a huge game as well, posting a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Arnaud Williams Adala Moto added 12 points for Wake, which shot a blistering 61 percent from the floor in the game. Codi Miller- McIntyre is the top playmaker on the year for Wake, finishing the regular season at 12.9 ppg and 4.1 apg. He had just five points in the win over the Irish. Forwards Travis McKie and Thomas give Wake balance up front.
Aggressive play at both ends of the floor is what Pittsburgh brings to the table. The Panthers finished third in the ACC in scoring (72.6 ppg), fifth in scoring defense (62.5 ppg), third in scoring margin (+10.1) and second in rebounding margin (+6.4). A veteran-laden squad is highlighted by the play of seniors Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna. The 6-foot-5 Patterson ranks fifth in the conference in scoring at 17.6 ppg and was an All-ACC Second-Team selection. The 6-9 Zanna earned All-ACC Honorable Mention, adding 12.5 ppg and 8.3 rpg (second in the conference). Cameron Wright (10.8 ppg) provides another option for Pitt at the offensive end.
Williams went off in the first round, but expecting similar production against the physical and stingy Panthers may be a bit much to ask for. Expect the Demon Deacons' shooting to return to form and if that's the case, for Pittsburgh to move on into the quarterfinals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 74, Wake Forest 65
03/13 10:37:30 ET