ACC Basketball

Wake Bursts Pittsburgh’s Bubble

CHUCK BURTON AP PHOTO

Can I say I told you so? Come on, I guess right on upsets so little, I get to brag about it when I get one right.

Coming off a 36-point loss to Virginia, Wake Forest stormed out of the gate, taking a 24-15 lead behind some nice outside shooting from Mitchell Wilbekin. However, the Panthers responded and appeared to reverse their fortune. Over the next 22 minutes, Pittsburgh would outscore the Demon Deacons, 45-29, in part to dominating on the glass (43-28 overall, 17-5 in offensive rebounds), producing 16 second chance points.

Behind Michael Young’s 22 and Jamel Artis’s 19 points, it looked like the Panthers were going to avoid the the same fate as other middle-of-the-pack teams like NC State and Miami, yet that’s when Codi Miller-McIntyre took over. Thanks to eight points, three defensive rebounds, two steals and a assist that led to a Konstantinos Mitoglou three-point jumper, the Demon Deacons turned a 60-53 deficit into a 64-63 lead with less than two minutes to play. Wake would wrap it up by hitting five of six free throws down the stretch, as Pittsburgh went ice cold, failing to hit a field goal beginning at the 6:06 mark until Jamel Artis hit a three with one second to go, down six. Yeah, too little, too late.

For Wake Forest, the win ends a three-game slide as they once again recover from a bad loss and win a game. They improve to 13-16, 5-11 in the ACC, as they hope to make some noise in the conference tournament. Next up, a chance to make some real noise as they head to Cameron Indoor to face Duke.

As for Pittsburgh, does this loss kill their chances at a NCAA Tournament bid? If the regular season was the end of it, then yes it would. Already a bubble team with a 19-11 record, 8-8 in conference, their chances were hanging on a strong finish (they had won six of eight, avoiding bad loses and beating both Notre Dame and North Carolina at home.

The problem is, this team is terrible away from the Peterson Events Center. They are 4-9 on the road or at a neutral sites and the only win that could be consider semi-impressive was against Kansas State. They’ve lost five straight on the road, with their last win coming against Boston College back on January 6.

It’s difficult to see how the Panthers get a Big Dance invite simply because they’re a prime candidate to be upset in their first game in the ACC Tournament.

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