Will Wake Forest snag a signature win before Selection Sunday?


Wake Forest has the weekend off to watch some basketball as it prepares for a crucial matchup with Louisville on Wednesday.

The only problem will be how to watch all the relevant games. With so many teams on the NCAA tournament bubble this year, the Deacons will have plenty of choices to see matchups that might impact their chances of making the Big Dance.

At this stage, the Deacons sit at 16-12 overall, 7-9 in the league. Wake Forest’s RPI and strength of schedule keep it in the running for an NCAA bid, largely because there are so many middle-of-the-pack teams in power conferences this year.

If the Deacons want to make the tournament for the first time since 2010, they clearly have to win and get the right kind of help across the bubble. But how many wins?

The biggest hole in the Deacons’ résumé is the lack of a signature win. They have one regular-season shot left at that in the matchup with the No. 7 Cardinals. Wake Forest will be at home, where it’s 10-3 and has won three of its last four games.

However, Louisville is not a great matchup for the Deacons. The Cardinals have length and depth inside to try to neutralize Wake center John Collins. They are also fourth in the league in three-point defense, while second in rebounding.

If the Deacons can’t beat Louisville, then they have to beat Virginia Tech on the road in the season finale and win their first two ACC Tournament games just to stay in the conversation. That means the most important games to watch this weekend might just be in the ACC as the league tournament seedings take shape.

While the Deacons could climb into the No. 8 or 9 spot, that seems unlikely. If they did, they’d get a Tuesday bye, then face the other 8 or 9 team, and then the No. 1 seed on Thursday.

The Deacons will probably be a No. 10 or 11 seed, which means starting off with a team like Boston College or NC State. Then, the Deacons could get anyone from a group of teams like Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech or Miami. That group has been all over the map lately, so it’s difficult to tell what matchup the Deacons would like.

Wake Forest handled Miami easily in Winston-Salem earlier in the year. The Deacons lost to Syracuse and Virginia in road games.

If the Deacons can move beyond that, their best matchup out of the top five in the league would be Notre Dame. Wake led for most of its game in South Bend earlier this season before dropping the contest. The Irish aren’t big up front and are only 7-5 away from home.

But right now, the Deacons must have a singular focus: upset Louisville. Getting to watch a few bubbles pop across the country this weekend wouldn’t hurt, either.