Wake Forest (16-12, 7-9), has had it’s up’s and downs in the toughest college basketball conference they’ve been battled tested on multiple occasions.
Coach Danny Manning is in year three of his campaign, and he has a very scrappy bunch who play hard for him. The Deacs are much improved on the court from last year and poses some serious offensive power this season.
Sophomore forward John Collins has had a breakout season he’s been a force down low and a true mismatch for opposing bigs. Collins is averaging 19 ppg and grabbing nine RPG along with that, his defense has been solid, and he makes free throws. This guy went from completely unknown to a potential lottery pick in June.
In the backcourt, Bryant Crawford a sophomore averages 15 ppg he can create space for his shot and make difficult baskets under pressure. Wake has an interesting mix of youth and experience within their guards. Senior Mitchell Wilbekin sees minutes at both guard spots because of his playmaking and shooting ability.
Youngbloods Brandon Childress and Keyshawn Woods have provided solid minutes as well in the rotation. Both guards are crafty and play extremely hard. Childress is playing big minutes at lead guard while Woods is more of a scorer than a distributor.
This is a testament to Manning and his staff’s recruitment efforts getting the bodies in to fit the system they have in place. Wake has done a decent job landing in state hoopers in the talent-rich Tar Heel state. Missing out on program changer Harry Giles was another tough loss to Duke but not crippling, this program will have to continue to attract local talent to stay relevant among the conference titans.
The Deacons have improved steadily under Coach Manning this year even jumping NC state in the totem pole of North Carolina ACC schools behind Carolina and Duke. They blew out a talented State squad, played Unc down to the wire, and gave Duke all they could handle twice.
After seeing this team in person on a couple of occasions, I’m convinced this is a tournament team. Will their resume be sufficient? Well, that decision is entirely up to the selection committee.
After an emotional comeback win against a hot Pittsburgh squad, The Deacs will need to carry that momentum into their next contest against a tough Louisville squad. This team is young and hungry and seem to be clicking at the right time.
We could witness history this year the mighty ACC could potentially send ten teams to the big dance. Wake Forest will need to finish the regular season strong and make a run in the conference tourney to make their claim for a ticket.