Get ready for fireworks in Greensboro.
A day after No. 7 Syracuse fell at home to sub-.500 Georgia Tech, No. 4 Duke did the same against Wake Forest, losing 82-72 in Winston-Salem. If the last two nights are any indication of what to expect during the ACC tournament, we're in for a thrilling week of basketball.
Of course, as USA Today's Nicole Auerbach noted, this is all just the norm for March:
Tyler Cavanaugh led a balanced offensive effort for the Demon Deacons on Wednesday, scoring 20 points (5-of-9 shooting, 10-of-12 from the free-throw line) to go with six rebounds off the bench. Travis McKie added 19, while Arnaud William Adala Moto, Coron Williams and Codi Miller-McIntyre all finished in double figures.
The senior McKie was rather pleased after the game, according to The Associated Press (via ESPN): "I couldn't picture a better ending. Everything was just perfect tonight. The fans were perfect. Me, being my last (home) game, everything we did was great."
Prior to this one, Jeff Bzdelik's seat was getting warmer by the second. Wake had lost eight of its last nine, and at 15-14 overall, Bzdelik looked to be headed for his fourth losing record in four seasons as head coach.
But the young Demon Deacons squad—full of freshmen and sophomores built around fourth-year veterans McKie and Williams—has now run the North Carolina gauntlet, something they haven't accomplished in five years, per College Basketball Talk's Raphielle Johnson:
As for Duke, this isn't how you want to be playing in March.
Jabari Parker put the Blue Devils ahead by seven with 5:45 remaining, and even on the road, a team with Final Four aspirations should be closing that out every time, especially against an opponent barely over .500.
But the Demon Deacons reeled off 17 consecutive points to take a 10-point lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
As CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello pointed out, the Blue Devils can say goodbye to a No. 1 seed with this defeat:
Parker double-doubled in the loss with 19 points and 10 rebounds, but Duke turned the ball over 15 times and couldn't get any stops down the stretch. To add insult to injury, Mike Krzyzewski appeared to take ill after the game, via The News & Observer's Laura Keeley:
Fortunately, it sounds like Coach K will be just fine, according to Stephen Wiseman of The Herald-Sun:
Duke hosts rival North Carolina on Saturday to close out the regular season. The Blue Devils will be favorites at Cameron Indoor, but if they play like they did on Wednesday night, the Tar Heels can expect a 13th consecutive victory.
As for Wake Forest, it'll finish up the season on Saturday with a road trip to play the Miami Hurricanes. At this point, the Demon Deacons need to capture the ACC tournament title to ensure an NCAA bid.