Wake Forest and Notre Dame likely aren’t where they want to be with exactly one month remaining in the regular season.
Heading into Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in South Bend, Ind., the Demon Deacons (14-9, 6-6) have lost four in a row — including the last three by two points to Pittsburgh, North Carolina State and Duke.
“There’s no moral victories in this,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said after Tyree Appleby scored 27 points in Tuesday’s 75-73 loss at Duke. “It’s what we signed up for — to be in this league. I think these guys will fight all the way til the end. Hopefully that’s a reflection of me, too. I’m going to coach ’em that way.
“Nobody likes to lose, man. We’ve ran the gantlet here. We gotta go to Notre Dame on Saturday and get Carolina on Tuesday. But, hey, let’s go.”
Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish (10-12, 2-9) snapped a four-game losing streak with last Saturday’s home win over Louisville. Head coach Mike Brey, who’s stepping down when the season ends, wore a suit for the first time this season in honor of Coaches vs. Cancer. Just in case there was a correlation between his fashion choice and the Irish’s play, Brey will do it again Saturday.
“One and ‘0’, brother, in a suit,” Brey said. “And I’ll tell you one thing, I’m dry-cleaning that sucker and it’s coming out Saturday. I’m going to ride the suit.”
The night before the Louisville win, Brey was checking the ESPN ticker during an NBA game and noticed how so many teams have experienced long losing and winning streaks. After the Louisville win, he hoped to inspire his players with that realization.
“I said, ‘Fellas, you guys all follow the NBA. I know our season’s not as long, but those swings are crazy. And you never know when they’re going to happen. Let’s see if we can get into one of those swings back up.’ “
According to KenPom.com, both teams are much better offensively than defensively, so the team that figures out a way to get a few more stops that normal will likely emerge triumphant.
Wake Forest ranks as the ACC’s No. 2 offense from an efficiency standpoint, but shot just 9 of 31 from 3-point range against Duke – well below the Deacons’ 36.8 percent success rate for the season.
Notre Dame shoots even better from 3-point range — 37.4 percent — but the Irish allow their opponents to shoot 46.5 percent overall while forcing just nine turnovers per game.
–Field Level Media