Wake Forest looked good Sunday in a six-point home win against North Carolina and bad in a 23-point loss against host Virginia three days later.
Against the Tar Heels, the Demon Deacons controlled the tempo, made shots, rebounded well and seemingly were in control almost the entire game.
But against the Cavaliers, they got pounded on the boards, made few shots, including 3 of 17 from 3-point range, and were chopped up by Virginia’s offense.
And none of it was surprising. The Demon Deacons have been inconsistent all season and have not fared well on the road.
To wit: all four Wake Forest losses have come on the road or on a neutral court. They are, however, 10-0 at home.
That should put a smile on Pitt coach Jamie Dixon’s face as the Panthers (14-1, 2-0 ACC) will play host to the Demon Deacons (11-4, 1-1) at noon today.
It will be the first time the Panthers and Demon Deacons have met in men’s basketball, but Dixon is very familiar with Wake Forest because he has had a few extra days to study them.
“We are getting ready for Wake Forest and we have been running through their sets and some of their plays,” Dixon said. “Obviously, with three days of practice we will have a really good feel for what they do and how they play. We know what they did against North Carolina and what they did against Virginia. So we need to make sure we do what we have worked on and practiced against them and not let them get going early.
“Penetration is the key. We talked about guarding the dribble, they have really quick guards. So that is what concerns us the most, their ability to penetrate and drive the basketball and also their transition game,”
Wake Forest’s leading scorer is guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, who averages 15.9 points and 4 assists per game. He is the player Dixon said can cause the most damage with his ability to penetrate and pass. The Demon Deacons also feature one of the best young big men in the ACC — 6-foot-9 sophomore Devin Thomas, a Harrisburg native who averages 10.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
The Demon Deacons are not alone in their inconsistency. So far, the only ACC teams to avoid bad losses and upsets are Pitt and Syracuse.
That has led many to believe the ACC is not very good. But while Dixon said teams clearly have some work to do, he is not ready to write off anyone because it is so early in the conference season.
“I think that it is the same in pretty much every conference, there are good teams and there isn’t much separation,” Dixon said. “I think it is funny when you look at different games in college basketball — we say ‘this team is great’ because they won a one-point game against this team in November and now the first team is ranked and the other team isn’t.
“There is not much to base it on, and so that one opportunity determines where a team is put. But you can’t form opinions until after 33 games are played though I know we all want [to] after Week 1. But let’s go through the entire season and see how things play out and see who is playing well in March.”
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.