Sun, 11 Apr 2021

Notre Dame eyeing daunting run, faces Wake Forest

Field Level Media
09 Mar 2021, 07:19 GMT+10

The paths to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament were similar for Notre Dame and Wake Forest ... except for Notre Dame's sudden sign of momentum.

The teams meet in the first round Tuesday night in Greensboro, N.C.

No. 10 seed Notre Dame (10-14) is coming off Saturday's 83-73 upset of Florida State, which fell out of first place because of the outcome. The result halted Notre Dame's four-game losing streak.

"I thought we had some edge about us," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said of the late-season spark. "... (Our players') pride was really hurt at times throughout this year. I'm really happy for them that they can respond after a tough stretch."

No. 14 seed Wake Forest (6-15) has lost seven games in a row.

Coach Steve Forbes said the Demon Deacons have taken strides in maintaining the right attitudes.

"That shows you the character that these kids have," Forbes said. "That they keep fighting. They've represented our school in the right way. They're kids that you should be very proud of, because they've been through more than you can imagine."

A year ago at this time, Forbes was coaching East Tennessee State, which had just won the Southern Conference Tournament and secured an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament (before the event was canceled). So he knows how to navigate a conference tournament, though it would take five victories in five days for the Demon Deacons to collect a championship this year.

This marks only the second ACC tournament meeting between Notre Dame and Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons won in a 2014 first-round game in Greensboro in what was Notre Dame's first-ever ACC tournament game.

Since then, the Irish are 4-0 in ACC tournament outings in Greensboro. They won the 2015 tournament and then defeated Boston College in last year's second round before the rest of the event was canceled.

So the Irish should appreciate having another chance.

"You still get a chance to do it as you head to Greensboro," Brey said.

Tuesday's outing will be the first ACC tournament appearance for Wake Forest graduate transfer Ian DuBose. He had hit the proverbial wall recently, Forbes said, but he bounced back to score 18 points in the regular-season finale Friday night against Georgia Tech.

Notre Dame and Wake Forest were short on all-ACC selections. Notre Dame guard Prentiss Hubb was a third-team choice and forward Nate Laszewski received honorable mention. Laszewski also received votes for Most Improved Player. Wake Forest was shut out of all-conference recognition.

The winner of the game faces sixth-seeded North Carolina (16-9) in Wednesday night's second round.

--Field Level Media

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