Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#669 Wake Forest vs.
#670 Pittsburgh
Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Mark Ruelle

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One of the ACC's traditional powers and a league upstart will square off when the Wake Forest Demon Deacons travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Pitt Panthers. Wake Forest is 14-6 on the season with a 6-3 record in conference play. The Panthers, meanwhile, are 13-7 overall and also 6-3 in ACC play thus far. The opening tap is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST.

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Gotta Get Back

Last season, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons returned to form with a 25-win season and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. This season, it appears that Wake has the look of a team that wants to get back to the NCAA Tournament with 14 wins overall and a 6-3 mark in the highly competitive ACC. After winning four straight games, including a win over #19 Clemson, the Deacons were dropped by #10 Virginia at home by a score of 76-67. Damari Monanto led the way for Wake with a career-high 25 points and Cameron Hildreth added 16 points and seven rebounds.

"This is the thing, we're not even halfway through the ACC yet. We gotta go to Pitt, and then we're only at the halfway point. Our fight was tremendous. We played really good defense in the second half, but didn't play very good defense in the first half and that's why the score was what it was. We felt pretty good at halftime, only being down 10. We went plus-nine in the last five minutes, that kind of got us back in it. We came out in the second half plus-four. We had the game going like we wanted it to go, but timely shots hurt us. McKneely is a good player. Vander Plas is a hard matchup, he's an inside-outside player, and they made some big timely threes." said head coach Steve Forbes.

Wake has done most of its damage on the offensive end this season. The Demon Deacons are ranked 39th in scoring offense per game. The team is also 40th in the country in field goal percentage and an even more impressive 28th in 3pt field goal percentage. Wake has also done a good job at protecting the basketball, ranked 57th in the country in fewest turnovers per game. The Deacons are 233rd in the country in scoring defense this season. They are 178th in opponent's field goal percentage and 170th in 3pt defense. Wake Forest is ranked 190th in the nation in total rebounding.

Pumped up Panthers

After winning just 11 games last season, the Pitt Panthers have already earned 13 wins this season and have already matched last year's six conference wins. On Saturday afternoon, with a chance to exceed last year's conference win total, the Panthers fell to Florida State by a score of 71-64 at home. Florida State rained down 10 three-point field goals in the game that spelled defeat for the Panthers. Jamarius Burton and Blake Hinson led the Panthers with a combined 36 points in the team's third conference loss this year.

The Panthers, unlike Wake Forest, have done most of their damage on the defensive end. Pitt is ranked 116th in scoring defense thus far. Opponents are struggling to shoot at a high level with the Panthers ranked 46th in opponent's field goal percentage. Pitt is also ranked 74th in 3pt defense. Pittsburgh is also ranked 52nd in total rebounding. On the offensive side of the floor, Pittsburgh is ranked 88th in scoring offense. The team is 125th in field goal percentage and 175th in 3pt field goal percentage. Pittsburgh is slightly better than average in turnovers per game, ranking 114th in the nation.

Key Injuries: In December, last year's leading scorer and rebounder, John Hugley IV, was lost for the season with a knee injury.

 

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Pitt has had a surprisingly successful season thus far, even without last year's leading rebounder and scorer. They have done well against teams with length, like North Carolina and Syracuse. The teams that have given the Panthers difficulty are teams that can score and stretch the floor. Pitt has lost to Clemson and Florida State this season with both teams stretching the floor. Michigan and Duke, teams that have length, were also able to dispatch the Panthers with the two teams combining for 15 3pt field goals. In comes Wake Forest with the nation's 28th best 3pt field goal percentage. Expect the Deacons to exploit the Panther in the same way as Florida State just did. They will spread the floor and force the Panthers' big men to have to get out on shooters. This formula will not work, yet again.

Take Wake Forest.

Prediction: Wake Forest +3

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All the good perimeter shooting teams that Pitt has faced this season have scored 75 or more points. Wake Forest is 39th in the country in scoring offense. Pitt will be playing catch-up so they will help push this game past the total. Wake Forest is also an above average team in pace, ranking 93rd in the country. Expect a barrage of 3pt field goals from the Demon Deacons and the Panthers forced to play quicker than their 177th ranked pace of play suggests.

Take the over.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Mark Ruelle , "Mark Ruelle"

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.