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2016 ACC Tournament Preview: Wake Forest

<p>Led by forward Devin Thomas, Wake Forest has already come close to knocking off the Blue Devils twice this season, but will need to get past N.C. State first to earn another crack at Duke.</p>

Led by forward Devin Thomas, Wake Forest has already come close to knocking off the Blue Devils twice this season, but will need to get past N.C. State first to earn another crack at Duke.

Wake Forest: 11-19, 2-16 in the ACC

Head Coach: Danny Manning

Leading Scorer: Devin Thomas (15.7 PPG)

Season Recap: After a promising 9-3 start to the regular season that included an upset of Indiana in Maui, it seemed Wake Forest was destined to improve on last year's 5-13 conference ledger. But instead, the Demon Deacons’ season could best be described as turbulent. Senior guard Madison Jones was dismissed in August, and sophomore Cornelius Hudson followed him out the door in February. Leading scorer Devin Thomas served a two-game suspension late in the season for violation of athletic department rules. Hudson’s dismissal—the result of violations of undisclosed athletic department policies—came after a career-high 22-point outburst in a loss at Pittsburgh and followed a five-game suspension he served at the beginning of the season.

Wake Forest's 2-16 record was the result of committing the most turnovers in the ACC, shooting 31.5 percent from beyond the arc and—in the case of Virginia forward Darius Thompson's banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer—bad luck. One of the Demon Deacons'  league victories came against Boston College—a team that failed to notch a conference win all season—and the program continued to struggle mightily away from home, moving to 0-18 in ACC road games in head coach Danny Manning's tenure.

Thomas has been the bright spot on the court, affecting games in a variety of ways. In Wake Forest's 79-71 loss in Durham March 1, the senior led Wake Forest in points, rebounds and assists and tied for a team-high steals and blocks. His 10.1 rebounds per game rank third in the ACC.

How they make a run: Freshman Bryant Crawford has shown signs of a bright future—averaging 1.6 steals per game—while averaging 13.6 points per contest, and could team with senior Codi Miller-McIntyre to do damage from the perimeter. They will have to slow down Anthony "Cat" Barber in their first game in Washington, but Wake Forest's tournament hopes rest on the shoulders of Thomas.

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