Busting Brackets

ACC Tournament bubble watch brawl ends with Pitt advancing and Wake Forest looking to the NIT

Feb 13, 2024; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers Ishmael Leggett (5) and Blake Hinson (2).
Feb 13, 2024; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers Ishmael Leggett (5) and Blake Hinson (2). / Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

In a highly physical, must-win game between the Pitt Panthers and Wake Forest Deacons, the two ACC teams were fighting to earn their ticket to the Big Dance.

Both teams were in the mix of bubble watch teams and vying to keep their hopes alive for the NCAA Tournament. ESPN's bracketology by Joe Lunardi had Wake in the First Four Out and Pitt in the Next Four Out.

Heading into the game, it was nearly predetermined that the losing team would head to the NIT instead of the main March event.

Pitt had a dominant first half on the defensive end of the court but both teams struggled to control their turnovers. At the end of 20 minutes, the Panthers and Deacons had 13 combined TOs.

Shooting 46.7 percent from the field, Pitt was able to head to the locker room with a 38-26 halftime lead. Ishmael Leggett, ACC’s Sixth Man of the Year, led the Panthers with 11 points at the buzzer.

Cameron Hildreth had the most points in the first half for the Demon Deacons with 10, alongside 2 rebounds and 2 assists.

As the second half unfolded, Pitt continued to control the pace and tone of the matchup. The turnover troubles continued for Wake Forest.

Throughout the second half, the Panthers ran away with the game. In January, Wake beat Pitt by 33 points but it was entirely different story when the two teams met in the ACC Tournament.

The Deacons allowed 15 turnovers and committed 18 personal fouls in their loss to Pitt. The Panthers also out-rebounded Wake Forest 10-7 on the offensive glass.

Despite Wake's late run in the second half to bring it within three points, the Deacons simply couldn't catch the Panthers.

Behind Blake Hinson and Leggett’s combined 50 points, the Panthers advanced to the semifinals while Wake Forest, now 20-13, turned its attention to the NIT.

Pitt will play the one-seed North Carolina Tar Heels on March 15 at 7 p.m. ET.tt

2024 men’s NCAA Tournament schedule:

  • Selection Sunday: Sunday, March 17
  • First Four: March 19-20
  • First round: March 21-22
  • Second round: March 23-24 
  • Sweet 16: March 28-29 
  • Elite Eight: March 30-31 
  • Final Four: Saturday, April 6
  • NCAA championship game: Monday, April 8

2024 NIT schedule:

  • First round: March 19-20
  • Second round: 23-24
  • Quarterfinals: 26-27
  • Semifinals: April 2
  • NIT Championship: April 4

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