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Wake Forest vs Pitt: Why to Back the Panthers

Wake Forest vs Pitt: Why to Back the Panthers article feature image

Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Jamarius Burton (Pittsburgh)

Wake Forest vs Pitt Odds

Wednesday, Jan. 25
7 p.m. ET
ACC Network
Wake Forest Odds
-105o / -115u
Pitt Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Wednesday night at the Petersen Center is an important tilt, as two teams that are both sitting at 6-3 in the ACC face off.

Pittsburgh and Wake Forest have been two of the surprise teams within the conference, and both have aspirations of heading to the NCAA tournament.

This will be the first and only meeting between the two in the regular season.

Wake has won six of the last eight contests between the two schools, but the Demon Deacons will have to secure this victory on the road in front of what should be a rowdy "Oakland Zoo" crowd.

Let's discuss where the betting value lies on Wednesday night.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Steve Forbes did a great job using the transfer portal to build another quality roster in Winston-Salem.

The Deacs have rattled off some nice wins, including at Wisconsin and at home over Duke, Virginia Tech and Clemson.

In terms of overall efficiency rankings, Wake is a drastically different team depending on whether or not it has the basketball.

On the offensive end, Wake ranks 30th in efficiency, 23rd in effective FG%  and has been consistent all year in carving up various opposing defenses.

The Demon Deacons should have a lot of advantages in the half-court against a pretty mediocre Pittsburgh defense.

When it comes to guarding, however, Wake has been mediocre to poor for much of the season.

Opponents are getting plenty of clean looks from the perimeter, and Wake Forest has also struggled to keep big men off of the offensive glass.

If the Deacs want to secure a road win on Wednesday night, they will need to be much better with both their on-ball and help defense.

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Pitt Panthers

Jeff Capel needed a bounce back season in '22-23, and thus far, his team is coming through for him.

Pitt has taken down some of the elite teams in the conference — including Virginia and North Carolina — and also has road wins over NC State, Syracuse and Northwestern.

Wichita State and Texas Tech transfer Jamarius Burton has been the straw that stirs the drink for the Panthers.

Burton is averaging over 16 a night on 54% shooting and is also dishing out nearly 4.5 assists per game.

When Pitt has needed a critical bucket in the closing time of games, Burton has delivered time and again.

He will be key again Wednesday night against a Wake Forest defense that has struggled to contain explosive guards.

On the other end of the floor, containing Tyree Appleby will be a focal point for Capel and his staff.

Wake has a lot of guys that can space the floor and make shots from distance, so Pitt will need to close out hard and force the Demon Deacons to put the ball on the deck.

Wake Forest vs. Pitt Betting Pick

Aside from games against basement-dwellers like Louisville and Boston College, Wake Forest's defense has been extremely suspect on the road or neutral floors throughout the year.

North Carolina went for 88, Rutgers had 81 and Clemson put up 77 against the Deacs. And those are just the recent examples.

Yes Wake can score the ball with the best of them, but in this matchup it's hard to see it giving much resistance to Pittsburgh.

Burton and Blake Hinson should have big advantages in their 1:1 matchups, which will force Wake to over help, leaving drive-and-dish opportunities for the Panthers.

I see Pitt scoring the ball at relative will all night, and I don't think Wake will be able to keep pace.

Capel's team should also be plenty motivated for this one after suffering a disappointing loss to Florida State on Saturday afternoon.

Pitt knows it can't afford to start this homestand 0-2 and will be ready to go from the tip in this one.

Give me the Panthers to get it done at the Pete, covering along the way.

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