Wake Forest (9) – 72
Miami (1) – 74

Pitt (5) – 69
Duke (4) – 96

Wake Forest will break your heart. But first, they’ll thrill you, tease you, make you believe even when you probably shouldn’t.

As the only team in the ACC that’s essentially playing at home during the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum, just 30 miles east of campus, one might think the 9-seed would have an edge against 1-seed Miami, certainly in terms of fans in the stands. And considering their late-game heroics against Syracuse yesterday — a 3-pointer with 1 second left to win — the casual observer might be forgiven for thinking them capable of one more miracle.

And it almost happened.

After falling behind early on the first half, Wake found themselves within 5 points of the tournament favorite. A buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Cameron Hildreth put them even closer… until it got called back.

Miami held them off for most of the second half, but there at the end things got kind of wild. Tyree Applebee scored 15 of his 24 points, a nearly unstoppable force. Yesterday’s hero Daimian Williamson landed 11 of his 14. Miami’s lead dwindled from 17 to 13 to 11 and then to 6 with just a few minutes left to play, and then, finally, with 7 seconds left in the game, down to 2 points after a 3-pointer by Cameron Hildreth.

Could Wake Forest pull off another one?

Sadly, no. Miami held up, eking out the win 74-72. The first North Carolina team bites the dust.

In the second game, 4-seed Duke quickly ran up a 12-0 lead against 5-seed Pitt and stayed comfortable the entire first half, widening their lead 48-32 by halftime.

Rooting for Duke feels a little but like rooting for the bank: It’s the biggest of the big-time college basketball programs, with a strong system in place even without their legendary coach, Mike Krzyzewski, who retired last season after 42 years with the Blue Devils. He left them with a full pipeline — there are four 7-footers on Duke’s roster, three of them freshmen. One of those recruits, Kyle Filipowski, is the best player on the team, leading the Blue Devils in scoring, rebounds and steals during the regular season.

But if we’re looking for that sweet, sweet Duke-UNC matchup in the finals, we had to rejoice as they absolutely shellacked Pitt 96-69. By the last 7 minutes of the game, all of Duke’s starters were on the bench, giving those younger players valuable tournament time before the NCAA.

Let’s talk about Filipowski for a minute. He only played 15 minutes of this game — 15 minutes! — but still managed to drop 22 points, 12 of them off 3-pointers, for which he shot 4 for 6. He was the highest scorer on the team and he played less than one full half of basketball. Did I mention he was a freshman? And he will be fresh against Miami tomorrow.

Up next: 2-seed Virginia vs. UNC, then 3-seed Clemson makes their tournament debut against NC State. See you tonight!

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