TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Second-seeded Wake Forest looks to begin a run at repeating history in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, when it encounters No. 15 East Tennessee State at the St. Pete Times Forum in the first round of the East Region.
The Demon Deacons (24-5) captured the 2003 Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title outright. That marked the first time they accomplished the feat since 1962, when Wake Forest made its lone Final Four appearance.
Josh Howard will lead Wake Forest's quest. The senior forward was named ACC Player of the Year and first team All-America. Howard is the first Deacon to collect the honors since Tim Duncan accomplished the feat in 1997.
Howard, who leads the Deacons with 20.0 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, will try to add to his career total of 21 double-doubles.
Sophomore forwards Vytas Danelius and Jamaal Levy, who pull down 7.6 and 6.8 boards per game, respectively, have joined Howard in propelling Wake Forest to the top of the NCAA rebound margin list at 9.9.
Wake Forest reeled off seven consecutive wins before being edged by North Carolina State, 87-83, in the ACC tournament semifinals on Saturday.
The Demon Deacons are looking to post a seventh victory in their last eight first-round games in the NCAA Tournament. Last year, Wake Forest recorded an 83-74 win over Pepperdine in its opener before falling to Oregon.
Meanwhile, East Tennessee State returns to the NCAAs for the first time since 1991. That year, the Buccaneers (20-10) surprised Arizona in the first round.
East Tennessee State is powered by freshman guard Tim Smith. The southpaw scored 25 points on March 8, when the Bucs posted a 97-90 triumph over Chattanooga in the Southern Conference tournament championship game and clinched their automatic NCAA berth. Smith was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
The victor meets either No. 7 St. Joseph's or No. 10 Auburn on Sunday at 2:15 pm EST.