Perhaps no better recent experts on the topic of the difficulty of the Atlantic Coast Conference than members of the Wake Forest basketball team.

“Winning in the ACC is hard,” senior guard Brandon Childress said.

It has been particularly difficult for the Demon Deacons, who are closing in on a third consecutive losing season barring a run to the championship in this week’s conference tournament.

“We still got another opportunity,” Childress said. “I’m not counting us out.”

Just about everyone else probably is.

The Demon Deacons have become regulars on the ACC Tournament’s opening day, a distinction that goes to teams at or near the bottom of the standings.

Coach Danny Manning’s job status has been a subject of speculation. The Demon Deacons have won a total of 14 ACC games (regular season and tournament) across a three-year period.

Junior Olivier Sarr has noted that Wake Forest has increased its total victory total by two to 13 compared to last season (and the year before that, for that matter).

The Demon Deacons also have six conference victories, two more than each of the past two seasons. However, the ACC increased its league slate from 18 to 20 games for this season.

Manning said there have been positive strides.

“I believe we have played better this year than we did last year,” he said. “If you look at the games that we won this year versus the games we lost last year, we have improved.

“We have seen player improvement and have had guys that have elevated their game this year. That did not equate to the number of wins that I thought we would have, but we have definitely played much better this year than we have in the past.”

Yet that puts the Demon Deacons right back in a Tuesday game on the first day of the ACC Tournament. This one will be against Pittsburgh, which is a team that the Demon Deacons defeated on the road in early January.

That was Wake Forest’s first ACC victory of the season. There have been five others, all at home.

This year’s tournament is at the nearby Greensboro Coliseum. That’s where Wake Forest assistant coach Randolph Childress starred as a player for the 1995 championship team.

That tournament field consisted of nine teams. Wake Forest is the 12th seed this week, but rekindling those memories would be ideal for the Demon Deacons.

“I know all the historical moments that have happened for my father,” the younger Childress said.

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Tip-off

Who: Pittsburgh (15-16) vs. Wake Forest (13-17)

When: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday (ACC Network)

Series: Wake Forest leads 5-3, including a 69-65 victory Jan. 4 at Pittsburgh