Looking ahead: Group C

Nov 29, 2017 by Eurocupbasketball.com Print
Looking ahead: Group C

With four games left to be played, Group C is led by one of the 7DAYS EuroCup's three unbeaten teams, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, which at 6-0 has already punched its ticket to the Top 16. ALBA Berlin is all but mathematically into the next round, too, at 5-1. In third place is Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius at 3-3. Limoges CSP ranks fourth with a 2-4 record, one win ahead RETAbet Bilbao Basket and Partizan NIS Belgrade, both of whom are 1-5.

Having already made it to the next round, Lokomotiv continues to fight now for first place by challenging ALBA on the road. ALBA is 5-1 and has a 2-0 record against Partizan, which makes its math very simple. The German powerhouse will be in the Top 16 if it beats Lokomotiv in Round 7 or if Limoges beats RETAbet. The game between Lokomotiv and ALBA will be critical in the fight for first place. If Lokomotiv wins, it will have a 2-0 record against ALBA and a two-win gap with three games to play. In other words, ALBA would need to win its last three games and expect Lokomotiv to lose three times in order to finish first. If ALBA wins, however, points difference will be critical for tie-break purposes. Lokomotiv won by 16 in Krasnodar in Round 2.

With Lokomotiv already in the Top 16 and ALBA really close to making it, Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius is the team with the next-best chance to advance to the next round. Indeed, Rytas will advance to the Top 16 if it beats Partizan and Limoges downs RETAbet in Round 7. In that scenario, Rytas would have a three-win gap over Partizan and RETAbet, plus the tie-break advantage against both of them. A three-way tie would be impossible, as Partizan has to host Bilbao in Round 8, but if Limoges beats RETAbet, ALBA will be automatically qualified and Rytas will advance with a win.

As for the three remaining teams, Limoges has a better chance to make it to the Top 16. Not only does it have a one-win gap over RETAbet and Partizan, but Limoges also has to face both teams in the upcoming weeks. Limoges hosts RETAbet in Round 7, in a truly pivotal games for both teams, and visits Partizan in Round 9. Limoges already beat RETAbet by 91-98 in Bilbao and Partizan by 92-83 at home. Points difference will be crucial in Round 7 if Limoges loses to RETAbet, as having the tie-break advantage will be critical in any one-way or multiple ties.

Looking at the big picture, the Round 7 game between Lokomotiv and ALBA in Berlin will be crucial in the first-place race. If ALBA wins, anything can happen, but if it doesn't, Lokomotiv will be well on its way to clinch first place soon. The bottom three teams have to face each other in consecutive weeks: Limoges vs. RETAbet in Round 7, Partizan vs. Limoges in Round 8, Partizan vs. RETAbet in Round 9. Also in Round 9, Rytas is set to host ALBA in what could be a key game for second place.

In a group with two former EuroLeague champions, two former EuroCup winners and two finalists in this competition, anything can happen down the stretch!