Easy choice for Comeback Player of the Year

With the EL tipoff game tonight, BallinEurope is feeling devotion … not to mention a rush of Fearless Predictions™ coming on. How crazy can BiE get? You be the judge; here are 68 prognostications on all things Euroleague which you may [laugh uproariously about] ponder.

Enjoy the season, everyone! (And sign up for the BallinEurope Invitational League for your fantasy season. The password is “matjazsmodis” and remember: You’ll at least beat out BiE’s pathetic squads…) Fearless Predictions™ follow…

1. Olympiacos defends home court in tonight’s opener in a squeaker over Real Madrid.

2-17. The Euroleague Top 16 will be: Maccabi Tel Aviv, Caja Laboral Baskonia, Partizan Belgrade, Zalgiris Kaunas, Olympiacos, Unicaja Malaga, Real Madrid, Brose Baskets Bamberg, FC Barcelona, Montepaschi Siena, Cibona Zagreb, Fenerbahce Ülker, CSKA Moscow, Panathinaikos, Efes Pilsen and Union Olimpija.

18. The most heavily-contested spot looks to be the no. 4 seed in Group A, thereby meaning that…

19. …week 10’s BC Khimki-Žalgiris game will be one of the key EL games, determining the final Top 16 team.

20. Panathinaikos will not be the first team mathematically eliminated this time…

21. …that’ll be Spirou Basket.

22. My Euroleague fantasy basketball team will suck bricks and will finish in the bottom 25% – hardly a stretch, but hey.

Romanov lurking, ever lurking...

23. Back home, Žalgiris will snap Lietuvos Rytas’ LKL championship run at two, and…

24. …while there’s no way the series will be half an insane as last year’s, you can bet Vladimir Romanov will make his presence felt.

25. The Eurocup championship game will be between Panellinios BC and Unics Kazan.

26. The over/under on games Allen Iverson will play for Beşiktaş Cola Turka (or any European team) is probably 2.5 or so. Take the under.

27. Barça will be just as dominant in Europe this season as in 2009-10, but no way is BiE predicting the ACB finals…

28. Not strictly Euroleague, but BiE wants you-heard-it-first status for this one: No matter where he plays in 2010-11, Enes Kanter will be an NBA Draft lottery pick.

29. And not even by the Minnesota Timberwolves!

Look out for Marty!

30-32. Making a big leap this season: Jan Vesely, Lior Eliyahu, and Martynas “Air” Pocius.

33. Retirement calls for J.R. Holden.

34. No violence or protest will cause forfeiture in any domestic championship – this one’s really fearless, considering the denouement to seasons in Greece and Serbia last year.

35-38. The Euroleague Final Four will be FC Barcelona, CSKA Moscow, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Olympiacos.

39-40. Highest-scoring Euroleague offense: Montepaschi Siena, closely followed by Maccabi Tel Aviv.

41. Stingiest defense: Who else but CSKA?

Portrait of an underdog

42. Surprise of the 2010-11 Euroleague: Brose Baskets Bamberg.

43. Disappointment of the 2010-11 Euroleague: From the outside, it will appear to be Lietuvos Rytas, though many fans are already downplaying the team’s chances. What’s the over/under on number of coaches to be employed there this season…?

44. Speaking of coaches, this will be Ettore Messina’s last season as Real Madrid coach.

45. Ricky Rubio will get no closer to playing in Minneapolis.

46-47. As for the Human YouTube Clip’s season itself, well, the young guy will surely seek to address his long-range shooting and play in the clutch; here’s to thinking the latter doesn’t improve much, but BiE’ll say that Rubio finally redeems himself in a championship situation this year.

48. Rudy Fernandez will be playing Euroball by season’s end.

49-51. Playing on Montepaschi Siena, Bo McCalebb will turn in even better stats than last year (14.3 points, 3.4 assists, 2.1 steals per game) and receive some NBA attention come 2011-12 preseason; unfortunately for him, Milos Teodosic’s all-around game will see the Red nip Bo for first-team All-Euroleague point guard honors.

52-56. The 2010-11 Euroleague first team all-stars: Teodosic, Juan Carlos Navarro, Jan Vesely, Viktor Khryapa, Aleks Maric.

57-61. The 2010-11 Euroleague second team all-stars: McCalebb, Vassilis Spanoulis, Ramunas Siskauskas, Pete Mickael, Erazem Lorbek.

D-M-V-P! D-M-V-P!

62. Euroleague Defensive MVP will be BiE fave Pete Mickael.

63. As for EL MVP, geeked by the play of Jan Vesely as Euroleague progressed last season, BiE was captured on a Euroleague Adventures podcast as declaring Vesely my guess for this season’s trophy. That wasn’t an official Fearless Prediction™, so BiE’ll retreat from that stance and go with Juan Carlos Navarro instead.

64. Surprise player of the year (at least through the first 10 games): Bobby Brown of Asseco Prokom. He’ll make the Los Angeles Clippers regret dropping him. Yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrre – like anyone in that front office gives a damn about anything.

65. Comeback player of the year: Matjaz Smodis, of course.

66. The BiE upset special of week one? Bamberg surprises Virtus Roma in Italy on Wednesday night.

67-68. The 2011 Euroleague Championship game comes down to FC Barcelona and CSKA Moscow, with Barça making it back-to-back titles.

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