With one game left to play for the teams of Group E and two for Group F in the 2011 FIBA EuroBasket tournament, BallinEurope takes a brief look at some of the mathematical possibilities for advancement into the knockout stage.
• France and Spain have clinched the top two spots in the group; their game tomorrow night will determine which is which seed.
• Lithuania gets the no. 3 seed with a win over Germany on Sunday. In this case, the Group E no. 4 seed would be determined with the outcome of the Turkey-Serbia game (by the way, nice grudge match there, eh?): Winner takes the last ticket to advance. Should Lithuania lose to Germany, there will be one of those messy multi-team ties for third and fourth spot, which would shake out something like the following.
• If Lithuania loses to Germany and Serbia beats Turkey the three-way tie of Lithuania, Germany and Serbia would go down to points, with head-to-head-to-head records all at 1-1. Currently, that differential is Lithuania, +10; Serbia, +1; Germany, minus-11 – meaning Germany needs to win huge and that, even with a loss plus a Serbia win, Lithuania could back into the no. 3 seed.
• If Lithuania loses to Germany and Turkey wins over Serbia, the three-way tie would end with head-to-head-to-head records of Germany, 2-0; Lithuania, 1-1; and Turkey, 0-2, putting Germany into the Group E no. 3 seed for the tournament round, with Lithuania at no. 4.
• The loser of tonight’s Finland-Georgia match is eliminated from the tournament.
• Russia and FYR Macedonia (yes) have clinched spots in the second round. If Russia wins over Greece and Macedonia beats Slovenia, the top two spots in the group would be determined by the Russia-Macedonia match on Monday night.
• FYR Macedonia will finish no. 1 with two more wins; no. 2 with a win against Slovenia and a loss to Russia; no. 3 in the case of a three-way tie between Russia, Greece and themselves and point-differential tiebreakers; and no. 4 if they lose out.
• Russia’s case is a bit different from FYR Macedonia’s, as Russia can go into the next round with no worse than a no. 3 seed: Russia finishes first in the group with two wins, second with a 1-1 record regardless of which result ensues, and third by losing out.
• If Greece beats Russia tonight, they’ve clinched a top-three spot in the group. A subsequent win in their game five against Georgia equals the top seed, with the no. 2 and no. 3 spots to be determined by the Russia-FYR Macedonia game.
• Slovenia is in with two wins (against FYR Macedonia and Finland). If Greece wins one more game, Slovenia gets the no. 4 seed, while an 0-2 Greek finish would put Slovenia in at no. 3 from Group F.
• If Slovenia loses tonight and Finland bests Georgia, the no. 4 spot would be filled by the winner of Monday night’s Slovenia-Finland matchup.
• Finland and Georgia are both mathematically alive, but either side would have to win out before any discussion of such a Cinderella story began.
• Under these conditions, a Greece/Slovenia/Finland three-way tie would result in records of Greece, 2-0; Finland, 1-1; Slovenia, 1-1, and Finland sneaks in with the no. 4 seed and the “privilege” of playing either France or Spain. With Georgia winning out, a Greece/Slovenia/Georgia tiebreaker would put all three teams at 1-1 and the tiebreaker going down to the point differential – imagine Greece eliminated and Georgia advancing … BiE’s head is ready to explode.
• Finally, Official BallinEurope Fearless Predictions™ for the third round: Spain vs. Slovenia; Macedonia vs. Lithuania; France vs. Greece; Russia vs. Serbia or Turkey … and if you think BiE’s picking the winner of that one, well, let’s just say we ain’t that fearless.