It’s one Euroleague game remaining in 2011 for each of the regular-season entrants, and with only four teams mathematically eliminated – Asseco Prokom, SLUC Nancy, Spirou Charleroi, Union Olimpija – a great many of the 16 matches on tonight and tomorrow night’s slate remain significant. BallinEurope takes a look at the opportunities for advancement into the next round below; for reasons of complexity (you’ll see what BiE means when we get to Group A), these will be listed by group in backwards alphabetical order.
Group D. This one’s easy; the top four seeds for the Top 16 draw, in order, are FC Barcelona, Montepaschi Siena, Unics Kazan and Galatasaray Medical Park.
Group C. Real Madrid, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Anadolu Efes have clinched the nos. 1, 2, and 3 spots, respectively, in Group C. In a case of win-by-four-or-go-home, Emporio Armani Milano must beat Partizan Belgrade in Hala Pionir by two field goals or more in order to nip the Black-and-Whites for the fourth seed in the group.
Group B. CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos have clinched the top two spots in the group. In filling the three and four spots, the breakdown is as follows.
• Unicaja Malaga has the inside track for a no. 3 seed. If Unicaja loses against Brose Baskets Bamberg while Žalgiris Kaunas wins against KK Zagreb, a three-way tie at 4-6 would have Žalgiris advancing as no. 3 seed and Unicaja the no. 4.
• If Žalgiris wins, they’re in. The Lithuanian side can advance as the no. 3 seed as described directly above or will go into the Top 16 round as a no. 4.
• To advance in the fourth spot, Brose Baskets must win at Panathinaikos while Zagreb wins in Lithuania.
• KK Zagreb can only move forward with a win at Žalgiris plus a PAO win.
Group A. Right, here’s where things get really sticky. While Nancy has been eliminated from contention and Olympiacos and Bennet Cantù will advance, any of four teams can take the no. 1 seed based on the final games; in addition, a three-way tie for first is possible as is a four-way tie for second.
The three Group A games remaining (Gescrap Bilbao Basket vs. Caja Laboral Baskonia; Bennet Cantù vs. Fenerbahce Ulker; SLUC Nancy vs. Olympiacos) are all scheduled for Thursday night. Eight different scenarios are possible … are you ready for this?
• Caja Laboral Baskonia, SLUC Nancy and Bennet Cantù all win: Caja Laboral beats Cantù for the no. 1 based on point differential; Fenerbahçe Ülker and Olympiacos are nos. 3 and 4.
• Caja Laboral and Nancy win, Cantù loses: Caja Laboral wins the tiebreaker against Fenerbahçe, Olympiacos and Cantù take 3 and 4 seeds.
• Caja Laboral and Cantù win, Nancy loses: A three-way tie at the top shakes out with Olympiacos at no. 1, followed by Caja Laboral and Cantù, with Fenerbahçe in the no. 4 spot.
• Caja Laboral wins, Cantù and Nancy lose: Caja Laboral wins a three-way tiebreaker with Olympiacos and Fenerbahçe, who take no. 2 and 3, respectively, while Cantù lands in the fourth position.
• Caja Laboral loses, Cantù and Nancy win: Here’s the four-way at 5-5 — and probably the weirdest, most unforeseeable outcome. In this scenario, Cantù takes the group at 6-4, while Gescrap Bilbao Basket finishes in second, followed by Olympiacos and Caja Laboral.
• Caja Laboral and Cantù lose, Nancy wins: Fenerbahçe takes the group and the three-way tie beneath them shakes out with Cantù, Bilbao and Olympiacos at nos. 2, 3 and 4, respectively.
• Caja Laboral and Nancy lose, Cantù wins: This one produces two ties involving five teams. In such a case, Olympiacos beats Cantù for the top spot based on point differential, while Bilbao and Caja Laboral win the head-to-head tiebreaker against Fenerbahçe for third and fourth place, respectively.
• Caja Laboral, Cantù and Nancy all lose: Another two-tie, five-team situation. Here, Fenerbahçe nips Olympiacos on point differential for the first two places, while Cantù and Bilbao emerge from the tiebreakers against Caja Laboral.
BiE guesses we’ll just have to wait and see how it sorts out, but The Official Fearless Predictions™ have BallinEurope backing Žalgiris Kaunas, Unicaja Malaga and Partizan Belgrade to advance. As for Group A, BiE’s taking scenario #3, thus producing a top four from that group of Olympiacos, Caja Laboral, Bennet Cantù and Fenerbahçe Ülker.
Enjoy the games (no matter the scenario)!