BallinEurope is previewing all 18 Euroleague Basketball teams over the next 18 days. The highest so far has been KK Partizan whereas the lowest is LDLC Asvel. Today it’s the turn of Luca Banchi and Virtus Bologna to see where they will shake out.
With one whopper of a change off the court close to the season, there’s no doubt that Virtus Bologna is fine with drama. What’s the rest of their story going to look like?
Euroleague record: 14-20
Regular season position: 14th
Serie A record: 23-7
Regular season position: 2nd
Playoffs: Lost finals 4-3 (Olimpia Milano)
Other: Lost Coppa Italia final (Brescia)
Sergio Scariolo (coach), Kyle Weems (Derthona), Milos Teodosic (Crvena Zvezda), Mam Jaiteh (AS Monaco), Semi Ojeleye (Valencia), Nico Mannion (Baskonia), Ismael Bako (Unics), Gora Camara (Trento).
Who is new?
Luca Banchi (coach), Bryant Dunston (Efes), Bruno Mascolo (Brindisi), Jaleen Smith (Alba Berlin), Achille Polonara (Zalgiris), Devontace Cacok (CSKA Moscow), Ognjen Dobric (Crvena Zvezda).
Awudu Abass, Marco Belinelli, Alessandro Paiola, Isaia Cordinier, Daniel Hackett, Tornike Shengelia, Jordan Mickey, Iffe Lundberg, Leo Menalo.
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Need to know
There are radical changes and there’s firing your coach after you’ve done all your off-season player business. That’s what Virtus Bologna did in mid-September as it sacked Sergio Scariolo while Luca Banchi, fresh off an impressive 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup with Latvia, was hired.
Quick and harsh coaching changes are somewhat normal in Euroleague Basketball but this still caught me off guard. The timing really did feel like this wasn’t planned from far out. It’s really strange for Virtus Bologna to do all their player movements in the off-season and then change their mind on who they want as coach.
What the bookies think
The sportsbooks are not confident and it’s easy to see why. This much upheaval after an unimpressive campaign will make for a cautious basketball betting market. That said, I think the 66/1 odds currently available are maybe a little on the generous side.
What we think
This team and our projection really shows the depth of Euroleague Basketball this season. Three years ago, this roster as it is now, would probably have been a lock for the playoffs. The quality required to make a postseason push now is different. I’m also really wary of just how much this side is going to lean on its veterans. It’s great to have experienced talent on a rosters but there is an obvious need for more youth in the overall mix.
This team is quite different in terms of personnel this season but the ceiling and floor for Virtus Bologna haven’t really changed. It’s a few key bodies away from being a serious playoff contender but also a long way from being amongst the dregs of Euroleague Basketball. There will be fans upset at this ranking, don’t be. Virtus is a lot closer to the four or five teams I have above them than the three below them.
Pick: 15th place in the regular season