First week of Euroleague is always difficult to find value. Lines were released 2-3 days ago and early bettors polished them already. Many uknown and hidden factors. It always better to use first round to make some conlusions about players. Today I have only one bet and it has been sent to paid subscribers (not this position has no value, so no reason to post it here).
But here are my thoughts about all other games for tonight.
Pinar – Barcelona
Many things changed in Pinar since last year, when they surpsised the world in Eurocup (lost in SF to Gran Canaria) and TBL (won it by beating Ulker and Efes). Coach left the same, but key players have gone. Especially big missing for them is Bobby Dixon loss. He spent 3 years there at PG position under the same coach. Now things are more difficult for Ufuk Sarica, because he needs to built new team almost from scratch. They signed many players, who have played in Euroleague (Ragland, Carter, Gonlum, Iverson) but they are just an average players for this level. During preseason they did not play against euroleague level teams and it’s quite difficult to predict where they are at the moment. The only game we can take seriuosly is their 74:76 loss to Efes in Turkish Supercup.
Barcelona saved the core of the team. Improved their PG position by signing Arroyo, which is going to help Satoransky, who shined last season. Tomic, Doellman, Navarro, Oleson. Abrines from last year + Ribas, Lawal, Samuels (injured), Perperoglou. You can form two Euroleague level teams from Barca roster and be in Top-16 easily. Sure, we can expected 10+ pts from each player every game, but we can be sure about they ability to score if needed.
Pinar is very hot team at home and there is no need to back Barca at such odds and handicap. Barca looks better prepared for the season, but they had some troubles against Zaragoza at home and if their shots will not fall with high percentage we might see some kind of level game with Barca winning at the end by 6-10 points.
Crvena Zvezda – Strasbourg
Strasbourg and Crvena Zvezda at the moment are same level teams in my rating. Crvena Zvezda has solid team with Melek, Shortsianidis, Thompson and Mitrovic in starting five + Lazic, Simonovic and Zirbes coming from bench + youth talents.I have doubts about bench players to play big roles in Euroleague, but with so much talent we might expect more or less good performance from them at home. Today Zvezda will miss Dangubic due the injury + young Tejic out too.
Strasbourg according to coach plans to qualify to Top-16, but that will be very hard to do in such strong group. Games against Zvezda are very important for them. Strasbourg has deep and experienced team, but in my opinion they miss euroleague quality players to become a real force. They more like Eurocup-level team playing at higher level tournament. Howards is out for few weeks, but he has been replaced by Romeo Travis (not sure about his minutes today).
As for me we have two same level teams here, but Zvezda looks more talented and at home is very hard to beat. Bookies did everything fine here. Crvena should get more than -4.5 (home factor price in Euroleague), but they are not so good to get -8 line here. Total should be at low numbers here too.
Darussafaka – Sassari
Turkish team renewed its roster almost completely and so far team is not looking yet 100% ready for season. Coach O.Mahmuti is known as defensive specialist, who like to play slow paced games and force opponents work hard in offense to score points. That’s why Darussafaka aimed to sign players with defensive mentality. Gordon, Redding, Slaughter, Harangody – are good defenders, who can pressure in defense and steal balls. What is important – they are enough faces with huge Euroleague experience: Arslan, Preldzic and Savas. So all in one Darussafaka has quite experienced team, but it lacks top-level players and few weeks of preparation.
Sassari on other side lives some kind of italian dream. They played in Italy final and hoping that their roster still ok for Euroleague level. But Rok Stipcevic, Eyenga, Varnado, Sachetti, Haynez, Devechi are eurocup level players and last season Sassari played quite weak at this level. This year they have less quality in starting 5 and I can predict huge problems for them.
Hosts should be able to win this match, but I am not sure if they are ok enough to cover such spread at the moment. Under looks like like a good choice for in-play, but in pre-game market it’s better to skip, because Sassari is weak defensive team.
Olympiacos – Cedevita
Both teams trust playing time to young players, but Olympiacos has much more talent inside the team. Olympiacos saved core of last season team, but they did not improve their level with new signings, so we again will see well coached team with many talented players within it.
As for Cedevita I don’t like their additions. Pullen and James can’t be effective on this level, Zoric is good and experienced center – but that’s not enought to compete on this level. Bilan is another one center with big future, but bench is really weak and not built for big wins.
Olympiacos is clear favorite here, but I am not sure about their motivation to cover such spread in opening game. Last year they won just 79:77 but showed who is who in Croatia where won 84:62.
Unicaja – Brose Baskets
Brose Basket decided to enter Euroleague without adding top-level players to the roster. Zisis and Melli are not those players who make teams better, and other ones are just an average players, who are good enough for German league and Eurocup, but in Euroleague international experience matters and only few players from Brose roster can hold let’s say Eurobasket level.
Unicaja doing their job quite well. They don’t want to buy expensive players, but they are trying to build a winning team from average players. The difference between them and Brose – is that Unicaja has 10 players, who can compete on this level and have experience, while Brose has just 6-7 players of required level. And Unicaja players are higher skilled.
Both teams coming to the game without injury problems, but I prefer to stay away from such spreads in Unicaja game. Brose are well coached team, with working system and this game can be close, especially in first half.
- CSKA – Maccabi TA