Thursday, July 5, 2018

Heading into the last three rounds of the regular season, check out the run home for every team that is still eligible for the 2018 playoffs.

1st Kilsyth Cobras (13-3)
To Come:
Geelong (A), Sandringham (A), Frankston (A), Albury/Wodonga (A)

Kilsyth have a game’s lead over their nearest rivals but do not have an easy run home to the playoffs with all four of their remaining games coming on the road. Round 13 sees them play a double-header against fourth-placed Geelong (a team they fell to in Round 11) and 13th-placed Sandringham but they have a 5-1 record overall away from this season which will give them confidence that they can maintain top spot on the ladder.

2nd Nunawading Spectres (12-4)
To Come:
Ballarat (A), Melbourne (H), Sandringham (A), Bendigo (H)

Winning four of their past five games, Nunawading have a game and a half lead inside the top two but they have unable to make ground on Kilsyth for first place with every win of theirs matched by the Cobras in recent weeks. They have four intriguing match-ups to come with no game against a team currently ranked higher than fifth on the ladder but every team will likely be playing for their playoff lives. That means the Spectres face an intense final three weeks leading into the post-season.

3rd Hobart Chargers (10-5)
To Come:
Diamond Valley (A), Albury/Wodonga (A), Ballarat (A), Dandenong (A), N/W Tasmania (H)

One of the most in-form teams of the past two months, Hobart have won nine of their last 12 games to move past Ballarat and hold off the rampaging Supercats. They are 7-2 at home but only 3-3 on the road and that record will be severely tested over the next two rounds as they play four games across two double-headers in the space of ten days. On the plus side, the Chargers have already played Ballarat, Dandenong and N/W Tasmania this year and were successful in all three contests.

4th Geelong Supercats (10-6)
To Come:
Kilsyth (H), Mt. Gambier (A), Bendigo (H), Canberra (H)

Geelong’s incredible run of 20 consecutive finals appearances looked to be in jeopardy only a couple of weeks ago but they have won their past four games to throw themselves right into the hunt for a top-four finish. The Supercats face big tests in their next two games when they host the ladder-leading Cobras and visit the similarly rejuvenated Pioneers but with Nick Owusu back in the team and Geelong looking to send Nathan Herbert out on a high-note, they are playing with positivity and emotion that could lead them to a memorable run home.

5th Ballarat Miners (10-6)
To Come:
Nunawading (H), Bendigo (A), Hobart (H), Diamond Valley (A)

Everything was looking so positive for the Miners at the Queen’s Birthday break but since then, they have lost four of their past five games to drop out of the top four. They still have a realistic chance to at least slot back into third but their immediate concern will be that they are only a game and a half inside the top eight at the moment. Taking on two of the top three teams in the next two rounds does not make their task easier while an away game against Bendigo will also be a serious test for Ballarat.

6th Bendigo Braves (9-6)
To Come:
N/W Tasmania (H), Ballarat (H), Geelong (A), Frankston (H), Nunawading (A)

After a four-game winning streak to begin their season, Bendigo slumped to lose four of their next five games but they are on an upward trajectory again with four victories from their last six games. They have a busy run home with double-headers in Round 14 and 15 but that gives them the opportunity to make up wins on the top four and become a real threat in the post-season. Four of their remaining five games are against current finalists though which means a playoff position is not secured yet.

7th Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (10-7)
To Come:
Mt. Gambier (H), Canberra (H), Albury/Wodonga (H)

In the first year in which the CoE is eligible for the playoffs, they have been exceptional with a 10-7 record and are right in the hunt as we enter the business end of the season. They only have three games remaining though which means they are unlikely to move up many spots on the ladder and puts them more in a position where they will have to hold off their nearest rivals. All three contests will be played at home though and come against teams below them on the ladder.

8th N/W Tasmania (9-7)
To Come:
Bendigo (A), Melbourne (A), Diamond Valley (H), Hobart (H)

Struggling for consistency this season, N/W Tasmania have relied on a superb 7-2 home record to currently sit inside the top eight. However, they must arrest their issues on the road, where they are 1-5, quickly when they face a double-header against Bendigo and Melbourne this weekend. A loss to the Tigers will be particularly bad as it would drop them out of a finals position and they are only placed a game and a half ahead of the fast-finishing Pioneers at the moment.

9th Melbourne Tigers (8-7)
To Come:
Dandenong (A), N/W Tasmania (H), Nunawading (A), Dandenong (H), Mt. Gambier (A)

The Tigers have been one of the real positive stories to come out of this season but with four defeats from their last five games, they are in danger of missing out on the playoffs despite stringing together a seven-game winning streak earlier in the year. A double-header against Dandenong in their final five matches could be the determining factor between them making or missing the playoffs while their head-to-head result against the Rangers could also be important.

10th Dandenong Rangers (8-8)
To Come:
Melbourne (H), Melbourne (A), Hobart (H), Canberra (H)

Dandenong’s next two games will almost surely decide their fate as they take on Melbourne in a back-to-back. However, three home games from their final four outings will give them confidence that they can make up the game’s difference on N/W Tasmania and get back into the playoffs after reaching the Grand Final last year.

11th Mt. Gambier (7-8)
To Come:
CoE (A), Canberra (A), Geelong (H), Melbourne (H), Sandringham (A)

The reigning Champs and winners of three of the past four Grand Finals, Mt. Gambier have no room for error as they aim to maintain their incredible run under coach Richard Hill. Injuries have plagued them in 2018 but they have found some handy replacements this season in the likes of Sam McDaniel and Alex Marzette who could still lead them into the post-season after helping them succeed in their last three games. From a 4-8 record, the Pioneers cannot take their foot off the gas but if results fall their way this weekend, they could find themselves in a finals spot by Sunday night.

12th Albury/Wodonga Bandits (6-10)
To Come:
Hobart (H), Canberra (H), CoE (A), Kilsyth (H)

On the back of three straight defeats, Albury/Wodonga are clinging to the smallest of hopes of reaching the 2018 playoffs. Their favourable head-to-head results against N/W Tasmania, Melbourne and Dandenong means they can finish on the same record and finish above them but that still gives them little room for error with at least three wins needed from their final four games.

14th Diamond Valley Eagles (5-11)
To Come:
Hobart (H), Frankston (A), N/W Tasmania (A), Ballarat (H)

The equation for Diamond Valley is simple as they aim to reach the finals in their debut SEABL season. They must win each of their last four games and hope N/W Tasmania does not win again, otherwise they will fall short.