By John Rammas/ email@example.com
Which are the toughest home courts in the EuroLeague? Are you thinking what we’re thinking? OK. Now forget what you were thinking and imagine a tournament in which every court is a home court for all the teams. How is that possible? In this EuroLeague season everything’s possible.
The proof is the results in the first seven rounds.
In 54 games, the home teams have won as many times as the visiting ones. Yes, home and away wins are 27 for each category for the 18 teams. Or, almost for the 18 teams.
Khimki Moscow Region (0-3), Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade (0-3) and TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz (0-1) are the only teams so far without an away win. The others have from one each (7 teams) to four (4-0 for Zalgiris Kaunas). At the same time, only two teams haven’t allowed the visiting team to get a win on their home court: FC Barcelona (3-0) and AX Armani Exchange Milan (2-0).
In short, amid all the concern around the COVID-19 pandemic, EuroLeague basketball is not only still holding up, but is perhaps more interesting than ever. Definitely from 2016 onwards, when the format took its current form.
2016-17: 152-88 (36.7% away wins)
2017-18: 151-89 (37.1% away wins)
2018-19: 155-85 (35.4% away wins)
2019-20: 156-96 (38.1% away wins)
2020-21: 27-27 (50% away wins)
In the 2016-17 season there was no team without at least one away win, the same for the next season, and in the 2018-19 season only Buducnost VOLI Podgorica and Darussafaka Tekfen Basketbol did not succeed (while Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul was the only team that was unbeaten at home). Last season, even though it was never to be completed, all the teams managed to get at least one away win, at worst.
The impact of the 27 (home and) away wins is fully reflected in the ranking. Two of the pleasant surprises, Zalgiris (5-2) and FC Bayern Munich (5-2), follow top-ranked Barcelona (6-1) thanks to their results away from Kaunas (4-0) and Munich (3-1), many of those wins having taken place on the home courts of traditional EuroLeague powerhouses.
Obviously, everyone would prefer it if all this were happening in front of packed stands. Players, coaches and executives are constantly repeating how awkward it is playing in empty arenas. The OAKA, the Menora Mivtachim Arena, the Ulker Sports and Event Hall etc., they all feel one way when they’re packed with fans and a very different way without them. Despite this, no one can ignore the fact that this EuroLeague season is developing into perhaps the most unpredictable one in history.