09 September 2011
Well here we go, first article here on this blog, so let’s take a moment to prepare… Okay that’s enough. If you are looking for content on the U21 or NT, you are definitely in the right place. If you are looking for interesting content, once again this is the place. Since we are releasing this a month into the new season I cannot really do any preview of the U21 World Cup and NT Continentals, so the best I can do is a review!
NT wise they are in the midst of the first round of Continentals. In the Americas there are no surprises in the current top 4 of all three pools. Teams like Uruguay, USA, Chile, Canada and Argentina are all 4-0 and looking strong. Mexico is also 4-0 and although they are a weaker team, they have Home Court Advantage which is always huge in international tournaments. USA beat Colombia and Canada beat Brasil while the other teams have not had the toughest schedule. Colombia and Brasil are 3-1, but are always dangerous. While it is hard to tell right now, my four semifinalists would have to be: USA, Chile, Uruguay and Canada. Chile, USA and Uruguay are top 6 in the world and are all very strong and deep. They are also managed well and have been putting up some good ratings. Canada is ranked 11th and their recent victory over Brasil really put them more on the radar. They are tentatively the fourth team, because Brasil and Argentina could easily take that spot from right underneath them. Canada also has a new manager and with that comes a few mistakes (although this new manager has been more then capable, so far). Gameshape and enthusiasm will play key roles. USA and Chile are my two picks to advance to the worlds as they are just both so strong. A better look at the contenders and the pretenders will become clear in a few weeks time. Chile has won three America Championships in a row, can anyone stop them?
In the Africa Continentals, the top two are separating themselves from the pack and are clear. At first sight, Misr and Nigeria are the only two legitimate teams that I see in Africa right now that might not do to bad in a World Championships with the “big boys”. However, behind arguably the best point guard in Buzzerbeater, Tounes could make some noise in the next round as well. Africa is becoming stronger than ever. Good to see! If Buzzerbeater becomes more balanced at the international level, it could make for some exciting matches! Nigeria won the first four Africa Championships and Misr has won the last three. Misr hope that this season they can tie up the all time battle.
In Asia there are 4 powerhouse teams in China, Philippines, Australia and Iran, but there are also a lot of teams just a level below them and on the cusp of becoming a big time team. These teams include the likes of Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. For this season those four teams do not have much of a chance at winning it all. Malaysia has lost only once to Iran and Hong Kong lost only once to Taiwan. Singapore has lost twice and they sit at 3-2 with losses to both Australia and Philippines. For the rest of the teams, the competition starts now and positioning is key for the next round. My four semifinalists have to be China, Philippines, Iran and Australia. These teams have the better rosters, the better history, and our putting up some good ratings. I can definitely see either Hong Kong or Taiwan making it over Australia who looks like the weakest of the top 4 right now. My picks to advance to the worlds at the moment are China and Iran, who both seem strong, but Iran wouldn’t be able to do too much at a world championship it seems. Will someone end Chinas reign? They have won five straight Asia Championships with Australia being runner-up 4 times and Iran once. Chinas on a roll, will it ever end?
The European Championships are a lot more difficult with so many teams that could qualify for the worlds and only two that will automatically. Usually the European teams that qualify only for the Repechage end up making it to the Worlds because the European teams are just that much better than everyone else. Currently there are seven different teams at 5-0: Slovensko, Deutschland, Portugal, Italia, Poland, Magyarorszag, and Ceska Rep. Pool C is an absolute battle with 4 teams at 4-1 and one at 3-2. Espana, Eesti, Suomi and Hrvatska are 4-1 and Ukraina are 3-2. Two games to go and my picks are Espana and Suomi as they will no longer face each other and are extremely strong roster wise. The European teams are the toughest to pick on and I could be way off. My top 4 right now are Italia, Poland, Espana and Deutschland with Italia and Poland qualifying for the worlds. I really like Itlalia this season and I do not think they can be beat, but time will tell. Historically, Espana has won three times and Italia twice, with Schweiz and Deutschland each picking up one.
It is the U21s turn to have the World Cup... and the location? Senegal! Why is this good? Senegal is one of the weakest teams in the tournament. So any help they can get is good. Also this means that there will not be a powerhouse team with the HUGE advantage that home court advantage brings. Exhibit A: Poland in the Season 16 NT World Cup. Sure they were a good team, but who knows what would have happened had Poland not had home court advantage. Senegal having home court advantage provides more parity in the tournament and more suspense and thrill!
Right now they are three games into the first round of the World Cup and there have been surprises, like Misr upsetting Deutschland, and some things that everyone expected, like Italia not losing yet. Right now even after the results of the first three games my final four would have to be Poland, USA, Italia, and Deutschland. USA is mounting their comeback after a 0-2 start and will most likely make it to the next round. Poland has yet to lose and have beat strong teams like Hong Kong and USA. Italia is also unbeaten and has a strong roster. Evident by having the best power forward, fifth best center and the tenth best shooting guard in the whole U21 BB world (based on salary). That is lethal. Deutschland is recovering from their disappointing loss to Misr and have beaten the likes of France and China. Italia and their lethal roster are my favourites to win it all, but no matter what, this tournament should be fun to follow! Let me know in the comments below what your pick is and give a reason; I would love to see some of the readers opinions.
The U21 Consolation Tournament looks really peculiar this year, India starting 3-0,before falling to 3-2, and many of the teams are stronger than the teams in the World Cup. It also seems like there is a very real possibility that zero American and African teams make it to the playoffs looking at their schedules. Seems like the playoffs will be filled with European teams and a couple of teams from Asia. A noticeable lack of teams from the Americas is a definite possibility as the only team with a real chance is Mexico who look poised to take HCA for the Amercias for the second season in a row(NT then U21). I'm not sure how many times that has been done. Other then Mexico, no other teams really have a chance unless Canada can win every game remaining in their extremely difficult schedule. European wise some favorites look like England, led by the monster Darryl Austin, and Srbija, who are a very balanced and strong team that could definitely fight for the World Championship.
So those are my thoughts on the NT/U21 Competitions at the moment. Criticize me as you wish, as I’m open to criticism - constructive or not. I leave you with this, HCA is too overpowered in the World Championships; my thought is only to give HCA to the lowest ranked team that qualifies for the World Cup. Sure some teams may never get HCA, but that means they do not need it. Most teams do not care if they have HCA or not as long as teams at or above their strength do not have it. I think this could help out a lot. Comment below with your thoughts on this, and if someone has a better idea than me or is able to change my opinion, you may just get in the blog next time.
Cheers all and happy Buzzerbeating!
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