Hoopsquad Hierarchy: Nine weeks have taught us slightly more than nothing.

By: Freaknick / @euro_adventures

Olympiacos hasn’t been overly fantastic. Panathinaikos would be sunk without the mastery of Dimitris Diamantidis. And Union Olimpija? They’re more feel-good story good than super-good team good. Yet that’s your line-up: three, four and five are right there in front of your eyes with no better options in sight. Instead of revealing a thick heap of talented teams, nine regular season weeks have instead revealed flaws aplenty, and not a single team is innocent. So with two days and twelve games remaining, here’s how they stack up.

(* indicates a playoff spot has been clinched. If you care to know, Cholet, Lietuvos Rytas, AJ Milano and Valencia are the four teams left fighting for the last two slots. Enjoy the drama.)

RankTeam (EL record)What they did to get here and who's up next...Last Week
1*Maccabi Electra (8-1)Milan Macvan's stealthy inside game is the perfect complement to Sofo's big bang approach. Thursday at Asseco Prokom1 (80-76 W vs. BC Khimki)
2*Montepaschi Siena (8-1)David Moss numbers among the most under appreciated players in the EL this season. He's done an excellent job playing between McCalebb and Kaukenas. Thursday at Regal FC Barcelona3 (94-65 W vs. Fenerbahçe Ülker)
3*Olympiacos (6-3)Nobody planned on Loukas Mavrokefalides outperforming Matt Nielsen this year, but you won't get many complaints out of Dusan Ivkovic.Thursday vs. Lottomatica Roma6 (67-80 W at Spirou)
4*Panathinaikos (6-3)Last week Antonis Fotsis delivered his outlier performance, this time it was Ian Vougioukas' turn to fill in for Maric/Batiste with 18 points in 20 minutes. Wednesday vs. AJ Milano7 (79-78 L at Efes Pilsen)
5*Union Olimpija (6-3)It must've felt nice to play spoiler against CSKA Moscow. Even better to see Damir Markota put it all together with season highs in scoring (17) and rebounding (8). Wednesday at Valencia5 (81-72 W vs. CSKA Moscow)
6*Regal FC Barcelona (6-3)After winning three straight without him, maybe Juan Carlos Navarro should've stayed home from their 1-point loss at Rytas. Thursday vs. Montepaschi Siena4 (88-87 L at Lietuvos Rytas)
7*Fenerbahçe Ülker (6-3)Fenerbahçe has lost two straight to Top 16 clinchers; not a good sign heading into the next round. They need to gain some steam with a chippy against Cholet at home in their final test. Thursday vs. Cholet2 (94-65 L at Montepaschi Siena)
8*Efes Pilsen (5-4)Positive: six players scored in double figures in the thriller against Panathinaikos. Negative: the other six players were held scoreless. Wednesday at CSKA Moscow10 (79-78 W vs. Panathinaikos)
9Valencia (4-5)Two road wins in the past four weeks (Panathinaikos, Milano) and Rafa Martinz is heating up. I'd love to see what this revamped squad could do in a Top 16 setting. They need a win against the tough-minded Slovenians to get there. Wednesday vs. Union Olimpija12 (60-75 W at Milano)
10*Zalgiris (5-4)Zalgiris lost the first quarter 27-16 last week with Rimantas Grigas' fancy new line-up: DeJuan Collins, Arturas Milaknis, Dainius Salenga, Tadas Klimavicius and Travis Watson. Are you kidding me? Thursday at BC Khimki9 (89-95 OT L vs. Caja Laboral)
11*Partizan (5-4)Jan Vesely put 11 and 6 this week. Sadly, those are his gaudiest numbers of the year. Build on that, young man. Thursday at Caja Laboral11 (61-59 W vs. Asseco Prokom)
12*Unicaja (5-4)Saul Blanco has quietly turned in a near All-Euroleague season. More importantly, he's gave Unicaja some sense of stability with Terrell McIntyre sidelined. Now T-Mac's back. Will chemistry be an issue? Thursday vs. Brose Baskets8 (81-75 L at Lottomatica Roma)
13*Real Madrid (5-4)Give D'Or Fischer substantial minutes and he'll deliver. Always has in the past, no different last week: 15 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks in 28 minutes. Thursday vs. Spirou Charleroi14 (82-75 L at Brose Baskets)
14*Virtus Roma (5-4)Nihad Djedovic's rankings the past three weeks: 23, -11, 32. Guess which week your boy owned him in fantasy? Thursday at Olympiacos13 (81-75 W vs. Unicaja)
15*Caja Laboral (4-5)Mirza Teletovic's nine threes were terrific, but that's not the stat that amazes me most: how the hell do you grab three offensive rebounds if you never step foot inside the paint? Thursday vs. Partizan20 (89-95 OT W at Zalgiris)
16Armani Jeans Milano (4-5)They've alternated wins and losses since week three. On pace for a win this week, and they sorely need one to get into the Top 16. Wednesday at Panathinaikos16 (60-75 L vs. Valencia)
17Lietuvos Rytas (3-6)Sarunas Jasikevicius scored 11 and dished out 10 assists in last week's clutch win over Barcelona. I think the vet has another trick up his sleeve. Thursday at Cibona22 (88-87 W vs. Barcelona)
18Brose Baskets Bamberg (3-6)Beating Madrid was poetic vengeance after their OT loss in week four. One last farewell win would be a nice way to go out. Thursday at Unicaja21 (82-75 W vs. Real Madrid)
19Cholet (4-5)Very simple: win and they're in. If Roko Ukic isn't on the floor for Fenerbahçe, Vule Avdalovic will be the best looking PG in Istanbul. If Vule plays like he did last week (13 assists), it might not matter whether Roko's sweating or sitting. Thursday at Fenerbahçe Ülker19 (81-65 W vs. Cibona)
20BC Khimki (3-6)Looks like I saw way too much in these guys from the start. Their 'depth' and 'balance' ended up killing them; no killer instinct. Wednesday vs. Zalgiris15 (80-76 L at Maccabi)
21CSKA Moscow (2-7)Eight years of rampant success ends in a whimper. Wednesday vs. Efes Pilsen23 (81-72 L at Union Olimpija)
22Spirou Charleroi (3-6)No chance to advance here, but they've made it a long way from that 0-4 start. Demond Mallet be praised. Thursday at Real Madrid18 (67-80 L vs. Olympiacos)
23Asseco Prokom (2-7)Walking, breathing proof that firepower alone can't win games. Thursday vs. Maccabi Electra17 (61-59 L at Partizan)
24Cibona (0-9)A shame we won't be able to watch these guys mature together to the point of legitimacy. Bogdanovic, radosevic and Zubcic could make quite the trio going forward. Thursday vs. Lietuvos Rytas24 (81-65 L at Cholet)
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