Week 27 Preview

Eight games are scheduled in the VTB United League from Friday - Monday.

Friday, March 25

Bisons (Finland) - Nymburk (Czech Republic)
4:00 PM (5:00 PM MSK)
Place: Loimaa Sports Hall, Loimaa, Finland
TV: Elisa Viihde (Finland), TV Nova Sport (Czech Republic), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Bisons: The Finnish team has lost five in a row, undone by a depleted roster. The calendar also hasn't been kind with four of the last five games played on the road. On Friday, the Finns finally return home, where they will try to reward the fans with a victory.

Nymburk: The Lions have dropped to 8th in the standings. While the Czech club is unlikely to miss out on the postseason, an 8th-place finish means a date with the regular-season champions in the first round, an outcome Nymburk would like to avoid.

Saturday, March 26

Avtodor (Russia) - Astana (Kazakhstan)
4:00 PM (4:00 PM MSK)
Place: Kristall Sports Palace, Saratov, Russia
TV: Match! Nash sport (Russia), KAZ Sport (Kazakhstan), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Avtodor: As the regular season nears the finish line, 6th-8th place in the standings remain up for grabs between Avtodor, Nymburk and Nizhny Novgorod. Which team can survive the final month relatively unscathed? Avtodor may have the easiest schedule with only two games remaining against teams in the top-eight (Zenit and CSKA).

Astana: The loss of several leaders has been too much for Astana to overcome. The team hasn't won since late January and will be a heavy underdog on Saturday in Saratov. On the other hand, Astana would love to get revenge for its loss to Avtodor in December, when the Russian club set a league record, scoring 131 points.

Sunday, March 27

Lokomotiv-Kuban (Russia) - Krasny Oktyabr (Russia)
4:00 PM (4:00 PM MSK)
Place: Basket Hall, Krasnodar, Russia
TV: Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Lokomotiv-Kuban: After a stretch when Loko swept through the United League and Euroleague, the Railwaymen's momentum has slowed. Two losses in Europe, a defeat to Nizhny Novgorod and a narrow escape vs. Kalev brought Loko back down to earth. Still, Kuban has an outside shot at catching UNICS for 2nd place and has only lost twice at home this season, making the team a heavy favorite vs. Krasny Oktyabr. Lokomotiv also blew out Crvena Zvezda in the Euroleague on Thursday, clinching a spot in the quarterfinals for the first time in club history.

Krasny Oktyabr: This is one of Volgograd's last opportunities to get back in the playoff hunt. But the Steelmen have yet to beat Lokomotiv, 0-5 all-time against the Krasnodar club.

Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) - Enisey (Russia)
5:30 PM (5:30 PM MSK)
Place: FOK Meshchersky, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
TV: United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Nizhny Novgorod: Nothing surprises Nizhny fans at this point. The club has some of the league's most impressive wins as well as several head-scratching losses. Take Nizhny's first meeting with Enisey. Ainars Bagatskis's club lost by seven in Krasnoyarsk to drop to 5-5. Nizhny has been more consistent in recent months, winning eight of its last 10 and plans to finish the season strong.

Enisey: Though Nizhny will be favored, Krasnoyarsk has some cause for optimism. Nizhny played in a grueling overtime game in the Eurocup on Thursday, getting eliminated by Strasbourg. The home team may struggle to bounce back mentally and physically and you can bet on Enisey to try and take advantage.

CSKA (Russia) - VEF (Latvia)
6:00 PM (6:00 PM MSK)
Place: USH CSKA, Moscow, Russia
TV: Match! Nash sport (Russia), Riga TV (Latvia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

CSKA: The Army Men bounced back from the defeat to Loko in late February by winning three straight, including victories vs. UNICS and Zenit. CSKA is almost certain to finish in 1st place and boasts a 7-0 record all-time vs. its Latvian opponent on Sunday. Moscow will also be looking to get back on track after the loss to Bamberg in the Euroleague on Thursday.

VEF: VEF has won four of its last five, though only victory came against a team in the top-eight (Nymburk). Riga played CSKA tough in their last meeting, before the Army Men's depth won out. The second time around, VEF hopes to make it more of a fight.

Vita (Georgia) - Tsmoki-Minsk (Belarus)
6:30 PM (5:30 PM MSK)
Place: Tbilisi Sports Palace, Tbilisi, Georgia
TV: Silk TV Sport 3 (Georgia), Belarus-5 (Belarus), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Vita: The Georgian club has played better in recent weeks and will put up a fight in Tbilisi. Yet to win a game in the league, Vita has shown it can compete at home, very nearly upsetting Zenit.

Tsmoki-Minsk: The Dragons didn't have much trouble when these two teams first met, beating Vita by 20. But Tsmoki needs to be careful it doesn't underestimate its opponent as it travels to Georgia.

Monday, March 28

Kalev (Estonia) - UNICS (Russia)
6:00 PM (6:00 PM MSK)
Place: Saku Suurhall, Tallinn, Estonia
SA Tallinna Televisioon (Estonia), Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Kalev: The Estonians pushed Lokomotiv to the limit last week in Krasnodar, losing by four at the Basket Hall. Kalev also notched a recent win over Krasny Oktyabr and Evgeny Pashutin's club would be wise not to underestimate the home team.

UNICS: Nonetheless, UNICS will be a solid favorite in Tallinn and boasts a 8-1 record vs. Kalev all-time. Kazan is also determined to bounce back from a loss to Nizhny Novgorod last week. With only the VTB United League to concentrate on, UNICS is doubly dangerous.

Khimki (Russia) - Zenit (Russia)
8:00 PM (8:00 PM MSK)
Place: BCMO Sports Complex, Khimki, Russia
TV: Match TV (Russia), Match! Nash sport (Russia), United League TV
Stats: VTB-League.com preview

Khimki: Both of these teams are competing for 3rd-place in the regular season and could make a deep postseason run. Khimki's on shaky ground, however, after losing four straight in the league and switching coaches... On the other hand, Moscow Region has shown signs of a recovery, knocking off Krasny Oktyabr last week. Dusko Ivanovic's team will also be playing at home, where they have only lost three times this season.

Zenit: A tough schedule (St. Petersburg has a backloaded calendar) hasn't prevented Zenit from winning five of its last six games. The only loss was a narrow defeat to CSKA and now St. Petersburg would like to get revenge against Khimki. Karasev's club lost to Khimki by 31 in February, but with Omar Thomas and Kaspars Berzins providing much-needed offensive firepower and depth, it could be a different story on Monday.