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Who wins the BLNO 2017/2018?

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2017/18 season of Norwegian highest basketball competition starts on September 22nd with defending champions Centrum Tigers hosting Kongsberg Miners. This will be 18th season of BLNO league which started in 2001.

Norway is not famous for basketball, and this sport doesn’t have a rich tradition in this Scandinavian country. In fact, Norwegian national team never managed to participate in any major international competition like Eurobasket, Word Cup or the Olympics.

BLNO also doesn’t draw much interest. Out of 10 teams competing in the league, only 3 of them had average attendance over 200 per match. Asker Aliens, one of the teams competing in the league last season, averaged only 7 people in the crowds per game.

Nevertheless, basketball is in a major expansion of popularity worldwide and this wave will for sure get to Norway at some point.

For start, let go through technical characteristics of the league. BLNO gathers 10 teams heading to 2017/18 season. Teams will play 27 fixtures during regular season, with every team playing 3 times against opponents.

After 27 fixtures, eight best teams head into playoffs, while the last two play qualification game with Division 1 teams to determine places in BLNO for next season.

Playoffs are played in best of three series in quarterfinals and semifinals, while since 2011/12 season the finals are played in a single game that determines the champion.

For prediction for 2017/18 season, we’ll use last season as a reference.

In 2016/17 season, Centrum Tigers unexpectedly won their second straight championship. After finishing 5th in the regular season, Tigers dominated the playoffs with 5-0 record and 87-74 win in the finals against Gimle.

And the champion will be…

  1. Tigers’ repeat title clearly showed that defense wins championships. While they were 4th in average points scored, Tigers allowed their opponents 75.5 points which is 4th best in the league and held them to a league low 12.2 assists. Looking into 2017/18 season, if they keep their main scoring core in Magnus Midtvedt, Andres Stein and Aksel Bolin, Centrum will again be a team to beat.

Looking at their main competition, BK Kongsberg Miners were dominant in the regular season, leading the league with 23-4 record, but faces the Tigers in playoffs and were easily defeated. However, they have good chances to make another run for the title, Last season they had Juan Ferrales as their main scorer. If the Miners manage to keep him, or make even better addition, they will definitely be among top favorites.
One team that could present the biggest threat to the Tigers will be Baerum Basket. They have 2016/16 scoring champion and of the most prolific scorers in the league for the last several seasons in Stian Mjos. Last season he averaged 25,4 points while shooting 48.8% from the field and even more impressing 44.6% from 3-point line while averaging 9.9 attempts. Baerum plays fast paced game, but with great efficiency, and if they can find additional firepower to pair with Mjos, like one good acquisition of a foreign player, they can surpass playoff semifinals from the last year.
Gimle closes the circle of title favorites. They are last season runner-ups, their core is made from Norwegian players which should ensure continuity in performances and results, and with potential additions of quality international player, they have a reason to hope for another title run.