The increase to 18 teams this season is proving in many ways to have nothing but a positive effect on what were already high levels of competitiveness in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
Look no further than the crowd of eight teams in the middle of the standings who are separated by just two victories with six rounds left in the regular season. All eight of those teams are looking to fill the same three playoffs spots and play one another in 13 games over the next month.
Another way that competitiveness can be seen is in the amount of overtime games that have been played this season. The two games that went to extra time in Round 28 have raised the total number of thrillers decided in overtime this season to a record 17.
That total, in 252 games so far, breaks the mark of 16 overtime games that was set in 2006-07, when only 230 total games were played. Nontheless, this season's 17 is at least four more overtime games than were seen in eight previous seasons when 250 games or more were played.
That's why, in terms of percentage, this season has the second-highest rate of OT games, as well, with fans being treated to extra drama and extra time in 6.7% of the season's game so far.
Another indication of that heightened competitiveness is how many teams have played overtime games this season. With still six rounds to go in the regular season, plus all of the playoffs and Final Four, 15 of the 18 teams in the EuroLeague have played in overtime. That number excludes only three teams, all from Spain: Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Of the others, ALBA Berlin has had the most OT appearances, with five, including the only double-overtime game of the season, which it won at Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, which itself has three overtime games, the same as Zenit St. Petersburg, Olympiacos Piraeus and Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. In between ALBA and the rest, ranked second, is Zalgiris Kaunas, with four overtime appearances.
Despite playing more overtimes, ALBA and Zalgiris also lost more, with 2-3 and 1-3 records in those games, respectively. Zvezda is 0-3 in OT this season. As for the team with the best record in overtimes this season, meet Zenit, which beat Zalgiris and Zvezda after extra periods on the road, and then did it again to Zalgiris last week.
The last place team in the league has the best record in overtime games. More evidence of just how competitive the EuroLeague has become with 18 teams.