DODDS-Europe hoops championships start Feb. 19 at Wiesbaden
This article has been updated.
The DODDS-Europe basketball championships will take place Tuesday, Feb. 19 through Saturday, Feb. 23 at Wiesbaden, Germany. In a late change, four games have been added to the schedule on Tuesday evening. The tournaments were originally scheduled to start Wednesday. Division I teams don't start until Thursday.
Here’s a look at the teams to watch:
Boys Division I: There are no less than six full-fledged contenders to claim DODDS-Europe’s largest division, making this bracket as compelling as the always-unpredictable Division II tournament.
Heidelberg, Kaiserslautern, Lakenheath, Patch, Ramstein, and Wiesbaden have all proven their bona fides with signature wins; each also carries a loss or two that would seem to slot them below one or more of their Division I rivals. With several championship-caliber teams but no clear-cut favorite, the tournament has the makings of an instant classic.
Boys Division II: The seat of Division II power is currently Naples, with the Wildcats mounting a vigorous defense of their title. Region IV rival Vicenza has shown it can compete with Naples, making an all-Italy final a possibility.
But the sprawling Division II field has more to offer. Talented AFNORTH sports the look and feel of a championship team, and upstart Schweinfurt has quietly put together a breakout season.
Boys Division III: The days of unmitigated Rota dominance are over, though the Admirals are still well-coached and talented and should not be easily dismissed.
The team Rota beat for last year’s title, Bamberg, has done everything in its power to take over the role of favorite, including an eye-opening Jan. 19 upset of Patch. Consider the Barons the team to beat at Wiesbaden.
Girls Division I: The competition is formidable, but Kaiserslautern seems to hold an edge after avenging its lone defeat, suffered at the hands of Wiesbaden. But the host Warriors know they can beat the Red Raiders, especially with a home crowd on its side.
Lakenheath, Ramstein and dark horse International School of Brussels should be considered alongside the Red Raiders and Warriors when crafting your Division I bracket.
Girls Division II: Squatters’ rights go to defending champion SHAPE, and the Spartans of this year appear at least as good as last season’s version.
Circling SHAPE is a field of contenders that includes AOSR, Naples, Aviano, Vicenza, Ansbach, Hohenfels, and Bitburg. Ansbach in particular has the mix of scoring, defense, and experience that can lead to postseason success.
Girls Division III: The distances separating this set of small-school contenders make comparison difficult. Programs from five countries - Italy’s Sigonella, England’s Alconbury, Belgium’s Brussels, Spain’s Rota and Germany’s Bamberg – boast bodies of work that suggest a viable shot at the crown. Defending champion Bamberg holds the crown until it is wrested away.