With the WNBL entering the final month of the regular season, take a look at each team’s run home in the battle for the top four.
Perth Lynx: 10-4, First
To Come: Dandenong (H), Sydney Uni (A), Adelaide (H), Melbourne (A), Melbourne (H), UC Capitals (A), Townsville (A).
From a 1-4 start when the finals looked out of the question, Perth have strung together nine consecutive wins and are now arguably the Championship favourites. They host Dandenong on Thursday night as they aim for a tenth straight win but still have four games to come against top-four teams in their run home.
Two of those contests are against Melbourne through Round 11 and 12 in what could eventuate into a battle for first place. The Lynx own the season series against Townsville should they finish on the same record but their series’ against Sydney Uni and Adelaide are currently tied at 1-1.
JCU Townsville Fire: 9-5, Second
To Come: Adelaide (H), Bendigo (A), Dandenong (H), UC Capitals (A), Bendigo (H), Sydney Uni (A), Perth (H).
The Fire have struggled for consistency throughout the season but their victories have come at important times to slot them into a top-two position. They have taken all three meetings against Melbourne and two against Adelaide with one to come on Thursday night which will give them confidence if they were to meet those sides in the playoffs.
Townsville also only have just two games remaining against current top-four teams but they both occur in a rough finish to the regular season, taking on the Flames and Lynx in Round 13. They will hope to have secured a playoff position before that weekend as it could make for a tense final round.
Deakin Melbourne Boomers: 9-6, Third
To Come: Bendigo (H), Adelaide (A), Perth (H), Adelaide (A), Perth (A), Dandenong (H)
Melbourne have the potential to be the most dangerous team in the league but a few lapses through the regular season has them fighting for a top four spot. They lost consecutive games in Round 8 but bounced back to their best against the Caps in Round 9 and if they can carry that form into the final month of the season, they are still a threat for top spot.
Those lapses have hurt them in the season series against fellow contenders as well, having already lost to Sydney and Townsville overall. Two remaining games against Adelaide and Perth will finalise those series with the Boomers having taken the first meeting against both sides.
Brydens Sydney Uni Flames: 8-6, Fourth
To Come: UC Capitals (A), Perth (H), Dandenong (A), Bendigo (H), Adelaide (H), Townsville (H), Bendigo (A).
The defending Champions were sitting pretty on top of the ladder just a few weeks ago but four defeats from their past five games has dropped them to fourth and they are now in serious danger of missing out on the finals.
If the season were to end today, the Flames would miss out courtesy of two previous losses to Adelaide while their season series against Dandenong is tied which is also a concern. At their best though, Sydney Uni can be scintillating as they were in a 101-89 victory over Melbourne in Round 8 when Alex Wilson, Belinda Snell and Asia Taylor all scored 24+.
MAC Adelaide Lightning: 8-6, Fifth
To Come: Townsville (A), Melbourne (H), Perth (A), UC Capitals (A), Melbourne (H), Sydney Uni (A), Bendigo (H)
Adelaide have not featured in the playoffs since 2012/13 while they have not won a final since 2009 so they are in unfamiliar territory as we come down the stretch of the regular season.
Their two previous wins over Sydney Uni will give them confidence but they have only one other victory against the current top four teams and four of their remaining seven games come on the road. With their last contest of the regular season coming on Friday December 29, they may have an anxious final weekend as they watch other results to see if they advance to the 2017/18 playoffs.
Jayco Dandenong Rangers: 7-7, Sixth
To Come: Perth (A), UC Capitals (H), Sydney Uni (H), Townsville (A), Bendigo (A), UC Capitals (H), Melbourne (A)
A season-ending knee injury to Sara Blicavs could have derailed Dandenong’s season but the team’s grit has kept them in contention for the playoffs. The Rangers backed up a surprise win over Townsville in Round 9 with a solid performance against Bendigo to sweep the weekend and they now sit just a win outside the top four.
They also have a relatively easy run home with two games to come against the Caps as well as another match-up with Bendigo but even with those victories, Dandenong will need an upset or two against other top-four sides to advance. They have only won the season series against Townsville (and have the potential to beat Sydney Uni), so the Rangers may need to finish a game clear to secure a post-season place.
Bendigo Spirit: 3-10, Seventh
To Come: Melbourne (A), Townsville (H), UC Capitals (H), Sydney Uni (A), Dandenong (H), Townsville (A), Adelaide (A), Sydney Uni (H).
Needing to make up five wins with only eight games remaining, Bendigo only have a mathematical chance to reach the playoffs and even that is slipping quickly.
It was always going to be a difficult task without Kelsey Griffin but the Spirit have shown resilience in recent weeks with two close losses to Dandenong and a stirring win over the Caps. Their other two victories on the season came against Perth and Melbourne but there may not be too much more to smile about as Bendigo face a run of eight games in four rounds to finish the season.
University of Canberra Capitals: 2-12, Eighth
To Come: Sydney Uni (H), Dandenong (A), Bendigo (A), Adelaide (H), Townsville (H), Dandenong (A), Perth (H).
It all started so promisingly for the UC Capitals with two wins in Round 1 and at the end of the first weekend, they were sitting on top of the ladder.
The Caps have not tasted success since then though and with almost two months since their last win, the only intrigue in the final month is whether they can get back in the winners column before the end of 2017/18. Two games against Dandenong and one against Bendigo could be their best chance but all three contests come on the road where the Caps are 0-7 this season.