BNI Premier League – Week 13 Preview

Connor O'Dornan could be making his long awaited return from injury versus North Star this week

Wednesday 1st Feb

North Star @ UU Elks

The Elks are out for revenge in this one. North Star had a commanding 20+ lead when they played the Elks in November before a late fourth quarter run by the Elks cut the lead to 9 in a 86-77 victory for the Derry side. Added to this the Elks are coming off a tough loss to Queens last week  and it’s likely that they will be up for this game. North Star are in good form after wins over Queens and Kilkeel but have struggled away from home this season, only picking up one win away from Bishops Field.

Connor O’Dornan is expected to make a long awaited return from injury and Anthony Tench isn’t expected to play for North Star. Both sides match up well in the guard spots but the loss of Tench could be vital as it will give the Elks an edge inside. We can’t see the Elks losing two in a row and given North Star’s poor away form the Elks should take this one. North Star have no chance . . . [Editor: mind-games, Niall?]

Line: Elks -11.5


Thursday 2nd Feb

Ballymena Blackstone @ LYIT

This could be the most important game of the week. If Blackstone manage to get the win they will be only one game behind LYIT, which could drag the Donegal side back into the relegation battle. Blackstone have been training well in recent weeks and with a resounding victory over the Tigers, they will be high in confidence coming into this game. Their poor results so far this season have not matched the talent within their squad.

LYIT are coming off a one-point loss to the Tropics and a one-point win away to the Tigers, so according to the form guide they could be in trouble versus Blackstone (not to mention they lost their earlier meeting this season in Ballymena 72-58). However, time and time again we have seen that home court advantage can be massive in this league and it is a long drive to Donegal for Ballymena, which makes this game difficult to call. It’s really a pick ’em game but I’m giving the slight edge to LYIT as Stephen Cannon and Seamus Hickey always shoot well on their home floor and that could prove the difference.

Line: LYIT -0.5


Saturday 4th Feb

Belfast Star @ Andytown Tigers

Andytown needed a win in Ballymena but couldn’t get it. They have had some close, and heart-breaking, losses recently but the 30 point defeat to Ballymena may knock confidence levels. They have got a great day to play Star as there is a superleague game that night which means Star’s superleague players might not be in action vs the Tigers. There are even rumours circulating that coach “Euge” might have to get off the saddle and pull on those royal blue shorts once again! The tigers will be desperate for a win and, against a weakened Star side, I can see them pulling off the upset here. If Star’s superleague guys aren’t playing I expect the Tigers to win in a close game.

Line: Tigers -3.5

Kilkeel Knights hope that Tomas Bynas will dominate inside on Saturday

Kilkeel Knights hope that Tomas Bynas will dominate inside on Saturday

Saturday 4th Feb

Down Tropics @ Kilkeel Knights

A hard game to call as it will be the first time the new look tropics will be tested away from home. The Knights won in the Valley Leisure Centre 90-81 but we can take little from this game as it will be a different Tropics that line up on Saturday. The Tropics starting 5 are as talented as any in the league but they have problems with depth and I can see foul trouble being a potential issue for the Tropics as they try and deal with the Knights’ size. The Knights lost a close game to North Star on Saturday and will be keen to get back to winning ways to keep their title challenge alive. This is likely to be a high scoring game with both teams hitting 75+ but I think at home the Knights will have more depth and strength to take a win from the Tropics (Unless Calo goes for 40 . . .!)

Line: Kilkeel Knights -5.5


Sunday 5th Feb

Queen’s Hornets @ Dungannon Cavaliers

Queen’s won the first matchup, 75-70 in the PEC, and broke out of their post-Christmas slump [Editor: too much of Igor Kruiper’s famous stew] with an impressive away win over the Elks last week. More good news for the Hornets is the return of Kevin Love Rory O’Neill to their ranks for the game. The Cavs didn’t have a game last week due to the broken backboard in St Malachy’s College but in their latest game they had a 16-point win over Ballymena.

Cavs’ games are always difficult to call as they can be erratic at the best of times. Last year’s champions are the best team in the league when playing at their peak but a small bench and the lack of a coach means that they are rarely reaching their full-potential, particularly on defense, for 40 minutes. Queen’s on the other hand are consistent, well coached, play great defense and have a deep bench making this an intriguing match up. As a coach I’m going for defense and coaching and picking Queen’s for the win!

Line: Dungannon Cavs +4.5



Niall is the Co-Founder of the Courtside Collective and . He was one of the founding members of North Star in 2002. He has coached at a variety of levels from kids to senior men's teams. He is currently coach of the LYIT National League team and women's college team.

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