Unlike the PBL's Central Division, which the Battle Creek Knights have already sewn up, or the PBL's Atlantic Division, in which the Manchester Millrats could take the division title this weekend with two wins, the PBL's four-team Eastern Division is still too close to call. The Wilmington Sea Dawgs and Rochester Razorsharks are in a near dead-heat for the Eastern Division lead, while the Augusta Groove are only a game and a half back. The fourth team in the division, the Buffalo Stampede, have their own cross to bear - they need to win five of their final games to avoid having the worst PBL regular-season record ever (they're currently sporting a 1-11 record).
Tonight's game between Wilmington and Augusta is critical. The Sea Dawgs have kept a solid base together, with strength from returning vets Cedric McGinnis and Alexander Harper, and key off-season acquisition like Brian Leggett, Joseph King and Kadiri Richard. The Augusta Groove, having lost the league's leading scorer in AJ Millien, have rebounded, winning two of their last three games on the strength of scoring from Demetrius Howard, Donielle Davis and Kendrick "Modie" Johnson. The game will be at the Schwartz Center at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, NC.
Here's the playoff permutations. If Wilmington beats Augusta tonight, the Sea Dawgs take the lead in the Eastern Division, moving the Rochester Razorsharks down into the wild-card mix. A loss by Wilmington would help Rochester secure the Eastern Division lead, and could actually help make the wild-card race a more tightly-contested affair.
Right now, Wilmington and the Vermont Frost Heaves are the top teams in the wild-card run, in which the two teams with the best non-divisional record will advance to a "play-in" game for the playoffs. Other teams in the mix for those two wild card spots include the Halifax Rainmen, the Chicago Throwbacks, and the Augusta Groove, while the Detroit Panthers and Montreal franchise need minor miracles to make the postseason. And since God seems to be too busy with trying to answer Simon Cowell's prayers to keep Normund Gentile off American Idol, I don't think that divine intervention will provide a postseason for either Detroit or Montreal.
In other words - we're now getting into the final third of the season, in which every game is crucial for playoff positioning and participation.