PREVIEW - NBL Division One title up for grabs, while Reading chase top four finish in WNBL

NBL Division One

 Leicester Warriors v Loughborough Riders 

Saturday 30 March 2019 - 3.00pm

Live Stats

The final weekend of the regular season gets going with an all-East Midlands duel at Braunstone Leisure Centre as the Loughborough Riders make the short trip over to face Leicester. The Warriors enter this one off the back of a short two game win streak over the last fortnight, defeating Barking and Nottingham on their way to holding the eighth spot as head into the last weekend. Despite having held the final playoff spot for a number of weeks, this last game for Coach Karl Brown's squad remains vital, because a loss could see Leicester drop out of the top eight due to both Hemel and Bradford holding head-to-head tie-breakers. A win for the Warriors will secure post-season play, and could also ensure that they avoid facing the league champions in the 1st vs 8th matchup - if Essex lose against Team Solent.

Meanwhile, the Riders head into this all-East Midlands contest off the back of an exciting week in university competition where Loughborough were crowned BUCS National Champions for the fourth year running. Coach Mark Jarram's side will surely wish to carry that momentum into their weekend's action, as they head into a double-header game where just one win would clinch third place. With Thames Valley also heading into double-header action, Loughborough dropping both games allows the Cavaliers to sneak ahead, and an exactly equal head-to-head means this could be an intriguing race as the weekend progresses. 


 Team Newcastle v Nottingham McDonalds Hoods 

Saturday 30 March 2019 - 3.00pm

Live Stats

With their fate sealed after a loss to Barking Abbey, Team Newcastle will play out their final contest in NBL Division One in front of their home crowd at the Benfield Centre, before joining ranks of NBL Division Two next campaign alongside Manchester. After the disappointment of the relegation-sealing loss against the Crusaders, Coach Ian Hewitt's side bounced back last Sunday to pick up a relatively surprising narrow win over Reading to improve to 7-18 on the campaign. A win here in their final game of a tough season would see them draw level with Barking ahead of the Crusaders' trip to Bradford, but due to being on the wrong side of the tie-breaker the North East cannot escape the drop.

Newcastle's final encounter comes against Nottingham McDonalds Hoods, who will hope to complete a debut top flight campaign on a high - despite falling out of the playoff race down the stretch. Coach Ryan Westley's side have contributed a respectable 9-15 record to an exciting regular season of action thus far, and they will have two chances to increase their win tally to double figures with back-to-back games this weekend. Heading north on the penultimate day of the season, the Hoods then return home to close out their campaign in front of their loyal home crowd at the Wildcats Arena.


 Thames Valley Cavaliers v Worthing Thunder 

Saturday 30 March 2019 - 6.00pm

Live Stats

Still with an outside chance of leapfrogging Loughborough to snatch third place, the Thames Valley Cavaliers head into a busy double-header weekend to close out their season with an extremely tough home game on Saturday evening. To open up their back-to-back, the Cavs will take to the floor at Uxbridge College for the final time this regular season, facing off against a title-chasing foe with no margin for error. Having secured home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, Thames Valley are safe within the top four - an impressive mark for a team in their first season in the top flight, but will need to bring a top performance if they are to take down the current second-ranked side who had their number in the reverse fixture back in January.

For the Thunder, it is a do or die weekend. Having dropped their home game against Hemel in overtime back in February, Worthing have had to watch and wait as the performance of Team Solent controls the destination of the NBL Division One title. With the Kestrels having gone on a seven game win streak since their own February slip up against Derby, it has been a long stretch run for player-coach Josh Goddard's side as they fight to keep pace with the south coast rivals. A win for Worthing will be enough to put them top overnight, before all eyes will be on the Leopards vs Kestrels matchup - a Sunday evening encounter which could determine the location of the title. 


 Bradford Dragons v Barking Abbey Crusaders 

Saturday 30 March 2019 - 6.15pm

Live Stats

A vital weekend double-header stands in the way of the Bradford Dragons and the end of the regular season, sitting two games back of the playoffs with two games to play. Coach Chris Mellor's side crucially hold the head-to-head tie-breakers over both Leicester and Essex, so slip ups from either squad in their final games this weekend could gift the West Yorkshire side a playoff spot. To make this a possibility, Bradford will need to pick up both games at the Dragons' Den - and begin their plight with a tricky one on Saturday evening against Barking.

The Crusaders themselves will head into this one, their final game of the season, buoyed by their pivotal victory over Team Newcastle last weekend that secured their top flight status for next season. Coach Lloyd Gardner's young squad have taken the rough with the smooth this year, but the perennial academy powerhouse has done just enough to maintain their spot in NBL Division One, despite a tricky stretch run. With little to play for except pride in this one, it may be just enough for the motivation of a playoff spot to give Bradford an edge, but Barking Abbey will want to build on their form from last weekend ahead of their EABL playoff final this coming Wednesday. 


 Hemel Storm v Derby Trailblazers 

Saturday 30 March 2019 - 7.00pm

Live Stats

With neither of the south coast sides in home action this weekend, the late game on Saturday takes place in Hertfordshire, as Hemel Storm close out their season in front of their home fans for the final time. The Stormtroopers have been treated to an exceptional second half of the season from Coach Robert Youngblood's side, going on an impressive run to put themselves right in amongst the playoff mix over the final stretch of the season. Holding the head-to-head over both Leicester and Essex, Hemel remain in contention - win this one against Derby, combined with a slip up from the Warriors or Leopards, and hope for Bradford to drop one in their back-to-back... the chances are slim, but the Storm still have a shot at playing a part in the post-season. 

Meanwhile, the Trailblazers' impressive campaign has seen them fall just short of a top four finish, meaning the Clarence Wiggins Centre will not play host to post-season basketball this year. Owing in some part to star US import forward Malcolm Smith missing time over the final stretch, Coach Matt Shaw's side haven't quite had the run they needed to grab home court advantage, and may yet still fall to sixth if they drop this one and Reading pick up a likely win against Manchester. 


 Nottingham McDonalds Hoods v Thames Valley Cavaliers 

Sunday 31 March 2019 - 2.30pm

Live Stats

Completing their double-header action to rounds out a strong regular season, Nottingham will head onto their home floor to close out their campaign in front of a home crowd at the Wildcats Arena. A solid debut campaign has seen the Hoods keep their heads above their relegation battle for the most part, but they have fallen into Division One purgatory by ending up just short of the playoff race. Meanwhile, Thames Valley head on the road after facing Worthing the evening before, and depending on their result at Uxbridge College, Coach Robert Banks' side may head into this one still in with a chance of snatching third place. The two sides promoted from NBL Division Two finish up the regular season squaring off in a fitting finale, with both sides having played their part in an exciting campaign this year. 


 Essex Leopards v Team Solent Kestrels 

Sunday 31 March 2019 - 4.00pm

Live Stats

Sunday afternoon's action continues at the Brentwood Centre as the Essex Leopards complete their regular season with a crucial matchup that will go some way to determining both the top spot and the eighth spot. To remain in one of the final playoff spots, where the Big Cats currently reside, Coach Thomas Baker's squad may find themselves in need of a win in this one - with both Hemel and Bradford chasing, each holding head-to-head advantages. With a crucial final game to go, there is no tougher matchup than the champions-elect coming to town, but the Leopards will put it all on the line, having kept a number of the top teams close this campaign.

Making the trip out to Essex is a Team Solent Kestrels side with a simple task in front of them. A victory for the south coast powerhouse will earn them the league title, having been in control of their own destiny since February. Coastal rivals' Worthing Thunder have been breathing down their neck right through the stretch run, but Coach Matt Guymon's squad have managed to keep just ahead of their closest competitors, and the nip-and-tuck race will come down to this final encounter. Essex have a lot to play for in this one, so are unlikely to roll over and allow the Kestrels to easily clinch to silverware - so keep your eyes on this one throughout Sunday afternoon. 


 Bradford Dragons v Loughborough Riders 

Sunday 31 March 2019 - 4.15pm

Live Stats

Another two sides completing their double-headers to finish off a gruelling regular season campaign are Bradford and Loughborough who face off on Sunday evening. Depending on their result against Barking Abbey on Saturday, the Dragons may enter this one with a playoff spot still up for grabs. A loss to the Crusaders will see this game played out for pride only, but there is a strong chance that more than bragging rights will be played for in this one. Meanwhile, Loughborough's back-to-back road weekend also carries weight in how the final standings will shake up at the top - seeing as a weekend of slip ups from the Riders could potentially gift Thames Valley third place, if things really go awry for Coach Mark Jarram and his side. 


 Reading Rockets v Manchester Magic 

Sunday 31 March 2019 - 5.00pm

Live Stats

Rounding out the NBL Division One regular season is an evening matchup at Rivermead between two teams with very different fortunes. Reading sit in sixth place heading into this weekend, but could finish anywhere between 5th & 8th depending on this weekend's results. An unlikely loss in this one would open the door for Leicester or Essex to leapfrog the Rockets if they can pick up upset wins, while a win for Reading and a loss for Derby sees Coach Alan Keane's squad rise to fifth. A weekend of plenty permutations comes down to this final matchup in Berkshire, with many shake-ups potentially still ahead.

Closing out a torrid season are the Manchester Magic who will begin making plans for life in NBL Division Two next campaign. A season of tough results for a young squad has seen roster changes, coaching changes and a very stormy sea for a perennial powerhouse in the NBL's top flight. With bright hopes for the future in Manchester, the Magic will hope to regroup next year around a strong up-and-coming core, but will need reinforcements if they are to bounce back up to the big league. 


WNBL Division One

 Reading Rockets v Team Solent Kestrels 

Sunday 31 March 2019 - 2.15pm

Live Stats

WNBL Division One comes to a climax this weekend with a quiet single game slate, with eight of the ten sides having already finalised their regular season last weekend or earlier. Having gone on a six game win streak to this point to close out the season, the Rockets have climbed out of mediocrity into an exciting race for home court advantage to complete their league campaign. An important win over Loughborough last Sunday gives Reading the all-important head-to-head tie-breaker against the Riders, with Coach David Sanchez' side needing a final victory in this one to clinch fourth place and bring WNBL Division One playoff basketball to Rivermead, after just missing out last year. 

Meanwhile, Team Solent Kestrels fell just short of being a major player in the WNBL Division One title race this campaign, but a couple of untimely losses saw Coach CJ Lee's squad on the outside looking in as the chase for the silverware came down to the wire. With two of their five losses on the season coming against the league champion Flyers, and splitting their season series against second-placed Anglia Ruskin, the Kestrels can be proud of a season where they have kept up a solid record against the majority of the league. However, an intriguing look into the playoff picture shows the sixth-seeded Ipswich won the season series 2-0 over Team Solent - so the Kestrels will hope to build momentum, locked into the third seed and heading into a tricky post-season matchup.


NBL Division Two

 Myerscough College v Greenwich Titans 

Saturday 30 March 2019 - 2.00pm

Live Stats

A busy climax to the NBL Division Two season gets underway in the North West when Myerscough College play host to Greenwich. The Lancashire-based side are heading into this one off a tough road trip to the capital last weekend when they picked up a loss at Westminster, dropping below .500 as they prepared for their final league game. The game against the Titans presents an opportunity for Coach Neal Hopkins' squad to finish an even .500 on the season with a 10-10 record - a mark that would be an impressive finish for the side completing their debut season in NBL Division Two. With a win Myerscough could put themselves in the mix for the fourth spot if results elsewhere go their way.

Greenwich make the trip up the M6 to Preston with one aim on their mind - to pick up a win that gives them a shot at sole ownership of the eighth and final playoff seed. Locked in what is looking likely to be a three horse race with Westside and Derbyshire, the Titans are tied on six wins heading into this weekend and need to grab a result on the road to improve their chances of post-season action. With plenty of permutations coming into play depending on results elsewhere, and a three-way tie also in the offing - Coach Ashley Thomas' side could really do with picking up the points in this one if they want their season to extend into April.


 Liverpool v London Greenhouse Pioneers 

Saturday 30 March 2019 - 5.00pm

Live Stats

Having wrapped up the league title with games to spare, Liverpool Basketball Club take to their home floor at Archbishop Beck on Saturday evening looking to complete an incredible undefeated season. Ipswich completed the feat last year in WNBL Division Two, but in a tough NBL Division Two league the longevity of Coach Delme Herriman's squad's success this season has been extremely impressive to watch unfold.

Looking to spoil the party in Merseyside is a London Greenhouse Pioneers that was right in amongst the title race at the turn of the year, challenging Westminster and Liverpool at the top. A tough run of form after the festive break saw Greenhouse slide down the table, but a recent resurgence has seen Coach Predrag Krneta's side solidify a top four position - but there's still all to play for with East London and Myerscough hot on their heels and clamouring for home court advantage.


 Westminster Warriors v Derbyshire Arrows 

Saturday 30 March 2019 - 5.30pm

Live Stats

Locked into the second seed and confidently heading into the post-season is a Westminster side hungry to add post-season success to their Patrons Cup title from earlier this season. After a dominant year for both Liverpool and the Warriors at the top, the odds on matchup in the playoff final could be the league's top two sides, but Coach Jon Johnson's side will have to go game-by-game just like everyone else to book that spot. 

First up, to round out their league campaign, the Warriors host a Derbyshire Arrows side that is locked in the race for eighth - needing the points from this matchup to be in with a chance of earning the final playoff spot. With Westside and Greenwich also keenly contesting this race for the final post-season berth, Coach Jonny Kelly's side will need to keep an eye on the results around the league as well as trying to pinch a result at Moberley Sports Centre on Saturday evening. 


 London Westside v Ipswich 

Saturday 30 March 2019 - 6.15pm

Live Stats

The final side in the race for eighth is a London Westside outfit that will play host to Ipswich in their final scheduled game of the regular season. With an outstanding game still to be played against Westminster, it remains to be seen if their postponed fixture against the Warriors will be played, claimed or voided, but the task in front of Westside on Saturday is clear - pinch a result and be in with a chance at post-season play. With Coach Frank Lamptey's side being the final tip-off on Saturday, the Westside squad should know the fates of Greenwich and Derbyshire in their respective games, knowing exactly what needs to be done in the race for the last post-season berth.

Meanwhile, a loss for Ipswich will see them dead last in NBL Division Two, after a tough year of transition as their young stars develop and some veteran presences move on to hang up their boots. Just one game back from the race for eighth, Ipswich may not be down and out quite yet - pinching a result here and seeing Derbyshire and Greenwich also lose should create a 6-14 four-way tie at the foot of the table, with a complex mini-table required to sort out the 8th-11th spots. The Suffolk-based side will no doubt head into this one ready to compete to cause the upset required to keep things interesting on the final penultimate of the season.


 East London All Stars v Sussex Bears 

Sunday 31 March 2019 - 5.00pm

Live Stats

The final game of an exciting NBL Division Two campaign sees Sussex Bears head on the road to UEL Sportsdock to take on an All Stars side still in contention for home court advantage. This 5th vs 6th face-off on the final day of the regular season could see Coach Dave Greenaway's side vault into third place with a victory by nine points or more. This margin of victory would give East London the crucial head-to-head over the Bears, combined with a likely loss for the Pioneers against Liverpool, clinching third place for the NBL Division Two newcomers. 

Meanwhile, a win for Sussex combined with a loss for Greenhouse would see playoff basketball make its way to Sir Robert Woodard Academy in April, as the Bears would climb into fourth place for home court advantage. London United hold the head-to-head over the south coast side, so they are safe in third place, but a win here for Sussex would bring them on level terms with the West London side and vault above the Pioneers if they lose to Liverpool.


For full Scores & Schedules for this weekend's action, click the link below: