NBL D2&3 recap: Regular season almost done, playoff fields set

The end of the regular season is here, with the playoffs now set across D2 and D3.

The 16-team D3 post-season gets underway this weekend, whilst D2M and D2W both have one more weekend to go before reaching that stage.

The playoff teams have been confirmed across all divisions though as teams begin their battle to make it to Manchester's National Basketball Performance Centre on 27/28 April 224.

Here’s the latest story as we wrap up across tiers two and three.

NBL Division Two  

Bristol Hurricanes (20-2) and Milton Keynes Breakers (21-1) are confirmed as North and South champs respectively, with both teams now eligible to apply for promotion to D1M.

Bristol were able to take the North without too much stress, finishing six points ahead of their closest rivals St Helens Saints (17-5), who faltered in March.

MK had no such room for error, winning the South by the narrowest of margins in a head-to-head tiebreaker with Team Solent Kestrels (21-1).

Even then, that tiebreaker was decided with just seconds to go on the final day of the season a few weeks ago.

Needing to win by eight or more to take top spot, a Jordan Spencer jumper with 7.5 seconds remaining pushed MK out to a 104-96 lead, and the scores would stay that way following a tense final exchange that saw the Breakers seal the deal.

Manchester Magic (14-8) and Teesside Lions (13-9) round out the North's four playoff sides, with Richmond Knights (16-6) and Cardiff Met Archers (13-9) doing the same in the South after the Archers edged out Cobham Scorchers (13-9) via a tiebreaker.

That means the playoff bracket is now confirmed, with eight sides, four from the North and four from the South, beginning their journey to the NBPC.

North winners Bristol Hurricanes will face a home tie against South #4 seeds Cardiff Met Archers, with South champs Milton Keynes Breakers doing the same against North #4 foes Teesside Lions.

There are two other North vs South contests to complete the bracket, with last season's playoff finalists St Helens Saints hosting a Richmond Knight's side that finished with a near identical regular season record.

That just leaves Team Solent Kestrels to entertain Manchester Magic in a battle between two former NBL Division One title winners.

The opportunity for a rematch of Solent against Milton Keynes in Manchester is also still on the cards, with the two sides in opposite sides of the bracket.

#1 Bristol Hurricanes will no doubt have something to say about those kinds of predictions though, given their outstanding regular season.

WNBL Division Two 

Sheffield Hatters II (18-0) completed their perfect season to win Pool 1, with Cobham Cobras (20-2) coming through to win Pool II.

As has been the case for much of the season, Cobham were pushed hard by London All Stars (19-3) before eventually prevailing as both teams now sail into the post-season.

Behind the Hatters' dominance was a group of Worcester Wolves (15-3), University of East Anglia (13-5) and Bromsgrove Bears (10-6), who all make it safely though.

East London Phoenix (16-6) and Thames Valley Cavaliers II (14-7) are the other Pool II teams to qualify for the playoffs. TVC have one more game to play this weekend at home to Cardiff City, but the result can't impact the current standings as they're locked into fourth spot.

That means Sheffield Hatters' title defence will begin at home to Thames Valley Cavaliers II, with fellow league winners Cobham Cobras hosting Bromsgrove Bears.

Elsewhere, East London Phoenix will travel to Worcester Wolves gunning for an upset, whilst London All Star welcome University of East Anglia.

NBL Division Three 

D3's regular season is now over, with division winners confirmed across all eight leagues.

Essex Rebels II (18-0) completed a perfect season to win the East, with Leeds LDM (12-4) beating out some stiff competition to take the North as five teams all finished within four points of each other at the top.

Liverpool (19-1) are North West champs, Loughborough Riders II (13-1) snuck past Nottingham Trent Hoods (12-2) for the Midlands title and East London Phoenix (16-2) are the winners in London.

Barnet Bulldogs (19-1) came out on top in a highly-competitive South conference, Crawley Storm (11-1) secured top spot in the South East and Cardiff City (13-1) completed a fine season in the South West to earn the title there.

With the top two teams from each conference making up the 16-team post-season line up, it's all to play for this weekend as we head towards the opening round.

#1 seeds Essex Rebels II are at home to Tees Valley Mohawks, #2 seeds Barnet Bulldogs entertain Plymouth Marjon Patriots and #3 seeds Liverpool host East runners up University of Hertfordshire Storm.

Kent Crusaders face a long trip across the country to #4 Cardiff City, Islington Panthers head up to #5 Loughborough Riders II and there's a much-anticipated clash between #6 Crawley Storm and #11 Greenhouse Sports.

That just leaves East London Phoenix against Cheshire Wire, and the ever-entertaining #8 vs #9 clash between Leeds LDM and Nottingham Trent Hoods.



Main image credit - Barnet Bulldogs