NBL D2&3 recap: Titles claimed with regular-season finish in sight

In what feels like a blink of the eye, February is done and the NBL season is nearing its final month.

Some regular-season titles have already been claimed, with others still hotly contested as the number of games remaining is dwindling fast.

Teams are also scrapping hard at the foot of the standings, trying frantically to escape the potential drop zones in each league.

Here’s the latest story from across tiers two and three.

NBL Division Two  

The North division is close to being secured by Bristol Hurricanes (18-1), who have been on a tear and are now just a few results away from sealing top spot.

Two losses in front of their closest rivals St Helens Saints (16-3), the Hurricanes should be able to grab the title before the two meet on 16 March.

Manchester Magic (12-8) and Teesside Lions (10-8) round out the top four, then the competition gets pretty spicy as Leicester Warriors (9-10), Worcester Wolves (9-11), Myerscough Basketball Academy (9-11), Bristol Basketball United (9-12) and Derbyshire Arrows (9-9) all sit on 18 points from fifth down to ninth.

With only the top four making the playoffs, it's going to be dog-eat-dog in the weeks ahead.

In the South, Team Solent Kestrels (19-0) are now within touching distance of a perfect season with just three games to go.

One of those fixtures is at home to Milton Keynes Breakers (17-1), their next closest rivals, and could well be the decider for who finishes top on the final day of the season.

Richmond Knights (14-6) have a pretty good handle on the #3 seed, but behind them, Cardiff Met Archers (11-8) and Cobham Scorchers (11-9) are closely matched for the #4 spot.

With an eight-point gap between fifth and sixth, the remainder are out of playoff contention but with sixth down to tenth all on 14 points, that should provide some exciting basketball in the next few weeks regardless. 

WNBL Division Two 

Another month, another clean sheet for Sheffield Hatters II (13-0) as they remain spotless for 2023/24 in Pool 1.

Worcester Wolves (12-3) are doing all they can to push the South Yorkshire side right to the line, but given the Hatters have games in hand, they should seal top spot sooner rather than later.

Bromsgrove Bears (10-6) and University of East Anglia (10-3) continue to battle for third and four to round out the pool's playoff participants, with the latter enjoying the edge at present due to their remaining games still to be played.

Derby Trailblazers (8-9), Stockport Lapwings (7-6) and Nottingham Wildcats II (7-8) are all still in the mix, but time is running out.

Cobham Cobras (16-1) and London All Stars (15-2) continue to go toe-to-toe at the top of Pool II, with the pair set to meet on 23 March for what could be a regular season title decider.

It's all to play for after that, with #3 and #4 being contested by a bunch of clubs as things stand.

East London Phoenix (11-6), Hemel Storm (10-6), Thames Valley Cavaliers II (10-7), Oaklands College Wolves II (10-9) and Cardiff City (9-8) all fill places three through seven, with five clubs fighting hard to make it into two playoff spots.

That should ensure plenty of quality action over the coming month, though which duo comes out on top is anyone's guess.

NBL Division Three 

Essex Rebels II (17-0) celebrated this past weekend after they were confirmed as East conference winners, with the Rebels now just focusing on their final game as they attempt to secure a perfect 18-0 record away to Northamptonshire Titans II (4-11).

In the North, things couldn't be tighter with an incredible six teams separated by just two points. Leeds LDM (9-3), Charnwood Riders (9-6), West Yorkshire Hawks (9-6), Tees Valley Mohawks (9-5) and Sheffield Sharks (9-5) are amazingly all on 18 points, with Sheffield Elite Basketball Academy (8-7) right behind. 

Liverpool (17-1) are close to claiming the North West title over Cheshire Wire (15-3) but need one more win this coming weekend to do so. They're on the road against Manchester Kings (7-9) this Saturday, hoping to seal a result that would make a home game against Wire the weekend after pressure free.

As they have for most of the season, Nottingham Trent Hoods (9-2) are at the top of the Midlands conference, but Loughborough Riders II (8-1) are doing all they can to make things entertaining down the stretch.

Islington Panthers (12-2) will have to make the most of their games in hand if they're to overhaul East London Phoenix (14-2) at the head of the London conference.

The tiebreaker between those two sides is almost neck-and-neck with both teams winning their home game by exactly seven points, meaning overall points difference might be needed to split them come the end of the regular season.

It's also tight in the South, though Barnet Bulldogs (15-1) are in the box seats for the title having only tasted defeat once this season. That means Oxford Hoops (15-3), Greenhouse Sports (15-4) and Surrey Scorchers II (14-4) will all be hoping the Bulldogs slip up at some stage this month, though nothing is a given at this stage of the season.

Crawley Storm (12-1) are unbeaten no more after a loss to Canterbury but have still done enough to create the gap needed over Kent Crusaders (12-3) to wrap up the South East title with a game to go.

Cardiff City (11-1) are almost over the line in the South West conference, needing just one more win to be sure of clearing Plymouth Marjon Patriots (8-3) and Bath Basketball (8-3) in what has been a tight battle throughout the season.


Main image credit - Essex Rebels