NBL1 preview: 23/24 March - live streams, stats and more

The race for the D1M title is getting tighter with each passing game.

With Derby taking last weekend off league action to win the KitKing Trophy, Essex were able to pull level with the Trailblazers on 34 points.

That means with three games to go only Derby's head-to-head tiebreaker now separates the teams and any slips ups at this stage could huge.

That set up leads us into a strong eight game weekend, highlighted by a second plays third clash as Essex travel to Hemel.

We take a look at all this weekend action below, with links to live stats and live streams at the bottom of the page.

Hemel Storm (16-4) vs Essex Rebels (17-3)

Essex travel to Hemel on Sunday knowing that anything less than a win could well mean the end for the title challenge.

Due to losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with rivals Derby, the Rebels still need DTB to drop points before the end of the regular season to open the door for a possible smash and grab of top spot.

For that to happen, Essex will also need to pick up maximum points from their last four games. Easier said than done when a trip to defending champions Hemel is on the cards this weekend.

Storm's title chances are looking slim with two teams currently ahead of them. Beating Essex this weekend would be a start, but Derby still control the tiebreaker between themselves and Storm, meaning Hemel would still need help from elsewhere.

Despite being so late in the regular season, these teams are still yet to meet. The return leg in Essex is scheduled for next Saturday, offering up the possibility that these two teams both slow each other down in the next week or so, allowing Derby to spring to the title.

Hemel's Hakeem Sylla remains in the top three for efficiency, scoring (22.3PPG) and steals (2.4SPG), and his 8.9RPG and 1.1BPG are both still a top five mark for the league.

He's missed some action with injury recently, but stopping Sylla will be a tough task for the Rebels, with Hemel owning D1M's #1 offence at 97.2PPG and leading the league for points in the paint (52.2PPG).

Essex have the league's best defence though, allowing just 78.7PPG, so no doubt they'll have options across their roster for slowing the hosts down.


Elsewhere this weekend

Seven other games are squeezed into the weekend, starting with Newcastle University (13-8) and the league's top scorer Logan Rooney (23.1PPG) hosting City of Birmingham Rockets (8-13).

Barking Abbey (3-18) are already confirmed as a bottom-two finisher but have pride to play for as they wrap up their regular-season schedule. That continues this weekend as they host Bradford Dragons (10-10), who are fighting it out for playoff position.

That also goes for London Elite (3-18), who are Saturday opponents for Essex before their much-anticipated Saturday clash with Hemel.

It's not just the Rebels who are on a double-header, Storm are also in action as they host a Nottingham Hoods (8-12) side that are clinging on to the final playoff place.

Leaders Derby Trailblazers are on the road but up against 10th place Thames Valley Cavaliers (8-14), a team they beat by 18 when they last met in December.

Sunday contains a trio of games, including Hemel and Essex.

Nottingham and Bradford both complete double-headers as they clash in the Midlands, and Reading Rockets (14-7) will keep pushing for a top four place as they entertain Worthing Thunder (6-14).

D2 title decider

As a bonus for NBL fans, the D2 South title decider between Team Solent Kestrels and Milton Keynes Breakers will also be live streamed for fans to enjoy.

Solent currently sit top of the standings at a perfect 21-0, with MK close behind at 20-1. The Breakers' only loss to date came against TSK back in early October, going down at home 87-80 to a Russell Gariepy-inspired Solent.

That means MK need to win by eight to claim the head-to-head between the sides, whilst a Solent win or loss by less than seven would see them claim top spot.

It's the final game of the regular season for both sides and with promotion to D1M on the line, the margins couldn't be finer. Coverage starts on the BE YouTube channel from 6pm.

Live stats can be found here.

This weekend's fixtures:

Saturday 23 March

2pm - Newcastle University vs City of Birmingham Rockets - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM

4pm - Barking Abbey vs Bradford Dragons - LIVE STATS

6:30pm - London Elite vs Essex Rebels - LIVE STATS

7pm - Hemel Storm vs Nottingham Hoods - LIVE STATS

7pm - Thames Valley Cavaliers vs Derby Trailblazers - LIVE STATS

Sunday 24 March

3pm - Nottingham Hoods vs Bradford Dragons - LIVE STATS

4pm - Reading Rockets vs Worthing Thunder - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM

6pm - Hemel Storm vs Essex Rebels - LIVE STATS