With Newcastle claiming further bragging rights over Kent with a victory in the Patrons Cup Final last week, the end of the D2M regular season looks set to be a dramatic one up at the top. With Liverpool squeaking 2 points away at Nottingham, there’s plenty of drama down at the bottom as well. We’ll take a look at all 6 games on the weekend and as usual, we’ll provide the score of the previous game that teams have played this season. With the primary tie breaker between two sides being their head to head record (including points difference) between each other over the 2 fixtures in a season, teams are not only looking to win but also secure any potential tiebreakers should two sides be equal on points come the end of the regular season.
With Kent already suffering 2 losses on the season to Team Newcastle’s 1, the Crusaders best chance of grabbing the D2M title might be to beat Newcastle when the teams next meet and secure the head to head record in the process. With their previous meeting being settled by just 1 point, it’s likely that any kind of win for Kent in that fixture will be enough. But having played 2 lost 2 on the season to their North East rivals, that plan is far from a given. Plus, to get to that stage Kent are going to have to win out, including overcoming a talented Thames Valley team this weekend.
Sat on 3 losses, it’s unlikely that the Cavs can still make a run at the title but if something unlikely were to happen it would involve a win in this fixture to start things off. When the sides met in Thames Valley back in mid-November, Kent cruised to a comfortable 92-75 win. It would take a big effort for the Cavs to grab both points, especially with Kent hosting this one, but it is a possibility.
Previous meeting – Thames Valley Cavaliers 75 v 92 Kent Crusaders
Look for John Shodipo to step to the fore as Kent try to top rivals Thames Valley - Mansoor Ahmed/AhmedPhotos
When these sides met in the North East in November, the Pioneers triumphed with an impressive 71-67 win. Since then, that result (along with others) has been adjudged to be void and the win was awarded 20-0 to Newcastle. With many across the NBL debating that sanction, the Pioneers have an excellent chance this weekend to prove that the team that beat Newcastle 3 months ago is still every bit their equal regardless of the personnel the London side can put on the floor.
Once bitten, twice shy for this Newcastle side as you would imagine they will be going all out to ensure they don’t slip up in this one. With the possibility that Kent could lose against Thames Valley, any kind of cushion the Knights could receive in such a tight title race would be valuable indeed. Austin and Nelson continue to lead this team forward; you’d bet they’ll both have a big say on the outcome of this game to.
Previous meeting - Team Newcastle University 20 v 0 London Greenhouse Pioneers
The pressure is well and truly on for Doncaster after their loss last weekend and Liverpool enjoying a win against the Hoods. Time is running out for the Eagles as they try and maintain their D2M status, but with a tough match up here against an in form Ipswich side, easy points are hard to come by. Danum would love to roll into their game with Liverpool with some momentum behind them, but they’ve lost 2 in a row and after this weekend Ipswich might have stretched that streak up to 3.
With just 4 games remaining on the season for Ipswich, they’ll be trying to win out and hope that London Westside slip up in their bid to secure 4th place and a home game in the 1stround of the playoffs. Winning out might be easier said than done though as this trip to Doncaster is followed by a home tie with Kent in what is sure to be a thrilling encounter. 5-1 in their last 6, this is an in form side that will be a tough match up for anyone in the post season.
Previous meeting – Ipswich 106 v 62 Doncaster Danum Eagles
If London Westside do drop a game against someone, it might be against Kent on the last day of the season. As they own the head to head over Ipswich though, it would take 2 losses for the London side to relinquish 4th place. With remaining games of vs Nottingham, vs Tees Valley, @ Doncaster and @ Pioneers to go with that game against Kent, it’s hard to see where 2 losses would come from in that list if Westside play to their usual standard.
It’s been a tough 2017 for the Hoods so far. 1-5 since the start of January, 3 of those losses have come by 3 points or less. Had Nottingham found a way to steal those close games, they’d probably be sitting pretty in 6th place with a strong chance of a playoff place. Instead, they’re hanging on in 8th with Tees Valley level on points in 9th. With form and momentum firmly against them, this could be another tough fixture for the Midlands side.
Previous meeting – Nottingham Hoods 58 v 61 London Westside
Kayne Henry-McCalla (black kit) will look to keep London Westside alive in the race for 4th - Pavel Kricka
1-6 in their last 7, it’s been a tough stretch for the Mohawks in the quest for a playoff place. If Doncaster and Liverpool can pick up some points, they might even pull Tees Valley back into the struggles at the bottom. With Charlton Jones still doing his thing, you’d figure they may have too much quality to get into trouble, but their recent form suggest a playoff spot might be elusive in the end.
Liverpool have really upped their game in recent week, answering the call to try and escape the D2M trap door with a string of impressive performances. Wins on the road against the Arrows and Hoods were huge, and a 4-point loss away to Westside was a momentum builder despite the final result. This weekend’s match up with the Mohawks is another winnable game if the visitors can find a way to quieten Jones.
Previous meeting – Liverpool 81 v 77 Tees Valley Mohawks
The dream is nearly over for Newham. Most likely needing a minimum of 3 wins to escape the drop, they only have 5 games remaining on the season. With thoughts potentially turning to next season, it might be time for the Neptunes to start their planning early and get a look at some of the players that might play a bigger role for the club in September. A 10-point game in Derbyshire to the hosts, this could be a winnable fixture in their own venue for Newham, but only they know where their priorities lie.
4 straight losses for the Arrows will have made them a little nervous in their quest to secure a playoff spot. Still hanging on to the 6th seed, upcoming games with Newham and Nottingham represent an opportunity for a change of fortunes. After that, 2 of their last 3 games are @ Newcastle and @Thames Valley with a home tie with Tees Valley sandwiched in the middle. That’s a tough way to end the season so the Arrows need to grab some points sooner rather than later.
Previous meeting – Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows 87 v 77 Newham Neptunes