NBL Division 1 Women - Late Season Preview

Division 1 Women

Essex Blades

Record: 15-1

Position: 1st

Points For Per Game: 68.5

Points Against Per Game: 49.6

Game this weekend: @ Pride – Live Stats, v Oxford – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: @ Oxford, v Bristol, @ Reading (P), @Lions II (P)

2 wins for the Blades this weekend and results elsewhere going their way will see Essex crowned D1W regular season winners. 2 games against 3rd placed Oxford and a home tie with Bristol (who gave the Blades their only loss to date) will be provide great battles to watch, but with a 4 game cushion to 2nd place, Essex may not need the wins by that point. Looking forwards to the post-season, a greater concern could be the programme’s fixture congestion. With BUCS games continuing to mount and Head Coach Mark Lloyd heading out to the Gold Coast as Team England’s Men’s Team Manager, the playoffs could be significantly more complicated than the end of the regular season.

Bristol Academy Flyers

Record: 12-5

Position: 2nd

Points For Per Game: 61.9

Points Against Per Game: 57.6

Game this weekend:  v Oxford – Live Stats, v Spinners – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: v Lions II, @ Blades, v Pride (P)

Still in with a mathematical chance of winning the league, the reality is that Essex have the regular season title in the bag. Regardless, Bristol have enjoyed a tremendous season so far and have built significantly since last year. As the only team to beat the Blades this season, they are aware of the blueprint required going forward in that department to. These final 5 games will important for the Flyers as they’ll want to secure 2nd place for their playoff aspirations. With Oxford and Southwark chasing hard and Bristol still having to play both those sides before the end of the season, they Flyers will need to stay on their A game.

Oxford Brookes University

Record: 11-7

Position: 3rd

Points For Per Game: 62.4

Points Against Per Game: 60.4

Game this weekend: @ Flyers – Live Stats, @ Blades – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: v Blades, @ Elite

Another side that can be enormously pleased with their season’s work, Oxford Brookes have gone from strength to strength after their promotion to the top flight. Their 3rd place in the standings is no accident and they’ve deserved all they’ve accomplished so far. 2 fixtures against Essex plus 1 against the Flyers should provide excellent viewing for the neutral, but it could also provide dropped points for Brookes in their quest to stay in the top 3. This weekend’s double header on the road against 1st and 2nd is as difficult as it gets!

Southwark Pride

Record: 11-5

Position: 4th

Points For Per Game: 62.1

Points Against Per Game: 54.5

Game this weekend: v Blades – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: @ Elite, v Spinners, v Rockets (P), @ Flyers (P), @ Spinners (P)

After a slow start to the season, Southwark has begun to find their feet and with 6 games left on the season they’re now starting to look like the same programme that was so dominant last year. With 3 postponed fixtures still to rearrange, Southwark will be busy down the stretch and fatigue won’t help in games against Bristol and Lancashire. Coach Gibbons will no doubt be itching for another chance to take a shot at Essex after losing by just 5 when the teams first met in early December. This Pride team has improved a lot since then, and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if they grabbed a win this weekend.

Lancashire Spinners

Record: 10-6

Position: 5th

Points For Per Game: 62.2

Points Against Per Game: 56.3

Game this weekend: @ Anglia – Live Stats, @ Flyers – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: v Riders, @ Pride, v Pride (P), @ Elite (P)

Comparing their season to a year ago, this Spinners side has come on leaps and bounds and deserve their shot at a top 4 position with 6 games to go. If they are going to finish up near the top, the remaining matches with Southwark will surely be key but the game against Anglia Ruskin this weekend will also be of interest. The Rhinos are a form team right now and playing on their own court will make them tough to overcome. A shot at the top 4 may require 14+ wins, so the Spinners are going to have to play some great basketball the rest of the way. With some difficult road games to come, their status as the 3rd best defensive team in D1W will surely come in handy. They concede just 56.3ppg.

Reading Rockets

Record: 10-6

Position: 6th

Points For Per Game: 67.4

Points Against Per Game: 62.8

Game this weekend: @ Kestrels – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: v Anglia, v Blades (P), @ Pride (P), @ Elite (P), v Elite (P)

Another side with a number of games yet to rearrange, Reading will no doubt have to pull multiple double-header between now and the end of the season. The Rockets are the 2nd highest scoring side in the D1W, but the 3rd worst defensively. Great for the neutral but it does make life harder when trying to pick up wins. 2 games with Birmingham may be the highlight for this Rockets side the rest of the way, but they’re sure to give their all against resurgent sides like Anglia Ruskin and Solent plus the high flying Blades and Pride. They have the quality to pick up wins in a number of those games.

Loughborough Students Riders

Record: 8-11

Position: 7th

Points For Per Game: 55.5

Points Against Per Game: 61.1

Game this weekend: v Lions II – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: @ Spinners, @ Anglia

Currently sat in 7th with 3 games left in their schedule, the uptick in form from the teams below the Riders could give cause for concern regarding their playoff hopes. A 2-3 record in their last 5 (including a 20-0 forfeit to Essex that may yet incur a potential penalty) means the team hasn’t been firing on all cylinders of late, but a game this weekend against London could be productive. Getting points from their other remaining games against Lancashire and Anglia Ruskin is less clear cut.

Anglia Ruskin University

Record: 7-11

Position: 8th

Points For Per Game: 59.2

Points Against Per Game: 63.6

Game this weekend:  v Spinners – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: @ Rockets, v Riders, @ Lions II (P)

After an 0-8 start, Anglia Ruskin have been 7-3 since and look a tricky team to face. The Rhinos have the ability to win out the rest of the way and secure a playoff berth in style, though being competitive against sides like Lancashire and Reading will show how far this team has come after their early struggles. Coach Harber deserves a lot of credit for the work he’s done to turn this programme around when the season looked lost at Christmas.

Team Solent Kestrels

Record: 6-13

Position: 9th

Points For Per Game: 54.3

Points Against Per Game: 58.5

Game this weekend:  v Rockets – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: @ Nottingham, @ Elite

At 2-11, the Kestrels were in freefall by late January. Since that point, they have hit the reset button and 4 wins in their last 6 have helped to provide some stability. The shot at a playoff position is still very much a reality thanks to how tight the standings are right now in the bottom half of the league, but equally Solent could be in trouble if they don’t manage to find another win or two. Games against Nottingham and Birmingham to close their season could be very important either way.

University of Nottingham

Record: 6-14

Position: 10th

Points For Per Game: 51.4

Points Against Per Game: 60.8

Game this weekend: @ Elite – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: v Kestrels

Another side in the mix near the 2nd potential relegation spot, Nottingham only have 2 games remaining but they’re both very important. With the number of games Birmingham have left on the season, Notts really do need a couple of wins to put pressure on the Elite as they close out the season. It the University side do lose this weekend, it would make the need for a win against Solent that much greater, and even then, it still might not be enough.

Team Birmingham Elite

Record: 5-10

Position: 11th

Points For Per Game: 58.1

Points Against Per Game: 60.9

Game this weekend: v Nottingham – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: v Pride, v Oxford, v Kestrels, v Rockets (P), v Spinners (P), @ Rockets (P)

Birmingham’s ability to move out of the bottom 2 is firmly in their own hands due to the number of games they still have to play. That said, whilst the numbers may be on their side, the fixtures aren’t easy. Reading, Lancashire, Oxford and Southwark will all provide a stern test for the Elite, Solent continue to improve with each passing week and Nottingham will be fighting for their D1W future. The importance of the game this weekend against Nottingham can’t be overstated, the winner could be securing their safety with a win.

BA London Lions II

Record: 3-15

Position: 12th

Points For Per Game: 56.4

Points Against Per Game: 68.2

Game this weekend: @ Riders – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: @ Flyers, v Anglia (P), v Blades (P)

Battling injuries and working through the growing pains of a young roster, it has been a tough campaign for BA London Lions II. With 3 wins on the year, they more than likely need to win all 4 of their remaining games if they’re to escape a bottom 2 finish. Still needing to take on Essex and Bristol, that is no easy task. Regardless of the outcome, the girls in the BA programme will no doubt have learned a lot that they can take forward as they progress.