NBL Division 2 Men - Late Season Preview

Division 2 Men

Nottingham Hoods

Record: 17-1

Position: 1st

Points For Per Game: 88.3

Points Against Per Game: 67.1

Game this weekend: v Leopards – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: v Bears, @ Westside, @ Warriors (P)

Nottingham can confirm a top 2 finish this weekend with a win over 3rd placed Essex, though they still need a few more wins in order to secure the regular season title. With a 2 game cushion over 2nd place a tie would go the way of the Cavaliers but the way the Hoods have played this season, it doesn’t look a likely that tiebreakers will be needed. If Nottingham can overcome Essex this weekend, it would give them a huge lift the rest of the way. If they lose to the Leopards, maybe that’ll open the door just enough for Thames Valley to steal top spot. First and foremost, the Hoods will want to get promotion confirmed and in the bag.

Thames Valley Cavaliers

Record: 15-3

Position: 2nd

Points For Per Game: 90.9

Points Against Per Game: 79.8

Game this weekend: v Elite – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: @ Ipswich, @ Arrows, @ LTBC (P)

All Thames Valley can do is win their remaining 4 games to place as much pressure on Nottingham as possible. This weekend’s home fixture with Birmingham should be relatively straight forward as the Cavs have already beaten the Elite by 23 this season. Games on the road to Ipswich, Derbyshire and Middlesex may provide more of a test, but nothing the Cavs can’t handle if they’re playing at their best. The London side still need another couple of wins to potentially secure a top 2 finish of their own. They’d love to get one of them this weekend. 

Essex Leopards

Record: 11-5

Position: 3rd

Points For Per Game: 82.6

Points Against Per Game: 79.0

Game this weekend: @ Hoods – Live Stats, v Liverpool – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: @ LTBC, @ Pioneers, v Pioneers, v Arrows (P)

The Leopards attempts to secure promotion straight back to D1M at the first time of asking look to have come up short. Whilst their chances are still far from an impossibility, they’d need to win their 6 remaining games and receive help from elsewhere. With just 4 games left on the Cavs season, the number of opportunities for them to slip up are also decreasing. Regardless of how the regular season ends, the Leopards will still be a hard team to match up with in the playoffs.

Liverpool

Record: 10-7

Position: 4th

Points For Per Game: 71.5

Points Against Per Game: 66.6

Game this weekend:  v Westside – Live Stats, @ Leopards – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: @ Elite, v Warriors, @ Bears

After looking like title challengers in the early going, Liverpool have dropped away somewhat in recent months. Compared to their relegation threatened campaign of a year ago though, this season has been a huge success. As one of the best sides defensively in D2M this season, Liverpool continue to build their top 4 aspirations on a solid foundation. That will serve them well in the post season and beyond.

Westminster Warriors

Record: 10-6

Position: 5th

Points For Per Game: 82.4

Points Against Per Game: 75.3

Game this weekend: N/A

Games after this weekend: v Pioneers, @ Arrows, @ Liverpool, v LTBC, v Hoods (P), @ LTBC (P)

A Tuesday night match up with local side London Greenhouse Pioneers means that Westminster have a weekend off coming up. After securing the Patrons Cup recently, this programme is deservedly on a high and they’d love to string some form together to win their remaining games and grab a top 4 spot. 2 games against LTBC will provide interest with Middlesex looking a much improved side of late, and the games with Liverpool and Nottingham will also be important. How Westminster fare in those games may provide a preview to their potential for success in the post season.

Ipswich

Record: 7-12

Position: 6th

Points For Per Game: 80.4

Points Against Per Game: 86.4

Game this weekend: v Bears – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: v Cavaliers, @ Elite

Ipswich should come through their remaining 3 games to secure a playoff berth, assuming they can grab a victory against either Sussex or Birmingham. This side has the ability to put up a real fight on their day, particularly at home. Essex went to Coplestone a few weeks ago and lost 95-76, something Thames Valley will need to be wary of next weekend. One downfall of this side though is their defence, they’ve given up the most points per game of any side in the division, and by some distance. That probably makes for entertaining basketball for the fans, but it is hard to secure victories if you can’t get stops. As a young side though, Ipswich still have plenty of time to develop.

Derbyshire Arrows

Record: 6-10

Position: 7th

Points For Per Game: 71.1

Points Against Per Game: 79.3

Game this weekend: @ LTBC – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: v Warriors, v Cavaliers, @ Westside (P), @ Leopards (P), v Elite (P)

The Arrows in 7th represent the top of the pile for the mix of teams that are fighting for a playoff place right now. 4 points separate Derbyshire and London Greenhouse Pioneers in 10th, and with most sides still having a handful of games to play, you can’t discount Birmingham or Westside on 8 points either. This weekend’s game with Middlesex will be huge, particularly since the Arrows have difficult games against Westminster, Thames Valley and Essex yet to play.

Middlesex LTBC

Record: 7-10 (4 points deducted)

Position: 8th

Points For Per Game: 67.3

Points Against Per Game: 72.8

Game this weekend: v Arrows – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: v Leopards, @ Warriors, v Cavaliers (P), v Warriors (P)

Despite their 4-point deduction earlier in the season for 2 forfeited fixtures, Middlesex have fought back admirably to still be in contention for a post season spot. Going 5-1 in their last 6 games has helped them complete the fightback, with statement wins over Ipswich and Liverpool mixed into that run. A win this weekend over the Arrows would help keep that momentum going before a difficult end of season stretch. Their remaining fixtures are all against top 5 teams, Essex, Thames Valley and Westminster twice.

Sussex Bears

Record: 6-13

Position: 9th

Points For Per Game: 73.1

Points Against Per Game: 80.7

Game this weekend: @ Ipswich -  Live Stats

Games after this weekend: @ Hoods, v Liverpool

The Bears have done reasonably well in their first season in D2M but they remain firmly in the relegation mix as things stand. Their remaining games aren’t easy and Sussex would probably want 1 or 2 more wins on the board to feel truly safe this season. It’s tough to know where those points might come from though, the Bears didn’t manage to beat Ipswich or Nottingham at the first time of asking. 

London Greenhouse Pioneers

Record: 5-12

Position: 10th

Points For Per Game: 69.7

Points Against Per Game: 73.6

Game this weekend: N/A

Games after this weekend: @ Warriors, v Westside, v Leopards, @ Leopards, @Westside (P)

Gearing up to play Westminster on Tuesday night, the Pioneers will have a few extra days of rest in which to plot how they will try to secure their D2M survival. Just 2 points ahead of Birmingham and Westside, wins have been in short supply this season. With a pair of games against bottom team Westside still to come, those fixtures will be huge. Fixtures with Essex and Westminster might provide less scope for victory, but 2 wins over Westside would put Greenhouse on 14 points. That might just be good enough.

Team Birmingham Elite

Record: 5-12 (2 points deducted)

Position: 11th

Points For Per Game: 66.2

Points Against Per Game: 74.1

Game this weekend: @ Cavaliers – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: v Liverpool, v Ipswich, @ Westside (P), @ Arrows (P)

After going 1-7 since late December, Team Birmingham need all the help they can get right now with 5 games remaining. Failure to provide live stats in multiple games had led to a costly points deduction and their remaining fixtures are mixed. Their game at Westside will be understandably important, and games against Derbyshire and Ipswich still provide hope. The next 2 weekends against Thames Valley and Liverpool may be much harder to navigate though. Birmingham probably need 2 or 3 wins from their remaining games to stay up, so it’s going to be tense right down to the wire. 

London Westside

Record: 4-12

Position: 12th

Points For Per Game: 70.7

Points Against Per Game: 80.4

Game this weekend: @ Liverpool – Live Stats

Games after this weekend: @ Pioneers, v Hoods, v Arrows (P), v Pioneers (P), v Elite (P)

With one more game to play than Birmingham and Greenhouse, every fixture is huge for Westside from here. Taking on the Pioneers twice and the Elite could provide the points needed for safety, but it’s far from a given that Westside will be able to win all 3 of those ties. If they can’t, games against Derbyshire and Liverpool will take on an added focus. A recent win against Ipswich helped get Westside back in touch, can they build on that result?