There were so many upset results last week that it is become difficult to say what should or even could happen in this division. With the title race looking set to be a 2 horse race, it’s very much wide open once again and Thames Valley are right back in it. Losses for both Ipswich and Westside left the battle for 4th in flux and the scrap to avoid relegation couldn’t be tighter. With a whopping 12 games this weekend, the time is now for teams to make their move. With every side on double header duty, this is the opportunity for teams to grab the results that they need to realise their goals on the season. As always, 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.
This is a big one. With both teams tied on 5 wins, whoever can get their noses in front could avoid potential relegation to D3. Liverpool currently have the advantage of winning the 1stmeeting between these sides by 16 points, a nice cushion to have. That said, the Merseyside team won’t be entertaining the thought of a close loss in this one. A win would put them 2 points away from relegation with the head to head in their favour and just 3 games to go. With a fixture against Newham still remaining, that would be massive.
For Doncaster, this is a must win. Giving up the head to head with Liverpool as well as dropping a game behind them would leave them up against it with just 4 games left on their season. With 3 of their remaining 4 games at home, Doncaster still do have a solid shot at picking up points before season’s end, but they don’t want to leave themselves too much to do. A 2-point win over Ipswich last weekend will have done wonders for confidence, hopefully for the Eagles they can carry that forward into this game on Saturday.
Previous meeting – Doncaster Danum Eagles 73 v 89 Liverpool
Kaphel Ulett-Waul will need to be at his best for Liverpool this weekend - Liverpool
Ipswich were presented with a prime opportunity to move into 4th position with London Westside’s loss to Nottingham, but Ipswich were unable to overcome Doncaster and take advantage. With this game looking like a real treat for the neutral, it really go either way. Leigh Greenan has been in impressive form in the last month. How effective he is in this contest could be a deciding factor.
Kent also tasted defeat last weekend, dropping a game to Thames Valley to open the title race up once again. Fortunately for the Crusaders, they still own the head to head record against the Cavs but their loss was a setback nevertheless. Defeat certainly won’t have helped Coach Gardner’s side establish momentum in the run up to this one. It still looks like the winner of D2M will more than likely have no more than 3 losses, so barring something wild happening, Kent can’t afford to drop points here.
Previous meeting – Kent Crusaders 80 v 74 Ipswich
Normally, top of the league vs bottom of the league would be somewhat of a foregone conclusion. But Team Newcastle enter this game on the back of a loss that could threaten to derail their title ambitions if they don’t get things back on track. With Thames Valley and Kent still to play before the end of the season, it would be easy for Newcastle to look past this weekend and drop a game they should really be winning. Coach Hewitt needs to keep his troops focussed in this one.
Newham kept their chances of D2M survival alive with an impressive 75-54 win over Derbyshire last weekend but their task is still a tough one. The Neptunes best chance for survival is for Liverpool to beat Doncaster on Saturday, the Eagles to lose the rest of the way, then for Newham to beat Liverpool by 17 or more on the final day of the season. However, that plan still required Newham to win 1 of their other remaining 3 games. Those fixtures are @ Newcastle, vs Thames Valley and @ Ipswich. Not easy, but still a possibility at least.
Previous meeting – Newham Neptunes 86 v 97 Team Newcastle University
The Cavs have given themselves a chance in the title race once again but still have plenty to do if they’re going to finish the season in 1st. Their game on 19th March against Team Newcastle will be huge, and Thames Valley will need to claim that one by 9 or more to take the head to head. That’s looking ahead though and the Cavs need to focus on the task at hand as this Pioneers team beat Newcastle last week and would love to add another win over top 3 opposition to their late season efforts.
The Pioneers should be commended for how they’re finishing the season after being presented with a situation that it would have been easy to buckle under. With Head Coach Predrag Krneta back on the bench for this one after a suspension of his own, the Pioneers have done well during his 4 game absence and can now look to push on down the stretch. That win against Newcastle on Sunday sent a real statement to the league. With 5 games to go, there’s no reason this team can’t play tough and hang on to 6th place.
Previous meeting – London Greenhouse Pioneers 0 v 20 Thames Valley Cavaliers
A loss for Westside last week wasn’t as bad as it could have been with Ipswich dropping a game of their own. With just 4 games to go on their season, the London side should have enough in the tank to hang on and claim 4th and prove that last week was just a blip. If they can keep Kayne Henry-McCalla hot, they’ll be a handful in the playoffs as well. After this fixture, Westside finish @ Doncaster, @ Pioneers and vs Kent, so the potential is there to roll into the post season on the back of some solid form.
As a team on the playoff bubble, the Mohawks have managed to get through the worst of their fixtures and can now look forward to their 4 remaining games with a level of optimism. After this trip to the capital, Tees Valley face Nottingham, Derbyshire and Doncaster to round out the year. With nothing scary about those fixtures, Charlton Jones and Ben Seipt could continue their solid form and push the Mohawks into a low playoff seeing. Getting a win from this one would be a real bonus on the road though.
Previous meeting – Tees Valley Mohawks 65 v 63 London Westside
Ben Seipt's efforts in 2017 have been overshadowed by Charlton Jones, but he's an under the radar contributor for Tees Valley - Karen Brown
The wait for a win goes on for the Arrows as defeat to bottom side Newham last weekend means their losing streak has now reached 5 games. As their fall down the D2M standings goes on, the Arrows may also find themselves on the wrong end of a few games down the stretch with Team Newcastle and Thames Valley still to play. That gives this game added importance as Derbyshire look for points wherever they can get them.
An away day at Westside wasn’t the type of fixture many would have pegged the Hoods as finding success in, but that didn’t stop them from claiming a confident 70-55 win last weekend. That momentum will stand Nottingham in good stead as they try to finish strong and secure a play-off place. With David Watts back in the mix and playing well, this is a side that could end up as the 7th or 8th seed. With these 2 sides deadlocked in the table, look for the head to head to come into play as well.
Previous meeting – Nottingham Hoods 80 v 77 Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows
Moving into Sunday, Kent will be pleased to be able to turn to a home tie against a struggling Liverpool side after being tested on the road at Ipswich to start their weekend. Easy winners when the sides 1st met, the Crusaders would love another meeting like that in this one.
With such a tricky fixture awaiting them on Sunday, Liverpool’s game with Doncaster takes on even more importance. With the prospect of a win in this one being minimal at best, a loss to the Eagles could well mean a 2 loss weekend for Liverpool with very few games left on the season.
Previous meeting – Liverpool 53 v 98 Kent Crusaders
Doncaster can look forward to their own court and fans on Sunday regardless of how their crunch tie with Liverpool turns out. After their exploits at home to beat Ipswich last weekend, the Eagles will know that anything is possible if they can get rolling.
Westside have looked like world beaters this season, knocking off Kent and Team Newcastle this season. But with 8 losses on the season, they have generally come unstuck in games you’d expect the side to win. With defeats to Newham, Derbyshire and Tees Valley, is this the type of game that Westside could struggle with, particularly as the 2nd game of a double header?
Previous meeting – London Westside 90 v 80 Doncaster Danum Eagles
It is easy to think that this should be a relatively straight forward Sunday for the league leaders regardless of how Saturday’s fixtures play out. A 6-point Newcastle win back in December, late season pressure could be a factor in this one. With so much at stake, there are no easy games at this time of year, regardless of your standing in the table.
With Derbyshire’s form, this could make them a dangerous team in this one. After Saturday’s game with the Hoods, the Arrows will either still be on a long losing streak making a road game against the league leaders a hiding to nothing where the visitors can relax and play some carefree basketball. Or a win Saturday could mean that an energised and confident Derbyshire team hits the road with a new sense of purpose. Expect a close one here, this fixture could provide a few surprises.
Previous meeting – Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows 70 v 76 Team Newcastle University
Richard Austin has been red hot for Team Newcastle this season in all competitions - Mansoor Ahmed/AhmedPhotos
A 2nd game in as many days against teams on 7 wins, the Hoods could really begin to cement a playoff place with 2 wins this weekend. Comfortable winners the last time these sides met, the Hoods enjoyed 40 points from Delaney Powell that day. They’d love another performance like that in this one.
In that game back in December, the Mohawks only managed 6 points of production from Ben Seipt. With the 20-year-old hitting a rich vein of form since the turn of year, expect him to be much more of a factor alongside Charlton Jones in a game that Tees Valley would also like to claim to help their own post season prospects.
Previous meeting – Tees Valley Mohawks 70 v 89 Nottingham Hoods
After a long trip to Newcastle on Saturday, the Neptunes return home for a tie with Thames Valley on Sunday. It’s unlikely that kind of travel will aid their preparations, but at least this one is on their own court. Chances are slim that the basement side get anything out of this one, but stranger things have happened.
With both games on the weekend in London for the Cavs, they just need to make sure they take care of business. A tricky game against a Pioneers side with a point to prove on Saturday should probably be the focus, but this game could be a banana skin if taken lightly. Newham are a team fighting for their D2M survival after all.
Previous meeting – Thames Valley Cavaliers 121 v 101 Newham Neptunes
This one will be a good yard stick of how far the Pioneers have come since the sanctions that sent them down the D2M standings. Currently just a single place below Ipswich in 6th, the London side would love to get another win over a playoff side to boost their morale with the playoffs looming. This still looks like a team on a mission.
Ipswich can’t afford any slip ups in their quest to secure 4th place and this game will be a difficult one. After no doubt needing to give their all at home against Kent on Saturday if they’re going to get a win, a trip down to London on Sunday for a 1:30pm tip against a determined Pioneers side is a tall order.