Adding a pair of National Cup semi-finals into the mix makes for an exciting week 16 schedule in D1W, with plenty to play for throughout the weekend!
Joint leaders Ipswich can take sole possession of top spot this weekend if they can overcome 4th place Thames Valley Cavaliers.
Ipswich ascended to their current position following an impressive 86-80 win over previous leaders Anglia Ruskin last weekend. With ARU not playing a D1W game due to cup commitments, that leaves the door open for five time Player of the Week Harriet Welham and co. to seal 1st place.
Standing in their way are a Cavs side that have struggled for consistency in recent weeks. 3-2 in their last five, American Kelsi McNamara is still a threat to put up big numbers regardless of opponent. A previous D1W Player of the Week winner herself, she currently averages 16.3ppg.
Two other games make up the D1W schedule this weekend, starting with Nottingham Trent University's (3-6) trip to Southwark Pride (2-7). One of Southwark's two wins this season came back in October when these sides first met, with that loss forming part of an 0-5 start to NTU's season. Since that point they've gone 3-1 and will no doubt be a tougher opponent for the Pride this time around.
Saturday's other game sees Loughborough Riders (2-8) entertain BA London Lions II (1-9) in a clash that neither side will want to lose. With both teams struggling for both points and form, a win here could do wonders for either programme. The Riders claimed a 94-65 victory in London when these sides last met, they'd love another dominant performance like that tomorrow.
With current champions Loughborough already out of the cup, there will be a different name on the trophy for 2019/20 following the showpiece final in Essex next month.
Two hopefuls for that honour are Nottingham Trent University and Reading Rockets, with both teams meeting in the Midlands on Sunday afternoon. The Rockets suffered the heartbreak of losing last season's final and would love nothing more than going one step further this year. Reading have also already beaten tomorrow's opponents NTU in league play this year, triumphing 66-52 back in October.
In the other semi-final, joint D1W leaders and defending playoff champions Anglia Ruskin University must navigate a tricky road trip to 2018/19 D1W regular season winners Bristol Academy Flyers. ARU have already won in Bristol once this season, claiming a 75-60 win in November, but the cup can always throw up a surprise or two so tomorrow's contest is likely to be far from straightforward!
Main image credit - B.East Photography
18 Jan 2021