Playoffs are upon us, and with the postseason getting underway we shift the format of our predictions to consult our entire Uniball team on who they think will be progressing to the second round!
Remember, conference champions have already been locked in as promotees, so all that’s at stake in the Division Two Playoffs now is a handful of BUCS points… And a whole lot of pride!
Canterbury Chargers (#1) vs UCL Emperors (#8)
The Emperors put in an impressive rookie season, finishing out with a 4-2 record. However, they took heavy defeats when facing off against the stronger programmes in their home conference, so there’s likely some concerns about how far they can go in playoffs.
The Chargers meanwhile put up their first undefeated season despite their small roster. It was far from comfy however, with a couple of come-from-behind victories necessary to lock up a conference that was plagued by withdrawals and postponements this season.
Brunel Burners (#2) vs Bristol Barracuda (#7)
The Burners fell short when it mattered most last season, so it’s fair to say they came into this year with very clear goals, and perhaps a bit of a chip on their shoulders. Still, this year there were no stumbles and they’ve performed well in every outing, including finding ways to rack up points despite their clock-consuming offence, and consistently making big plays on D.
The ‘Cuda meanwhile will likely once again be frustrated by another ‘not quite’ season. They opened and closed the year with losses to Plymouth and Gloucestershire, and blew everyone out of the water entirely in-between! They appeared to be the on-form team in the conference heading into the mid-season break, but finished the year with two disappointingly pedestrian performances on offence – a single score win over Bournemouth, followed by a shut out against the Gladiators.
Plymouth Blitz (#3) vs Southampton Stags (#6)
The Blitz’s 16/17 season has actually been unerringly similar to their 15/16 one – strong performances when their roster’s healthy, huge slumps in form when they’re missing key personnel.
Luckily for the Blitz however, the timing’s different this time around and while they saw a slump in form ahead of the Christmas break – seeing them suffer a shock defeat to the Bobcats – they’re hitting the postseason at the healthiest they’ve been all year and after racking up their second straight conference crown will be eager to get the playoff monkey off their backs – the Plymouth side have been one and done the last two times they entered the postseason!
They Stags meanwhile will have been disappointed to not have achieved their goal of promotion this season, however the programme’s clearly one that’s on the mend after a few years of struggles. They’ve got a big roster and one of the most experienced and successful Head Coaches in Uniball history so don’t be surprised to see them overcome their single-loss season and make a big splash in the postseason. A powerful ground attack could yet punish the Blitz who had no answer to Portsmouth’s devastating ground game last season.
Gloucester Gladiators (#4) vs QMBL Vipers (#5)
The Gladiators were likely 40-odd seconds of disarray away from their first every conference crown this year… However, mistakes in their final seconds of their first half against Plymouth cost the Gladiators BIG, and another year in the bottom tier lies ahead of them. However, they proved this year they can win big – with a #50Burger over Bath Spa in a half of running clock football – and win tough – grinding out a 3-0 win over Bristol to close out the season and lock up the #2 spot in the conference.
QMBL meanwhile have had a very impressive rookie season. While many other London University clubs have struggled to sustain numbers or had problems with finding venues, the Vipers hit the ground FAST in 16/17 – despite only recruiting their head coach with a few weeks to go before the season kicked off! They’ve got a big roster, and some experienced ballers heading things up.
Even were there postseason to end here, the Vipers and fellow Rookies, UCL, have already lined themselves up a charity game – inspired by being tied together in our Power Rankings early in the season!
There we have it ‘Nation – but who are YOUR picks to make it through the first round of playoffs in the southern half of Division Two?