By Justin Cheuk
With ten college teams battling for basketball supremacy and ultimate bragging rights within the university community, the 2013-14 men’s College Basketball season at Durham has once again proven to be an exciting affair, especially as the race for the championship was the most open in recent years.
The defending champions Ustinov A retained most of their championship-winning squad and reinforced their status as the preseason favourite in convincing fashion as they blew out St Cuthbert’s on the first matchday.
However, their hopes of once again retaining the title would not go unopposed. St Mary’s also managed to improve on their squad from last year and cemented their own championship credential with comprehensive victories over John Snow and Hild Bede.
Meanwhile, the other traditional powerhouse Collingwood bizarrely struggled as they endured a woeful start to their season, where an unprecedented four successive defeats consigned them to the bottom of the league, well away from contention.
Thus Michaelmas term effectively became a two-horse race as both Ustinov A and St Mary’s remained unbeaten before the Christmas break, the latter edging slightly ahead on point difference.
The second half of the season began in similar fashion. While St Mary’s early form was hampered due to injuries, they managed to hold their slender lead over Ustinov by remaining undefeated. Elsewhere Collingwood finally managed to recall their university-level players; while the Stockton colleges quietly picked up victories to move up in the table.
Nevertheless the championship would seem to be decided on 22nd February, when Mary’s and Ustinov A went head to head. The game was a close and intense affair, with leads changing hands numerous times. Finally though, Mary’s were able to pull away to secure a 35-33 victory, thereby gaining the upper hand in the title race.
However, there was time yet for one final twist in the season as Mary’s surprisingly lost out to Chad’s. The championship will now go right down to the wire, and due to rescheduling the champions will not be decided until next term.
As of now, John Snow surprisingly sit atop of the table having taken advantage of successive walkover victories and hence built a significant advantage on point differences over Mary’s and Ustinov.
However, both teams still have a game in hand. Mary’s will play the rejuvenated Collingwood team, while Ustinov will play Stephenson. If Mary’s defeat Collingwood they will be champions; if not the title will be heading to Stockton for John Snow unless Ustinov overturn a 60-point swing in point difference.
What is for certain is the last round of games promises to be some of the best Durham can offer, so please make sure you come down to Maiden Castle and support your colleges!