We’re in the tournament now. Regular season records and averages are out the window. One bad night and you’re out. Here we go.
One rule note. Last year I encouraged folks not to play a third game if the match was clinched in 2. This year we’re changing that for the first round. It’s the last game of the year for losing teams, so please play out the third game – if you win it’s just a chance to get loose and throw a few extra balls. So, in short, please play all three games in first round matches.
Back in Black (11-1) -11 vs Snakes on a Lane (2-11): BIB is the tournament’s overall number one seed and get what is on paper the easiest path to the semis. Of course last year they played a completely overmatched team in the 1st round and were trailing with two frames to go as E-Minor, Hot Pocket and Hard Body made names for themselves. Bama, Steve and Gutterboi have been dominant this year, even in 2v2. I don’t see them having the same first round jitters as last year. Snakes survived a comeback attempt from Splits Happen in the Sunday Shootout, just missing a bowloff when a 10th frame spare attempt sailed wide. They were a team with higher hopes entering the season, and it was nice to see them get another win. Nitro even posted a 200+. They’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.
Sons of Danarchy (11-1) -7 vs Three Livers (7-6): Quite a regular season for Sons of Danarchy. Coming off a championship last year they had a major roster shakeup and added two rookies, McStriker and Dwayne Luther. They’ve paid off as SOD lost only once (to BIB). They take turns getting top points, and have more depth than any team in the league. They play a Three Livers squad that won a thrilling bowloff victory in the play-in round. Rookie Larry had his seven straight league game 200+ streak broken, but did post a 232 and eventually held off Oolie in the bowloff. He’ll have a great battle with fellow Rookie of the Year candidate Dwayne Luther. The question is where does Three Livers get points after that. They need Bernie to have a career game, and have to hope Wilma is back in the fold. I wouldn’t say the upset is impossible, but it would eclipse even last year’s Y&B over BEER win as the biggest playoff upset in BoPo history if it does happen.
Nutz (5-8) -3 vs Saucy Posse (10-2): SauPo had a tough loss int he final game game of the regular division to lose the division title in a tiebreaker to UREA! That loss gives them a much tougher 1st round opponent, made significantly tougher by the fact that they will be missing their top guy and girl (in Walter and N Sauce). Hot Sauce will need to channel the power of his gone but not forgotten beard-collar and hope Uncle Shmucker gets overcome with family pride and plays great. The Nutz couldn’t be happier with their draw. Bustah is looking to dominate this one if he can stay on his feet. The Nutz will be missing Herbie, which does make it more interesting. If nothing else this should be the closest game of the first shift of tournament games.
Off Constantly (7-6) -5 vs ICBING (7-5): OC is taking the long road this season. They started in a big hole, finally poked their heads above .500 then lost to fall into the Sunday Shootout. Well, none of that matters now as they face and ICBING team they should be able to beat. Nuber has held this team together through a turbulent season, but now Oz is heating up and Honey Bunny is making some noise with a new ball. ICBING probably would have preferred seeing someone else but at least they have a chance to make a statement. Fabio has shown a few signs of getting his game back, and Peanut Gutter has had a number of monster games. They both need to be on top of their games, and then hope they can get some help from the rest of the crew. Maybe Blue Gutter seeks revenge on Nuber, or Honey Badger recaptures his 2012 week 1 magic. They’ll need something noone is expecting to pull this off.
B.E.E.R. (9-3) -11 vs D-GUTS (5-8): D-GUTS finished the season with a little bit of momentum, and held on to narrowly win their play-in game over Sweet Rolls. Pretty sure it’s the 1st playoff win in franchise history. They’ve been led this year by Old Thumper and his handful of 200s. Captain Collection has been off, but starts the tourney with the same average as everyone else.They’ll both need a bunch of 200’s in this one. BEER is coming into the tournament with last season’s playoff collapse to a play-in team fresh on everyone’s mind. They do have a different roster now though, with Natro stepping in for the departed Cheddar. They may still be vulnerable in the playoffs but this one doesn’t offer many hints of a potential upset. D-GUTS don’t have the confidence of last year’s Y&B squad, and BEER has a massive chip on their shoulder.
Incredibowls (9-3) -1 vs B.U.I. (4-8): One of the best matchups of the first round is a rematch of last year’s first round game. B.U.I. has the better average here but Incredibowls have a good playoff history. B.U.I.’s Snapshot was the best regular season bowler of the match, but Incredibowls may have a little bit more depth. Incredibowls lost their last game, but B.U.I. lost their last 6. This one is really close on paper. The winner most likely faces Sons of Danarchy in the 2nd round, so whoever pulls this one off should celebrate now.
No Eye Deer (8-4) -1 vs Young & Bowled (5-7): Y&B will like this line – they prefer the underdog role. They are flashing back to last year’s playoff glory and licking their chops at the matchup. They have lost The Truth, and rumor has it Lucky is out for this game, but they return Pistol Pete and Senator Itz. Rookie Hark is streaky but has had some big games. The team may need to turn to Lou Dawg, who has been practicing and yesterday may have ‘found the pocket’ for the first time. No Eye Deer survived a midseason stretch without their top bowler, then closed strong. They have Shifter for this one and that gives them the slight edge. Dirty Sylon, Cru Jones and Donzarelli are solid when they get to be the 2-4 bowlers instead of the 1-3. This game has Shifter vs Pistol bowloff written all over it.
UREA! (10-2) -3 vs Pinny Candy (4-9): UREA! finished the season on a winning streak finally overtaking SauPo for the Tuesday B crown on the last night of the season. They head into the playoffs very confident. Captain J-Bird did an amazing job remaking this squad into a winner. She brought in Steff Infection and Rappopotamus to join Knuckles and T-$ and UREA! had it’s best season ever. They would like to continue that success with a few tourney wins. Pinny Candy cruised through the play-ins to grab a tournament spot after a disappointing regular season. Now that regular season doesn’t matter at all – they have a chance to advance in the tourney. Skittles will need to post some big numbers but this game could be close.