The sweet 16 night is always a lot of fun. There are still some underdogs who pulled off 1st round upsets, lots of different teams are alive. Plus there are more teams wrapping up their season with post game revelry, and some winners too. The quarterfinals is a bit different. Teams know that if they are going to survive today they are going to have to play two matches against elite teams. Every team here genuinely believes it could make the finals, and why norm, they’ve already won at least two playoff games. This year’s final eight includes the top 4 seeds, the 6 seed, the 9 seed and a couple of Sunday Shootout survivors to spice things up a bit. Tuesday only gave us one really exciting finish – expect many more tonight.
#1 Back In Black (12-2) -1 vs #9 XXX Club (9-5): With no disrespect to their earlier opponents (the Pinups took a 4-1 lead and last week Oolie was excellent in taking top point with a 230+), this appears to be the first real test for the defending champs. They have been able to rally from slow starts with ease, but from here on in those kind of starts could doom them. Gutterboy came through for them last week, and Skippy Strikes has actually been a consistent roller with the 2nd best playoff average. Eventually Stevie will start dominating again, despite his slow starts. GB’s Mom, Skittles and T-Square (in week 1) have all had some above average games for themselves too. Maybe they’ve been letting their guard down a little these first two matches. They won’t do that against the Club.
T-Club is looking to make it’s 2nd Finals in 3 years. They have had a much more difficult path to get here, being tied at 5 all with the Linguists then Saucy Posse. They have had enough to get by and are now pretty well playoff tested. They’ve done it even with regular season leader Tango scuffling. Herk-A-Leez was a game 1 hero with a 215 average. His longtime running partner Roadhouse picked up the slack in round 2 with a 600 series of his own. The big difference maker has been their free agent signing Big Rig. He seems to have finally found the right ball and shot combo and has been a dominant in the playoffs. He also is the only lefty on his side of the bracket.
This should be a great game. Tango and Herk could crush Stevie’s resolve with a barrage of Brooklyns, or the veterans of BIB could return to form and just be too much to handle. I can’t bet against the defending champs at this point, but it’s really close…
#4 L.O.S. (11-3) -3 vs #22 B.E.E.R. (7-8): The only time these teams met in the playoffs was a BEER win in the 2010 semis. Of course back then Natro played for LOS and Double Cheese was just a menu item. Logically that match should have zero impact on this one four years later in a totally different league and venue, but LOS has a long memory, and what they do with that memory could determine this one. If they are feeling confident then there is probably no other loss they’d rather avenge more, no other franchise they’d prefer to knock out, and this is their opportunity. Conversely they could remember being heavy favorites and losing then, and then having a string of tough playoff losses, and get tight. I tend to think they have gotten past that this year, primarily by rallying late to pull away from Incredibowls in the first round. Once they survived that they were able to loosen up a bit. Precious and Cheese also just reached the 2v2 finals with a win yesterday. They should be confident. Even if they do tense up they can turn to Mr. Stiffy who has been the best bowler in the playoffs thus far. Ally -Lujah has had a decent playoff average and Shithawk has played a big role by drawing opponents attention away from his teammates with his Smack Boarding – will they reward him with a game?
Being loose will not be a problem for BEER. They are playing with house money right now after going only 4-8 in the regular season. They have nothing to lose at this point, and have been bowling and drinking accordingly. In the first round Tom Richards and Queen Bee were the unexpected leaders. Last week it was Natro. Filthy and Hungus have been steady. Patterns suggest that tonight it’s Slow Roll’s turn. BEER will start TR tonight again, as no team has more nightmares about him than LOS (well, maybe Binga’s). He is a tone setter and starts the BEER party when he rolls a few strikes. BEER are all veterans who have been here many times – if they can survive to force a game three then they grab the upper hand. Surviving the opening games to get there could be a tall order.
Ultimately it looks like the year that The Twin Towers finally live up to their billing, thanks in large part to their little buddy Mr. Stiffy.
#2 Lesiure Rolls (11-3) -1 vs #26 Bowled & The Beautiful (6-9): The Rolls have had some great fortune in their first year in the league. They watched from the stands as LOS lost in week 12 handing them the Thursday A crown. That has given them a relatively soft path to the quarters, though Granola played them tight. They’ve been able to get here even though none of them has been bowling at their peak level. They also saw the team that on paper was their toughest opponent in the bracket get upset in round 1. Well, now they are a win away from the semis, and no one really remembers how you got to the top once you’re there. The real tests will start tonight, but they have momentum and confidence and fully expect to be playing on Saturday.
The team that knocked off the bracket favorites – B&B. Not only did they upset SOD in round one, they needed only two games to do it. Then they handled the Nutz Tuesday and all of the sudden find themselves rubbing elbows with the league elite. They won’t be intimidated by the company – in fact they seem so surprised and happy to be here that they couldn’t possibly be playing any looser. They have a shot against the rolls. Saw was on fire last round and needs to keep that up, and Dr. Pheelgood has been putting in serious practice time. Bo Julius can hang with the amazingly consistent Space Cadet. Billy James and Mr. Mayor need to play their best games – they have shown the ability.
The Rolls win by grinding opponents down – doing just enough to grab points up and down the line. There is no #1, but also no #4, they are solid across the board. That consistency should hand them the narrow victory.
#6 Guns of Brighton (10-4) -1 vs #3 Yahtzee (12-2): Ok, I probably shouldn’t read too much into the first two rounds. I picked a Yahtzee BIB final in the initial writeup and really should probably stick with it, but my gut’s telling me this one is an upset. Yahtzee hasn’t needed to do much to advance so far, and put up a couple of very low 600’s last round in their win. Obviously that’s all they had to do, but can they turn it back on now that they’ll need it? Sparkles has at times been the most dominating player in the league, but he has not had his best performances in the playoff format. Cheddar is pretty much a lock for a 580-610 series so they have that going for them. Pauly is more likely than anyone to have a line that looks like 115-245-200, but unlike 2v2 this isn’t cumulative so opponents can really take advantage of that 115. Bowldemort is 89th out of 90 in playoff average and may not see the court. Lala and Babe are solid but neither has had a truly big night. This is a really good team, a very close team, but an interesting amalgam. Who steps up to calm things if Cheddar gets frustrated?
GOB’s biggest obstacle is always GOB. They beat up on themselves all the time, and instead of being able to rally as a group their psyche seems to fall to the lowest common denominator of whoever is unhappiest. Lucky for them they are all in a good place at the right time, and that makes them very dangerous. E-Minor has gotten over his midseason slump (not coincidentally tied to his mid-season grumpiness) and has looked like the guy that led the league in average for the first month, putting up monster scores with the left side of the lane all to himself. Jon Moon has been a constant playoff scorer. iHand is captaining wisely and should be pretty happy with himself for the match. Hootie and Seatown have both had some huge games and will need to grab all their points tonight. That leaves the professional – Mr. Pickles. He wants a semis battle with Capt. Insanal so bad he can taste it, and he will throw everything he’s got at Yahtzee. I think it will be just enough.
This should be an instant classic. Two great teams that could easily have met in the finals. Only one can win. I’m going with the team that has looked rejuvenated in the playoffs.
I don’t really spend much time on these write-ups as they are based on hypothetical match ups. If the quarters go as a I predicted, then I think LOS’ relative youth gives them the endurance to edge BIB, and GOB gets by the Trolls for a LOS/GOB finals and a guaranteed 1st time Champion on Saturday. Of course I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if it stays chalk and we get a BIB/Yahtzee final.