2013 Chicago Men’s – Playoff Preview

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Updated: August 1, 2013

I’ll be honest to say that I am happy to have made it out of the gym alive on Monday Night!  The Volleyballs were flying everywhere.  Okay so we are through with the Power Rankings format for this Season as the Playoffs are officially here!  A few things to note, the Playoffs are single elimination — so win or go home.   Quick plug in case you missed it — Here is a Link for the Chicago Men’s All @AllSportsSeries Team and MVP Ballot. One more thing — If you happened to miss it in the email — the Champions this Summer will not only take home sweet shirts, but also the members of the team will receive free tickets to see the Cubs on Saturday August 31st at Wrigley View Rooftop where food and drink are completely complimentary!

So the Playoff Bracket is set for next Monday Night — why don’t we take a look back and see just how we got there.

Week 7 Volleyball Tourney Recap

Historically there were several strong Volleyball Teams that walked into the gym at 7pm for the first round of pool play.  Group A featured Team Cohen who advanced out of their group in 2012, Team Horwitz and rookies Team Sterk.  Group B had Team Apuli, 2012 VBall Runners Up, Team Hakimian – 2012 VBall Champs (also Runners Up in 2010 and 2011) and then Team Greenberg.  Group C featured Team Bulwa who has players known for VBall, Team Glass and Team Daar.  Group A saw a minor surprise as Team Horwitz won the group with a 4-0 record.  Group B which everyone certainly had their eye on saw Team Hakimian win the group but Team Apuli also go through later on as a wild card.  Group C was won by Team Bulwa.   The second set of groups during the 8pm hour was a bit more of a crap shoot.  Group D had Team Hadelman in their first VBall Tourney, Team Riskin who has some VBall Players and Team Kornblatt who year after year gets points in the Tourney.  Group E held Teams Watts, Merar and Radist — none of which are known for their volleyball squads.  Group F featured Teams Maione, Saltzberg and Zimmerman and had some fun group stage games.  Group D was eventually won by Team Kornblatt who nudged out Team Riskin by point differential (both had 3-1 record) but Team Riskin also advanced as a wild card team.  Team Watts shocked everyone, including themselves, by going undefeated in Group E. Finally Team Maione outlasted the others in Group F.

So we whittled down 18 to 8 and it was on the single elimination Knockout Rounds.  Team Watts was actually seeded #1 due to their margins of victory in the group stage but they were up ended by wild card Team Apuli.  Team Bulwa got past Team Maione 21-16 in an entertaining back and forth contest.  Team Kornblatt knocked off Cinderellas Team Horwitz and Team Hakimian kept their repeat hopes alive by eliminating Team Riskin.

The Final 4 was then set — and big points were still out there to be had.  Team Apuli who got 2nd place last year and featured Volleyballers such as Jono and Mikey “the” Matasars could not get past Team Bulwa. Team Bulwa was led by Colin “don’t hurt me” Rice who may have been the most dominating force in the Tourney.  Team Hakimian made it 4 years running that they reached the Volleyball Tournament Final.  That is insane. It sounds even crazier as I type it.  They defeated Phil “the manimal” Weisberg and co. in the Final 4.

As for 3rd place Team Apuli who advanced as a wild card team took down Team Kornblatt to grab 5 crucial points.  In the Championship Game, Team Bulwa just couldnt get it going. Team Hakimian took their 2nd straight Vball Title by the score of 21-11.  It was a much needed boost for the Defending Champs who coming into to Monday Night were not even assured a Playoff Spot.

So the final Regular Season week resulted in this. Here are the Final Standings.  Scroll Down for the Playoff Preview:

Team (Top 13 Make Playoffs)
x= eliminated from Playoff Contention
Points
Points Behind Leader
1.Team Bulwa (Bull & Bear)1150
2.Team Maione (Sunset Foods)1078
3.Team Watts (Giordano's)** Wins Tiebreaker w/ Team Horwitz - Better Win/Loss Record9718
4.Team Horwitz (SLA Insurance)** Loses Tiebreaker w/ Team Watts - Weaker Win/Loss Record9718
5.Team Hadelman (Carriage Hill Kennels)** Wins Tiebreaker w/ Team Hakimian - Head to Head9520
6.Team Hakimian (Crescent Movers)** Loses Tiebreaker w/ Team Hadelman - Head to Head9520
7.Team Kornblatt (Camp Ojibwa)9025
8.Team Riskin (Jam 'n Honey)8827
9.Team Radist (Greater Than)7540
10.Team Merar (Sandusky Cabinets)7045
11.Team Cohen (Dr. Jacob D.D.S.)** Wins Tiebreaker w/ Team Glass - Head to Head6550
12.Team Glass (Michael's Event Catering)** Loses Tiebreaker w/ Team Cohen - Head to Head6550
13.Team Apuli (Factor75.com)5164
x-Team Zimmerman (Crystal Lake Jeep)3085
x-Team Saltzberg (Wrigley View Rooftop)3085
x-Team Sterk (Atomic Transport)2095
x-Team Greenberg (Teplitz & Bell)0115
x-Team Daar (PoPchips)0115

Quickly you can see that there were a few ties in the Standings. Here’s how Tiebreakers work: 1) Head to Head matchups (volleyball tourney doesn’t count), 2)  If the teams didn’t play head to head (non-volleyball) he overall win-loss record of a team (if you advanced out of pool play in Volleyball it’s a W, if not it’s a L) are taken and whoever has the better record gets the nod, 3) if still tied somehow, strength of schedule will be used by adding up the points in the Standings for each team’s opponents during the season. Who ever has the higher total gets the higher seed.

Playoff Preview

Hoops will be the Opening Rounds of the Playoffs.  The Final 4 will be Flag Football and the Championship will be 16″ Softball. We are going to go team by team and game by game highlighting the Opening Rounds Hoops games. Let’s get started!

1. Team Bulwa (Bull & Bear) – plays the Winner of 8. v. 9.

The #1 Spot in the Standings was like a giant game of hot potato this Summer.  As soon as a Team was able to climb they’d fall right back down again.  Team Bulwa smartly waited until the last week to take hold of the coveted #1 Seed.  I’m not a journalist or anything like that so I’m just going to go ahead and copy/paste a quote from the Captain of the #1 Seed — Zach “Self-proclaimed most improved and most valuable GM” Bulwa — that was the quote.  Anyways, even if they aren’t shy about tooting their own horn, these guys have earned some accolades that’s for sure.  Captain Zach and Co. were the 2012 Runners Up and have been thinking about that for close to 52 weeks now.  They are hungry and want their first Championship as a team.  Their #1 Seed can largely be attributed to their 2nd Place in Volleyball which gave them a huge 25 points over many of the teams in the field.  These guys can play anything and are capable of beating any team in any sport.  They have also seemed to have gotten on the same page since the 2nd Half of their Hoops Game against Team Maione.  They dropped that game but I think they realized what they were truly capable of as they started to mount that feverish comeback.  They will have the benefit on Monday Night of getting to watch their Elite 8 opponent play right before their game — not to mention they will have fresh legs.  Team Bulwa has to be a favorite in many people’s eyes to advance on to the Final 4 — however, I think at least 2 teams will have something to say about that..

Reason why Team Bulwa can win it all — As much talent as anyone in the League and have Championship experience to boot.

8. Team Riskin (Jam ‘n Honey) v. 9. Team Radist (Greater Than) — winner plays 1. Team Bulwa

Over the course of a Season many games are forgotten.  It’s just the way it goes.  Everything can’t be memorable.  Team Riskin and Team Radist played Hoops in Week 5 and let me tell you — that game has not been forgotten.  These guys were at each other’s throats all night long and the game finally ended with Team Radist getting the W in OT.  There was also a few pushes mixed in there.. Anyways, I’m sure these two teams are more excited about their rematch than I am (I’m only sort of kidding).   Both teams have enough talent to go on and win not just 1 but 2 Hoops games on Monday Night.  And they each know it.  I will be very interested to see how the first few minutes of this game goes — whether the teams will go for an early kill or take a wait and see approach since the last game is so fresh in their minds.   Team Radist will be led by Captain Eric “finally gets to partake in the Playoffs!” Radist and Alex “the League’s Leading Scorer in the Regular Season” Rubin who averaged just shy of 30 per game!  Team Riskin will be led by Matt “the enforcer” Riskin and the other Matt, Matt “not too shabby” Toth who averaged close to 20 a game himself.  This could be the closest game of the night and if there last one was any indication it will be.  The winner will have to hydrate quickly with some Greater Than as they will have to take the court shortly after for a date with #1 Seed Team Bulwa.

Reason why Team Riskin can win it all — They are big and they are tall.  That is advantageous in sports.

Reason why Team Radist can win it all — Captain Eric is from LA and in his personal sports movie, which will feature a comeback from a torn ACL, it needs to end with them holding the Crown.

2. Team Maione (Sunset Foods) – plays the Winner of 7. v. 10.

One through however many guys are on the team (let’s say 12).  I think you are looking at the deepest Team in the League. They also happen to be the youngest.  Even so most of them have tasted the All Sports Series crown in the Suburbs League and are not to familiar with losing.  Two things I want to highlight in addition to their tremendous depth — 1) Johnny “all everything” Lindquist will be out of town for the Playoffs. I will give you a second to applaud while at your computers.  2)  Josh “glue” Berman.. At the VBall tourney I overheard a conversation from a few Players on other teams who will remain nameless talking about how Berman can really do anything and he’s the perfect teammate.  Well I concur. Not everyone can take the last shot of a game and Josh understands that, but he’ll do everything he possibly can to get his team in the position so that the last shot matters.   As the #2 Seed they too will have the advantage of watching their potential Elite 8 opponent play just before they stop on the court with them.  If Vegas had eyes on All Sports Series — I think Team Maione might be your favorite.

7. Team Kornblatt (Camp Ojibwa) v. 10. Team Merar (Sandusky Cabinets) – Winner plays 2. Team Maione

Keeping with the rematch theme — this is also a rematch — a rematch from the 2011 Elite 8 where Team Merar defeated Team Kornblatt in Hoops and the very next week took home the Chicago Men’s League Championship.  That was 2 years ago and a lot has changed since then… However, the stakes are the same.. It’s win or go home and one of those teams certainly will.  Team Kornblatt is on the biggest role they have ever been on.  While they come in at #7 they finished just 5 points behind teams in 5th and 6th and only 7 points out 3rd and 4th.  They were so close to that all-important Opening Round bye.  Instead they will have to be on their game all night.  Team Merar on the other hand will certainly be short handed as many of members of their squad have gone down to injury or are not in town for Monday Night (again, congrats to Captain Mike Merar who got married on Saturday!)  The Winner will get a spot in the Elite 8 and with this field of 18 teams that is something to certainly be proud of.  I know both these teams quite well and I know that when the season started their goal wasn’t the Elite 8 though. They want the whole darn thing.  So can one shock the world and send Team Maione home early?

Reason why Team Kornblatt can win it all — Phil Weisberg and Matt Emer.

Reason why Team Merar can win it all — TWTW — everyone wants it and they got it. (TWTW = the will to win, just ask Hawk Harrelson).

3. Team Watts (Giordano’s) – plays the Winner of 6. v. 11.

The Fab Five, the 90’s Knicks, the 90’s Buffalo Bills and the Kevin Durant Thunder — all great, great Teams.  They collectively combined for zero Championships though.  Some will argue it’s just a matter of time for the Durantula and Co. That they will put it all together soon and the Title will be theirs.  The same can be said for Team Watts.  Year after Year they are one of the teams to beat.  2013, has proved to be no different as they have been at or near the top of the Standings from Week 1 on.  The question is have they finally arrived?  Is this their Season?  The one that so many thought would have come but just hasn’t yet.  I think it might just be… More importantly I know that Captain Jake “check out his and brother Mack’s new sports blog — http://o-h-i-owe.blogspot.com/” Watts knows this is the Season.  Jake sculpts his team very carefully each and every off-season, dissecting what held them back from the past year.  He would also lay claim to Captain Bulwa’s “best GM” award and deservedly so.  Here’s the thing…  In the Elite 8 one of the following teams will be there to go toe to toe with on the Hoops court.  One of those teams has been known to not lose Playoff Games…

Reason why Team Watts can win it all — The Law of Averages says these guys are due for a lucky bounce in the Playoffs.

6. Team Hakimian (Crescent Movers) v. 11. Team Cohen (Dr. Jacob D.D.S.) – Winner plays 3. Team Watts

As stated above the Defending Champs were technically not even guaranteed a Playoff spot coming into the Final Week of the Regular Season… Many, including myself, had them pegged as a top Volleyball Team, so they were never actually in danger of missing out… However, it shows the adversity the Defending Champs have gone through this Summer on the way to the #6 Seed.  These guys obviously have the talent and the experience to win the whole thing once again in 2013.  Their road though will be the toughest they have ever faced in All Sports Series.   They have only lost 1 Playoff Game in their teams first 3 Seasons but most of those Playoff runs were from a Top Seed.  The middle of the pack with no byes is certainly a different route for them.  As for Team Cohen, it seems year after year they can simply not buy a break in terms of Playoff matchups.  I think its safe to say many see Team Hakimian as one of the Top Hoops teams in the League.  If they do manage to pull the upset, waiting for them will be another Top Hoops Team in the League — Team Watts.   @TeamCohen2 wants an All Sports Series crown just about as bad as anyone and I don’t doubt that they are going to give 100% and not go down without a fight.  I just have to say — no one is envious of their position in the Bracket. As for Players to watch in this one — for Team Hakimian — the 3-Headed Monster of Kevin Bulger, Eytan Azaria and Benny Lalez can make any Defense cry and — for Team Cohen –Jeremy “thank goodness he’s a good speller” Bauer led the way for them in scoring, but also keep an eye out for Brian “recovering” Harris who roughed up his ankle a few weeks back but should be looking better on Monday Night.   Final thoughts — this is not a true David v. Goliath because I think that would be unfair to characterize Team Cohen as David in that sense… But Team Hakimian is looking more and more like Goliath.  Oh and final thing — this is another Rematch — from Week 3 when Team Hakimian won in Flag Football 14-8.

Reason why Team Hakimian can win it all — No one has ever won Back to Back Championships, and why wouldn’t the original Dynasty be the first?

Reason why Team Cohen can win it all — In single elimination tournaments — you can get hot or simply catch someone on an off night — all these guys need is a bit of luck.

4. Team Horwitz (SLA Insurance) v. 13. Team Apuli (Factor75.com) – Winner plays Winner of 5. v. 12.

ANOTHER REMATCH!  These two teams tangled just 2 weeks ago on the Hoops Court with Team Horwitz getting the W 49-40.  Team Apuli was a Final 4 squad a Year ago and with a few helpful bounces could get right back there after Monday Night — they certainly have enough talent.  As for Team Horwitz, I think they’d be lying if anyone told you they thought this team would finish in with the #4 Seed heading into the Playoffs.  Simply put these guys are on a roll and momentum is a very real and contagious thing.  They have gotten points in every week since Week 2 and have looked great doing so.  I think they will be extra confident heading into this one due to the familiarity and the recent W over Team Apuli.  For their sake I hope not over confident.   Captain Justin “double duty” Apuli has assembled a well-rounded group so you are not sure where the points are going to come from on a night to night basis.  What can hurt you in those situations though is if no one is really feeling it you can be in trouble offensively.  As for Team Horwitz — Captain Jon “wiz kid nation” Horwitz shouldered much of the scoring averaging 22 points per game in the Regular Season.  Even though Offense is fun to talk about — both of these squads Win with tremendous defensive effort.  I expect another low scoring and hard-fought affair.  Hopefully for whoever wins they will have something left in the tank as they will have to go head to head later in the night against the winner of #5 Team Hadelman v. #12 Team Glass…

Reason why Team Horwitz can win it all — They are Rollin’

 

Reason why Team Apuli can win it all — They are a tough out.  When you are a tough out, you have the ability to beat anyone, and they can.

5. Team Hadelman (Carriage Hill Kennels) v. 12. Team Glass (Michael’s Event Catering) – Winner plays Winner of 4. v. 13.

Team Hadelman isn’t used to being mentioned this late into the Wrap-Up.  All season long this Rookie squad has been near the top of the Standings and the Power Rankings.  I think they are likely a little disappointed to miss out on the Top 3 Seed Bye but they might be THE best Hoops Squad in the League so they may also be welcoming another opportunity to play.  As for Team Glass this team’s season has been up and down.  They at one time where in a great position for a top 3 seed also but the wheels have started to fall off a bit.  Do I think they can turn it around? Yes.  However, they need to play a perfect game on Monday Night to get past Team Hadelman.  If they can squeeze by, I actually think they’d be favored against either #4 Team Horwitz or #13 Team Apuli in their second game on the Hoops court.  Team Hadelman has a 3-headed monster of their own:  Danny Goldin, Duncan Davis and Sean Wallis may be the best trio in the League in fact.  They are long and athletic.  These guys are built for a Playoff Run.. Team Glass gets its offense from different guys each night.. So who will be the guy to step up?  My money is on Sam “$” Harris who has the ability to control the tempo of the game for Team Glass — something they will need to do to stay in this one. This should be a fun one.

Reason why Team Hadelman can win it all — They are heavily favored to reach the Final 4.  From there anything can happen.

Reason why Team Glass can win it all — 12’s beat 5’s that’s a thing.  From there who knows what can happen?

That’s it for the Playoff Preview. Good Luck to all of the Teams playing on Monday Night. Only 4 will survive.  Also, I want to thank the Teams who have had their Seasons come to an end.  I hope to see you back in 2014!  Have a great weekend.

– Holden