2014-15 Hoops – Week 18 – Playoff Preview! (March 8)

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Updated: March 11, 2015

16 Teams. 18 Weeks. 144 Games in 144 Days… All of that has led us here.  The marathon that is the Chicago Hoops League Regular Season is officially over and with it comes the dawning of a new season. THE season.  It’s time for the Playoffs.  In 6 Weeks (of Games – 7 if you count Easter Holiday w/ No Games) we will crown our Champions.  Will it be a Back2Back story? Will it be a Team’s Redemption song?  Will one of the new heavyweights reign supreme?  Or maybe it will be a Cinderella dancing all the way to the Crown?  One thing is for certain.. There can only be one.

Before we get into all of the Playoff nuances below, here’s the link to the Weekly Highlight VideoAlso, many of you have already voted but just as a reminder to the rest — the All-Star Ballot is officially LIVE (w/new rules) — right here! Only a few weeks left to VOTE.  ONLY DAYS LEFT TO VOTE!  Voting ENDS Monday March 16 at Noon!

Here’s how the Playoff Preview will work.. We are going to go up and down the Bracket highlighting the matchups for next week Game by Game, while touching on how each Team got to where they are today.. Before that however, we’ll go over how the Bracket works one more time for those who need a reminder and then address some Tiebreakers — oh were there tiebreakers..

Playoff Seeding Reminder

1)  All 16 Teams makes the Triple Elimination Playoff Bracket.

2) Teams seeded #1 through #4 essentially get a bye in the Opening Round while Teams seeded #13 through #16 start the Playoffs with 1-Loss already.  That Leaves Teams seeded #5 through #12 to play in the Opening Round.

2a) The Four Regular-Season Division Champs are assured a Top 6 seed.

2b) If a Team who finishes in 2nd in their Division finishes with the 2nd or 3rd Best Record in the League they will be seeded above the Division Winners with worse Records. Note: This can only happen twice so the lowest a Division Winner can be Seeded is #6.

Recap:  You want to be in the Top4 and be out of the Bottom4 before the Playoffs start.  Here’s a Link to the Playoff Bracket.

 

How Bracket Works

Simply — Win and Continue in your current Bracket Level (i.e. No Loss, 1 Loss or 2 Loss aka ELIMINATION GAMES)..  Lose and you drop down a rung to the next Level.. Once a Team has 2 Losses.. They are in ELIMINATION GAMES.. A 3rd Loss means going home for the Summer.  Remember the Bottom4 Teams start with 1 Loss already.

 

Tiebreakers

Before we get to specific Tiebreak scenarios.. I (Holden) have to admit that there was a couple missed scenarios last week.. While I (Holden) thought I had them all fleshed out it turns out there were a few that snuck through the cracks and of course.. Those have presented themselves now.. Anyways, below is an explanation for every Tiebreaker in the Standings heading into the Playoffs.

Seeds #2-4 – Involving Team Harris, Team Lalez and Team Zimmerman

Here’s the scenario that I (Holden) missed while analyzing the Tiebreaker situations for last week’s Power Rankings article..

Last Week much was made about Team Zimmerman and Team Lalez battling for the South Division crown.. Team Zimmerman needed to defeat Team Lalez by more than 7 points to win the Division and just to keep everyone on their toes until the closing seconds of the Regular Season.. Team Zimmerman did manage to get the W in the Rematch and of course, by 8 points.  Thus, Team Zimmerman is the South Division Champs.

What does that mean for the Playoffs.. Team Zimmerman would be seeded higher than Team Lalez.

It’s easy to see in the Standings that Teams Harris (North Champs), Team Zimmerman (South Champs) and Team Lalez (Wild Card) are all tied at 15-3.  Team Lalez did in fact defeat Team Harris during the Regular season and would hold a Head to Head Tiebreaker against them.. However, we’ll never actually need to use that Tiebreaker..

In the Seeding Rules (copied above and has been for weeks) it clearly states:

2b) If a Team who finishes in 2nd in their Division finishes with the 2nd or 3rd Best Record in the League they will be seeded above the Division Winners with worse Records.

Basically, Team Harris, a Division Winner has the same record as Wild Card Team Lalez.. Since Team Harris does not have a worse record (but the same), they as the Division Winner would own a Tiebreaker over Team Lalez.

So where are we for the #2, #3 and #4 Seeds?

Team Lalez will be the #4 Seed for reasons stated above. Team Zimmerman tops them for winning the South and Team Harris tops them fro Winning the North.

What about #2 and #3?  This one was simple.. Team Harris owns a Head to Head Tiebreaker over Team Zimmerman from their thrilling 74-71 OT W back on Thanksgiving Weekend.

Here you go.. #2 Team Harris, #3 Team Zimmerman and #4 Team Lalez.

Seeds #9-12 Involving Team Apuli, Team Hernandez, Team Schwartz and Team Shamberg

All 4 Teams finished the Season at 7-11 after Team Hernandez got a W last week and all of the others fell.  When multiple Teams finish tied (and all are Wild Card Teams) we use a combined Head to Head Record for the Involved Teams as a Tiebreaker.

Here’s how that stacks up:

Team Apuli (2-2) — Defeated Shamberg, Split with Schwartz, Lost to Hernandez

Team Hernandez (2-2) — Defeated Apuli, Split with Shamberg, Lost to Schwartz

Team Schwartz (3-1) — Defeated Hernandez, Defeated Shamberg, Split with Apuli

Team Shamberg (1-3) — Split with Hernandez, Lost to Apuli, Lost to Schwartz

What does that all mean?  With the best combined record at 3-1 — Team Schwartz is the #9 Seed.  With the worst combined record at 1-3 Team Shamberg is the #12 Seed.  Then we look to other two Teams to decide #10 and #11.. The next Tiebreaker used is Division Record and Team Hernandez was 3-3 while Team Apuli was 1-5.  Before some go up in arms, saying Team Apuli had a tough division — and they did.. Team Hernandez would have had the head to head Tiebreak over them had their not been this huge 7-11 mess.

Seeds #15-16 Involving Team Elrod and Team Shaffer

Team Shaffer defeated Team Elrod Head to Head on Nov. 30 and get the higher seed.

 

Playoff Preview:

We’re going to go Game by Game for next Sunday Night.. Preview the Matchups and Potential Matchups. Here we go!

No Loss — 8. Team Bernkopf (Stems) v. 9. Team Schwartz (Greater Than)

What’s at stake:  Winner moves on in the No Loss Bracket to face 1. Team Maione on Sunday Night.  The Loser will drop to the 1 Loss Bracket to face off with 16. Team Elrod Next Week.

The 8/9 Game in any 16-Team Bracket should always provide one of the Best Games.. Both their records and talent level indicate a truly even playing field on Sunday Night..  Both Teams have shown flashes of brilliance this Season and both have surged up the Standings in the past month of the Season to grab a single digit seed.  Of course, with their uprising they’d hoped to find an easier opponent.. These two Teams played back on Nov. 16, 2014 — both Teams are completely different than they were at that point — but it’s worth noting Team Bernkopf did manage a 76-73 win on that night.

Expect the Opening Round Playoff Game to be a lower scoring version than the one they played back in November.. Both Teams are mirror images in many ways.. They have succeeded on solid defense and forcing their opponents to play their style.  Both Teams have want to slow the pace down.. Essentially it comes down to where are the bulk of the points going to come from?  We’ve seen Zach Bulwa and late season addition Nick Winbush come in and really help shoulder the Offensive load for Team Bernkopf.. Team Schwartz often gets their points from different sources — a hot night from Jason Vismantas, Austin Brown or Max Kaplan may just be the difference. This is as true of a toss-up as there can be and it’s going to be a fun ride for 44 minutes.

 

No Loss — 1. Team Maione (Biaggi’s Blue) v. Winner of 8/9

What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said about the #1 Seed in the Power Rankings?  Well let’s try.. They went through this gauntlet of a Regular Season at 17-1.. Their only loss coming on a buzzer beater (a 1 point defeat). They clinched the #1 seed weeks ago. They finished at least 2 Games ahead of every other Team in the League.  They lost their Big Man Tellef Lundevall around Christmas so he can play in Europe.. Rumors have him returning later this Spring by the way.. Their margin of victory is simply ridiculous.  Finally, and most importantly, they haven’t played their best yet.. Many #1 Seeds who go on crazy runs like 17 of 18 will peak too early in the season.. Not them.. We’ve seen them grind out Wins this year but their best basketball is still to be played.  Chris Wroblewski still has at least one “I’m just going to win this for us Game.”  Bradley Deutsch has already shown how comfortable he is at the end of the Game.. Remember he drained a Game Winner just last week.. Josh Bartelstein can get to the rim on just about anyone in the League.  Not to mention their entire roster will (not can, but will) knock down open jumpers.  These Guys are playing with a chip on their shoulder that was built last April during Championship Night.  They want to hold the Crown and it’s theirs for the taking..

Their Playoff journey will start against whoever wins the 8. Team Bernkopf v. 9. Team Schwartz Game on Sunday Night.

 

1 Loss — 16. Team Elrod (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Navy) v. Loser of 8/9 — Next Week

16. Team Elrod will be off this week and their Cinderella hopes will begin on Sunday March 22 against the Loser of the 8. Team Bernkopf and 9. Team Schwartz Game this coming Sunday Night..  Clearly, they haven’t had as successful a Regular Season as they hoped.. Truthfully though, none of that really matters.. The slate has been wiped clean.  They’ve beaten Teams seeded ahead of them and have generally been a better squad in 2015 than 2014.  This second season is a way for them to wipe away any bad taste that has been left in their mouths.. Captain Daniel Elrod and back court mate Zach Nudelman can both light it up from the floor on any given night.. Brian Wilneff has taken more of a leadership role in the past weeks and it’s showing through with his play on the court.. They obviously have a tough road to the Crown. No one would say otherwise.. Teams have propelled strong Playoff showings though into future success.. The next few weeks can be a Franchise shifting movement.

 

No Loss — 5. Team Horwitz (Esser Hayes Insurance Co.) v. 12. Team Shamberg (Muchacha Salsa Silver)

What’s at stake:  Winner moves on in the No Loss Bracket to face 4. Team Lalez on Sunday Night.  The Loser will drop to the 1 Loss Bracket to face off with 13. Team Holzman Next Week.

Two of the best storylines this season will intersect on Sunday Night.  Team Horwitz is a familiar name in the All Sports Series Universe as Captain Jon has led many Teams over the Years.. However, this iteration of Team Horwitz is chalk full of All Sports Series Rookies and quite frankly, they took the league by storm.  Before the Season started most would have correctly picked top seeds going to Maione, Lalez, Zimmerman and Kozin.. Not many would have guessed Team Horwitz would have finished with the #5 Seed.  It’s been fun to watch their ascension since last Fall and much of that comes through their Offensive fire power. It’s no secret leading point man Alan Tucci can fill it up but there are a host of others on this squad who can simply stroke it.  When they aren’t knocking down 3s — big man Drew Zahora is there to clean up the glass as well.  They are one of the only Teams who can simply shoot the other Team right out of the Gym.. One of their few losses this Season came at the hands of a Team who really turned it on in the second half of the season.

It was back before the Super Bowl when Team Shamberg really got things going and they defeated Team Horwitz 72-65 in a fun one.. The Rematch should be even better.. For Team Shamberg, this upcoming Playoff run is really two years in the making.  They’ve been apart of the Hoops Leagues for both seasons and they got off to what can safely be called a rough start..  Last year, they dropped quite a few to start the season and even once they straightened things out it seemed as if it was just an insurmountable hole to climb out off.. This year, they didn’t allow themselves to go down a similar path and if it weren’t for some wacky tiebreakers they could have been sitting as high up as #9 in the Standings.  They are a really, really solid Team.. They aren’t going to beat themselves which in the Playoffs is key.. You don’t want to give out gifts and they won’t. The Brothers Kaufman will likely take on much of the scoring duties and then it will be up to their bigs to keep the paint clear.  Every year a double digit seed makes a real run at the whole thing.. It may just be them…

 

No Loss — 4. Team Lalez (Crystal Lake CDJ) v. Winner of 5/12

The reigning, defending, only Champions of the Hoops League — Team Lalez comes into their title defense seeded #4.  The seeding is a bit lower than any probably expected but let’s not get too worked up here.. They tied for the 2nd best record in the League..  Went 15-3 with close losses to Team Maione, Team Zimmerman and most interestingly considering the potential Rematch looming — 5. Team Horwitz.

There are several great Teams in the Hoops League and Team Lalez played each and every one of them (some twice) with a gigantic bullseye on their backs.. There’s a truth in sports — it’s extremely difficult to Repeat.  So much must go right to win just one Championship, it’s improbable to match it.  Only two Men’s League Team have ever repeated in All Sports Series history.  None have in the Chicago Leagues where the competition is just on another level..  These guys will be the first to tell you though, if it was going to be easy.. it wouldn’t be as fun.. They are competitors in every sense of the word.  Throw out the seeding.. To be the man, you have to beat the man — and  to win the Crown — you must go through them.

The way the Bracket has broken down — provides a really tough road for the Champs.  Their first Game will come against either 5. Team Horwitz or 12. Team Shamberg.. As mentioned above, they dropped one to Team Horwitz in January and Team Shamberg is a Team playing above their seed currently.. Also, forecasting a bit.. We could get a potential Championship Rematch on March 22nd and another epic chapter in the Lalez/Maione Rivalry  if both Teams take care of business in their first Games.  Earlier than some may have thought.

Ultimately they are and rightfully so the true measuring stick in the Hoops League..  They’ve sent more than their fair share of Teams home in many different renditions of All Sports Series.  No one can match their Resume and while past success is not always an indicator of the future, they’ve proven time and time again why no one wants to see their name across from Team Lalez on the Bracket.

 

1 Loss — 13. Team Holzman (Benjamin & Shapiro Law) v. Loser of 5/12 — Next Week

Team Holzman’s Playoff life will truly resume on March 22. Until then they are off and can game plan accordingly. Before everyone starts to right them off as a “1 Loss” Team who can’t make a difference in this thing.. Let’s play a little history game.. It was exactly a year ago when Team Holzman found themselves in an eerily familiar position.. They were seeded as the highest “1 Loss” Team entering the Playoffs. Exact same spot as this year.. Then they went on to win FOUR Playoff Games, including two Elimination Games.  They sent 20% of the League home last year.. Know who else can say that?  Team Maione and Team Kozin. That’s it.  Just a warning to everyone.. They’ve done it once and they’ve gotten better since then..  Crazier things have happened.

 

No Loss — 6. Team Kozin (Theory) v. 11. Team Apuli (iShot Mounts) 

What’s at stake:  Winner moves on in the No Loss Bracket to face 3. Team Maione on Sunday March 22 (different than the rest of the Bracket).  The Loser will drop to the 1 Loss Bracket to face off with 14. Team Levitan this Sunday Night (different than the rest of the Bracket).

Now, if you haven’t noticed a trend already.. We are in store for a slate of awesome Opening Round Games. All of these are Rematches of close Regular Season Games.. This one being no different.. Early in the Season, before Thanksgiving in fact, Team Kozin narrowly defeated Team Apuli 76-73. Obviously one that could have gone either way..

A year ago, Team Kozin entered the Playoffs as one of the odds on favorite and finished in 4th Place.  They’ve only gotten better since then and are primed for another run in April.  They were a Team during the Regular Season that let a couple of Ws they probably should have had slip through the cracks and because of that they come in seeded #6 with a harder Opening Round Game than they’d like.. On the flip side, their best is as good as any in the League.. That’s a scary proposition for everyone else.. Knowing that a Team seeded in the middle of the Bracket really can play like the #1 Seed on any night.  They have a roster full of guys who can take over and win a Game.  We’ve seen it happen already.  Would anyone really be surprised to see them with the Crown at the end of the Season?  Nope… And they are the #6 seed..

As for Team Apuli — they match up with Team Kozin better than most as Team Kozin’s size shouldn’t bother them and they too are seeded lower than their talent level and play would indicate. They were on the wrong side of some Tiebreakers or they would have come in a few spots higher…  The Game will really be decided in the paint.  How will Dan Stone and Kyle Daniels do at keeping Team Kozin away from the rim.  If they can control the glass and cut down on turnovers, they can Win this one.. Captain Justin talks about pace with his bunch a lot and that will also be key.. Team Kozin can run the floor with the best of them so slowing this one down could be an advantage for them.  This will be a fun one.

 

No Loss — 3. Team Zimmerman v. Winner of 6/11 — Next Week

Lost in the middle of all the Tiebreaker madness this week was the fact that Team Zimmerman actually defeated Team Lalez to close out the Regular Season.  It is without question their biggest Win to date in two years of the Hoops League.  They had been counting down the days for their rematch with Team Lalez since early November and on Sunday Night they tamed the beast if you will..  In many ways they needed that signature Win just to jump over that mental hurdle and now they can focus on the bigger issues at hand — like winning the Championship.  They will have an extremely tough test with whoever wins the 6/11 Game but they will have to wait just a bit longer than most for their Opening Round Game as they will be off this coming Sunday and won’t play until March 22.  Captain Jack will undoubtedly be scouting this coming Sunday Night.

 

1 Loss — 14. Team Levitan v. Loser of 6/11 — THIS WEEK

Team Levitan is the only 1 Loss Team in action this Coming Sunday Night due to B School Spring Break and this leads to a couple of different possibilities.. 1) They could of course be the first Team to 2 Losses in the Tourney and with that the first truly on the brink of elimination OR 2) They could win this coming Sunday, be the story of Night 1 and send either 6. Team Kozin or 11. Team Apuli to the bring of elimination in their place..  They will of course play the Team that Loses the 6/11 Game which is an extremely  interesting dynamic.. Whoever they play will be coming off an emotional Game and the first 10 minutes or so will certainly be an opportunity for Team Levitan to take control of the Game.  It’s been said a couple of times throughout the year, but it should be repeated.. This is a Group that has played up and down to their competition all year.. They obviously didn’t finish with the record they’d hoped for in the Regular Season but they played many of the top Teams to close Games.. They have the ability to pull off the “upset.”

No Loss — 7. Team Goldin (Cy Fredrics) v. 10. Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective)

What’s at stake:  Winner moves on in the No Loss Bracket to face 2. Team Harris on Sunday Night.  The Loser will drop to the 1 Loss Bracket to face off with 15. Team Shaffer Next Week.

Of all the Opening Round Games coming on Sunday Night this one has the biggest ?? involved..  Team Hernandez has been trending up since before the Super Bowl and Team Goldin hasn’t played their best in the past few weeks.. The 7/10 matchup is always intriguing anyways, but this one adds some interesting wrinkles.. When these two Teams met back in December, Team Goldin picked up the 10 point victory.  They’ve suffered a couple injuries since then and Team Hernandez was still just learning who each other were.. These are two completely different Teams..  If the past month or so is an indication of things to come, the 10. Team Hernandez would actually be the “favorites” here.. However, that would be before you throw in the Playoff Histories of these two Franchises.  Things are different in the Playoffs and there’s no telling what Team Hernandez will be capable of.. If Dave Altman keeps putting up 40 point Games they’ll obviously be a tough out.. What we do know.. Team Goldin has a core that finished 3rd place in last Season.  They were minutes away from the Championship Game.  If they get down in the second half of a Playoff Game they can look back and know they have what it takes to win when it counts in this League.  Many Teams don’t have that..

The last time these two Teams played the Game was played in the 80s.. For Team Goldin to Win again they’ll likely need to do it on the Defensive zone and try to limit Team Hernandez’s easy buckets.. The 80s should favor Team Hernandez this time around while Team Goldin will want to keep the Game in the low 70s or high 60s even.. It’s going to be a slugfest that’s for sure.

 

No Loss — 2. Team Harris (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.) v. Winner of 7/10

Just win baby.  That’s what they’ve done all season long.  They finished the Regular Season at 15-3 which is no joke for their first time around in the Hoops League.  Of course as the #2 Seed they are one of the odds on favorites to take the whole thing and it’ll be interesting to see how they balance being “marked men” but also doing it with no Hoops League Playoff experience..  It’s not fair to call them Rookies however as Captain Brian is in the Top 5 of  the All Sports Series Games Played list.  He and a few of his teammates won the Champaign League in the Fall of 2013 as well.  The Hoops League is a totally different animal.  They can really do it all. They have size, can shoot the lights out and work hard on Defense.  It’s going to be interesting to see how their style translates into the Playoffs.. They certainly get out and like to run.. They may find themselves in more half court situations over the next month or so.  Either way they are well equipped and they’ll have to be..  Their first Game will come Sunday Night and they’ll face the Winner of the 7. Team Goldin v. 10. Team Hernandez Game. An interesting note for them.. The 3 Teams they lost to this year are all currently placed in the top half of the No Loss Bracket while Team Harris is at the bottom — they must like their draw.

 

1 Loss — 15. Team Shaffer (Muchacha Salsa Black) v. Loser of 7/10 — Next Week

Guys on this Team won Playoff Games last year.. Whether on Team Shamberg or Team Bauer.. They’ve done in it in the past.. That matters as much or even more than the current slide they are on..  The Playoffs are coming at a great time for them really.. They have an opportunity to just wipe the slate clean and start a new. The talent is there and if they can just get some confidence it will go a long way.  They’ll have this Sunday Night off and then will face the Loser of the 7. Team Goldin v. 10. Team Hernandez Game on March 22.  They have a nice amount of time to game plan for that one and it could be just the opportunity they need to turn everything around.

 

That’s it for the Preview.  Have a great week. See most of you on Sunday Night for the Playoffs!!

– Holden