2015 Chicago Men’s – Playoff Preview (July 27)

Updated: July 31, 2015

The stage is set.  16 Teams. 15 Games. 4 Rounds. 1 Crown.  The Playoffs are officially here.

The Power Rankings shift to a Playoff Preview this Week.. We’ll take it Game by Game and preview the Sweet16 Games and even take a peak toward the Elite8 which also takes place on Monday evening.  Before we get to the Preview a couple quick things.. Here’s the Weekly Video Highlights.. The video this week will feature the Volleyball Tourney and a whole lot of clips with the 2015 Chicago Men’s VBall Tourney Champs.. Who just happen to be the reigning, defending Champs of the Chicago Men’s League.. Team Watts!  This team just excels when it’s win or go home time and the lights are on brightest.. Scary news for the rest of the League to see the Defending Champs grab so much momentum as the Playoffs begin..

As the VBall Tourney came to an end, so did the Regular Season, and we were left with our 16 Volleyball Teams.. To the Teams who didn’t qualify, thanks again for playing this Summer and we’ll see you next June!  As for the Teams who did qualify, the seeds were dished out but we still have some business to take care of prior to the bracket being finalized..

As we went over the past couple of weeks.. The Sweet16 Games (8 Total) would feature 5 Hoops and 3 Floor Hockey Games.. Those decisions were made in order starting with the #1 Seed and would continue until there were no more choices to be made.. The Draft was held Tuesday AM and here are the results:

1. Team Sternberg (Kelly Parker HC) selects Hockey v. 16. Team Hakimian (Dr. Jacob)

2. Team Zimmerman (AMPY) selects Hockey v. 15. Team Apuli (Biagg’s)

3. Team Shlofrock (Crystal Lake CDJ) selects Hoops v. 14. Team Cohen (Manny’s Deli)

4. Team Fallows (Bekin’s Lake County) selects Hoops v. 13. Team Palmer (Danley’s)

5. Team Bemoras (popchips) selects Hockey v. 12. Team Kornblatt (Camp Ojibwa)

*With that selection of Hockey, there were no more choices to make as all the Hockey Games were chosen.. Hoops would be the pick for:

6. Team Watts (VIP Express Limo) v. 11. Team Cruse (Sandusky Cabinets)

7. Team Hadelman (Theory) v. 10. Team Maione (SportsLock)

8. Team Gross (Chicago Trolley) v. 9. Team Lehrman (Muchacha Salsa)


*Note The Elite8 will have a similar draft next Monday Night live at the League and there will be 3 Hoops Games and 1 Hockey Game to choose from. The 8 Teams remaining will meet just before 9:30p on Monday Night (after the conclusion of the last Sweet16 Games) and the highest seed left will get to pick their sport, and we’ll go down the line until no choices are left to be made.


For an updated Playoff Bracket Click Here.


Playoff Preview

1. Team Sternberg (Kelly Parker HC) v. 16. Team Hakimian (Dr. Jacob D.D.S. Navy) – Hoops

All season long we’ve touched upon the changing of the guard..  There are a number of core groups who have helped built up the reputation of the Chicago Men’s Summer League as the toughest League around. For years, these groups have been battling it out for supremacy and more often than not, it was Team Hakimian who came out on top.  They are the Dynasty.  Their resume has been touted countless times.. 2 Summer League crowns (Burbs and Chicago) and they are the reigning defending Back2Back Chicago Hoops League Champs…  So naturally they are used to beginning the Playoff Preview.. Only this season the script has flipped.. They qualified for the Playoffs on the League’s final night and are just squeaking in as the #16 seed.. This is as prime of an example as any.. There’s a new breed in the Chicago Men’s League and they don’t plan on waiting in line for Championships…

#1 Team Sternberg clinched the Regular Season Championship during the Volleyball Tourney as they grabbed 3rd place to finish the night.. They have been atop the Power Rankings for a few weeks now and their #1 seed is no fluke.  They are among the favorites to win the whole thing.. They know what it takes to win All Sports Series.. Many of these guys are Back2Back Madison League Champs and almost all have won the Suburbs College/Prep League in the past as well..  Obviously getting a Team with the pedigree of Team Hakimian in the Sweet16 isn’t what they pictured.. But no one’s road to the Championship will be easy and they view this as another opportunity to show the League they are here to be the last crew standing..

1. Team Sternberg utilized their great Regular Season in opting for Floor Hockey this coming Monday Night.  They’ll be the first to admit that Floor Hockey isn’t in their top few sports but they are certainly aware of Team Hakimian’s Hoops prowess… The Playoffs are a different animal in the Chicago Men’s League though. Each win is a true notch on the belt.. This Game really could signal the changing of the guard..

Winner will play the Winner of 8/9 in the Elite8…

8. Team Gross (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.) v. 9. Team Lehrman (Muchacha Salsa) – Hoops

Two of the “new breed” will battle it out here in the always entertaining 8/9 Hoops match-up.  That means one of these squads will get to at least the Elite8 in their first Chicago Men’s League.. Both groups have had Playoff success in other All Sports Series Leagues.  Team Lehrman used a Final4 appearance in last Monday’s VBall Tourney to shoot up the Standings and get into the single digit seeds. Team Gross has been strong all year and seem ready to make a real run in this thing.

On paper, Team Gross has had the more impressive Hoops season.. Including a Week 5 Hoops W over this very same Team Lehrman squad. It’s extremely tough to defeat the same Team 2x in any season, let alone in the same sport.. That Game was heated until the final buzzer and they’ll likely pick up right where they left off.. and this time with much more on the line!  Good Luck to both Teams!

Winner will play Winner of 1/16 in the Elite8…


5. Team Bemoras (popchips) v. 12. Team Kornblatt (Camp Ojibwa) – Hockey

There are many interesting match-ups in the Sweet16..  Certain Games will intrigue certain people more than others but this is one that certainly pops off the page from a personal standpoint.. The cores of these Teams know each other tremendously well and they’ve had numerous battles in the past.. It just seems too perfect that the seeds fell and left them in the 5/12 spot with an opportunity to slug it out in the Floor Hockey arena for a spot in the Elite8.  Both Teams had a preference to play Floor Hockey in the Sweet16 and 5. Team Bemoras was able to grant them both that wish..  These two Teams met about a month ago on the softball diamond where Team Bemoras won 10-7.

Captain Bemo and co. have had a tremendously strong Regular Season. They made key off-season acquisitions and their transition from the Co-Ed League to the Men’s League has gone better than anyone really could have guessed.. They may be the most under the radar “Championship contender” right now.. This Team has big aspirations and the path to the Crown is a doable one.. Have to get through the Ojibwa Warriors first of course..

As for Team Kornblatt… They are an #Original12 squad which means they are playing in what is their 6th Summer of All Sports Series..  For years, they’ve experienced highs and lows during the Regular Season.. They’ve come into the Playoffs with top seeds and low seeds.. The truth is though, it hasn’t mattered.. Their run has always ended in the Opening Round Hoops Games.. It’s been a hurdle they haven’t been able to leap.. Enter 2015.  The addition to Floor Hockey in the Opening Rounds really gives them a new lease on life.. Yes they are seeded #12 and most aren’t going to rattle them off when listing favorites..  You know what?  That’s just fine with them.  They know all too well not to get too ahead of themselves and are just going to take it 1 (hopefully non-Hoops) Game at a time.

One thing is for certain.. Both Teams are going to leave everything they have out there on Monday Night.

Winner will play Winner of 4/13 in the Elite8…

4. Team Fallows (Bekin’s Lake County Movers) v. 13. Team Palmer (Danley’s Garage World) – Hoops

Team Fallows started off the season on a true tear. At one point in time they had sole possession of first place in the Standings and they also were Ranked #1 at another point of the season.. They took that hot start and managed to grab the #4 overall seed.  With that came the reward of being able to select their Sweet16 sport.. They selected Hoops, which shouldn’t be a surprise.. They were 2-1 in Hoops this Summer and against pretty stiff competition at that.  For a long time the Fallows/Glass/Kozin (different Leagues, different names) have been near the front of the line but they are still searching for that elusive Crown.  Is this the year?  Their draw has certainly aligned nicely, with them selecting their sport of choice.

Enter the newcomers who people know little about.. 13. Team Palmer.  They’ve had a very successful debut season.  Hoops have not been their strongest area this Summer, going 1-2, but they have been in every Game.. Every year (EVERY), a double digit seeds makes an improbable run to the League’s final night.. Team Palmer has the talent to do just that..

Winner will play Winner of 5/12 in the Elite8…


2. Team Zimmerman (AMPY) v. 15. Team Apuli (Biaggi’s) – Hockey

#2 Team Zimmerman surprised many with their pick of Floor Hockey.. They have one of (if not THE) best Hoops squads in the League and many pegged them for a “no matter what” Hoops selection.. Well, not so fast!  They clearly liked something about Hockey with the Team Apuli match-up.. Or maybe, they were looking ahead to something? In any event, here we are with another top seed fighting for their spot in the Elite8 on the hockey rink. It’s no secret that this quad is the most “star-studded” when looking at the 7/10 matchup as well.. It’ll be easy for many to over look 15. Team Apuli in this case..  That would be a big mistake.. They can play anything and won their Hockey Game over 3. Team Shlofrock in June.  Captain Apuli and co. are not going to just lay down for the favorites here…  All eyes will be squarely on the top-right portion of the Bracket.. It’s going to be a fun one!

Winner will play Winner of 7/10 in the Elite8…

7. Team Hadelman (Theory) v. 10. Team Maione (SportsLock) – Hoops

How do you like this for a Sweet16 match-up?!? And in Hoops!! This is the “Must-See” Game of the Round.. A distinction, both Teams are surely proud of.. Only, they’d rather it be happening in the Championship…  These Two Teams would be on everyone’s short list of Championship Favorites and the stars have aligned so that they meet in the Opening Round.  On top of that.. Whoever comes out of this Game with their Playoff lives still in tact, could be looking at an Elite8 Game with another Favorite.. 2. Team Zimmerman.  This 4-Team pod is easily the toughest to come out of.. This also works as the perfect resolution to their “Lightning Shortened” Flag Football Game from a few weeks back…

As for the Teams themselves.. Team Hadelman, now in their 3rd Summer, has made it to the Final4 in each of their first two seasons.  They are still searching for their first Summer crown.  They’ve never lost an Opening Round Hoops Game in All Sports Series and they have been waiting for a year to finally grab their first Crown as a unit.. Their road is just going to be tougher than anyone could have anticipated..  Then there’s the #10 seeded Team Maione.. They were the Champs of the Chicago Men’s League in 2013 and then were dethroned last season in an Elite8 with eventual Champs and #10 seeded Team Watts.   Team Maione has everything you could ever want to make it two consecutive years where the 10 seed wins the whole thing..  SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE.  CANNOT WAIT.

Winner will play Winner of 2/15 in the Elite8…


6. Team Watts (VIP Express Limo) v. 11. Team Cruse (Sandusky Cabinets) – Hoops

You know what the Defending Champs do?  They Win when their backs are against the wall… Much has been made about the top right portion of the bracket.. The 2/15 and 7/10 pairings.. 3 of the Favorites reside there.  Well, last year.. Team Watts took down Team Maione in the Elite8, then Team Hadelman in the Final4 and ultimately Team Zimmerman in the Championship.  Know who isn’t scared of anyone?  The Champs.   They had an up and down Regular Season as is often the case for the Defending Champs.. They have to play each and every week with a bulls-eye square on their backs.. Coming into last Monday Night they hadn’t even locked up a Playoff spot yet.. So you know what they do?  They go out and WIN the entire VBall Tourney (and without 2 key players) and jump all the way up to the #6 seed.   So, they have all the momentum.. Just pencil them in for another Elite8 right?  Not so fast my friends..

#11 Team Cruse has had an excellent debut season this Summer.  They’ve played against many top Teams this Summer and they haven’t backed down at all.. They are firmly apart of the “new breed” of Teams in the Chicago Men’s League that are not interested in waiting for their turn to gather titles. They are good enough to win now and have plans to do just that.   This has all the makings to be a fantastic Sweet16 Game.

Winner will play Winner of 3/14 in the Elite8…

3. Team Shlofrock (Crystal Lake CDJ) v. 14. Team Cohen (Manny’s Deli) – Hoops

Our final Elite8 Game to Preview and it’s a doozie.. The seeds would indicate that this should not be one of the better Sweet16 Games.. Seeds sometimes don’t tell the whole story however.. Back in Week 4 these Two squads played a Hoops Game that was won on a buzzer beater by Jason Domash of Team Shlofrock. Team Cohen controlled most of that Game and held a lead until literally the final buzzer.. These two Teams are extremely even in Hoops and it will be among the best Games of the Night.  It would be normal for either Team to look ahead and say, “how are we going to deal with Defending Champs Team Watts in the Elite8?”.. but the battle to just get to that spot is going to be epic.  Both Teams were bounced earlier than they planned a year ago and have been counting down the days to get back to the Playoffs to make their run..  Many on Team Shlofrock have won the College/Prep League in the past but both of these squads badly desire a Chicago Men’s League crown.  This could steal the show next Monday Night.

Winner plays Winner of 6/11 in the Elite8…


That’s it for the Preview. Everyone rest up. Have a great weekend and see you at the Playoffs!

– Holden