8:15 - The Hospital Bombers (4-1) vs. The Cray's Nest (4-1)
After tonight, there will be an undisputed top team in the GABL. Can The Cray's Nest enact a repeat of their week one victory, or have the Bombers improved beyond the point of defeat? In the latest power poll, experts chose the Bombers as the top team, while The Cray's Nest was dropped to third, despite owning the tiebreaker for the #1 seed. Results in the past three weeks seem to confirm this analysis, and the Bombers' dominance stands in stark contrast to TCN's escape acts. In the night's marquee match-up, questions will be answered.
If the Bombers have a weakness, and they may not, it's in the ballhandling realm. The Cray's Nest will look to exploit their lack of a true point guard. Shooting guard extraordinaire Geoff Nelson may find himself with more dribbling duty than usual, while Steve Friedman and Kerry Brown will have to carry a heavy frontcourt load. On the boards, Jeremy Forsythe, Bob Van Kolken, and Nate Purinton will have to contend with two of the league's best rebounders in Vance Tucker and Lars Rasmussen. Defensively, they'll have to shut down those two and contain the shooting prowess of guards Gene Wash and Jordan Glickson, who have been improving each game. The possible return of Shane Ryan could also add a new wrinkle to the Cray's Nest offense. Jacob Craycroft adds a third body to the rebounding equation, while Jane Rizzo will provide pressure from the defensive wing. On the offensive end, the Bombers will look to Van Kolken to assert his presence inside in order to create open looks beyond the arc for Nelson and Purinton. It will be crucial for The Cray's Nest to prevent penetration by Friedman and Brown, and to guard the middle of the zone without conceding the easy outside shot.
Favorite: Hospital Bombers (-4)
9:00 - Beast of Burden (3-2) vs. Layup Line Heroes (2-3)
Beast of Burden will be looking to avenge their week one loss, while the Heroes desperately need to create some distance between themselves and Team Fouls in the standings. While the Brothers Rodriguez will be leading their team on a quest to take second place, Gormley and Colby Hall will be trying to maintain an unsteady grip on the fourth and final playoff spot.
In week one, the Heroes were able to contain Ismael and Rafael Rodriguez, holding the entire team to 32 points. But as they've found their rhythm, the entire Beast of Burden team has gelled, and this low point total should be exceeded easily. The Heroes need to take advantage of their superior height; if Gormley and Colby Hall can mix it up down low, they should be able to at least achieve a healthy rebound margin. But the glaring question for the Heroes is how well they can handle the intense defensive pressure from the BoB frontcourt. If they discover an effective method for beating the press, their size gives them a fighting chance to win. If not, the mission becomes impossible.
Favorite: Beast of Burden (-8)
9:45 - Team Fouls (1-4) vs. Dunk-a Schoen (1-4)
Though neither team can be pleased with their first half performance, they can take solace in the fact that they're still very much in the playoff hunt. Team Fouls, in particular, needs only to defeat Dunk-a Schoen and the Heroes in order to earn the 4th seed. But the stakes tonight are high; a loss makes the journey all but hopeless.
Dunk-a Schoen have yet to find offensive chemistry, but they'll own a distinct size advantage tonight. Ben Weitmarschen, Zach Heinzerling, Whitney Warren, and Kevin Felder have the potential to make things miserable for the Team Fouls interior. On the flip side, Kyle Ervin, Andrew Weiner, and Chris Bonastia may give Dunk-a Schoen headaches in transition. It's an interesting clash of styles, and one that ended in an overtime victory for Dunk-a Schoen in week one. Tonight's outcome is utterly unpredictable, and a win, for both teams, is utterly imperative.
Favorite: Pick 'em