Friday, March 16, 2012

Semi-Finals Preview #2 - (1) Pin Smackers vs. (5) Force

This match-up features the hottest team in the league going against the best overall team in the league. Both teams are very deep; expect 800 team games galore. With both teams being deep, what will this series come down to?

The Pin Smackers have been consistently great all season long in order to clinch the first ever regular season crown in SABowl. While Adam is the captain, they've been led by prime-time bowler Abhishek Kumar. Abhi has the 2nd highest average on the season (195.4), the highest game of the season (279!!) and the highest series of the season (748). But if you ask Abhi, he will tell you the reason why his team is successful is the depth behind him. Eugene has quietly bowled a great season (168.8 - 7th overall), and the team has gotten good contributions from Sony, Andre, Adam, Mustafa, and Harp.

The Pin Smackers average 742 as a team, which has them tied for 2nd overall. Their team high series of 878 is also the league's 2nd best overall. In the 2nd half of the season (last 15 games), they've had a 772.3 average, which is the best in the league. The simple reason behind their success is consistency. Abhi, Eugene, Sony, and Adam all show virtually every week. When a team has 4 reliable players, and two of them are in the top 1o overall, you can't ask for much more than that.

(For Force's full intro, see their wildcard preview.) Force was taken to the limit in the wildcard round by SnS. But they also bowled their best 3 game set of the season (853, 808, 875). What makes this key is that they had to bowl this well; SnS nearly matched them pin for pin. Which means their 2nd half run continues. Not counting the playoffs, their 2nd half average was a 769.1; only a few pins behind the Pin Smackers. Force is going to have to be just as good as their wildcard showing, if not better, to beat the Pin Smackers. Roswell emerged as the hero of last week. Will be he able to repeat his MVP performance? Or will someone new step up?


Pin Smackers vs. Force - Pin Smackers 5 wins, Force 1 win. Teams split total pins

Game by game comparison - Excluding week 1, Pin Smackers would be 18-12 vs. Force

Pin Smackers - 742 average, 878 max score
Force - 727 season average, 872 max score (875 if wildcard round is included)

2nd half averages (last 15 games of regular season):
Force - 769.1
Pin Smackers - 772.3

Team score for top 5 averages:
Force (Alan, Raheel, Bobby, Prince, Shumail) - 778.7
Pin Smackers (Mustafa, Sony, Eugene, Abhi, Harp) - 804.8

Force's match-up with SnS was a toss up. They are clearly the underdog against the Pin Smackers.

Likely Player Match-ups:

Bowler #1 - Roswell vs. Mustafa

Does a week ever change things. Entering the wildcard round, Roswell was viewed at the team's 6th best bowler, who likely wasn't going to start an elimination game. Now? He's entrenched as the team's lead-off bowler. In the case of Roswell, his 125.5 regular season average can be (somewhat) thrown out the window. Averaging just over 185 pins when the team needs you most? No question that Roswell can handle the pressure.

Mustafa has done a solid job for the Pin Smackers all season. After a hot start to the season, he cooled off a little bit, but still finished the season with a 128.8 average, and a 133.7 average in his last 7 games (he's been subbed in and out). The bad news is that he hasn't bowled over a 140 game in the past month.

Advantage Force

Bowler #2 - Alan vs. Sony

Alan was solid in the wildcard round, bowling both his games in the 150s. And he missed a couple of easy spares that would have sent his score into the 170s. Force needs Alan to stay in the 160+ range for this week in order to have a chance against the depth of the Pin Smackers.

Sony has worked hard this season and seemingly got better week after week. So much so that he's been given many labels; 'the strike,' 'sneaky sneaky,' and simply 'the true X-factor'. Getting a new ball also helped his game tremendously. The stats don't like:

First 15 games: 122 average
Last 15 games: 153.9 average

Sony will once again be the X-factor for the Pin Smackers. If he's bowls very well, that makes the Pin Smackers extremely tough to beat. Sony will have his work cut out for him against Alan though. But this match-up is much closer than most would believe.

Advantage Force

Bowler #3 - Raheel vs. Harp

Force's X-factor in this match-up is Raheel. In the wildcard round, he was all over the map, with an excellent game (191), and a slightly less than average game (137), with an average game mixed in (144). He's going to have to be pretty close to that 190 game in order for Force to go toe-to-toe with the Pin Smackers.

Harp has been a great bowler the few times he has shown. His 174.8 average would put him slightly ahead of Prince and Eugene, had he kept the same pace going. The only question with Harp is how will he handle the pressure of the playoffs? But given that his lowest game of the season was a 151, he'll likely do just fine.

Advantage Pin Smackers

Bowler #4 - Shumail vs. Eugene

Everyone who saw Shumail bowl believed he was off his game after game 1 (201). While he did have a few misses, he recovered to bowl a 157 game, and a 159 game the rest of the way. So on an off day, Shumail still bowled above his average. Given how many times Shumail has been in these situations, expect him to have a great series.

Eugene has very quietly gone about his business and been a great bowler all season long. Being the only lefty in the league, his approach has been a model of consistency. The stats back up this claim:

First 12 games - 170.1 average
Last 12 games - 167.5 average

The lower 2nd half average is misleading, as he had one dud game to lower his average.

Shumail's splits:

First 9 games - 145.1 average
Last 8 games - 177.6 average

This matchup is extremely close; while one bowler is right handed, and the other is left handed, they both have similar approaches, and quietly do what is needed for their teams.

Advantage Even

Bowler #5 - Prince vs. Abhi

Prince's wildcard round wasn't pretty (barely any strikes), but still managed to get the job done (189 average). But now he will be matched up against the #2 bowler in the league. The pressure will be on Prince to be even better than last week.

Abhi, aka the mayor, is by far the league's friendliest bowler. Mess up a shot? He'll be the first to help you out. Bowl a great game? He'll be the first to congratulate you. But on the lanes, Abhi is as ruthless as we have in the league. Abhi's very first game in the league was a 138. Since then, his lowest game? 161. Just as good: Abhi has bowled more 190+ games (18) than even the league's top bowler Jason (16).

Here are Abhi's splits:

First 18 games: 197.1 average
Last 15 games: 193.4 average

Compare that to Prince's splits:

First 18 games: 154.1 average
Last 15 games: - 193.9 average

Probably no one in the league expected Prince's 2nd half to match Abhi's. That being said, Abhi's been that good for a much longer period of time, and he's been in more of these situations than Prince has. This is Abhi's match-up to lose, and Prince has to stay with him.

Advantage Pin Smackers

Summary and Prediction (done by ghost writer):

Expect all 3 games to come down to the last 2 frames. Both teams are stacked and have the depth needed to win a championship. Pin Smackers with their best 5 are dangerous - Abhishek, Eugene, Sony, Harp, and Mustafa. Abhi and Eugene make it look effortless. Sony has been improving his game and developing consistency in the upper 150's. Harp has only played 9 games but managed a 175 average. A 175 for your #3 bowler should seal the deal against any team.

But Force has momentum. They break the 800 mark with ease now. They build off of each other. And the most dangerous thing about this team is that any one of their starting 5 can have a 180+ game. If Shumail and Prince just play their game, expect at least one of the other 3 to step up and get them the W. Last week, it was Roswell in game 3 and Raheel in game 1. When 2 teams match up this evenly, it really comes down to emotion. Force has been riding a wave of confidence for 5 weeks now. Coming off of a close win last week can only further propel this confidence to the level needed to take out the #1 seed. Expect the upset.

Prediction: Force wins the series 2-1

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