By Joe Catapano

Eight weeks down, just one left in the Summer 17 regular season. Check out this week’s Around the Arc where I asked the analysts who they would start a Legacy Leagues team with:

With playoffs looming, here are five things you need to know about action from this past week.

1. No Limit stayed undefeated in the BEST game of the Summer 17 regular season 

If you weren’t in the stands or huddled around Court 1 Monday night at Insports, you might’ve missed one the best games in Legacy Leagues history, and in my opinion, the best game of the Summer 17 season. The No Limit-Brotherhood matchup was circled on our calendars since the schedule was released, but when both teams were silent on social media all week leading up to the game, we knew both teams meant business. No Limit rode a hot start, looking as if they might actually blow out The Brotherhood, but clenched onto a single-digit lead in the final moments to fend of the two-time champions, 80-78. 

No Limit’s Howie Miller has been in the midst of the MVP conversations all season, so far knocking down a league-high 45 three-pointers. But he was nearly silent on the stat sheet Monday night, scoring just three points without hitting one deep ball. No Limit received the best game of the season from rookie Ty Sands. His 22 points, three rebounds and one assist don’t tell half the story of his performance. After The Brotherhood made a run in the third quarter to take a one-point advantage for their first lead of the game, it looked like they had all the momentum. Sands then made a subtle, but pivotal defense play to swing the momentum back to No Limit.

The Brotherhood went up one and immediately made a defensive stop, and then had the opportunity to go up four with another Mike Davis three. As Davis stripped the ball from No Limit’s Rashawn Hendricks as he left his feet for a layup, Sands stripped the ball back from Davis, leading to an easy bucket to retake the lead. It was a very quick and easy-to-miss play, but if Davis goes down the court untouched and makes another three to extend The Brotherhood’s run, this game’s outcome might’ve gone the other way. But thanks to Sands’ defense on Davis, who shot 9-of-17, No Limit stays undefeated this season.

2. The Throne needs Joe Baccielo for a deep playoff run

The Throne has quietly put together a 7-1 start to the season, this week beating the Bad Boyz in overtime, 76-69. It was the first time in a couple weeks that I watched The Throne up close and from what I saw against a now 3-5 Bad Boyz team, The Throne absolutely needs Joe Baccielo back on the court if the want to win multiple playoff games. Baccielo, who has been sidelined for all but two games this season, will be eligible for the playoffs after serving his injury time. Although wins are wins and The Throne must be commended for showing up every week, there is still a lot of uncertainty with them with just one week left in the regular season.

Since their five-point Week 1 loss to the Monstars, The Throne has rattled off seven-straight wins to put them in prime position for a high playoff seed. Here’s the part that many believe discredits a 7-1 team right now. In those seven wins, the teams they’ve faced are a combined 13-43 this season. They have yet to beat an above .500 team and their best win of the season was over Stranger Danger in Week 2, who was basically beaten single-handedly by Joe Baccielo’s 40-point performance. It’s becoming increasingly clear that without Baccielo, The Throne might advance past the second round. With Baccielo, that’s a whole different story.

Baccielo ranks third on his team in total points scored this season, which is incredible since he’s only played in two games. He’s averaging 35.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, clearly showing he can lead this team offensively. The Throne faces The Brotherhood next week, which will bring out a lot of their weaknesses to end the season. With a lot of teams around them in the standings, they might slip to a five-seed from the three spot if all the favorites win next week. Potentially having to face a 12-seed that’s better than their spot in the standings, The Throne will need Baccielo back to avoid an early exit.

3. The best of The Brotherhood was brought out by No Limit, despite the loss

Although the Brotherhood lost their second game this season after not losing a single game in their two seasons prior, something clicked in the second half Monday night against No Limit. I was very excited to be back with Legacy Leagues this summer after being at school for both the fall and winter seasons, mostly to see what The Brotherhood would do with much better competition than what I saw them face when I was around this time one year ago. But for most of this season, I haven’t seen the same Brotherhood team that I saw all last summer. That is, until the second half against No Limit. No Limit brought out the old Brotherhood that has been nonexistent for most of this summer season.

I started seeing The Brotherhood play with that edge, that undeniable sense of energy that stems from a hard-nosed full-court press, nothing-but-net 3-pointers from Mike Davis, emphatic Russ Payton cost-to-coast dunks and Jibril Chisholm jumping five feet in the air yelling from the bench to let the whole gym know that his team is coming for you. I felt that for the first time this season with The Brotherhood, and maybe it was just because of the magnitude of the game, but I hope that fire burns within The Brotherhood for the rest of the season. While they ended up with the victory and bragging rights, No Limit absolutely added fuel to The Brotherhood’s fire.

If The Brotherhood wins out the rest of the season to claim their third championship, I know exactly which play I’ll point to when asked when The Brotherhood’s season shifted. When Rashawn Hendricks stood over Chisholm, leading to an exchange of words and the benches being cleared to restore order on the court, it was shortly after that The Brotherhood made that push to go from down double-digits in the first half to up one for moments in the second half. That’s when I saw that same motivation as if The Brotherhood still has something to prove. Despite a second loss this season, The Brotherhood is still the most accomplished team in the league’s history, and I’m sure they’ll play like it come playoff time.

4. After a Week 8 triple-double, Carmine Santorelli will need to go off again to upset the Monstars 

He might not win the Summer 17 Most Valuable Player, but it’s pretty clear which player is most “valuable” to his team, and that’s Sensual Chocolate’s Carmine Santorelli. Averaging 28.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game this season, there are not many scoring guards that can also rebound, pass and simply makes his teammates better than Santorelli. This past week he put up a triple-double against the 1-7 Double Dribblers, and he’ll absolutely need to put up crazy numbers again in Week 9 when Sensual Chocolate takes on the still-undefeated Monstars.

Although the Monstars are a much different team than they were just one season ago, there are some similar faces that Santorelli faced last season as a member of the Temptations. He scored 19 points on 7-of-22 shooting with nine rebounds and six assists last time these teams played. It was clearly not his best shooting game, but his team lost by just seven points to the eventual Winter 17 champions. Santorelli will need to put up near triple-double figures to compete with the Monstars. Troy Brunson has stepped up for Sensual Chocolate this season, but the Monstars have the size down low to potentially limit him. Reggie Stewart and Kintwon Miles will definitely be good defensive matchups against Santorelli, which will be something to watch on Monday.

Sensual Chocolate does have what it takes to take down the best teams in this league, but it’ll take their best game of the season to pull it off. They started the season by almost beating The Brotherhood, now they’ll end the season without another big test. The Monstars have struggled to create big leads in the first half, so don’t be surprised to see Sensual Chocolate winning after the first 20 minutes. It’ll be what happens in the second half that determines the outcome of this game. If the Monstars win, they’ll more than likely be the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, and for Sensual Chocolate, a win could move them even higher up the top 10 heading into the postseason.

5. Several Legacy Leagues records are in breaking distance this season

We’ll keep this last one short and sweet. There are several Legacy Leagues records that could be snapped either next week or in the postseason. Here they are:

  • Player Assists (Season)
    • Temptations Carmine Santorelli: 67 in Winter 17 (Rashawn Hendricks: 63 this season)
  • Player 3PM (Season)
    • Cereal Killers Mike Davis: 58 in Winter 17 (Howie Miller: 45 this season)
  • Player FTM (Season)
    • Goon Squad’s Matt Marconi: 63 in Fall 16 (Matt Marconi: 50 this season)
  • Team Least Points (Season)
    • The Hateful 8: 433 in Summer 16 (Fry Time: 361 this season)
  • Team 3PM (Season)
    • Run TMC: 115 in Summer 16 (No Limit: 89 this season)
  • Team FTM (Season)
    • Run TMC: 113 in Winter 17 (Goon Squad: 108 this season)

You can check out this season’s player stats here and team stats here.