by Ben Schneider

Legacy Leagues Winter 17 Playoffs: First Round (Tuesday, April 4 at 9:15pm)
#4 Temptations (6-3) vs #13 Stranger Danger (3-6)
First Matchup: Teams have not played
Current Streak: Temptations (L1) Stranger Danger (L3)
Highest Power Ranking: Temptations – 3, Stranger Danger – 9
Standout Performer: Temptations’ Carmine Santorelli (Winter 17 All-Star), Stranger Dangers’ Steve Echols (leads team in PPG)

The first round matchup between the four and 13-seeded teams isn’t as lopsided as those numbers may suggest. The game between the six-win Temptations and the three-win Stranger Dangers teams is going to be won between the tops of the key, as both teams like to get up and down the court and play a fast-paced game.

The Temptations have been a strong force all season long, consistently ranking as a top-four team in the league. They are led by catalyst Carmine Santorelli, who is having an unbelievable year, averaging 29.4 PPG and 6.2 APG. He is definitely helped by the three-point shooting of Bryan Pratt, the slashing play from Fred Milfort and the post play of Troy Brunson.

Brunson seemed confident when I spoke to him after their last win saying, “We’re tired of people saying we’re not really good when we’re really the best team in this league. We need to come out with the same energy.”

That last Temptations win did not come in their last game of the season, though, as the regular season ended with a double-digit loss to one of the two remaining unbeaten teams in the league, No Limit. Santorelli was held in check in week 10 on Tuesday night, as No Limit was able to have their way on the court.

Stranger Danger has not had much success of late either, losing their last three contests by double-digits, including their final regular season game against a surging Sportlook team who finished with the same record as them.

For Stranger Danger, their season started of better than expected with two early wins, but only managed one win in their next seven contests. They are led by high-flying point guard Steve Echols. Echols is their go to guy when they need a bucket. He runs the floor well, and looks to score while equally trying to set up his teammates.

Stranger danger is going to need big contributions from role players like Will McAdoo and Johnny O’ Brien if they want to have a chance at pulling off this upset. Their role players have played well in stretches, but have not been able to put it together for a full game so far this season. They’ll need everyone clicking and working together to keep this game close into the fourth.

The Temptations cannot sleep on their first round opponent, no matter the seed. Stranger Danger shocked a lot of people in week 3, hanging with No Limit and getting as close as 2 points in the fourth before No Limit edged them out.

Looking at the matchups on paper, Stranger Danger doesn’t have anyone on the inside who can guard Brunson, and Santorelli is going to make sure he gets his and sets his teammates up for success. Even if Echols is able to go off and score 30, Echols is almost certainly also going to draw the assignment of guarding Santorelli on the other end, meaning not getting tired will be key. He will need his Stranger Danger teammates to hit shots throughout, and even then that may not be enough against a Temptations team that is battle-tested and hungry for a deep run in the playoffs.