Archers vs. Whipsnakes: Matchup Preview
By Doug Greenberg | Aug 1, 2020
The climactic battle between the last two undefeated teams of the Group Stage begins at 12 PM ET on NBCSN.
The final game of the Championship Series Group Stage is arguably the most exciting matchup of the tournament thus far. Both teams enter the fray with a 3-0 record, though Whips hold the edge in score differential by a hefty 14 points. Additionally, Whipsnakes and Archers had the best odds to win the championship at +315 and +375, respectively, according to DraftKings odds on July 21st.
In other words, something’s gotta give.
Storylines to Watch
Phenomenal First Years
At this point, it’s impossible to ignore the greatness of Grant Ament. The number one overall selection from the 2020 College Draft has been outstanding in almost every offensive metric, recording five one-point goals, nine assists and 14 points, with the latter two numbers being good enough for the league lead (Jordan Wolf of Chrome and Kieran McArdle of Waterdogs are also tied with 14 points). Ament also tied a PLL record in his last game by dishing out five helpers, including this beauty to win the game against Chrome.
But Ament isn’t the only first-year PLL player in this game who has been turning heads: two picks from the 2020 Entry Draft, Whipsnakes’ Zed Williams and Archers’ Christian Mazzone, have been tearing it up in their own right during the Championship Series. “Zedzilla” has been an efficient scorer for Whips to this point, racking up a league-leading 10 goals on 37 percent shooting. He’s been especially lethal with his inventiveness around the crease.
And let’s not forget about Mazzone; the Rutgers product has six one-pointers on an absurd 75 shooting percentage. The Archers, Ament first and foremost, have done a great job getting him the ball in high-leverage situations and he has delivered. If Whipsnakes want to win this game, their lights-out defense will have to find an answer for Archers’ first-year duo.
The Battle at the Stripe
Joe Nardella has been unstoppable in the Championship Series. The New York native leads the league in faceoffs won (49) and faceoff percentage (78%) and has accumulated four points on three goals and one assist. His excellent play is even garnering MVP talk in some circles.
However, Sunday’s game could represent Nardella’s greatest challenge yet. The Archers’ tandem of Stephen Kelly and Brendan Fowler have been the next best faceoff unit in the league, notching faceoff percentages of 60 and 57 percent, respectively. The two-man faceoff approach could be used to tire Nardella out throughout the contest, which could flip the field in Archers’ favor if played correctly.
At the time of writing, the only bet listed on DraftKings Sportsbook is the moneyline, which lists Whipsnakes as -152 favorites. Moneylines in games of teams with similar talent are seldom a strong bet, so staying away could be the play here. That said, if a high enough total gets posted before the first faceoff, the under could be a nice play given the trends of this tournament and the aptitude of these defenses.
The number one seed for the Elimination Round is on the line in this game. Whipsnakes will still likely lock in the two seed if they lose, but Archers would fall to the three seed behind Chrome by virtue of score differential with a loss. While the automatic berth into the final four of the Championship Series should be motivation enough for either of these teams, a loss would be more detrimental to Archers, so expect them to come out firing.