In the blink of an eye, our first season of pro lacrosse betting is coming to a close. The 2020 PLL Championship matchup between the #1 seed Whipsnakes and the #7 seed Chaos speaks volumes about the unpredictability of lacrosse as well as the parity that we’ve seen in the PLL. Before we get into the finale of the PLL Championship Series, let’s recap what bettors saw in the semi-finals.
PLL Championship Series Semi-finals in Review
1. Underdogs cover the spread: Underdogs were the way to go on the spread with Chaos coming in at +2.5 and winning outright and the Redwoods covering their lopsided spread at +3.5 as well.
2. Over hits in both games: It may have taken an empty net goal for my prediction on the OVER finally hitting with some consistency as both games went over their opening numbers (21.5). While game two went over comfortably, game one finishing with 22 points total served as a learning opportunity about the huge importance of a half-point. Because of that pesky .5, bettors on the UNDER at 21.5 had their nights ruined while OVER bettors were so happy they could have pulled a “Frank The Tank”…
To recap, I bounced back nicely on my semi-final picks, ending up 3-0 with both of my leans cashing in as well bringing me to 8-3 since coming on board with Pro Lacrosse Talk. But you’re not reading to hear my record, you want to know what we’re looking at in Sunday’s championship tilt.
#1 Whipsnakes (5-0) v #7 Chaos (2-4)
Point Spread: Whipsnakes -2.5
Money Line: Whipsnakes -265, Chaos +205
Total (Over/Under): 23.5
The 2020 PLL Championship game will be the second meeting this year between the Whips and the Chaos, and it will be the fifth overall meeting for the two clubs. The defending champions have got the best of the Chaos, holding a 3-1 record and touting a goal differential of +12 in their last two meetings (one of which a 15-7 win in the first round of last year’s playoffs). The O/U set at 23.5 is extremely appropriate because in the clubs’ four meetings, the total points scored between the two is 23.75 on average. I’ll have more about that a little later.
Luckily, we have some history to draw upon when handicapping this matchup because not only have the Chaos been one of the hardest teams to get a feel for, but also, despite winning in OT over the Woods, the Whipsnakes seemed uncharacteristically out of sorts offensively in the semi-finals. Especially in the case of reigning-MVP, Matt Rambo, who went from a 10-point, MVP-like showing to help clinch the 1 seed in the final game of Group Play to not recording a single point against the Woods.
The way these two squads reached the Championship game couldn’t be more opposite, one team went 4-0 through group play and the other was winless until round one of the playoffs. While the Whipsnakes have rolled through the competition, it’s hard to believe they’ve faced a team with this much confidence and momentum heading into a matchup. The Chaos has the best goalie in the league who’s impressive 105 saves with a 63% save percentage will be a formidable test for the Whipsnakes offense who comes in as the highest scoring offense in the Series. However, the Whips are no slouch defensively, only averaging nine points allowed per game, also the best average in the league.
Now before we wrap up the final handicap of the 2020 PLL Championship Series, back to those interesting figures about the O/U. The current number sits at 23.5, and as stated earlier these teams average a total of 23.75 in their four previous meetings. Diving in deeper, using all 18 games of the Chaos’ 2019 and 2020 seasons, the average final total for their games is 23.7, for the Whips and a 17-game sample size, 23.77. During the 2020 Championship series, the Chaos have had final totals a notable 2 points below their average at 21.66, the Whips? Yep, you guessed it, 23 (which was also the final point total of the 2019 Championship game in which the Whips won 12-11 over the Woods).
The Pick: We are in for a heck of a game Sunday and it’s hard to believe that the hottest team coming into the PLL Championship game isn’t the Whipsnakes. Since I laid out how perfect the books were at landing on 23.5 for the total, I can only lean UNDER 23.5 because the Redwoods laid out the blueprint on how to slow down the Whipsnakes, possess the ball and force players other than Rambo and Williams to beat you.
We’ve all heard the age-old sports adage, “It’s all about getting hot,” and the Chaos are getting hot at the right time. Not only will I be playing the Chaos +2.5 for two units, but I will also be playing them +205 on the Money Line for 1 unit. This team believes they can beat anyone right now. While the Whipsnakes are a well-oiled machine that has the history, leadership and talent to repeat as champions and justify being 2.5-point favorites, I think 2020 has proven you never know when Chaos will strike.