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A different way to look at Playoff Points
The MHSAA website does not tell the full story
In previous posts, we’ve covered the Average Division Played (ADP) metric and how it’s a useful metric of gauging a team’s likelihood of making the playoffs, all else equal.
This metric, insightful as it may be, is no substitute for playoff points themselves. Playoff points1 are what actually determines whether a team makes the playoffs or not, and its pretty clear cut - after week 9, if your team’s playoff points are in the top 32 of its respective division, they make the playoffs. If not, they will be spending week 10 at home.
To see where your team currently stands in playoff points, you can flip over to the MHSAA’s website. They keep a live total of where each team stands in playoff points after each week.
There’s just one problem with using the data on the MHSAA website: it tells an incomplete story. This has to do with how one portion of the playoff point metric is calculated, what the MHSAA terms ‘bonus’ points. Your team earns bonus points for the wins of its opponents - for example, if your team played a Division 1 opponent and lost, but that opponent won 6 of its 9 games, your teams would be credited 4 ‘bonus’ points towards its overall playoff point calc.
When the MHSAA reports these bonus points each week, it only credits a team for bonus points against the opponents it has played to date - no credit is given for the wins of opponents a team has yet to play.
For instance, take the MHSAA’s bonus point calculation for Monroe, a Division 1 team with a 3-3 record that is currently projected to just miss the playoffs (#33 overall in D1)
The MHSAA’s calculation currently has Monroe with 18 ‘bonus’ points. These points were generated from the wins of the following opponents that Monroe has already played:
Roseville (3 Wins x 6 Points / 6 Total Games = 3 Bonus Points)
Ypsi Lincoln (2 Wins x 6 Points / 6 Total Games = 2 Bonus Points)
AA Skyline (0 Wins x 6 Points / 6 Total Games = 0 Bonus Points)
Saline (5 Wins x 6 Points / 6 Total Games = 5 Bonus Points)
AA Huron (5 Wins x 6 Points / 6 Total Games = 5 Bonus Points)
Temperance Bedford (5 Wins x 6 Points / 6 Total Games = 5 Bonus Points)
While this calculation is 100% correct as of now, it is inaccurate to use as a projection of future playoff standing - this is because it lacks the bonus points Monroe will pick up from playing its future opponents.
Dexter (4 Wins x 6 Points / 6 Total Games = 4 Bonus Points)
AA Pioneer (1 Win x 6 Points / 6 Total Games = 1 Bonus Point)
Riverview (6 Wins x 5 Points / 6 Total Games = 5 Bonus Points)
By applying these future or ‘unearned’ bonus points to all Division 1 teams, we can get a better sense for where the playoff picture really stands today. This has strong implications for Monroe in particular - by moving from 18 to 28 bonus points, they move from 33rd overall (out of the playoffs) to 30th overall (in the playoffs). To offset the move, Grandville (currently #27) is pushed out of playoff contention, down to spot #33
Monroe & Grandville are not the only teams who’s positions would change under this different view - in total, there are 20 teams whose playoffs positions would change if these unearned bonus points were applied to every team’s bonus point calculation:
Grandville (Moves from #27 to #33 overall, missing the playoffs)
Detroit Cass Tech (Moves from #32 to #41 overall, missing the playoffs)
Hudsonville (Moves from #41 to #31 overall, making the playoffs)
Monroe (Moves from #33 to #30 overall, making the playoffs)
Fenton (Moves from #27 to #35 overall, missing the playoffs)
Warren Mott (Moves from #30 to #33 overall, missing the playoffs)
UD Jesuit (Moves from #34 to #31 overall, making the playoffs)
Midland (Moves from #35 to #32 overall, making the playoffs)
Ionia (Moves from #31 to #37 overall, missing the playoffs)
Lowell (Moves from #33 to #32 overall, making the playoffs)
Romulus Summit Academy (Moves from #27 to #33 overall, missing the playoffs)
Three Rivers (Moves from #33 to #31 overall, making the playoffs)
Carrolton (Moves from #28 to #34 overall, missing the playoffs)
Detroit Cody (Moves from #30 to #36 overall, missing the playoffs)
SCS South Lake (Moves from #33 to #32 overall, making the playoffs)
Lake Odessa Lakewood (Moves from #34 to #31 overall, making the playoffs)
Clinton Twp. Clintondale (Moves from #32 to #37 overall, missing the playoffs)
Comstock (Moves from #41 to #31 overall, making the playoffs)
Mount Clemens (Moves from #32 to #40 overall, missing the playoffs)
Vassar (Moves from #35 overall to #31 overall, making the playoffs)
Now, while this approach can give you a better sense of what the future playoff field looks like, it is by no means perfect on its own. One imperfection is the effect of future schedule changes: ‘unearned’ bonus points will only be applied to a team’s bonus point total if the team ends up playing that opponent. If, for instance, a COVID issue forces a team to schedule a different opponent with a different win total, this projection would be thrown off.
Related to this caveat are the effect of games that are yet unscheduled. In the analysis above, if a team currently has an open slot in Weeks 7-9, they are not being credited any unearned bonus points. For teams with crossover games scheduled these weeks, where the opponent is TBD, the outcome of this analysis gives them an unfair shake. You see this most remarkably with Detroit Cass Tech, who drops from #32 in D1 to #41 because they have crossover games in weeks 8 & 9 and are thus generating no unearned bonus points for those weeks.
So, as with all projections, take this approach with a grain of salt. Still, we think its an interesting alternative to what the MHSAA presents on their site, so much so that we will be updating this weekly until the season ends.
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