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Not all Schedules are Created Equal (pt.2)

How Michigan's new Playoff Point system affects your team's odds of making the playoffs

Hello all,

Thanks for subscribing to my newsletter. The first couple of posts here will be a rehash of some popular threads I’ve posted on twitter this year.

One disclaimer before you dive in: these first few posts discuss the new playoff point formula put into place for 2021 and how it affects your team’s odds of making the playoffs. You will note that both posts include metrics for gauging how your team’s odds of making the playoffs stacks up to the other teams in its division. These metrics are derived by using the scheduling data available to the public at the time of posting. As schedules are always in flux (especially in today’s day & age of reduced numbers & COVID), several of the numbers in here will have changed slightly since they were posted in late August. Please bear that in mind as you read.

This is a follow up post to our previous explainer of the Average Division Played metric (ADP) and how it affects your team’s odds of making the MHSAA playoffs. If you haven’t read that yet, I suggest you start there and read this post afterwards.

We calculated the ADPs for all 504 11-man football teams in Michigan. Read below to find your team’s ADP, and our analysis of the key trends within each division that will drive who makes / doesn’t make the playoffs.

Division 1

  • Oxford leads the way: they are the only team in the state guaranteed to play 100% D1 teams this fall

  • The KLAA West is the place to be: 7 of the top 10 ADPs in division 1 hail from this conference

  • Isolated D1s suffer from lack of nearby D1s (Kalamazoo Loy Norrix, Kzoo Central, Traverse City West, Grand Ledge, Holt)

Division 2

  • Similar to Division 1, the KLAA is the place to be. Division 2’s top two ADPs hail from this conference (Livonia Franklin & Livonia Churchill)

  • The #3 team, Caledonia, shows the benefit of being the ONLY Division 2 team in the OK Red - their high ADP would no doubt allow them to make the playoffs at 4-5 (or even 3-6)

Division 3

  • This is where the ADP spread starts to widen (team’s ADPs range from 1.78 Avondale to 6.0 Flint SW). If you see a team with a 3-6 record make the playoffs (or a 7-2 record miss the playoffs), it could be in this division

  • Unlike most DPSL teams, Detroit MLK has a high ADP. They’ve done this through scheduling 2 out of state opponents who are of a high division

  • Division 3 also features the first of what we call “Co-Op Conundrums”: these occur when teams from a smaller division combine with other smaller division teams because they lack the headcount to field a team. This move boosts their overall team strength (more numbers), but often puts them at a disadvantage for making the playoffs, as they have to move up in division from combining teams, but are likely still playing a schedule that befits their old division.

  • Detroit U Science & Math falls into this “Co-Op Conundrum” bucket. This is because they are in a Co-Op with another school (forcing them up into D3), but remain playing a D5 schedule.

Division 4

  • Division 4 has another first instance of a trend, something we call “Privates Prevail”

  • 2 of the top 5 ADPs in D4 are private schools (GR Christian and South Christian). They benefit from being in leagues with schools larger than them, and because of this, they will most likely make the playoffs at 4-5 (possibly 3-6)

  • For instance, if you run GR Christian through the Playoff Wizard model 10 times, they will only miss the playoffs once at a 4-5 record. That’s a 90% chance of making the cut at 4-5! Under the prior playoff point system, that same probability would have been 0!

Want to see our analysis for Divisions 5-8? Head on over to Part 3 of our post!