Tennessee is obsessed with the mid-range jumper. Is this a problem in 2021?

Tennessee has a problem. Well, they have several problems, but you have to take them one at a time.

Tennessee’s offense is broken. It has been for most of conference play, minus a couple spare performances. Tennessee sits at an on-the-dot 1 PPP against SEC opponents, which ranks 11th out of 14 teams. They’ve posted an eFG% of 48.4%, which is 10th-best. They rank 10th in both 3PT% (32.5%) and 2PT% (48.2%). Things are not good. So why aren’t they good when they have the most talented, deep team of Rick Barnes’ tenure?

There are many different factors that go into the goodness or badness of an offense, and I’m not going to pretend to know all of them. But the first and foremost thing to me is a very obvious thing that stands out every time I check Simon Gerszberg’s top 20 teams on Shot Quality:

And something else that stands out when I sort by who gets the lowest amount of their shots directly at the rim or from deep:

It’s time for the mid-range debate in Knoxville again. The Worst Shot in Basketball, as deemed by nerds like me, has long been a staple of every Rick Barnes offense. When it works, as it did in 2018-19, you hear very few complaints about it. When it doesn’t, as it hasn’t in…well, every year but 2018-19, it becomes more and more of a criticism and less of a thing you’re willing to let a more traditional coach have.

For this specific article, I’ve broken down the mid-range debate into nine key questions. There’s three per page on the pages that follow. For this article, I reached out to several coaches I know, multiple analytics pals, and, yes, Jimmy Dykes. It’s very long, but I’ve tried to dive into each corner of the Tennessee Mid-Range Issue that I can possibly find. I hope it’s worth your time and mine.

The nine questions are linked below, or you can just click on page 2 after the bullet points end.

  1. Why does Tennessee take so many mid-range shots?
  2. Has Rick Barnes focused on three-level scoring for his full career? Has this worked for Tennessee (or Texas) before?
  3. Has Tennessee’s offense stopped working because of five-star freshman? John Fulkerson? Personnel shortcomings?
  4. Does Tennessee need more ball screens or modern sets?
  5. Should John Fulkerson (or Olivier Nkamhoua, or E.J. Anosike) have worked on becoming at least an okay three-point shooter?
  6. Does Tennessee hurt itself by putting bad combinations (double-big lineups, two or more non-shooters) on the floor?
  7. Can you still score if you have a big man that can’t shoot?
  8. Is the mid-range jumper a thing of the past for great offenses?
  9. Can you temporarily fix this with a lineup change?

2020 Tennessee high school football playoff projections, round one

Hello, and welcome to a yearly tradition here at Stats By Will dot com: the TSSAA high school football playoff projections. I’m a little surprised to be bringing this back this year, as in early September, I announced my plans to not cover high school football at all this year. Without going into great detail, I’ve taken on more responsibilities in my professional role, and to be honest, I care a lot more about my work in basketball than I really do this. That being said, I do enjoy the fun that projections like these can bring. In particular, the playoff projections are pretty easy to put together each year once the field is set.

This year, there won’t be any class-by-class analysis beyond what I’ve posted on Twitter, which were the class-by-class odds. I’ll put the favorites, second-tier contenders, and darkhorses for each class above the projections here so you can get a grasp on what’s at stake in each class. The game with the highest Quarterfinals swing at risk will be bolded and italicized in each class as well. This is not necessarily the best game, but the one that looks to mean the most to the eventual fields of 8. Other writers, like Tom Kreager and Donovan Stewart, know far more about this stuff than I do, so you should listen to them when it comes to high school football. However, I do enjoy providing this simple service for those that enjoy it.

I’ve made a few tweaks to this year’s playoff projections:

  1. The ratings are a little different mix than usual. This year, I just used Cal Preps and Massey Ratings, as Sonny Moore’s ratings haven’t performed as well as those two in my time using both. Also, for the first time ever, my preseason ratings have a very small say in what you see here. They’re factored in at a rate of about 1.8%, which is miniscule, but has helped the ratings be a very tiny bit more accurate on the whole. (For instance, this probably would’ve made my call on last year’s Monterey/Whitwell game less extreme – by the time the game arrived, Monterey was a 95.8% favorite to win, but Whitwell won. They were the higher-ranked team in preseason by far.)
  2. I’ve added a small amount of extra uncertainty to game-by-game picks. It isn’t much, but it’s enough to reflect that any sports season in COVID times is going to be more unpredictable than usual. I already know of two teams that can’t participate in the playoffs because of contact tracing issues. Also, some teams played six or seven games while others got in their full ten. I’m trying to do the best I can with this abnormally-small sample size.
  3. I gave Alcoa a 30-point boost because otherwise, their fans will protest outside of my home. Not really, they’re simply as good as they always are.

Typically, these projections get around 80% of the games right during the playoffs, but I do expect this year to be a little lower. It’s a strange season, I’ve been told. Also, I think I still owe a guy a T-shirt because the school he played for beat the spread in one of the playoff games. If you are this player, please email statsbywill@gmail.com and I will write something very silly on a shirt for you.

1A

Favorites (20% or higher): South Pittsburg (42.5%)

Second-tier contenders (5% or higher): Gordonsville (15.9%), Moore Co. (9.3%), Fayetteville (8.7%), Huntingdon (7.5%), Lake Co. (7%)

Darkhorses (1% or higher): Coalfield (3.2%), Greenback (1.4%), Monterey (1.3%)

Most likely title game: South Pittsburg vs. Moore Co. (12.1% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Jellico 9 at (R2 #2) Oliver Springs 40
  • (R1 #4) Hancock Co. 0 at (R2 #1) Coalfield 57
  • (R2 #3) Greenback 47 at (R1 #2) Unaka 16
  • (R2 #4) Midway 25 at (R1 #1) Cloudland 24
  • (R3 #3) Sale Creek 11 at (R4 #2) Monterey 38
  • (R3 #4) Whitwell 8 at (R4 #1) Gordonsville 44
  • (R4 #3) Clay Co. 19 at (R3 #2) Copper Basin 22
  • (R4 #4) Byrns [Jo] 5 at (R3 #1) South Pittsburg 46
  • (R5 #3) Huntland 25 at (R6 #2) Collinwood 20
  • (R5 #4) Cornersville 22 at (R6 #1) Huntingdon 32 (49.7% Quarterfinal swing – Huntingdon 41.2%, Cornersville 8.5%)
  • (R6 #3) Wayne Co. 10 at (R5 #2) Moore Co. 37
  • (R6 #4) Hollow Rock-Bruceton Central 8 at (R5 #1) Fayetteville 36

2A

Favorites: Peabody (63.6%)

Second-tier contenders: Watertown (17.4%), Meigs Co. (10.6%)

Darkhorses: Trousdale Co. (2.4%), Lewis Co. (1.7%), McKenzie (1.2%), Bledsoe Co. (1.1%)

Most likely title game: Peabody vs. Watertown (38% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Happy Valley 12 at (R2 #2) Rockwood 23
  • (R1 #4) Cosby 0 at (R2 #1) Meigs Co. 61
  • (R2 #3) Oneida 17 at (R1 #2) Hampton 30
  • (R2 #4) Cumberland Gap 7 at (R1 #1) South Greene 46
  • (R3 #3) Tyner Academy 17 at (R4 #2) Trousdale Co. 34
  • (R3 #4) Tellico Plains 1 at (R4 #1) Watertown 45
  • (R4 #3) Westmoreland 29 at (R3 #2) Marion Co. 38
  • (R4 #4) Cascade 10 at (R3 #1) Bledsoe Co. 30
  • (R5 #3) Eagleville 12 at (R6 #2) Riverside 29
  • (R5 #4) Loretto 13 at (R6 #1) Waverly Central 35
  • (R6 #3) East Hickman Co. 19 at (R5 #2) Forrest 27 (31.2% Quarterfinal swing – Forrest 23.2%, East Hickman Co. 8%)
  • (R6 #4) Scotts Hill 5 at (R5 #1) Lewis Co. 44

3A

Favorites: Alcoa (58.2%), Pearl-Cohn (24.4%)

Second-tier contenders: Red Bank (6.6%)

Darkhorses: Milan (4.6%), Covington (2.9%), South Gibson (2.1%)

Most likely title game: Alcoa vs. Pearl-Cohn (46.2% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Unicoi Co. 17 at (R2 #2) GPittman 42
  • (R1 #4) Johnson Co. 0 at (R2 #1) Alcoa 52
  • (R2 #3) Kingston 30 at (R1 #2) Chuckey-Doak 17
  • (R2 #4) Pigeon Forge 30 at (R1 #1) Claiborne 25
  • (R3 #3) Brainerd 33 at (R4 #2) Smith Co. 18
  • (R3 #4) Signal Mountain 20 at (R4 #1) Upperman 28
  • (R4 #3) York Institute 5 at (R3 #2) Loudon 42
  • (R4 #4) Grundy Co. 0 at (R3 #1) Red Bank 49
  • (R5 #3) East Nashville 29 at (R6 #2) Fairview 17
  • (R5 #4) Stratford 22 at (R6 #1) Stewart Co. 23 (33.5% Quarterfinal swing – Stewart Co. 19.5%, Stratford 14%)
  • (R6 #3) Harpeth 7 at (R5 #2) Giles Co. 38
  • (R6 #4) Camden Central 0 at (R5 #1) Pearl-Cohn 56

4A

Favorites: Elizabethton (36.5%), Tullahoma (33.6%)

Second-tier contenders: Lexington (10.1%)

Darkhorses: Hardin Co. (4.9%), Haywood (4.1%), Anderson Co. (2.7%), Nolensville (2%), Springfield (1.7%), Dyersburg (1.5%), Marshall Co. (1.5%)

Most likely title game: Elizabethton vs. Lexington (15.4% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Sullivan South 24 at (R2 #2) East Hamilton 27
  • (R1 #4) Grainger 13 at (R2 #1) Anderson Co. 39
  • (R2 #3) Howard Tech 14 at (R1 #2) Greeneville 40
  • (R2 #4) East Ridge 1 at (R1 #1) Elizabethton 48
  • (R3 #3) Livingston Academy 12 at (R4 #2) Nolensville 32
  • (R3 #4) Stone Memorial 4 at (R4 #1) Tullahoma 42
  • (R4 #3) Marshall Co. 30 at (R3 #2) Macon Co. 18
  • (R4 #4) Spring Hill 17 at (R3 #1) DeKalb Co. 27
  • (R5 #3) White House-Heritage 11 at (R6 #2) Hardin Co. 38
  • (R5 #4) White House 9 at (R6 #1) Lexington 40
  • (R6 #3) Jackson North Side 25 at (R5 #2) Creek Wood 28
  • (R6 #4) Jackson South Side 10 at (R5 #1) Springfield 34
  • (R7 #3) Dyersburg 37 at (R8 #2) Millington Central 11
  • (R7 #4) Crockett Co. 35 at (R8 #1) Fayette Ware 22 (47.2% Quarterfinal swing – Crockett Co. 40.9%, Fayette Ware 6.3%)

5A

Favorites: Knoxville West (30.6%)

Second-tier contenders: Henry Co. (17.4%), Beech (17.1%), Oak Ridge (9.8%), Powell (8.1%), Summit (5.7%)

Darkhorses: Knoxville Central (4.2%), South-Doyle (1.7%), Hillsboro (1.4%), David Crockett (1.3%), Rhea Co. (1%)

Most likely title game: Knoxville West vs. Henry Co. (18% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Daniel Boone 22 at (R2 #2) South-Doyle 30 (52% Quarterfinal swing – South-Doyle 37.6%, Daniel Boone 14.4%)
  • (R1 #4) Morristown East 13 at (R2 #1) Central 34
  • (R2 #3) Knoxville Halls 26 at (R1 #2) Tennessee 28
  • (R2 #4) Sevier Co. 24 at (R1 #1) David Crockett 44
  • (R3 #3) Powell 35 at (R4 #2) Walker Valley 22
  • (R3 #4) Fulton 21 at (R4 #1) Rhea Co. 29
  • (R4 #3) Soddy Daisy 10 at (R3 #2) Oak Ridge 43
  • (R4 #4) Lenoir City 0 at (R3 #1) Knoxville West 53
  • (R5 #3) Columbia Central 16 at (R6 #2) Gallatin 23
  • (R5 #4) Lincoln Co. 8 at (R6 #1) Beech 39
  • (R6 #3) Hillsboro 29 at (R5 #2) Page 22
  • (R6 #4) Hillwood 10 at (R5 #1) Summit 37
  • (R7 #3) Dyer Co. 32 at (R8 #2) Brighton 24
  • (R7 #4) Clarksville 20 at (R8 #1) Munford 31

6A

Favorites: Oakland (30.1%), Maryville (29.7%)

Second-tier contenders: Ravenwood (12.7%), Bartlett (9.1%), Brentwood (7.1%)

Darkhorses: Dobyns-Bennett (2.6%), Independence (2.3%), Riverdale (2.2%), McMinn Co. (1.6%), Collierville (1.1%)

Most likely title game: Oakland vs. Ravenwood (13.4% chance of happening)

  • (R1 #3) Bearden 18 at (R2 #2) McMinn Co. 38
  • (R1 #4) Science Hill 15 at (R2 #1) Maryville 42
  • (R2 #3) Bradley Central 28 at (R1 #2) Farragut 35
  • (R2 #4) Cleveland 13 at (R1 #1) Dobyns-Bennett 36
  • (R3 #3) Warren Co. 24 at (R4 #2) Mount Juliet 27
  • (R3 #4) Blackman 21 at (R4 #1) Hendersonville 30 (38.5% Quarterfinal swing – Hendersonville 30.8%, Blackman 7.7%)
  • (R4 #3) Wilson Central 12 at (R3 #2) Riverdale 32
  • (R4 #4) Rossview 10 at (R3 #1) Oakland 45
  • (R5 #3) Stewarts Creek 9 at (R6 #2) Ravenwood 43
  • (R5 #4) Cane Ridge 12 at (R6 #1) Brentwood 35
  • (R6 #3) Independence 39 at (R5 #2) LaVergne 12
  • (R6 #4) Franklin 26 at (R5 #1) Smyrna 24

II-A

Favorites: Davidson Academy (64.2%)

Second-tier contenders: University School of Jackson (18.6%), Donelson Christian Academy (9.4%), Nashville Christian (5%)

Darkhorses: King’s Academy (1.3%), Friendship Christian (1%)

Most likely title game: Davidson Academy vs. University School of Jackson (46.6% chance of happening)

  • (E #5) Grace Christian Academy 20 at (W #4) Trinity Christian Academy 37 (14.8% Semifinals swing – Trinity Christian 14.3%, Grace Christian 0.5%)
  • (E #6) Webb Bell Buckle 5 at (W #3) Nashville Christian 45
  • (W #5) Jackson Christian 24 at (E #4) Friendship Christian 33
  • (W #6) Columbia Academy 26 at (E #3) Middle Tennessee Christian 28 (game forfeited by Columbia Academy due to COVID-19)

II-AA

Favorites: Christ Presbyterian Academy (50.8%), Lipscomb Academy (41.7%)

Second-tier contenders: CAK (5%)

Darkhorses: none; Evangelical Christian (0.9%) closest

Most likely title game: Christ Presbyterian Academy vs. Lipscomb Academy (66.9% chance of happening)

  • (W #4) Harding Academy 4 at (W #2) Lausanne Collegiate 46
  • (W #5) St. George’s 6 at (M #1) Lipscomb Academy 45
  • (M #4) Battle Ground Academy 32 at (W #3) Northpoint Christian 12
  • (M #5) Franklin Road Academy 20 at (W #1) Evangelical Christian 31 (55.8% Semifinals swing – Evangelical Christian 46.8%, Franklin Road Academy 9%)
  • (E #3) Webb 19 at (M #3) Goodpasture Christian 30
  • (E #4) Chattanooga Christian 23 at (E #2) Grace Christian 29
  • (E #5) Silverdale Academy 0 at (M #2) Christ Presbyterian Academy 48
  • (E #6) Boyd-Buchanan 12 at (E #1) CAK 41

There are 88 games this week in all; the expected record of these projections is roughly 73-15 (83.1%). We’ll see how they do.

A special best of luck to my former high school, Warren County, who will be playing my little brother’s high school, Mount Juliet. In a true battle for the ages, Warren County has the opportunity to secure their first playoff win since 1983 (!), along with their first nine-win season since 1983. It’s been a historic year, and I sincerely hope they pull this one off.

Good luck to all teams involved, and I’ll be back next Friday morning with more projections.

The best offenses in men’s college basketball, 2019-20

Last year, a couple of weeks after the college basketball season, I made my deep exploration into the best men’s college basketball offenses in 2018-19. It led to a full summer of exploring these offenses in greater detail, complete with interviews with coaches and a whole lot of GIFs and game-watching. I loved doing it; it only makes sense that I would do it again.

This year, I decided to expand the, uh, “search” to the top 25 across all levels. Why? Well, why not. SO: here are the very best college basketball offenses of the last five months. I’m doing this in a few different ways than usual. This particular ranking is from Synergy Sports. However, for last year’s KenPom-style ratings, I’ll include that top 25 on the next page, along with the top 25 half-court offenses. It just felt fair to pay tribute to the service that works for all levels of college basketball.

Per Synergy Sports, here were the 25 best offenses of the 2019-20 men’s college basketball season. Below is each team’s shot chart, their best play types, shooting splits, and tempo, which is calculated via Ken Pomeroy’s equation on the next page.

25. Briar Cliff Chargers (Sioux City, IA)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.036
  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): P&R Ball Handler (99th-percentile); Spot-Up (97th-percentile); P&R Roll Man (96th-percentile); ranked in 100th-percentile on P&R as a whole
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 39% Rim (any attempt within 4 feet of the rim), 12% Non-Rim Twos, 49% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.6% Rim, 38.5% Non-Rim Twos, 39.2% 3PT
  • Tempo: 70.22 possessions (would have ranked 114th of 353 in D-1)

24. Yeshiva Maccabees (New York, NY)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.037
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), Transition (98th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 45.9% Rim, 16% Non-Rim Twos, 38.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65.1% Rim, 46% Non-Rim Twos, 39.6% 3PT
  • Tempo: 78.07 possessions (2nd of 353)

23. Brigham Young Cougars (Provo, UT)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.039
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), P&R Roll Man (99th), P&R Ball Handler (97th), Post-Up (92nd), 99th-percentile on P&R as a whole
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 26% Rim, 32.5% Non-Rim Twos, 41.5% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 69.4% Rim, 44.4% Non-Rim Twos, 42.2% 3PT
  • Tempo: 69.7 possessions (133rd of 353)

22. Western Oregon Wolves (Monmouth, OR)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.04
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), Post-Up (93rd)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 39.5% Rim, 17.9% Non-Rim Twos, 42.7% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 62.2% Rim, 39.5% Non-Rim Twos, 40.5% 3PT
  • Tempo: 75.33 possessions (7th of 353)

21. Walsh Cavaliers (North Canton, OH)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.041
  • Best Play Types: Transition (97th), P&R Ball Handler (97th), Spot-Up (96th), Isolation (93rd), 95th-percentile P&Rs
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 36.8% Rim, 19% Non-Rim Twos, 44.2% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.3% Rim, 41.9% Non-Rim Twos, 41.3% 3PT
  • Tempo: 70.35 possessions (111th of 353)

20. Gonzaga Bulldogs (Spokane, WA)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.041
  • Best Play Types: Post-Up (98th), P&R Ball Handler (97th), P&R Roll Man (97th), Spot-Up (93rd), 100th-percentile P&Rs, 96th-percentile post-ups
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 46.1% Rim, 22.6% Non-Rim Twos, 31.3% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65.2% Rim, 41.3% Non-Rim Twos, 38.6% 3PT
  • Tempo: 72.6 possessions (36th of 353)

19. Dayton Flyers (Dayton, OH)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.041
  • Best Play Types: Cuts (99th), Spot-Up (97th), Transition (97th), 98th-percentile P&R
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 40.5% Rim, 20.5% Non-Rim, 39% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 71.5% Rim, 44.1% Non-Rim, 37.1% Threes
  • Tempo: 68.0 possessions (233rd of 353)

18. St. John’s Johnnies (St. Joseph, MN)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.042
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (98th), Hand-Off (94th), Post-Up (92nd)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 43.6% Rim, 21.2% Non-Rim Twos, 35.2% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 63.6% Rim, 44.8% Non-Rim Twos, 38.8% 3PT
  • Tempo: 63.08 possessions (351st of 353)

17. Linfield College Wildcats (McMinnville, OR)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.042
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (100th), Transition (95th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 41.6% Rim, 15.9% Non-Rim Twos, 42.5% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 64.9% Rim, 41.7% Non-Rim Twos, 39.1% 3PT
  • Tempo: 76.84 possessions (3rd of 353)

16. Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolves (Lincoln, NE)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.044
  • Best Play Types: Isolation (100th), Cuts (99th), Transition (97th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 39.8% Rim, 16.8% Non-Rim Twos, 43.4% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 67.4% Rim, 45.8% Non-Rim Twos, 35.8% 3PT
  • Tempo: 70.76 possessions (84th of 353)

15. Michigan Tech Huskies (Houghton, MI)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.045
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (100th), Cuts (99th), Transition (98th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 32.9% Rim, 26.5% Non-Rim Twos, 40.6% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.1% Rim, 40.8% Non-Rim Twos, 43.4% 3PT
  • Tempo: 67.8 possessions (242nd of 353)

14. Bellarmine Knights (Louisville, KY)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.046
  • Best Play Types: Transition (99th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 42.1% Rim, 23.3% Non-Rim Twos, 34.6% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 66.5% Rim, 40.4% Non-Rim Twos, 39.5% Threes
  • Tempo: 66.67 possessions (287th of 353)

13. Lewis-Clark State Warriors (Lewiston, ID)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.048
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), Post-Up (97th), 94th-percentile P&R
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 37.5% Rim, 17.9% Non-Rim Twos, 44.6% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.5% Rim, 43.7% Non-Rim Twos, 42% 3PT
  • Tempo: 71.25 possessions (65th of 353)

12. Mount Union Raiders (Alliance, OH)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.049
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), Transition (98th), Cut (97th), P&R Ball Handler (94th), 99th-percentile P&R
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 40.6% Rim, 18.7% Non-Rim Twos, 40.7% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65.3% Rim, 38.8% Non-Rim Twos, 38.7% 3PT
  • Tempo: 71.66 possessions (56th of 353)

11. Jefferson University Rams (Philadelphia, PA)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.05
  • Best Play Types: P&R Ball Handler (94th), Cuts (94th), Transition (92nd)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 37.8% Rim, 26.1% Non-Rim Twos, 36.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65.3% Rim, 39.6% Non-Rim Twos, 41.4% 3PT
  • Tempo: 68.51 possessions (210th of 353)

10. St. Thomas Tommies (St. Paul, MN)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.055
  • Best Play Types: P&R Ball Handler (98th), Spot-Up (96th), Post-Up (96th), 99th-percentile P&R
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 38.8% Rim, 13.5% Non-Rim Twos, 47.7% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.1% Rim, 41.8% Non-Rim Twos, 38% 3PT
  • Tempo: 69.39 possessions (152nd of 353)

9. Morningside College Mustangs (Sioux City, IA)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.057
  • Best Play Types: Cuts (99th), Spot-Up (98th), Post-Up (96th), P&R Ball Handler (92nd), 99th-percentile all post-ups
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 48.9% Rim, 15% Non-Rim Twos, 36.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 64.7% Rim, 43.8% Non-Rim Twos, 39.6% 3PT
  • Tempo: 71.37 possessions (63rd of 353)

8. West Liberty Hilltoppers (West Liberty, WV)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.061
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (98th), Hand-Off (94th), Transition (89th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 45.5% Rim, 16.3% Non-Rim Twos, 38.2% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.6% Rim, 39.2% Non-Rim Twos, 40.7% 3PT
  • Tempo: 81.03 possessions (1st of 353)

7. Olivet Nazarene Tigers (Bourbonnais, IL)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.063
  • Best Play Types: Post-Up (100th), Spot-Up (99th), Cuts (93rd), Transition (92nd), 97th-percentile P&Rs
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 45.7% Rim, 17% Non-Rim Twos, 37.3% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 62.8% Rim, 38.6% Non-Rim Twos, 40.2% 3PT
  • Tempo: 75.51 possessions (7th of 353)

6. Marian Knights (Indianapolis, IN)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.065
  • Best Play Types: Transition (96th), Spot-Up (94th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 43.9% Rim, 21.7% Non-Rim Twos, 34.4% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.9% Rim, 40.5% Non-Rim Twos, 43.5% 3PT
  • Tempo: 72.53 possessions (37th of 353)

5. Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats (Marion, IN)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.068
  • Best Play Types: Post-Up (100th), P&R Ball Handler (98th), Transition (96th), Cuts (96th), Spot-Up (94th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 48.7% Rim, 15.1% Non-Rim Twos, 36.2% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65.4% Rim, 46% Non-Rim Twos, 39.3% 3PT
  • Tempo: 75.1 possessions (8th of 353)

4. Nova Southeastern Sharks (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.078
  • Best Play Types: Cuts (96th), P&R Ball Handler (93rd), Spot-Up (90th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 44% Rim, 22.9% Non-Rim Twos, 33.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65% Rim, 45.7% Non-Rim Twos, 41.9% 3PT
  • Tempo: 81.51 possessions (1st of 353)

3. Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters (Harrogate, TN)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.081
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), Cuts (99th), P&R Ball Handler (99th), 97th-percentile P&Rs
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 45.9% Rim, 9.8% Non-Rim Twos, 45.3% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65% Rim, 44.1% Non-Rim Twos, 40.6% 3PT
  • Tempo: 78.32 possessions (2nd of 353)

2. UC San Diego Tritons (San Diego, CA)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.095
  • Best Play Types: Cuts (100th), Spot-Up (99th), Transition (98th), 96th-percentile P&Rs
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 33.9% Rim, 13% Non-Rim Twos, 53.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 68% Rim, 43.5% Non-Rim Twos, 40.1% 3PT
  • Tempo: 69.39 possessions (152nd of 353)

1. Northwest Missouri State Bearcats (Maryville, MO)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.146
  • Best Play Types: Every single play type but P&R Roll Man (82nd) and Hand-Offs (74th). Literally every one.
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 42% Rim, 12.9% Non-Rim Twos, 45.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 62.5% Rim, 46.3% Non-Rim Twos, 45% 3PT
  • Tempo: 64.85 possessions (337th of 353)

NEXT PAGE: Top 25 via traditional possession calculations; top 25 half-court offenses

How the stats would’ve picked this year’s (theoretical) 2020 NCAA Tournament

BIG OL’ EDITOR’S NOTEEverything you are reading, as follows, is a hypothetical simulation. The 2020 NCAA Tournament obviously did not happen, but I’ve pieced together a field that A. seems realistic and B. helps me waste more time by thinking about it.

So, here we are. I don’t know how much everyone reading this has changed their lives to reflect our global issues, but I do think we all should. The NCAA certainly did, and it’s tough to be rational about it, but we have to. That said, this is our time.

Something I’ve done just about every year since I knew what statistics were was create a mock NCAA Tournament bracket before the real one. This bracket would reflect how I would pick every game when the time came simply because I like being prepared. For the 2019 Tournament, I created a Google Doc that had stats for every seed line. All of this, objectively, would sound purely ridiculous to someone who spends less than ~2 months of the year thinking about college basketball. And yet: I got three of the four Final Four teams right and you didn’t. I’m sorry, that’s a ridiculous brag, but I had to fit it in somewhere.

Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that in the midst of the NCAA Tournament uncertainty on Thursday, I decided to create a fake bracket on my lunch break at my day job. The Google Doc for this one is titled “Let’s have some fun,” because it should be. Here’s how I made my field of 68:

  • For the most part, I just took the highest-rated conference champion for the Big Six and assumed no bid thieves. Cincinnati technically won the AAC due to the cancellations, so I let them in without a further simulation.
  • For the other 26 conferences, I ran RAND() functions in Excel based on the likelihood that the best team in each conference would win it. This was to reflect that upsets frequently happen in conference tournaments. As such, we ended up with 11 non-first-place conference tournament winners, which is actually a little lower than you’d expect, but makes sense given our restrictions. To save time, every conference that had a team at >50% to win the conference tournament was given a pass into the field. Seemed fair and seemed realistic; I am not God.
  • At-larges made the field on a combination of their Bracket Matrix average seed and Bart Torvik’s projected average seed. This shifted the field a small amount, but 66 of the 68 teams that would’ve made the Matrix’s field of 68 as an at-large made mine. (Xavier and NC State are in my field, while UCLA and Stanford are not. Sorry to all Pac-12 fans; I can create a contingency bracket if you want.)
  • Lastly, the field was seeded 1-68 on said seeding combination. It feels right, and I like how it turned out.

Enough wailing. Here’s your field. Where necessary, I’ve included an asterisk* where the conference champion was someone other than the 1 seed.

The 2020 Will Warren Invitational Field of 68

  • 1 seeds: Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor, Dayton
  • 2 seeds: San Diego State, Florida State, Villanova, Michigan State
  • 3 seeds: Creighton, Duke, Maryland, Seton Hall
  • 4 seeds: Oregon, Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State
  • 5 seeds: Wisconsin, Butler, BYU, West Virginia
  • 6 seeds: Michigan, Auburn, Penn State, Iowa
  • 7 seeds: Virginia, Illinois, Arizona, Houston
  • 8 seeds: Colorado, St. Mary’s (CA), Providence, Marquette
  • 9 seeds: Rutgers, LSU, Florida, Oklahoma
  • 10 seeds: USC, Texas Tech, Indiana, Arizona State
  • 11 seeds: Utah State, Wichita State/Xavier, Cincinnati, East Tennessee State
  • 12 seeds: Richmond/NC State, Yale, Stephen F. Austin, Liberty
  • 13 seeds: Vermont, New Mexico State, Belmont, Western Kentucky*
  • 14 seeds: Bradley*, Hofstra, Northern Colorado*, North Dakota State*
  • 15 seeds: Texas State*, Winthrop*, Northern Kentucky*, Ohio*
  • 16 seeds: UC Santa Barbara*, Boston University*, Siena/North Carolina Central, Robert Morris/Jackson State*

First four out: Stanford, Texas, UCLA, Mississippi State
Next four out: Northern Iowa, Purdue, Arkansas, Oklahoma State

A quick Q&A session, based on questions I would imagine people asking:

  • Why is Baylor the third overall seed? By Kansas winning the Big 12 Tournament here, we’re assuming Baylor now has four losses on the season, which, in my mind, would elevate Gonzaga to the second overall seed. I don’t know, dude, I just did it because I felt like it.
  • Explain Creighton and Duke as 3 seeds. Creighton was white hot down the stretch of the season; Duke was not, but they are named Duke, so we all rightfully expect them to win the ACC. Again, in our simulation, Florida State won it, so a 3 seed feels accurate. Meanwhile, Creighton did win the Big East in this simulation, but Villanova ranked ahead of them. Why? 1. Ask someone who does this for a living I really don’t know. 2. It actually isn’t that absurd; by Wins Above Bubble, Villanova ranks 7th and Creighton 9th.
  • Kentucky as a 4??? Hater! Correct! I do not like Kentucky. Anyway, this is a team that didn’t crack the KenPom top 20 after January and closed the season 12th in WAB. I’m gonna guess that the teams in actual good conferences would’ve gotten the nod ahead of them. Everyone really undersold how awful it was to watch SEC basketball this season.
  • Explain the Last Four In. Again, not God, but a very white guy who’s drinking coffee out of a Charleston Rainbow Row cup as I type. Anyway:
    • Wichita State ranked 31st in WAB, had good metrics across Torvik and KenPom, and, in our simulation, wins at least one AAC Tournament game.
    • Xavier only ranked 46th, but they had no true bad losses (16-2 against Qs 2-4) and had a true marquee win: their 74-62 road victory over Seton Hall in early February.
    • Richmond: 38th in WAB, made the A10 championship game in our simulation. Xavier got the 11 seed nod only because they were in a significantly stronger conference.
    • NC State: On first run, this was Stanford, but then Stanford totally blew it to Cal in their lone Pac-12 Tournament game…which pushed NCSU just over the edge. They ranked almost exactly the same in metrics averages, but NCSU had a slightly better WAB with one additional Q1&Q2 win. I don’t like either team, to be honest.
  • Explain those who got left out. Just discussed Stanford. UCLA had a worse WAB than any of the four who got in and farted around for half the season. Texas did have a good-enough WAB at 39th but left an awful impression on the committee with a Big 12 quarterfinals loss to Texas Tech, another bubble team. Mississippi State lost to Florida in the SEC quarterfinals and had a worse WAB than the four who got in. The only team in Next Four Out that had a realistic case to me was Northern Iowa, who ranked 41st in WAB, but I simply couldn’t imagine a committee rewarding a blowout MVC quarters loss to Drake with even a First Four Out nod, sadly.

Okay! That’s a lot of words! You came here for a bracket.

The Will Warren 2020 Invitational Bracket

right-click and hit Open in New Tab to see this image made in Microsoft Paint

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NEXT PAGE: Bracket breakdowns

2019 Tennessee high school football championship game projections

Finally, after 16 weeks, we’ve made it. This weekend, the TSSAA high school football championships take place in Cookeville. I want to thank everyone who has read, shared, discussed, or noted in some fashion the work I’ve done with these this season. It was a huge leap of faith to assume anyone would be interested in a 342-team analytical preview of Tennessee high school football; it was an even bigger leap of faith to assume anyone would read a Week 7 preview of 100+ games. And yet: we made it. Thank you, everyone, for your support. I don’t know what this will look like in 2020 yet, but I’m hoping it’ll be even better.

There are nine games this week; there were 12 last week. The projections went 8-4 (66.7%) in said games, right along with the expectation. The playoff record is currently 168-42 (80%); the overall record is 1586-389 (80.3%). That’s a good year, and it somehow bested the King of Picks, Donovan Stewart, which I am fairly proud of. (However, Donovan has forgotten more about high school football than I will ever know, so listen to him more than me.)

In order of date and time, the games are listed below, with a short preview for each. All times listed are Central, so games start at 12 PM ET/11 AM CT, 4 PM ET/3 PM CT, and 8 PM ET/7 PM CT each day.

II-A

Thursday, December 5, 11 AM CT

  • (W #3) University School of Jackson 22 vs. (W #2) Davidson Academy 21

Odds of USJ making final: 25.8%
Odds of Davidson Academy making final: 55.8%
Combined odds of this being eventual title game: 14.4%; third-most likely title game

These two schools have taken fun routes to get here. USJ demolished its first two Playoff opponents before drawing Nashville Christian in the semifinal round, a team they lost to 28-27 in the regular season. USJ jumped out to an early lead and never relented, getting into the title game with a 28-7 win. Davidson’s season can be divided neatly into Pre-Nashville Christian and Post-Nashville Christian. A home loss to Franklin Road in Week 1 parlayed itself into a tough road loss to Nashville Christian in Week 3 for an 0-2 start. Davidson is undefeated since, with their latest accomplishment being a relatively easy 27-10 win over Friendship in the semifinals. The system very slightly favors USJ, but Davidson beat USJ 21-12 in the regular season at home.

II-AA

Thursday, December 5, 3 PM CT

  • (W #1) Evangelical Christian 22 vs. (M #1) Christ Presbyterian Academy 20

Odds of Evangelical making final: 69.8%
Odds of CPA making final: 49.4%
Combined odds: 34.5%; most likely title game

No real surprise here as these have been the two best teams in II-AA for most of the season. Evangelical beat everyone but Houston on their schedule and only had serious struggles with Lausanne (21-14 win, regular season) and Battle Ground Academy (quarterfinal round) in the process. CPA, however, took the most challenging route possible to get here for their title defense. Losers of their first four games, it wasn’t until Region play started that they got rolling. When they did, it was over quickly: four Region games plus three Playoff games have resulted in a total margin of 229-63 in their seven wins. CPA lost to Evangelical 30-6 in Week 1, but a lot has changed for CPA since then.

II-AAA

Thursday, December 5, 7 PM CT

  • (W #3) Montgomery Bell Academy 20 vs. (E #1) McCallie 22

Odds of MBA making final: 13.7%
Odds of McCallie making final: 58.1%
Combined odds: 8%; not in top five of most likely title games

MBA getting here feels like a surprise. None of their four losses this season were by more than eight points, but several of their wins – by scores of 17-14, 15-7, 10-7, 12-7 – were just as close. And yet: here they are. McCallie, meanwhile, has shaken off a two-loss streak to end the season and has looked the part of a title contender in their two Playoff games. It’s not quite the McCallie/Baylor showdown once promised, but this should be one of the three best title games of the weekend.

1A

Friday, December 6, 11 AM CT

  • (R7 #1) Lake Co. 32 vs. (R2 #1) Greenback 28

Odds of Lake Co. making final: 48.9%
Odds of Greenback making final: 24.7%
Combined odds: 12.1%; fourth-most likely title game

It shouldn’t be stunning that either of these teams are here; there were a clear top four teams in 1A this season, and both of these teams belonged to the pack. However, it was a bit surprising to see these two edge out their opponents in the fashion that they did. Lake County hasn’t been touched by anyone since Week 2 against Crockett County, but I expected Huntingdon to be a tougher opponent than they were; Lake won 30-20. Greenback continued their remarkable turnaround from an 0-2 start into a 12-0 run, beating the South Pittsburg team that battled Huntingdon for the #1 spot for the entire season in my ratings. Both teams score lots of points, and I’m hopeful that we get a shootout to start Friday.

3A

Friday, December 6, 3 PM CT

  • (R5 #1) Pearl-Cohn 20 vs. (R2 #1) Alcoa 24

Odds of Pearl-Cohn making final: 76%
Odds of Alcoa making final: 76.1%
Combined odds: 57.8%; most likely title game

Here’s another one the system nailed with ease. These were the two best teams in 3A from wire-to-wire, with the only battle being between which team ranked atop my weekly 3A poll. The system initially favored P-C by a tiny amount to start the playoffs, but Alcoa’s been more impressive in dispatching their overwhelmed opponents. P-C’s had a couple of strugglefests, and for that reason, it projects Alcoa to win its fifth straight 3A title. It’s the only remaining title streak above one right now.

5A

Friday, December 6, 7 PM CT

  • (R5 #3) Summit 23 vs. (R2 #2) Central 25

Odds of Summit making final: 3.6%
Odds of Central making final: 1.3%
Combined odds: 0.04%; not in top five, top ten, or top 20 most likely title games

This is the stunner of the year. Both schools enter the game 12-2, but Summit got demolished by Shelbyville late in the season and finished third in their own Region. Meanwhile, Central also got demolished by South-Doyle and lost their final game to Gibbs. This was after some lackluster outings against Fulton (13-12 win) and Hardin Valley (16-7) in a title defense that didn’t meet my expectations. Summit had to win three road games to get here. Central just had to win one, but it was a rematch with South-Doyle that they escaped with a 20-16 win. This wasn’t a final anyone saw coming, even if you were much higher on Central than I was. The nice thing about high school athletics is that it often provides us unexpected events that make little-to-no sense, yet are worth celebrating. Let’s enjoy the weirdness of either of these schools winning.

2A

Saturday, December 7, 11 AM CT

  • (R7 #1) Peabody 25 vs. (R2 #1) Meigs Co. 23

Odds of Peabody making final: 74.8%
Odds of Meigs Co. making final: 49.5%

Combined odds: 37%; most likely title game

No real surprise here, as, again, these were the two best teams in 2A for most of the season. Last year’s champion Peabody could reasonably not be here, though: after a season full of blowouts, they very nearly took a home loss in the quarterfinals to Fairley as a massive favorite…before Fairley’s quarterback threw an interception and fumbled a snap on a kneeldown in the final three minutes. Meigs suffered one loss all season, a 27-16 toughie to South Pittsburg, and mostly blew out the rest. It had to fight for a full 48 against Trousdale County last week, the third-best team in 2A, but managed to get here. Peabody obviously won last season and in 2014, but Meigs has never won; this is their first title game appearance since 1995. History may be in the making.

4A

Saturday, December 7, 3 PM CT

  • (R5 #1) Springfield 11 vs. (R1 #1) Elizabethton 35

Odds of Springfield making final: 4.4%
Odds of Elizabethton making final: 29.7%

Combined odds: 1.3%; not in top ten most likely title games

Elizabethton was the expected winner of the top half of the Class and comes out as the clear best team in 4A; when you beat Greeneville and demolish Nolensville, you’ve clearly earned that right. Springfield feels like such a random title game entrant, having gone 7-3 in the regular season with the fourth-best point differential in its own Region. And yet: they are massively clutch in close games. Springfield went 5-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less this season, including back-to-back overtime wins over Hardin Co. and Haywood to get here. They have a little bit of the Team of Destiny vibe, certainly. But Elizabethton feels clearly better, as would’ve any of the Big Three from East Tennessee.

6A

Saturday, December 7, 7 PM CT

  • (R6 #2) Ravenwood 25 at (R2 #1) Maryville 26

Odds of Ravenwood making final: 35.2%
Odds of Maryville making final: 42%

Combined odds: 14.8%; most likely title game

I’ve been hoping for this one ever since the system pinpointed Ravenwood as the best team in Regions 5-8 in this class in August. They struggled at times, certainly, but two resounding demolitions of Brentwood (34-6) and Houston (42-21) make them a clear, formidable foe for the almighty Maryville. The Rebels have been tested at times this year, but have passed every challenge: 17-3 over Alcoa, 35-24 over a surprisingly tough Farragut team, 12-0 over Oakland in the semifinal. Ravenwood’s path has been tougher, but I still give the very slight edge to Maryville.

Best of luck to all teams this week, and thank you to the fans of all 342 teams covered this year for a great season.

Credit to The Daily Times.

2019 Tennessee high school football Semifinals projections

Hello! We’re in the next-to-last week of these projections. Analysis is limited, as I’m out of town at family Thanksgiving. Last week’s picks went 21-9 (70%), or one below the expected record of 22-8. Overall playoff record is now 160-38 (80.8%), which is solid and fine. Here are the games. (Remember, private schools are off this week.)

1A

  • (R3 #1) South Pittsburg 31 at (R2 #1) Greenback 26
  • (R7 #1) Lake Co. 30 at (R6 #1) Huntingdon 33

2A

  • (R4 #2) Trousdale Co. 21 at (R2 #1) Meigs Co. 23
  • (R7 #1) Peabody 32 at (R6 #3) Riverside 10

3A

  • (R3 #1) Loudon 17 at (R2 #1) Alcoa 30
  • (R7 #3) Covington 16 at (R5 #1) Pearl-Cohn 29

4A

  • (R4 #2) Nolensville 17 at (R1 #1) Elizabethton 28
  • (R7 #1) Haywood 29 at (R5 #1) Springfield 23

5A

  • (R3 #2) Knoxville West 26 at (R2 #2) Central 21 (7:00 PM ET, WVLT-TV)
  • (R7 #2) Dyer Co. 24 at (R5 #3) Summit 30

6A

  • (R3 #1) Oakland 23 at (R2 #1) Maryville 34
  • (R7 #1) Houston 24 at (R6 #2) Ravenwood 31

No new playoff odds on Twitter this week – I ended up being way too busy to get them done in image form, but they do exist. Regardless, you can…pretty easily figure out the projected title games. Next week’s title game analysis, obviously, will be much more robust, as I will not be traveling to three cities in two days.

Best of luck to all teams this week!

2019 Tennessee high school football quarterfinals projections

Quarterfinals time! Last week’s Round of 16 projections went 48-12 (80%), bringing the playoff total to 139-29 (82.7%) and the season total to 1557-376 (80.6%). That’s the eighth week of the last nine where the projections have nailed 80% or more of the games played. Pretty good, if you ask me.

I posted the updated TSSAA playoff odds on Twitter on Tuesday. For class-wide analysis, head there, as these are mostly just game picks. In order, here are the projected 2019 BlueCross Bowl matchups:

  • 1A: South Pittsburg vs. Huntingdon
  • 2A: Meigs Co. vs. Peabody
  • 3A: Alcoa vs. Pearl-Cohn
  • 4A: Greeneville vs. Haywood
  • 5A: Powell vs. Shelbyville Central
  • 6A: Maryville vs. Ravenwood
  • II-A: Nashville Christian vs. Friendship Christian
  • II-AA: Evangelical Christian vs. Christ Presbyterian Academy
  • II-AAA: Memphis University vs. McCallie

Also, before we get any further, a quick discussion on the following topic: The Four Most Surprising Entrants in the 2019 TSSAA Quarterfinals, from least- to most-surprising.

  • Giles Co. (15.7% to make quarterfinals) in 3A. Giles County is in 3A-5, the toughest region of 3A, so perhaps they were a little undervalued. They pulled off a mild upset of Fairview in the first round and then a real upset of Stratford in the second to get here. The odds of them advancing past Pearl-Cohn are…slim, sure, but this is still a surprising achievement.
  • Riverside (6.5%) in 2A. If you like basketball comparisons, this offered the same likelihood before the playoffs started as UCF making the Sweet Sixteen in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. And yet: here they are. Riverside stunned Lewis County in the first round and then pulled off another, milder upset of Waverly Central. This was a 5-5 team with an expected record of 6-4 based on point differential, so they were a little better than you’d initially think, but still.
  • Gordonsville (3.7%) in 1A. This doesn’t have as much to do with Gordonsville as it did Gordonsville’s second-round opponent, Whitwell, pulling off the biggest upset of the playoffs of Monterey. Gordonsville did beat Copper Basin as a seven-point underdog, but they were favored to beat their second-round opponent. Had they played Monterey, they likely wouldn’t be here.
  • DeKalb County (1%) in 4A. The stunner of stunners; this would’ve been like Iona defeating North Carolina in the first round last season. DeKalb were big-time dogs to first round opponent Tullahoma; they won, 45-34. They were 19-point underdogs to second-round opponent Marshall County; after trailing 24-14 five minutes left, DeKalb scored twice in the final 4:37 to win, 28-24. This week, they draw Nolensville at home, again as a double-digit underdog. No one would be surprised if they pulled another stunner, right?

The games! Every game, unless I’m told otherwise, starts at 7 PM local time. Some games may be on TV; as best as I can, I’ve tried to reflect that. Otherwise, the projection provides all the information you really need. At the tail end of the post, there will be some additional analysis of each class. What games have the most at stake? What’s the highest-quality matchup out there? First, here’s the predictions.

1A

  • (R2 #2) Oliver Springs 17 at (R2 #1) Greenback 31
  • (R4 #3) Gordonsville 7 at (R3 #1) South Pittsburg 47
  • (R6 #1) Huntingdon 36 at (R5 #1) Huntland 16 (Thursday)
  • (R7 #2) West Carroll 14 at (R7 #1) Lake Co. 45

2A

  • (R2 #2) Oneida 13 at (R2 #1) Meigs Co. 31
  • (R4 #2) Trousdale Co. 24 at (R4 #1) Watertown 20
  • (R6 #3) Riverside 11 at (R5 #1) Forrest 26
  • (R8 #1) Fairley 15 at (R7 #1) Peabody 33

3A

  • (R2 #2) Austin-East 9 at (R2 #1) Alcoa 40
  • (R3 #2) Red Bank 20 at (R3 #1) Loudon 25
  • (R5 #4) Giles Co. 7 at (R5 #1) Pearl-Cohn 38
  • (R8 #1) Wooddale 19 at (R7 #3) Covington 28

4A

  • (R1 #2) Greeneville 25.88 at (R1 #1) Elizabethton 25.92
  • (R4 #2) Nolensville 28 at (R3 #2) DeKalb Co. 17
  • (R6 #1) Hardin Co. 24 at (R5 #1) Springfield 18
  • (R7 #2) Crockett Co. 24 at (R7 #1) Haywood 35

5A

  • (R2 #2) Central 22 at (R2 #1) South-Doyle 28
  • (R3 #2) Knoxville West 20 at (R3 #1) Powell 27 (7:00 PM ET, WVLT-TV)
  • (R5 #3) Summit 23 at (R5 #2) Shelbyville Central 25
  • (R7 #2) Dyer Co. 24 at (R7 #1) Henry Co. 29

6A

  • (R2 #1) Maryville 27 at (R1 #1) Dobyns-Bennett 20
  • (R3 #2) Blackman 20 at (R3 #1) Oakland 37
  • (R6 #2) Ravenwood 27 at (R6 #1) Brentwood 19 (7:00 PM CT, WUXP-TV)
  • (R8 #1) Whitehaven 19 at (R7 #1) Houston 24

II-A

  • (W #2) Davidson Academy 22.8 at (E #1) Friendship Christian 23.3
  • (W #3) University School of Jackson 18 at (W #1) Nashville Christian 29

II-AA

  • (M #4) Lipscomb Academy 18 at (M #1) Christ Presbyterian Academy 26
  • (W #2) Lausanne Collegiate 13 at (W #1) Evangelical Christian 33

II-AAA

  • (E #3) Ensworth 23 at (E #1) McCallie 29
  • (W #3) Montgomery Bell Academy 18 at (W #1) Memphis University 20

30 games in all, with the private school finalists being decided this week. Very exciting times! Here’s the best game by class, with their class-wide ranking next to their name.

  • 1A: (R6 #1) #2 Huntingdon at (R5 #1) #8 Huntland
  • 2A: (R4 #2) #2 Trousdale Co. at (R4 #1) #4 Watertown
  • 3A: (R3 #2) #5 Red Bank at (R3 #1) #3 Loudon
  • 4A: (R1 #2) #1 Greeneville at (R1 #1) #2 Elizabethton
  • 5A: (R3 #2) #2 Knoxville West at (R3 #1) #1 Powell
  • 6A: (R2 #1) #1 Maryville at (R1 #1) #6 Dobyns-Bennett
  • II-A: (W #2) #2 Davidson Academy at (E #1) #4 Friendship Christian
  • II-AA: (M #4) #3 Lipscomb Academy at (M #1) #2 Christ Presbyterian Academy
  • II-AAA: (E #3) #3 Ensworth at (E #1) #1 McCallie

Various notes:

  • The 4A and 5A titles feel like they’ll be decided this week. In both classes, the #1 and #2 teams in my ratings play each other, though the 5A winner will likely have to play #3 South-Doyle on the road next week. Either way, we’re about to see a title favorite or #2 contender get knocked out in both classes. Such is the fun of this current system.
  • There will be several upsets. I think my 80%+ streak ends this week. Favorites are expected to go just 22-8, or around 73%, which would be the worst week since Week 1. 16 of the 30 games are projected to finish with a single-digit margin, and I only count four 30+ point blowouts. It’s a tight, tough week, and a lot is up for grabs.
  • A lot of title favorites have really hard games. I already discussed 4A and 5A, so let’s discuss the rest. Ravenwood, the temporary favorite in 6A, has to beat Brentwood on the road (69.8% odds of happening). Maryville has a tough game with Dobyns-Bennett (66.3%). Nashville Christian has to beat USJ (75.8%) to make the title game. McCallie, the best team in Tennessee this season, has just a 62.2% shot of beating Ensworth and making the II-AAA title game. It’s a thin margin, and someone is going to go home very sad on Friday night.
  • Notable streaks or droughts on the line this week, in no order:
    • Maryville has made the state semifinals 19 years in a row, their last quarterfinals loss being to Knoxville Central in 1999.
    • The winner of Nolensville/DeKalb County will be making the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
    • Fairley, West Carroll, and Wooddale have never made the state semifinals. 
    • Dyer County hasn’t made the state semifinals since 1976.
    • Hardin County hasn’t made the state semifinals since 1998.
    • Huntland hasn’t made the state semifinals since 1998.
    • Houston hasn’t made the state semifinals since 2001.
    • Oneida hasn’t made the state semifinals since 2008.

Best of luck to all teams still in the playoffs!

2019 Tennessee high school football Round of 16 projections

The second round has arrived! Last week, these projections went 91-17 (84.3%), an excellent start. That brings these projections to 1509-364 (80.6%) on the full season, which, again, is a little above what I’d hoped for. Not bad.

This week on Twitter, I posted the updated TSSAA playoff odds, which, as far as I know, aren’t affected by the latest Powell allegations. In order, the current BlueCross Bowl game projections are listed by class. The favorites come first, then the runner-ups, with each team’s most recent title in parentheses:

  • 1A: South Pittsburg (2010) over Huntingdon (2003)
  • 2A: Peabody (2018) over Meigs Co. (never; made final in 1980, 1995)
  • 3A: Alcoa (2018) over Pearl-Cohn (1997)
  • 4A: Elizabethton (1938) over Haywood (never; made final in 1994, 1995, 2018)
  • 5A: Powell (never; made final in 1991, 2011) over Henry Co. (2013)
  • 6A: Maryville (2017) over Ravenwood (2015)
  • II-A: Nashville Christian (2015) over Davidson Academy (2018)
  • II-AA: Evangelical Christian (2005) over Christ Presbyterian Academy (2018)
  • II-AAA: McCallie (2001) over Baylor (1973)

If you have a complaint about these, please post them on the CoachT message boards, because I enjoy the grammar.

The games! Every game, unless I’m told otherwise, starts at 7 PM local time. Some games may be on TV; as best as I can, I’ve tried to reflect that. Otherwise, the projection provides all the information you really need. At the tail end of the post, there will be some additional analysis of each class. What games have the most at stake? What’s the highest-quality matchup out there? First, here’s the predictions.

 1A

  • (R2 #2) Oliver Springs 29 at (R1 #1) Cloudland 15
  • (R2 #3) Coalfield 16 at (R2 #1) Greenback 34
  • (R3 #4) Whitwell 22 at (R4 #3) Gordonsville 28
  • (R4 #2) Clay Co. 7 at (R3 #1) South Pittsburg 40
  • (R5 #2) Cornersville 9 at (R6 #1) Huntingdon 43
  • (R6 #2) McEwen 24 at (R5 #1) Huntland 21
  • (R7 #2) West Carroll 21 at (R8 #1) Middle College 33
  • (R8 #2) Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering 8 at (R7 #1) Lake Co. 49

2A

  • (R2 #2) Oneida 19 at (R1 #1) Hampton 25
  • (R1 #2) South Greene 14 at (R2 #1) Meigs Co. 33
  • (R4 #2) Trousdale Co. 25 at (R3 #1) Tyner Academy 24
  • (R3 #2) Bledsoe Co. 13 at (R4 #1) Watertown 31
  • (R6 #3) Riverside 16 at (R6 #1) Waverly Central 24
  • (R5 #3) Eagleville 14 at (R5 #1) Forrest 29
  • (R7 #2) Union City 21 at (R8 #1) Fairley 33
  • (R7 #3) McKenzie 9 at (R7 #1) Peabody 39

3A

  • (R2 #3) GPittman 10 at (R2 #1) Alcoa 40
  • (R2 #4) Kingston 16 at (R2 #2) Austin-East 32
  • (R4 #2) Smith Co. 11 at (R3 #1) Loudon 38
  • (R3 #2) Red Bank 20 at (R4 #1) Upperman 21
  • (R5 #4) Giles Co. 20 at (R5 #2) Stratford 25
  • (R5 #3) East Nashville 11 at (R5 #1) Pearl-Cohn 32
  • (R7 #3) Covington 24 at (R7 #1) South Gibson 23
  • (R7 #2) Milan 22 at (R8 #1) Wooddale 25

4A

  • (R1 #2) Greeneville 30 at (R2 #1) Anderson Co. 26 (7:00 PM ET, WVLT-TV)
  • (R1 #3) Sullivan South 12 at (R1 #1) Elizabethton 35
  • (R3 #2) DeKalb Co. 14 at (R4 #1) Marshall Co. 33
  • (R4 #2) Nolensville 17 at (R3 #1) Livingston Academy 26
  • (R5 #2) Creek Wood 16 at (R6 #1) Hardin Co. 29
  • (R6 #2) Lexington 21 at (R5 #1) Springfield 23
  • (R7 #3) Ripley 13 at (R7 #1) Haywood 38
  • (R7 #2) Crockett Co. 29 at (R8 #1) Millington Central 19

5A

  • (R1 #2) Daniel Boone 17 at (R2 #1) South-Doyle 32
  • (R2 #4) Gibbs 25 at (R2 #2) Central 29
  • (R3 #4) Oak Ridge 14 at (R3 #2) Knoxville West 33
  • (R4 #2) Rhea Co. 13 at (R3 #1) Powell 35 
  • (R5 #2) Shelbyville Central 25 at (R6 #1) Beech 24 (7:00 PM CT, WUXP-TV)
  • (R5 #3) Summit 22 at (R5 #1) Page 24
  • (R7 #3) Clarksville 14 at (R7 #1) Henry Co. 34
  • (R7 #2) Dyer Co. 32 at (R8 #1) Southwind 27

6A

  • (R1 #2) Farragut 14 at (R2 #1) Maryville 37
  • (R1 #3) Bearden 16 at (R1 #1) Dobyns-Bennett 33
  • (R3 #2) Blackman 25 at (R4 #1) Hendersonville 24
  • (R4 #2) Mount Juliet 13 at (R3 #1) Oakland 41
  • (R6 #2) Ravenwood 31 at (R5 #1) Cane Ridge 20
  • (R6 #3) Independence 17 at (R6 #1) Brentwood 27
  • (R8 #2) White Station 17 at (R7 #1) Houston 33
  • (R8 #3) Memphis Central 7 at (R8 #1) Whitehaven 29

II-A

  • (E #3) Donelson Christian Academy 14 at (W #2) Davidson Academy 29
  • (W #5) Fayette Academy 17 at (W #1) Nashville Christian 37
  • (W #3) University School of Jackson 33 at (E #2) King’s Academy 21
  • (W #4) Columbia Academy 20 at (E #1) Friendship Christian 29

II-AA

  • (W #2) Lausanne Collegiate 20 at (M #2) Franklin Road Academy 31
  • (M #4) Lipscomb Academy 23 at (E #1) Grace Christian 25
  • (E #2) Chattanooga Christian 19 at (M #1) Christ Presbyterian Academy 27
  • (M #3) Battle Ground Academy 17 at (W #1) Evangelical Christian 29

II-AAA

  • (W #4) Christian Brothers 16 at (E #1) McCallie 34
  • (E #3) Ensworth 25 at (W #2) Briarcrest Christian 24
  • (E #4) Knox Catholic 22 at (W #1) Memphis University 31
  • (W #3) Montgomery Bell Academy 14 at (E #2) Baylor 24

Below are the best games by class, per my Game Score metric, along with how each team ranks in my Class Ratings. The parentheses is their region and seed; the number directly to the left of the team name is how they rank in their given class.

  • 1A: (R6 #2) #8 McEwen at (R5 #1) #9 Huntland
  • 2A: (R4 #2) #3 Trousdale Co. at (R3 #1) #5 Tyner Academy
  • 3A: (R7 #3) #4 Covington at (R7 #1) #7 South Gibson
  • 4A: (R1 #2) #1 Greeneville at (R2 #1) #3 Anderson Co.
  • 5A: (R5 #2) #4 Shelbyville Central at (R6 #1) #6 Beech
  • 6A: (R3 #2) #11 Blackman at (R4 #1) #14 Hendersonville
  • II-A: (W #4) #5 Columbia Academy at (E #1) #4 Friendship Christian
  • II-AA: (M #4) #5 Lipscomb Academy at (E #1) #6 Grace Christian
  • II-AAA: (E #3) #3 Ensworth at (W #2) #6 Briarcrest Christian

Various notes:

  • There’s a decent chance a title favorite loses. I have the nine favorites as collectively possessing a 40% chance of coming out of the second round unscathed. In order, the most likely upsets: Battle Ground Academy over Evangelical Christian (23.7% chance of happening), Christian Brothers over McCallie (14%), Fayette Academy over Nashville Christian (11.8%). As a bonus, the most likely public school upset: Rhea Co. over Powell (10%).
  • Also, plenty of other upsets! Favorites are expected to go 45.5-14.5 this week. In less silly terms: they’ll win about 75.9% of their games. You can expect 14-15 upsets, which would be 2-3 less than happened last week despite 48 fewer games. These games are much better.
  • Most vulnerable 10%+ championship contenders in each class:
    • 1A: South Pittsburg (2.5% chance of losing to Clay Co.)
    • 2A: Meigs Co. (13.7% chance of losing to South Greene)
    • 3A: Pearl-Cohn (10.6% chance of losing to East Nashville)
    • 4A: Greeneville (40.1% chance of losing to Anderson Co.)
    • 5A: South-Doyle (17.5% chance of losing to Daniel Boone)
    • 6A: Ravenwood (26.8% chance of losing to Cane Ridge)
    • II-A: Friendship Christian (30.5% chance of losing to Columbia Academy)
    • II-AA: Christ Presbyterian (30.6% chance of losing to Chattanooga Christian)
    • II-AAA: Ensworth (47.7% chance of losing to Briarcrest Christian)

Best of luck to all teams involved this week!

Tennessee high school football playoff projections, Round of 32

The TSSAA playoffs have finally arrived! Here we are, sitting in the Round of 32, with 108 games on this week’s slate and a whole bunch of predictions. (As a reminder, the II-AAA playoffs start next Friday.) If you’d like to catch up on playoff odds, read this post; it serves as an overall preview with a good bit of analysis.

The Week 11 projections went 139-29 (82.7%), marking the sixth week in seven with an 80% hit rate or above. The final regular season record for these projections comes out to 1418-347 (80.3%), which, for a system projecting every single game from Week 1 onward, ended up doing pretty well. I think that these should be getting somewhere between 79-85% of playoff games correct, which would be a solid rate.

Anyway, the games. Every game, unless I’m told otherwise, starts at 7 PM local time. Some games may be on TV; as best as I can, I’ve tried to reflect that. Otherwise, the projection provides all the information you really need. At the tail end of the post, there will be some additional analysis of each class. What games have the most at stake? What’s the highest-quality matchup out there? First, here’s the predictions.

1A

  • (R2 #4) Harriman 18 at (R1 #1) Cloudland 29
  • (R2 #3) Coalfield 43 at (R1 #2) Hancock Co. 11
  • (R1 #4) Unaka 0 at (R2 #1) Greenback 60
  • (R1 #3) Jellico 0 at (R2 #2) Oliver Springs 52
  • (R4 #4) Byrns [Jo] 0 at (R3 #1) South Pittsburg 54
  • (R4 #3) Gordonsville 19 at (R3 #2) Copper Basin 27
  • (R3 #4) Whitwell 10 at (R4 #1) Monterey 39
  • (R3 #3) Sale Creek 9 at (R4 #2) Clay Co. 31
  • (R6 #4) Hollow Rock-Bruceton Central 4 at (R5 #1) Huntland 36
  • (R6 #3) Collinwood 13 at (R5 #2) Cornersville 30
  • (R5 #4) Richland 5 at (R6 #1) Huntingdon 45
  • (R5 #3) Mount Pleasant 24 at (R6 #2) McEwen 23
  • (R8 #4) Washington 4 at (R7 #1) Lake Co. 51
  • (R8 #3) Memphis East 16 at (R7 #2) West Carroll 31
  • (R7 #4) Dresden 18 at (R8 #1) Middle College 34
  • (R7 #3) Greenfield 25 at (R8 #2) Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering 21

2A

  • (R2 #4) Cumberland Gap 9 at (R1 #1) Hampton 42
  • (R2 #3) Rockwood 16 at (R1 #2) South Greene 27
  • (R1 #4) Happy Valley 2 at (R2 #1) Meigs Co. 36
  • (R1 #3) Sullivan North 11 at (R2 #2) Oneida 32
  • (R4 #4) Westmoreland 24 at (R3 #1) Tyner Academy 41
  • (R4 #3) East Robertson 17 at (R3 #2) Bledsoe Co. 25
  • (R3 #4) Tellico Plains 1 at (R4 #1) Watertown 43
  • (R3 #3) Marion Co. 4 at (R4 #2) Trousdale Co. 46
  • (R6 #4) Hickman Co. 9 at (R5 #1) Forrest 39
  • (R6 #3) Riverside 12 at (R5 #2) Lewis Co. 27
  • (R5 #4) Summertown 17 at (R6 #1) Waverly Central 26
  • (R5 #3) Eagleville 19 at (R6 #2) Houston Co. 24
  • (R8 #4) Memphis Academy of Health Sciences 2 at (R7 #1) Peabody 41
  • (R8 #3) Douglass [Frederick] 24 at (R7 #2) Union City 29
  • (R7 #4) Adamsville 11 at (R8 #1) Fairley 34
  • (R7 #3) McKenzie 17 at (R8 #2) Mitchell 26

3A

  • (R2 #4) Kingston 25 at (R1 #1) Chuckey-Doak 21
  • (R2 #3) GPittman 38 at (R1 #2) Unicoi Co. 19
  • (R1 #4) West Greene 0 at (R2 #1) Alcoa 52
  • (R1 #3) Johnson Co. 2 at (R2 #2) Austin-East 44
  • (R4 #4) York Institute 0 at (R3 #1) Loudon 46
  • (R4 #3) Sequatchie Co. 5 at (R3 #2) Red Bank 38
  • (R3 #4) Signal Mountain 10 at (R4 #1) Upperman 36
  • (R3 #3) Sweetwater 21 at (R4 #2) Smith Co. 24
  • (R6 #4) Stewart Co. 0 at (R5 #1) Pearl-Cohn 49
  • (R6 #3) Camden Central 10 at (R5 #2) Stratford 39
  • (R5 #4) Giles Co. 22.5 at (R6 #1) Fairview 23.2
  • (R5 #3) East Nashville 34 at (R6 #2) Sycamore 7
  • (R8 #4) Sheffield 0 at (R7 #1) South Gibson 59
  • (R8 #3) Raleigh-Egypt 0 at (R7 #2) Milan 43
  • (R7 #4) Westview 20 at (R8 #1) Wooddale 26
  • (R7 #3) Covington 37 at (R8 #2) Melrose 5

4A

  • (R2 #4) East Ridge 6 at (R1 #1) Elizabethton 41
  • (R2 #3) Howard Tech 13 at (R1 #2) Greeneville 38
  • (R1 #4) Grainger 8 at (R2 #1) Anderson Co. 43
  • (R1 #3) Sullivan South 16 at (R2 #2) East Hamilton 33
  • (R4 #4) Maplewood 6 at (R3 #1) Livingston Academy 34
  • (R4 #3) Tullahoma 31 at (R3 #2) DeKalb Co. 14
  • (R3 #4) Stone Memorial 3 at (R4 #1) Marshall Co. 43
  • (R3 #3) Macon Co. 9 at (R4 #2) Nolensville 35
  • (R6 #4) Jackson South Side 13 at (R5 #1) Springfield 29
  • (R6 #3) Jackson North Side 24 at (R5 #2) Creek Wood 27
  • (R5 #4) Portland 9 at (R6 #1) Hardin Co. 39
  • (R5 #3) White House-Heritage 21 at (R6 #2) Lexington 27
  • (R8 #4) Craigmont 0 at (R7 #1) Haywood 58
  • (R8 #3) Bolton 2 at (R7 #2) Crockett Co. 52
  • (R7 #4) Dyersburg 19 at (R8 #1) Millington Central 28
  • (R7 #3) Ripley 24 at (R8 #2) Fayette Ware 23

5A

  • (R2 #4) Gibbs 19 at (R1 #1) Tennessee 37
  • (R2 #3) Knoxville Halls 23 at (R1 #2) Daniel Boone 27
  • (R1 #4) Cherokee 10 at (R2 #1) South-Doyle 43
  • (R1 #3) David Crockett 21 at (R2 #2) Central 31
  • (R4 #4) Lenoir City 0 at (R3 #1) Powell 58
  • (R4 #3) Walker Valley 8 at (R3 #2) Knoxville West 46
  • (R3 #4) Oak Ridge 28 at (R4 #1) Soddy Daisy 24
  • (R3 #3) Fulton 18 at (R4 #2) Rhea Co. 31
  • (R6 #4) Hunters Lane 1 at (R5 #1) Page 40
  • (R6 #3) Hillsboro 15 at (R5 #2) Shelbyville Central 36
  • (R5 #4) Columbia Central 11 at (R6 #1) Beech 33
  • (R5 #3) Summit 19 at (R6 #2) Gallatin 23
  • (R8 #4) Ridgeway 12 at (R7 #1) Henry Co. 34
  • (R8 #3) Kirby 22 at (R7 #2) Dyer Co. 30
  • (R7 #4) Kenwood 13 at (R8 #1) Southwind 45
  • (R7 #3) Clarksville 23 at (R8 #2) Munford 26

6A

  • (R2 #4) William Blount 7 at (R1 #1) Dobyns-Bennett 42
  • (R2 #3) Bradley Central 33 at (R1 #2) Farragut 28
  • (R1 #4) Science Hill 11 at (R2 #1) Maryville 44
  • (R1 #3) Bearden 21 at (R2 #2) McMinn Co. 32
  • (R4 #4) Lebanon 8 at (R3 #1) Oakland 44
  • (R4 #3) Wilson Central 13 at (R3 #2) Blackman 32
  • (R3 #4) Cookeville 16 at (R4 #1) Hendersonville 35
  • (R3 #3) Riverdale 22.4 at (R4 #2) Mount Juliet 21.6
  • (R6 #4) Franklin 17 at (R5 #1) Cane Ridge 33
  • (R6 #3) Independence 29 at (R5 #2) Smyrna 18
  • (R5 #4) McGavock 1 at (R6 #1) Brentwood 43
  • (R5 #3) Stewarts Creek 11 at (R6 #2) Ravenwood 38
  • (R8 #4) Germantown 9 at (R7 #1) Houston 41
  • (R8 #3) Memphis Central 24 at (R7 #2) Collierville 25
  • (R7 #4) Cordova 4 at (R8 #1) Whitehaven 28
  • (R7 #3) Bartlett 15 at (R8 #2) White Station 26

II-A

  • (W #6) Tipton-Rosemark Academy 20 at (E #3) Donelson Christian Academy 28
  • (W #5) Fayette Academy 38 at (E #4) Middle Tennessee Christian 19
  • (E #6) Grace Baptist Academy 0 at (W #3) University School of Jackson 46
  • (E #5) Mount Juliet Christian Academy 10 at (W #4) Columbia Academy 43

II-AA

  • (M #5) Goodpasture Christian 14 at (E #1) Grace Christian 36
  • (E #4) CAK 22 at (E #2) Chattanooga Christian 27
  • (M #4) Lipscomb Academy 32 at (E #3) Boyd-Buchanan 23
  • (E #5) Webb 9 at (M #1) Christ Presbyterian Academy 30
  • (W #5) Northpoint Christian 3 at (M #2) Franklin Road Academy 43
  • (W #3) First Assembly Christian 11 at (M #3) Battle Ground Academy 44
  • (W #6) Harding Academy 0 at (W #1) Evangelical Christian 51
  • (W #4) St. George’s 14 at (W #2) Lausanne Collegiate 34

Below are the best games by class, along with how each team ranks in my Class Ratings. The parentheses is their region and seed; the number directly to the left of the team name is how they rank in their given class.

  • 1A: (R5 #3) #8 Mount Pleasant at (R6 #2) #10 McEwen
  • 2A: (R5 #3) #16 Eagleville at (R6 #2) #12 Houston Co.
  • 3A: (R5 #4) #15 Giles Co. at (R6 #1) #17 Fairview
  • 4A: (R6 #3) #13 Jackson North Side at (R5 #2) #12 Creek Wood
  • 5A: (R5 #3) #10 Summit at (R6 #2) #9 Gallatin
  • 6A: (R3 #3) #15 Riverdale at (R4 #2) #19 Mount Juliet
  • II-A: (W #6) #10 Tipton-Rosemark Academy at (E #3) #7 Donelson Christian Academy
  • II-AA: (E #4) #8 CAK at (E #2) #7 Chattanooga Christian

Various other notes:

  • There’s probably going to be a couple big upsets. My system has 54 teams as 22-point favorites or greater; the odds are only about 23% that all 54 win their games. Weird stuff happens in high school football. If you want to expand it a little, there’s only a 1% chance every 15-point or higher favorite wins. Something funny will happen.
  • Looking for a favorite or title contender to get upset? These offer the highest odds of a shock outcome. Remember, we’re looking for teams with 5% title odds or higher.
    • Gibbs over Tennessee (13.5% odds of happening; Tennessee 6.5% title odds); Webb over Christ Presbyterian Academy (10.6% odds; CPA 20.2% title odds); Columbia Central over Beech (10.2% odds; Beech 6.5% title odds); Goodpasture Christian over Grace Christian (9.6% odds; Grace 7.8% title odds); Ridgeway over Henry County (9.1% odds; Henry Co. 13.3% title odds).
  • Looking for an outright favorite to lose? Not likely to happen; Maryville (2.9% to lose to Science Hill) offers the, uh, best? odds.

Best of luck to all teams involved this week!

2019 Tennessee high school football playoff odds + analysis

This is a companion piece to what’s on Twitter today. A quick explainer:

  1. Remember that this is a loose guide to how the playoff may go. Because one team is 2% more likely to win the title does not necessarily mean they’d beat said team head-to-head. It just means they’ve got a slightly higher chance of winning five straight games. Please do not Tweet at me about this unless you’ve read the rest of the article.
  2. The analysis here is brief by nature. I don’t have the time or energy to discuss why one team is 2% more likely to win the title. That’s what the ratings have gathered after 11 weeks of football; considering they’ve nailed 80% of game predictions in all but one of the last seven weeks, they’re probably going to be accurate.
  3. These are not perfect ratings, and they fluctuate week-to-week. 14-to-18 year olds are…well, not the most consistent people on the planet. As such, it’s hard for them to churn out robotic, in-line-with-ranking performances weekly. What happens if a team wins by 20 more points than they were expected to? Well, they’ll likely get a small ratings bump. If a team that was supposed to win by 28 wins by 4? A small ratings decrease.
  4. Why is (insert team) not favored to beat (insert team)? They haven’t played anybody! (shrug)

1A

Favorites (20% or higher): South Pittsburg (35.1% to win 1A title), Lake County (28.4%), Huntingdon (28.3%)
Second-tier contenders (5% or higher): Greenback (7.1%)

Analysis: As much as high school football can be predictable, you can pretty easily outline the semifinals: South Pittsburg will travel to the Greenback/Oliver Springs winner, while Huntingdon will host Lake County. There’s an 88% chance of the first thing happening and an 87% chance of the second. Huntingdon would be favored because they’re at home. Greenback fans are a little dismayed at being underdogs to South Pittsburg, but I think it’s fair. Greenback lost to Meigs County 27-20; South Pittsburg beat Meigs, 27-16. Also, South Pitt and Greenback own the same number of Top 10000 wins on MaxPreps. Will it be a close game? Of course! Should South Pitt be the favorite right now? I think so.

2A

Favorites: Peabody (53.9% to win 2A), Meigs County (22.3%)
Second-tier contenders: Watertown (7%), Trousdale County (6.7%), Forrest (4.9%)
Darkhorses: Fairley (1.6%), Tyner Academy (1.1%), Hampton (1.1%)

Analysis: Again, looks fair. There’s one thing I feel pretty confident about: Peabody making the 2A title game. Other than that, there’s a lot of uncertainty. The system isn’t quite sure who’s better between a pair of excellent teams in Watertown and Trousdale County (it would favor Trousdale by about 2.5 points on a neutral field), and plenty of secondary contenders lurk in the shadows. Meanwhile, Meigs County has to beat either Hampton (#8 in my 2A ratings) or Oneida (#11) to get to a semifinal against any of Trousdale (#3), Watertown (#4), or Tyner (#6). Peabody, meanwhile, wouldn’t have to play anyone tougher than Forrest (#5) or Lewis Co. (#9) in the semifinals.

3A

Favorites: Pearl-Cohn (45.2% to win 3A), Alcoa (41.9%)
Second-tier contenders: Loudon (5.6%)
Darkhorses: Covington (2.8%), South Gibson (1.8%), Red Bank (1.1%)

Analysis: Predictably, this is the most controversial projection by a mile. Alcoa’s won four straight 3A titles; Pearl-Cohn hasn’t won one since 1997 and has only made the title game once since then. So why is Pearl-Cohn a tiny favorite? Let me offer the following four-step theory:

  1. Pearl-Cohn, not Alcoa, was in the slightly tougher region. Before your eyes hit the back of your head, consider this: in Region play, Pearl-Cohn had to beat East Nashville (#7 in 3A ratings) and Stratford (#10) to finish undefeated. Alcoa played Gatlinburg-Pittman (#11) and Austin-East (#12), but played no other 3A-2 competition tougher than Kingston (#21). Add in that Giles County (#15) was in Pearl-Cohn’s region, and it makes a little more sense.
  2. Alcoa’s non-region schedule was slightly tougher, but Pearl-Cohn’s was nothing to sneeze at. Pearl-Cohn owns the better best win (Montgomery Bell Academy versus Dobyns-Bennett) and three of the best four (Independence, Cane Ridge) before we get to Alcoa’s second-best win (Blackman). The bottom end of both schedules sucked, but it’s hard to find a public school schedule you can’t say that about. Alcoa’s only sin on the season was a two-touchdown loss to Maryville; if you removed that one game from their ratings, they would get about a 1-2 point bump…or enough to still make them co-favorites with Pearl-Cohn, if not about half-a-point favorites on a neutral field.
  3. Alcoa does have the better point differential on the season, but the ratings I use generally have a cutoff point of useful margin of victory, usually set in the 30s. In all honesty, it’s hard to say a team is truly better because they beat an overwhelmed opponent by 56 and not 42.
  4. Also, these two teams are just really good, possibly equally so. Pearl-Cohn allowed more than 15 points in a game once all season; Alcoa never allowed more than 17. I think they are perfectly acceptable co-favorites. The ratings favor Pearl-Cohn by 1.4 points on a neutral field, which translates to…a 53% chance of beating Alcoa. It is, quite literally, a coin flip. If the coin flip goes Alcoa’s way, it is not surprising in any meaningful sense. Same for Pearl-Cohn.

Anyway, focusing on the Alcoa/P-C issue makes it hard to talk about the others in this class, especially because said title game has a 58% chance of coming to fruition. In the 42% chance it doesn’t, here are the most likely culprits: Loudon, who has stunned everyone this year in becoming an East Tennessee force; Covington, who struggled for two weeks midseason and has mostly recovered; South Gibson, who has one loss all season by a single point in the Game of the Year (Haywood, 50-49).

4A

Favorites: Haywood (22.6%), Elizabethton (20.3%)
Second-tier contenders: Anderson Co. (11.8%), Greeneville (11.2%), Hardin Co. (10.6%), Livingston Academy (9.1%), Marshall Co. (8.4%)
Darkhorses: Crockett Co. (1.3%), Nolensville (1.3%), Tullahoma (1.2%), East Hamilton (1%)

Analysis: Meanwhile, this class could get stupid quickly. I’ve never seen seven teams at 8% or higher to win the title, and all of them have great arguments. Let me clarify each.

  1. Haywood: The Tomcats are #6 in my 4A ratings, which should immediately let you know that they would be underdogs to all of Greeneville, Elizabethton, Anderson County, Livingston Academy, and Marshall County on a neutral field. And yet: they’re the 4A favorite. Why? Because they have the easiest path to the semifinals, and finals, by far. Haywood would play no team rated higher than #11 Crockett County in 4A prior to the semifinals. Their toughest-possible 4A semifinal opponent is #7 Hardin County, who they’d be a ~2 point favorite on the road at. That is why Haywood is the 4A favorite. Also, they’re a good football team.
  2. Elizabethton: Betsy’s case makes more sense. They’re #2 in my ratings by 0.8 points behind Greeneville, a team they beat. Why is this the case? The ratings see a Betsy team that had to go 3-0 in one-score games to finish 10-0, including against a Greeneville team they trailed by 14 in the third quarter to. That generally doesn’t happen, and this is before it gets into the case of having to play either Greeneville or Anderson County (#3) in the quarterfinals before likely playing Livingston Academy (#4) or Marshall County (#5) in the semifinals. It is a brutal slate just to make the 4A title game.
  3. Anderson County: Same as Elizabethton, but with the added misfortune of almost certainly drawing Greeneville (#1) in the second round, followed by Elizabethton (#2) in the quarterfinals. If they beat both, crown them 4A champions on the field.
  4. Greeneville: Same as Elizabethton and Anderson County.
  5. Hardin County: Hardin County lost their first game to McNairy Central by 14 and then immediately took off. They’re 9-0 since, though three of the wins were by seven or fewer points. Hardin County’s path to the semifinals is relatively easy to chart: beat #30 Portland in the first round, either #12 Creek Wood or #13 Jackson North Side in the second, beat either #14 Springfield or #16 Lexington in the quarterfinals.
  6. Livingston Academy: #4 team in 4A, 10-0. This is a very good football team that has the misfortune of playing in the top half of the bracket. To make the title game, they have to go through #9 Nolensville in the second round, either #5 Marshall County or #8 Tullahoma in the quarterfinals, and then one of #1 Greeneville, #2 Elizabethton, or #3 Anderson County in the semifinals.
  7. Marshall County: Livingston Academy’s slate, but having to play #8 Tullahoma in the second round.

5A

Favorites: Powell (38%)
Second-tier contenders: Henry County (13.3%), South-Doyle (13%), Knoxville West (8.5%), Beech (6.5%), Tennessee (6.5%), Page (5.1%)
Darkhorses: Shelbyville Central (4.8%), Gallatin (2.1%)

Analysis: Powell went 10-0 against the toughest schedule in 5A by my ratings, so they’re the favorite. Behind them in odds is a Henry County team with a relatively easy semifinals path, a South-Doyle team that is either great (38-10 over Central, 61-7 over Grace) or terrible (7-3 loss to Seymour) that Powell beat, a Knoxville West team that Powell beat, a Beech squad that’s 10-0 with *three* wins by four points or less, a Tennessee High team that surprised everyone to go 9-1, and two Region 5 squads (Page and Shelbyville Central) that essentially played to a draw earlier in the season. Also, Gallatin is here. The most likely game is Powell/Henry County, but there’s just a 17% shot of it happening. Powell has to go through #2 Knoxville West and likely #3 South-Doyle just to make the 5A title game.

6A

Favorites: Maryville (28%), Oakland (25.3%)
Second-tier contenders: Ravenwood (17.5%), Houston (8.4%), Dobyns-Bennett (6.8%), Brentwood (6.3%), Whitehaven (6%)

Analysis: Correctly, everyone is awaiting a Maryville/Oakland rematch in the semifinals. However: this could theoretically not happen. Why? Consider Maryville likely has to travel to Dobyns-Bennett, an 8-2 football team that’s #6 in my ratings, for the quarterfinals. That’s fairly tough! Also, Oakland has to beat either Blackman (#10) or Hendersonville (#13)….okay, they’re just about a semifinals lock. But still: Maryville’s road is a little tougher than you’d think, though they’re #1 in my ratings over Oakland. Other teams involved: Ravenwood is a five-point favorite on a neutral field over anyone in the bottom half of the bracket, though even a quarterfinals appearance requires a win at #8 Cane Ridge. Houston will make the quarterfinals and so will Whitehaven, but only one of them can make the semifinals. Also, Brentwood is still here and would host Ravenwood in the quarterfinals.

II-A

Favorites: Nashville Christian (50.4%), Davidson Academy (22.1%)
Second-tier contenders: University School of Jackson (14.1%), Friendship Christian (9.9%)
Darkhorses: Columbia Academy (1.8%), Fayette Academy (1.2%)

Analysis: Not much of it is needed. Nashville Christian is the only undefeated school in II-A and is an eight-point favorite on a neutral field over every team in II-A, though they do have to play #3 USJ in the semifinals. Their most likely title game opponent would be #2 Davidson Academy, but they have to travel to #4 Friendship Christian to get there. I can’t say I really foresee any team below those four making the title game or winning it all, but high school football is a weird sport.

II-AA

Favorites: Evangelical Christian (52.8%), Christ Presbyterian Academy (20.2%)
Second-tier contenders: Grace Christian (7.8%), Franklin Road Academy (7.3%), Battle Ground Academy (5.6%)
Darkhorses: Lipscomb Academy (3.1%), Chattanooga Christian (1.7%)

Analysis: Pretty similar to II-A, actually. Evangelical has been the best team in II-AA for most of the season, but the real surprise is how well Christ Presbyterian has recovered from an 0-4 start. CPA has been lights-out for the second half of the season, and if you just included ratings from Week 5 onward, they’d be just a one-point underdog on a neural site against Evangelical. However, it’s not quite that simple: just to make the title game, CPA has to beat #7 Chattanooga Christian or #8 CAK, followed by a likely matchup against either #4 Grace Christian or #6 Lipscomb Academy. It’s a tough road made tougher by how close the competition has been in this class this year. CPA/Evangelical is the most likely title game, but Grace/Evangelical isn’t far behind.

II-AAA

Favorites: McCallie (32.7%), Baylor (27.8%)
Second-tier contenders: Memphis University (12.8%), Ensworth (10.8%), Briarcrest Christian (6.7%), Montgomery Bell Academy (5.6%)
Darkhorses: Knoxville Catholic (3%)

Analysis: Things were basically perfect for McCallie until two weeks ago, when they lost to Clearwater Academy International. That was followed by a surprising home loss to Ensworth, and now, McCallie looks like a different team in a bad way. There are zero off days in this insanely tough class; even their opening game against Christian Brothers will be difficult. McCallie gets to avoid Baylor, Memphis University, MBA, and Knoxville Catholic until the finals….which still means they have to go through Ensworth (#3 in II-AAA ratings) a second time or Briarcrest Christian (#6), who was undefeated until Week 11. This class is absolutely bonkers; any non-Christian Brothers winner really does seem realistic.