2020 Tennessee high school football playoff projections, Semifinals edition

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you’ve all had a great one. Last week’s picks went 22-8 (73.3%), with a couple of serious shockers happening. (Oak Ridge beating Knoxville West and Tullahoma losing to Nolensville were the main two.) The playoff picks are now 142-26 (84.5%) overall. Here’s this week’s games, with championship games to come next week.


Remaining championship odds: South Pittsburg 77.6%, Fayetteville 12.2%, Lake Co. 6.9%, Coalfield 3.3%

Most likely title game: South Pittsburg vs. Fayetteville (50.7% odds of happening)

  • (R2 #1) Coalfield 15 at (R3 #1) South Pittsburg 39
  • (R5 #1) Fayetteville 30 at (R7 #2) Lake Co. 27


Remaining championship odds: Peabody 70.8%, Meigs Co. 15.6%, Trousdale Co. 12.6%, Waverly Central 0.9%

Most likely title game: Peabody vs. Meigs Co. (48.3% odds of happening)

  • (R2 #1) Meigs Co. 23.2 at (R4 #2) Trousdale Co. 22.9
  • (R6 #1) Waverly Central 11 at (R7 #1) Peabody 40


Remaining championship odds: Alcoa 52.2%, Pearl-Cohn 24%, Milan 14.7%, Red Bank 9.1%

Most likely title game: Alcoa vs. Pearl-Cohn (42% odds of happening)

  • (R2 #1) Alcoa 29 at (R3 #1) Red Bank 17
  • (R5 #1) Pearl-Cohn 25 at (R7 #1) Milan 22


Remaining championship odds: Elizabethton 45.5%, Nolensville 19.2%, Lexington 19.1%, Haywood 16.2%

Most likely title game: Elizabethton vs. Lexington (32% odds of happening)

  • (R1 #1) Elizabethton 27 at (R4 #2) Nolensville 21
  • (R6 #1) Lexington 27.0 at (R7 #1) Haywood 26.9


Remaining championship odds: Oak Ridge 36.3%, Summit 25.5%, Henry Co. 24%, South-Doyle 14.2%

Most likely title game: Oak Ridge vs. Henry Co. (34% odds of happening)

  • (R2 #2) South-Doyle 22 at (R3 #2) Oak Ridge 29
  • (R5 #1) Summit 24 at (R7 #1) Henry Co. 25


Remaining championship odds: Oakland 38.8%, Maryville 32.9%, Brentwood 16%, Bartlett 12.3%

Most likely title game: Oakland vs. Brentwood (27.9% odds of happening)

  • (R2 #1) Maryville 29 at (R3 #1) Oakland 31
  • (R6 #1) Brentwood 22.2 at (R7 #3) Bartlett 21.6


2020 Tennessee high school football playoff projections, Quarterfinals edition

Last week’s picks went 48-8 (85.7%), which is pretty good for a system that literally took the system off. That brings these picks to 120-18 (87%) through two rounds. Regression will come eventually, but I am very pleased with how these have done so far. Again, not doing analysis this year; it’s just the picks and the numbers.


Favorites (30% or greater to win title): South Pittsburg (50.3%)

Second-tier contenders (15% or greater to win title): Moore Co. (15.5%), Gordonsville (15.2%)

Darkhorses (5% or greater to win title): Fayetteville (10%), Lake Co. (5%)

Most likely championship game: South Pittsburg vs. Moore Co. (24.6% odds of happening)

  • (R2 #2) Oliver Springs 17 at (R2 #1) Coalfield 27
  • (R3 #1) South Pittsburg 32 at (R4 #1) Gordonsville 24
  • (R5 #2) Moore Co. 23 at (R5 #1) Fayetteville 22
  • (R7 #3) West Carroll 26 at (R7 #2) Lake Co. 35


Favorites: Peabody (64.7%)

Second-tier contenders: Watertown (16.8%)

Darkhorses: Meigs Co. (9.6%), Trousdale Co. (5.2%)

Most likely championship game: Peabody vs. Watertown (39.7% odds of happening)

  • (R1 #1) South Greene 18 at (R2 #1) Meigs Co. 32
  • (R4 #2) Trousdale Co. 19 at (R4 #1) Watertown 27
  • (R6 #2) Riverside 19 at (R6 #1) Waverly Central 23
  • (R7 #2) McKenzie 13 at (R7 #1) Peabody 37


Favorites: Alcoa (48.2%), Pearl-Cohn (33.1%)

Second-tier contenders: none

Darkhorses: Milan (9%), Red Bank (6.8%)

Most likely championship game: Alcoa vs. Pearl-Cohn (48.9% odds of happening)

  • (R2 #2) GPittman 10 at (R2 #1) Alcoa 41
  • (R3 #2) Loudon 19 at (R3 #1) Red Bank 29
  • (R5 #1) Pearl-Cohn 40 at (R6 #1) Stewart Co. 5
  • (R7 #2) South Gibson 20 at (R7 #1) Milan 29


Favorites: Tullahoma (45.9%)

Second-tier contenders: Elizabethton (23.7%)

Darkhorses: Haywood (12.6%), Lexington (6.8%), Hardin Co. (6.8%)

Most likely championship game: Tullahoma vs. Haywood (28.4% odds of happening)

  • (R1 #2) Greeneville 20 at (R1 #1) Elizabethton 34
  • (R4 #2) Nolensville 13 at (R4 #1) Tullahoma 32
  • (R6 #2) Hardin Co. 21 at (R6 #1) Lexington 23
  • (R7 #2) Ripley 15 at (R7 #1) Haywood 38


Favorites: Knoxville West (41.3%)

Second-tier contenders: Beech (21.3%), Henry Co. (16%)

Darkhorses: Oak Ridge (7.5%), Knoxville Central (5.4%)

Most likely championship game: Knoxville West vs. Beech (26.8% odds of happening)

  • (R2 #2) South-Doyle 24 at (R2 #1) Central 27
  • (R3 #2) Oak Ridge 18 at (R3 #1) Knoxville West 30
  • (R5 #1) Summit 20 at (R6 #1) Beech 31
  • (R7 #2) Northeast 16 at (R7 #1) Henry Co. 38


Favorites: Maryville (41.4%)

Second-tier contenders: Oakland (27.6%), Brentwood (17%)

Darkhorses: Bartlett (8%)

Most likely championship game: Maryville vs. Brentwood (26% odds of happening)

  • (R1 #1) Dobyns-Bennett 14 at (R2 #1) Maryville 35
  • (R3 #2) Riverdale 21 at (R3 #1) Oakland 35
  • (R6 #4) Franklin 16 at (R6 #1) Brentwood 30
  • (R7 #2) Collierville 20 at (R7 #1) Bartlett 31


Favorites (40% or higher): Davidson Academy (69.6%)

Second-tier contenders (20% or higher): none

Darkhorses (10% or higher): University School of Jackson (14.2%)

Most likely championship game: Davidson Academy vs. University School of Jackson (45.6% odds of happening)

  • (W #2) University School of Jackson 23 at (E #1) Donelson Christian Academy 22
  • (W #3) Nashville Christian 15 at (W #1) Davidson Academy 34


Favorites (40% or higher): Christ Presbyterian Academy (52.7%), Lipscomb Academy (41.9%)

Second-tier contenders (20% or higher): none

Darkhorses (10% or higher): none

Most likely championship game: Christ Presbyterian Academy vs. Lipscomb Academy (73% odds of happening)

  • (M #1) Lipscomb Academy 33 at (W #1) Evangelical Christian 17
  • (M #3) Goodpasture Christian 14 at (M #2) Christ Presbyterian Academy 35


Favorites (40% or higher): Brentwood Academy (50.6%)

Second-tier contenders (20% or higher): Montgomery Bell Academy (22.8%)

Darkhorses (10% or higher): McCallie (13.3%), Memphis University (13.3%)

Most likely championship game: Brentwood Academy vs. Montgomery Bell Academy (44.5% odds of happening)

  • (E #3) McCallie 20 at (E #1) Brentwood Academy 31
  • (W #3) Memphis University 18 at (W #1) Montgomery Bell Academy 22

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.


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


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


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


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%)


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


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


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)


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.

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

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.)


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


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


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


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


  • (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


  • (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!