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More Playoff Projections!

October 21, 2008 - David Karnosky
As I wrote last week, we have no cure for AIDS, no cure for cancer, but we’ve got a full projection of the MHSAA playoff bracket with one week to go, complete with little Google Maps thumbtacks to show you the distances between the schools. With one week to go before the real bracket comes out, let’s take a peek at what they project, how likely it is to occur, and what it might mean. 185 teams statewide have already qualified for the playoffs. There are 171 teams with at least four wins that could make it and no more than 76 can automatically qualify in Week 9. Most projections I’ve seen indicate roughly 15 should be on the table. Remember, they’re divvied by class to the teams with the most playoff points.

Division 8:

District 1:

4. Baraga (6-3) at 1. Forest Park (8-0)

3. North Dickinson (6-2) at 2. Lake Linden-Hubbell (8-0)

Same set-up as last week. Thanks to the Baraga win over Washburn, they’ve basically locked these four teams into this district. The only thing that may change is that if LL-H beats the Trojans, you’re probably looking at a flip-flop of seeds, since they’re separated by just two playoff points. Less likely (but still possible) is Baraga jumping up to three if North Dickinson loses to Cedarville.

District 2:

4. Bark River-Harris (5-2) at 1. Cedarville (8-0)

3. Gaylord St. Mary (6-2) at 2. St. Ignace (6-2)

A good deal more uncertainty here. BR-H is definitely going on the road, and probably headed to Cedarville. St. Ignace, surprisingly, looks like they’re not going up to D-7. However, Gaylord St. Mary is far from certain as the No. 3 seed. Central Lake, which was in this district last year, is also here, and would probably be a second (maybe even a first) seed. Hillman and Johannesburg-Lewiston are also at roughly the same latitude, but fit more naturally into a district, since they and 6-2 Mio are all in the same conference.

Division 7

4. Rapid River (5-2) at 1. West Iron County (7-1)

3. Mancelona (5-3) at 2. Manistique (6-2)

As one of the few people who’ve probably seen both L’Anse and Rapid River, I think there’s a 50-50 chance Rapid could win, and with it, qualify for the playoffs. It looks weird to see them with WIC and Manistique, but the RR football program is a co-operative with two other districts (Mid Peninsula and Big Bay de Noc) and for these purposes, the MHSAA counts them as one. If Rapid loses, they won’t be in the playoffs. The closest projected automatic qualifier is Traverse City St. Francis, which I don’t think any of these teams want to see, first because they’d be the No. 1 seed and second because they’re defending state runners-up in this division. Ishpeming has a fairly high playoff average for a Class C school and stands could make it if they beat Gwinn.

Division 6 4. Calumet (6-2) at 1. Iron Mountain (8-0)

3. Boyne City (7-1) at 2. Clare (7-1)

If points don’t lock a Copper Kings-Mountaineers matchup in, geography might. The only way I see this changing is if Calumet somehow ends up in D-5, which is possible, but unlikely. If you divide all the already-qualified teams into eight equal groups, Negaunee (who you will see below) and Calumet are back-to-back on the D-6 side of the cut. All this would probably accomplish is putting Negaunee where you see Clare. Reports indicate a glut of Class B teams in the field, which leads me to believe the cut lines are going down, not up, where the Copper Kings would need them to move. Gladstone is the last D-5 team on that previously-mentioned divide, and if they dropped, the Braves would probably replace Boyne City.

Division 5

4. Menominee (5-3) at 1. Negaunee (7-1)

3. Elk Rapids (7-1) at 2. Gladstone (6-2)

The Maroons have work to do, beating Gladstone in Menominee. However, if they make it, and Gladstone and Negaunee drop to D-6, they’re facing at least one trip downstate. The closest of these is Elk Rapids and the farthest is Tawas Area (shores of Saginaw Bay). The middle divisions always seem very nebulous to me, since teams can shift in both directions. I still would love to see this Negaunee-Menominee matchup.

Division 4

4. West Branch Ogemaw Heights (5-3) at 1. Remus Chippewa Hills (8-0)

3. Kingsford (5-3) at 2. Cheboygan (7-1)

Division 3

4. Escanaba (5-3) at 1. Petoskey (7-1)

3. Bay City John Glenn (6-2) at 2. Mount Pleasant (7-1)

Kingsford-Escanaba is one of only four showdown matchups between 5-3 teams in the state. The good news is, among Class B teams, Kingsford and Escanaba both have high playoff averages which provide realistic opportunity for back-door entry regardless of the result of Friday’s game. However, I’m sure a win and maintaining the third seed would be desirable for the Flivvers, who have met Cheboygan in the playoffs the last four years in a row (and won three). Esky, meanwhile, could even host a playoff game in the first round if they win and get help.

To further complicate things, the projector of the site has re-set the schedules under the hypothesis that all the “favorites” won in an atttempt to forecast the final results.

Here’s what he came up with:

D8: As printed above, except flip-flipping Gaylord St. Mary and St. Ignace

D7: Sub Ishpeming (5-4) for Mancelona

D6: Sub Negaunee for Clare

D5: Likely geographic pairing of 3. Menominee at 1. Gladstone, 4. Reed City at 2. Elk Rapids

D4: Kingsford at Remus Chippewa Hills (points) or Cheboygan (closest)

D3: As printed above.


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