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Monte Carlo Simulation for High School Football Playoff Seed Projection


  • Pasteur R. Drew

    (The College of Wooster)

  • Janning Michael C.

    (The College of Wooster)


In Ohio high school football, playoff teams are selected and seeded using an objective point system. Roughly one-fourth of the states teams earn playoff berths, and higher seeds host first-round games. Even in the final week of the season, a teams playoff chances can depend on the outcomes of dozens of other games, making direct computation of playoff probabilities impractical. To make playoff-related predictions, we first estimate win probabilities for all remaining regular-season games by applying a predictive ranking algorithm, then repeatedly simulate the remainder of the regular season. Using the aggregate results, we predict the playoff qualifiers and seeds, and also estimate conditional probabilities (based on the number of future wins) that particular teams earn a berth or a home game. In tracking the results of this model over two seasons, we find that modeling future games substantially increases the accuracy of seed predictions, but adds far less value in predicting the qualifying teams. This phenomenon may be related to the specificity of seed prediction, as compared to the more general nature of predicting a group of teams likely to qualify. That is, the additional information is most useful when making more specific predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Pasteur R. Drew & Janning Michael C., 2011. "Monte Carlo Simulation for High School Football Playoff Seed Projection," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-10, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jqsprt:v:7:y:2011:i:2:n:11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Newton Paul K & Aslam Kamran, 2009. "Monte Carlo Tennis: A Stochastic Markov Chain Model," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 5(3), pages 1-44, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pettigrew Stephen, 2014. "How the West will be won: using Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the effects of NHL realignment," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 10(3), pages 1-11, September.

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