Football: Having some fun with the OUA playoff picture

The OUA playoffs are pretty well-set, especially at the top, but the 4 through 6 seeds are still somewhat up for grabs at this point. (Unless you're York.)

With four games left, there are 16 possible outcomes in the OUA standings. Many of them are unlikely to happen, of course, and we can ignore them right away.

But let's have some fun, and figure out which scenarios are the most likely to happen, by how much, and what the playoffs matchups would look like.

(Spoiler alert: Laurier really doesn't want to lose to Windsor.)

One way to find out the most likely outcomes is to take the team's RPI and SRS rankings (which I have, but haven't published this year, and probably won't until the playoffs), convert them to winning percentages for each team, and figure out the chances of each game going a certain way. (For example: the odds are 79% in favour of Laurier over Windsor.) We can then put different wins together, say Queen's-Western-Laurier-Ottawa, and see what the OUA playoff picture is under that scenario.

Let's start with the most likely outcome of next week's OUA games:

Scenario No. 1: Wins by Queen's, Western, Laurier, Ottawa (55.3% chance of happening)
First round: Guelph (5) at Laurier (4), Queen's (6) at McMaster (3)
Byes: Ottawa (1), Western (2)

Not just the most likely--by far the most likely. It's also relatively easy to figure out, and therefore is not much fun for idle speculation purposes.

Scenario No. 2: Queen's, Western, Laurier, Guelph (17.8%)
First round: Laurier (5) at Guelph (4), Queen's (6) at McMaster (3)
Byes: Western (1), Ottawa (2)

Since it's a good bet that Queen's, Western, and Laurier will all win, we see here what happens if Guelph pulls a U of T at Frank Clair Stadium: Ottawa would no longer host a Yates Cup against the Mustangs.

Scenario No. 3: Queen's, Western, Windsor, Ottawa (15.0%)
and Scenario No. 4: Queen's, Western, Windsor, Guelph (4.8%)
First round: Queen's (5) at Guelph (4), Windsor (6) at McMaster (3)
Byes: Ottawa (1), Western (2)

Both of these situations yield the same playoff matchups, so they're merged together. (Eagle-eyed readers will conclude that there is about a one-in-five shot that Laurier misses the playoffs.)

This situation gives us four teams (Queen's, Laurier, Windsor, Toronto) tied at 3-5, with only two playoff spots left. So it goes to head-to-head records: Windsor beat Toronto and Laurier for their two wins, and Queen's beat Toronto and Windsor, thus they're both 2-1 and make the playoffs. The Golden Gaels' win over Windsor gives them the 5-seed and a date with the Gryphs.

And since U of T defeated WLU (in a way...), the Hawks end up in eighth place, ahead of only York. Please read that last sentence again, because it's just that ridiculous.

Scenario No. 5: York, Western, Laurier, Ottawa (2.2%)
First round: Guelph (5) at Laurier (4), Toronto (6) at McMaster (3)
Byes: Ottawa (1), Western (2)

A York win? Stranger things have happened.

Sorry, just a second ... okay, I am now being told that stranger things have not happened.

The only change from Scenario 1, the likely scenario, is that Queen's misses the playoffs. As you should if you lose to York.

Scenario No. 6: Queen's, Toronto, Laurier, Ottawa (2.0%)
First round: Toronto (5) at Laurier (4), Guelph (6) at McMaster (3)
Byes: Ottawa (1), Western (2)

This one takes some work to figure out. The top three are easy, as they are in most scenarios, but then Laurier, Guelph, and Toronto are sitting at 4-4 each. Even better, all of them went 1-1 against the others.

So it goes to point differential. Laurier has a plus-34 against Guelph and a minus-1 (I guess?) against Toronto for a +33 total. Guelph is (-34, +2) for -32 total. Then Toronto is (-2, +1) for a -1. Which means it's WLU hosting the 4-5 game against Toronto and Guelph going to Hamilton.

Before you ask: no, I'm not going to lay odds on Laurier forfeiting their playoff game against U of T.


We can leave behind the rest of the scenarios, which all safely reside in the Unlikely Zone, and don't really change anything anyway. The Mustangs and Gee-Gees have clinched first-round byes and the Marauders are finishing third no matter what.

But you can see the effects of a Guelph upset win (they get a home playoff game and the Mustangs stay in London for a month) or a Laurier loss (they don't get any playoff games).

The Guelph win is more likely (although not by much), so even though some may not totally approve of the decision to show Guelph-Ottawa on The Score, I have no problem with it.
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  1. While not having any impact for the first round of the playoffs, a Guelph win certainly makes Ottawa #2 seed.

    As such they'll likely meet McMaster in the semis and IF they were to win that (I don't think they would) would have to travel to London vs. a home game.

    Your percentages are a bit different then I would allocate but Laurier playing in Windsor won't be easy and Guelph has a reasonable chance to beat Ottawa.

  2. I should have read your whole post instead of browsing.

  3. Guelph hasn't shown enough offence in higher-leverage situations (Western game, much of its Queen's game, Laurier, first 3 quarters vs. Mac) to suggest it will be able to trade points with Ottawa.

    Gee-Gees also have benefit of a bye week, and they can't afford to mess this up since they need home-field advantage in the playoffs.

  4. The inconsistent play of Guelph on offense isn't that much different then a lot of teams this year.

    Laurier, Queen's, McMaster (maybe to a lesser degree) have all played half games this season.

    I agree that Guelph hasn't shown much against the better teams yet, other then playing Western close.

  5. Maybe the Score's coverage of the Guelph-Western match up is burned into my simple little mind but there is no way that the Gryphs could beat Ottawa. That gong show was arguably the worst exhibition of football I think I've ever seen-- at least in a temperate and snow-free environment.

    The lack of consistancy at QB is just too large a problem for Guelph to overcome. Especially considering that Sinopoli is the big dog in the OUA (note: big dogs always eat first). Too bad, I'd love to see Western host another Yates.

    By the way, great article.

  6. Seeing them win it on the road could be just as fun.

    Could be wrong, but Guelph has not shown a lot offensively on the road against good opposition. Not even sure if they have won at Ottawa recently.