NCAA football playoff forecasts, week 9

We have another week of NCAA playoff forecasts.  This weekend’s games included some exciting outcomes and upsets like the Illinois/Minnesota game. We noticed that these results shook things up in our model.

With Minnesota’s loss to Illinois, Nebraska is the clear favorite in the B1G West. While Michigan State and Ohio State are higher ranked than Nebraska in the various polls, Michigan State and Ohio State have to essentially fight for a single spot in the NCAA playoff poll, and therefore, MSU and OSU are both less likely to make it into the playoff than Nebraska, who has an easier path going forward.

The dominance of the SEC West continues (it is much stronger than the B1G East!). We see that four of the five top teams to make the playoff come from this conference division: Mississippi State, Alabama, Mississippi, and Auburn. This division will almost certainly contribute 1 and maybe 2 teams to the playoff, we’re just not sure which team(s) yet.

The remaining major conferences (ACC, Big12, B1G, PAC12) are fighting for maybe 1 spot in the playoff along with Notre Dame and Marshall. Upsets in one conference (the B1G this week) can improve the forecast for another conference (the Big 12).

The most likely teams to make the playoff are also the most likely teams to miss the playoff (end up fifth in the rankings). This makes sense, since they are by no means guaranteed a spot in the playoff with so many weeks to go. A single loss can take them out of the playoff.

Go here for last week’s forecasts.

Week 9 forecasts.

Ensemble model results

The top teams to make the playoff with the fraction of simulations in the playoff (out of 10,000).

  1. Mississippi State : 0.587
  2. Mississippi : 0.399
  3. Florida State     : 0.399
  4. Alabama     : 0.334
  5. Auburn      : 0.269
  6. Georgia     : 0.180
  7. Nebraska    : 0.175
  8. Michigan State    : 0.162
  9. Notre Dame  : 0.154
  10. Oregon      : 0.144
  11. Ohio State  : 0.126
  12. Utah  : 0.122
  13. Texas Christian   : 0.120
  14. Kansas State      : 0.116
  15. Arizona     : 0.114
  16. Baylor      : 0.111
  17. Marshall    : 0.093
  18. Arizona State     : 0.073
  19. Louisiana State   : 0.063
  20. UCLA: 0.042

The top teams to just miss the playoff with the fraction of simulations ranked fifth.

  1. Florida State     : 0.080
  2. Michigan State    : 0.065
  3. Nebraska    : 0.063
  4. Oregon      : 0.057
  5. Georgia     : 0.056
  6. Ohio State  : 0.047
  7. Mississippi State : 0.046
  8. Arizona     : 0.047
  9. Notre Dame  : 0.043
  10. Alabama     : 0.040

The fraction of playoffs with at least one team from each major conference:

  • ACC: 0.463
  • Big12: 0.353
  • B1G: 0.480
  • PAC12: 0.4513
  • SEC: 0.974

Results for the wins only model.

The top teams to make the playoff with the fraction of simulations in playoff.

  1. Mississippi State : 0.6003
  2. Florida State     : 0.4207
  3. Mississippi : 0.4154
  4. Alabama     : 0.3347
  5. Auburn      : 0.2718
  6. Georgia     : 0.2141
  7. Nebraska    : 0.2055
  8. Michigan State    : 0.1926
  9. Notre Dame  : 0.1632
  10. Oregon      : 0.1408

The top teams to just miss the playoff with the fraction of simulations ranked fifth.

  1. Florida State     : 0.0798
  2. Michigan State    : 0.0664
  3. Nebraska    : 0.065
  4. Oregon      : 0.0625
  5. Georgia     : 0.0535

Results for the wins and losses only model.

The top teams to make the playoff with the fraction of simulations in playoff.

  1. Mississippi State : 0.5956
  2. Florida State     : 0.3926
  3. Mississippi : 0.382
  4. Alabama     : 0.35
  5. Auburn      : 0.2659
  6. Oregon      : 0.1807
  7. Ohio State  : 0.1624
  8. Utah  : 0.1585
  9. Georgia     : 0.1503
  10. Nebraska    : 0.1447

The top teams to just miss the playoff with the fraction of simulations ranked fifth.

  1. Florida State     : 0.0829
  2. Oregon      : 0.0661
  3. Michigan State    : 0.0655
  4. Nebraska    : 0.0585
  5. Georgia     : 0.0529

Results for the full only model.

The top teams to make the playoff with the fraction of simulations in playoff.

  1. Mississippi State : 0.5661
  2. Mississippi : 0.4007
  3. Florida State     : 0.3847
  4. Alabama     : 0.3164
  5. Auburn      : 0.269
  6. Texas Christian   : 0.2388
  7. Kansas State      : 0.2155
  8. Baylor      : 0.2108
  9. Georgia     : 0.1745
  10. Nebraska    : 0.1734

The top teams to just miss the playoff with the fraction of simulations ranked fifth.

  1. Florida State     : 0.0785
  2. Nebraska    : 0.0665
  3. Michigan State    : 0.0636
  4. Georgia     : 0.0624
  5. Mississippi State : 0.0534

NCAA football playoff forecasts, week 8

This project is a tool created by a team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering for forecasting the first four team NCAA football playoff using Monte Carlo simulation and data analytics.

I am very excited to present our first NCAA playoff forecasts today.

As mentioned in the methodology section, we consider three variants of the ranking methodology we use in our simulation. Below, we present the results for our models as well as the ensemble model that average across the three models, with 10,000 replications for each model. Let’s start with the ensemble model. Comments on the results are below.

Ensemble model results

The top teams to make the playoff with the fraction of simulations in playoff.

  1. Florida State       : 0.303544
  2. Mississippi State : 0.289211
  3. Mississippi          : 0.260909
  4. Alabama             : 0.174873
  5. Georgia              : 0.163807
  6. Notre Dame       : 0.139638
  7. Minnesota          : 0.138238
  8. Michigan State   : 0.111237
  9. Auburn               : 0.11037
  10. Nebraska           : 0.10457
  11. Oregon              : 0.0891697
  12. Arizona              : 0.0735691
  13. Marshall            : 0.0639723
  14. Utah                  : 0.0629354
  15. Baylor               : 0.0569019
  16. Ohio State         : 0.0568352
  17. Duke                 : 0.0516018
  18. Texas Christian : 0.0446682
  19. Kansas State     : 0.0359679
  20. Louisiana State  : 0.030501
  21. Louisville            : 0.0259342
  22. Arizona State     : 0.0253008
  23. Washington        : 0.0249675
  24. Colorado State   : 0.0240008
  25. Penn State          : 0.0215341

The top teams to just miss the playoff with the fraction of simulations ranked fifth.

  1. Florida State        : 0.0397347
  2. Mississippi State  : 0.0362014
  3. Georgia                : 0.0360347
  4. Notre Dame         : 0.0335011
  5. Minnesota            : 0.0323011
  6. Alabama               : 0.0307678
  7. Mississippi            : 0.0303681
  8. Michigan State     : 0.0277009
  9. Nebraska             : 0.0274343
  10. Marshall               : 0.0270344

The fraction of playoffs with at least one team from each major conference:

  • ACC: 0.495
  • Big12: 0.231
  • B1G: 0.528
  • PAC12: 0.387
  • SEC: 0.845

Comments:

We see that the SEC will almost certainly have a team (probably 2) in the playoff. The other conferences do not look as good. Based on inter-conference play, it looks like teams from the PAC12 looks weaker than it should (there are no undefeated teams) and B1G looks stronger than it should. Likewise, it looks like too many B1G teams will make the playoff in the simulation. Again, this happens because we don’t have humans in the loop at all – our model does not even “see” expert rankings such as the AP Top 25 or the USA Today Coaches polls based on the games played thus far. In the future, we will explore how additional information can be used to “vote” for teams in our model.

After eight weeks of footballs, the team-to-team network created by wins and losses is still pretty sparse. As a result, some of the forecasts made are too bold (I’m looking at you Minnesota!). We will have a more connected network when more games have been played, and with more data will come more refined forecasts.

 

Also keep in mind that the strength of schedule for future games is not equal between teams, and therefore, some teams are downgraded based on tough future matchups. However, there is still a lot of football to play – this should become more apparent a couple of weeks before the end of the season.

 

See you next week! Don’t forget to follow us on twitter @badgerbrackets

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The results from the three models used in the ensemble model are below.

Results for the wins only model.

The top teams to make the playoff with the fraction of simulations in playoff.

  1. Florida State       : 0.5385
  2. Mississippi State               : 0.3947
  3. Georgia                : 0.2706
  4. Mississippi          : 0.251
  5. Alabama              : 0.2139
  6. Michigan State  : 0.2115
  7. Auburn : 0.2039
  8. Oregon : 0.1897
  9. Nebraska             : 0.1839
  10. Minnesota          : 0.1578

The top teams to just miss the playoff with the fraction of simulations ranked fifth.

  1. Auburn : 0.0504
  2. Georgia                : 0.0496
  3. Mississippi State               : 0.0474
  4. Mississippi          : 0.0472
  5. Florida State       : 0.0464

 

Results for the wins and losses model.

The top teams to make the playoff with the fraction of simulations in playoff.

  1. Mississippi          : 0.5022
  2. Mississippi State               : 0.4298
  3. Florida State       : 0.4166
  4. Alabama              : 0.2536
  5. Notre Dame       : 0.2103
  6. Minnesota          : 0.1996
  7. Georgia                : 0.1811
  8. Auburn : 0.1405
  9. Utah      : 0.1359
  10. Oregon : 0.1321

The top teams to just miss the playoff with the fraction of simulations ranked fifth.

  1. Florida State       : 0.0797
  2. Georgia                : 0.0627
  3. Mississippi State               : 0.0504
  4. Alabama              : 0.0479
  5. Marshall               : 0.0477

Results for the full model.

The top teams to make the playoff with the fraction of simulations in playoff.

  1. Mississippi          : 0.5288
  2. Mississippi State               : 0.4726
  3. Florida State       : 0.3742
  4. Alabama              : 0.3115
  5. Notre Dame       : 0.2779
  6. Minnesota          : 0.2605
  7. Georgia                : 0.21
  8. Auburn : 0.1437
  9. Arizona : 0.132
  10. Michigan State  : 0.1301

The top teams to just miss the playoff with the fraction of simulations ranked fifth.

  1. Florida State : 0.0782
  2. Mississippi State  : 0.066
  3. Notre Dame       : 0.0606
  4. Georgia                : 0.0589
  5. Minnesota          : 0.0589

 

 

coming soon: NCAA football playoff analytics

Welcome to the bracketology sports analytics team from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Our first research project is a tool for forecasting the first four team NCAA football playoff using monte carlo simulation and data analytics. We will update our forecasts weekly after each week’s games.

Details about the methodology and the results will be coming shortly. Stay tuned.