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We broke out the calculator to see who has the easiest and most difficult paths to the playoffs!

It may only be mid-February, but WCTC Sports has some playoff projections.

We’re going to let you know how many wins we think each team needs to make the playoffs.

This is no guarantee, but our projections are based on a number of factors:

  • How much Potential OSI a team has (what its OSI would be if it won all its games)
  • The Target OSI to make the playoffs (all teams above this mark qualified, generally a little over or under 40 – they tend to be higher for larger school groups than smaller ones)
  • The Step Value (about how many OSI points each win is worth)

We then chose the number of wins to get closest to the target.  We went no more than a half-point below the target, otherwise, all numbers were above the target.

We also chose one more win over the target, a full step in value.

The toughest road to the playoffs in the Big Central Football Conference, according to our projections, will be for Belvidere.  Their Target OSI is 37.33.  But their 9-game schedule is so weak (they play down 7.34 points) that even going undefeated would only get them a 41.08 OSI.

The County Seaters essentially need to win 8 games to be in serious playoff contention.  A 9th win would get them in automatically, under NJSIAA rules.  (This happened last year with 9-0 Robbinsville.  They should have bumped out No. 16 and 4-4 Allentown, but the rule wasn’t written clearly enough – Allentown alleged – and a play-in game had to take place.  That rule will be cleared up this year.)

There are five teams who would need to win 6 games to be in contention for the playoffs, 7 to give them a really good shot.  They include Dayton, Dunellen, Manville, South Hunterdon and Spotswood.

It’s our contention that these schedules also are too easy, and a detriment to their playoff aspirations.

On the other side of the coin, the “easiest” paths belong to Bridgewater-Raritan, Phillipsburg, Piscataway, Ridge and Westfield.  These five schools traditionally play tough schedules.  Bridgewater, Ridge and Phillipsburg all are in the same division.  Piscataway and Westfield are powers, and also play tough schedules.  It’s our estimation that any of these schools could at least be in contention with as few as 2 wins, while 3 would give them a decent shot.

There, of course, are a lot of variables.  OSI is 60 percent of the UPR formula, with the other 40 percent being Power Points.  The “target” data is based on only one year of results; that’s all we have.  Teams’ Potential OSIs will change throughout the year.  And so on.

But based on the best data we have, this is our story and we’re sticking to it.

The below chart lists all the Big Central teams in alphabetical order, along with their 2019 assigned Group supersection (2020 classifications have not been released yet), the Target OSI for that Group, the number of wins needed to get closest to the Target OSI, and one more Win that would conceivable give that team an even better shot at the playoffs.

Note:  We did not include St. Joseph of Metuchen, Immaculata or St. Thomas Aquinas, since there are too few teams in those sections, and most teams make the playoffs regardless.

TEAM Group Target OSI Wins Needed Closest Wins Needed Full Step Over
Belvidere North 1 37.33 8 9
Bernards South 2 37.63 3 4
Bound Brook North 1 37.33 4 5
Brearley North 1 37.33 4 5
Bridgewater North 5 40.2 2 3
Carteret North 3 41.56 3 4
Colonia North 4 42.74 4 5
Cranford North 4 42.74 4 5
Dayton North 1 37.33 6 7
Delaware Valley South 2 37.63 3 4
Dunellen North 1 37.33 6 7
East Brunswick South 5 43.69 5 6
Edison South 5 43.69 4 5
Elizabeth North 5 40.2 3 4
Franklin South 5 43.69 4 5
Governor Livingston North 3 41.56 4 5
Highland Park South 1 36.98 5 6
Hillsborough South 5 43.69 3 4
Hillside South 2 37.63 3 4
Hunterdon Central South 5 43.69 3 4
JFK North 4 42.74 4 5
Johnson South 2 37.63 4 5
JP Stevens North 5 40.2 4 5
Linden North 4 42.74 4 5
Manville South 1 36.98 6 7
Metuchen South 2 37.63 5 6
Middlesex South 1 36.98 4 5
Monroe South 5 43.69 5 6
Montgomery North 4 42.74 4 5
New Brunswick South 5 43.69 4 5
New Providence North 1 37.33 5 6
North Brunswick South 5 43.69 3 4
North Hunterdon North 4 42.74 4 5
North Plainfield North 3 41.56 4 5
Old Bridge South 5 43.69 5 6
Perth Amboy North 5 40.2 4 5
Phillipsburg North 4 42.74 2 3
Piscataway North 5 40.2 2 3
Plainfield North 5 40.2 4 5
Rahway North 3 41.56 3 4
Ridge North 5 40.2 2 3
Roselle South 2 37.63 4 5
Roselle Park North 1 37.33 5 6
Sayreville South 5 43.69 3 4
Scotch Plains North 4 42.74 4 5
Somerville South 3 41.23 3 4
South Brunswick South 5 43.69 5 6
South Hunterdon South 1 36.98 6 7
South Plainfield North 3 41.56 3 4
South River South 2 37.63 4 5
Spotswood South 2 37.63 6 7
Summit North 3 41.56 3 4
Union North 5 40.2 3 4
Voorhees North 3 41.56 4 5
Warren Hills North 3 41.56 3 4
Watchung Hills North 5 40.2 3 4
Westfield North 5 40.2 2 3
Woodbridge North 4 42.74 4 5