Coaches often say that they learn the most about their teams from what happens from Week 1 to Week 2.
The same can easily be said about attempting to project the 256-team IHSA playoff field.
Although, to be clear, with the data available through two weeks, I feel far from confident in how some conferences are being stacked up. Some small pieces of information did arrive from Week 2 games. Some info helped build confidence in teams while other teams have already developed shaky playoff resumes due to one or two early losses combined with the difficulty of their remaining schedules.
A whopping 37 new teams are in the projection that weren’t a week ago, our first in-season projection.
Why so many?
Every week, especially early in this process, there’s a list of teams whose position in the projection is precarious to say the least. As the season goes along, that list becomes smaller as variables are taken out of the equation.
But, right now, that list is large and subject to a lot of hypotheticals.
Week 2 results provide some clarity as to which side of the in or out line teams currently belong on.
Some results caused me to reshuffle the pecking order in locked conferences.
Other more surprising results, such as Shelbyville’s win over Eureka led to a completely re-evaluate Shelbyville’s status as a playoff contender.
Also, receiving a bit more information about how the Chicago Public League will frame its Week 9 games in White Division play led to a few more teams having less of a chance of making the playoff field.
And then there’s the White Central Division of the CPL. Only the top two teams in that 10-team division will earn playoff qualifications. Despite being a 10-team conference that could have closed of its ranks, the league played two weeks of nonconference games and all of the teams in the league won’t play one another. It’s entirely possible that a three-way tie for the conference title could happen where none of the three play one another during the season to break the tie.
And there’s also the problem that the teams in this division are collectively 3-14 through the first two weeks of the season and one of them, DRW Trading, still hasn’t played a game yet.
Why does any of it matter to the field as a whole?
Because two teams will qualify from this conference, and since there’s a significant disparity between enrollments of the teams in this conference, which two teams make it matters greatly to the class bubbles.
Currently, teams such as Wilmington (second-largest projected in Class 2A), Morris (largest projected school in 4A), Peoria (second-largest projected in Class 5A), Providence (second-smallest projected in Class 6A), Edwardsville (largest projected school in Class 7A) and Glenbard West (smallest projected school in 8A) are hovering around their respective class lines. One or two schools and their placement in the draw definitely matter in this context.
In all, eight new CPL teams were inserted into the field this week, while seven were removed, including one team (Military-Bronzeville) that made the first projection and promptly forfeited its Week 2 game, which can’t bode well for its future endeavors.
Shaky resumes for multiple teams that the projection had reaching the field led to less teams expected to reach the 256-team field. Last week there were 257 teams projected to reach five victories. This week there were 250.
That means four-win teams needed for at-large berths appear to once again be back in play. For the record, it required 47 projected playoff points to make the field. Three of the six four-win projected qualifiers cleared the 50 point barrier.
Here is the Week 2 playoff projection for all eight classes: