FCS Playoff Probabilities, First Round Entry – The Barking Crow

The FCS playoffs are underway and although we never got around to making bracketology for them this year, we have movelor ratings for every FCS team, so last night we built a simulator and got the sims running hot, which means we let the ratings change with results in the same way as in our FBS college football model.

It’s a compelling FCS season, with North Dakota State’s poor year and James Madison’s departure to FBS opening the door to new powers. South Dakota State is the team to beat, but Sacramento State and Montana State dominated in the Big Sky, and between Montana and Weber State, this league has two wild cards that could make a lot of noise. The Bison are also still good, as you’d expect, and Incarnate Word is on the rise, considered by Movelor to be just 3.7 points behind FCS’ best. It’s a regionally-dominated scene — the CAA is rock-bottom with the Dukes gone, so all of its competitors are in the country’s Northwest quadrant — but college football is inherently a regionally-dominated sport and a scenario in which others 8-0 conference opponents are Sacramento State and Montana State finally meet in the playoffs or Montana gets a chance to get revenge on the Bobcats or NDSU and SDSU fight for the title, that’s a hell of a script.

At the same time, however, this shows the weaknesses of a playoff system with 24 teams. For one, major leagues cannot have conference championships. Both Sacramento and Montana finished 11-0. For another, we won’t see many title contenders this weekend, and the ones we will see — Montana and Weber State — are big favorites. The only game expected to be close and significantly impacting the title is Idaho’s trip to Southeast Louisiana, which is something of an FBS match between Washington and Baylor in terms of prestige.

But enough about me. Let’s look at the numbers. Here’s how Movelor sees the 24 teams remaining ahead of tonight’s games:

team mover
State of South Dakota 18.6
State of Sacramento 17.6
State of North Dakota 15.8
State of Montana 15.4
Montana 15.0
Incarnate Word 14.9
State of Weaver 11.0
Idaho 7.6
Samford 4.9
Furman 4.2
William & Maria 3.3
North Dakota 3.1
Richmond 1.9
holy cross 0.9
State of Southeast Missouri 0.1
Southeast Louisiana -0.2
Elon -0.9
New Hampshire -4.3
Gardner-Webb -4.9
Fordham -5.0
St. Francis (PA) -5.3
Delaware -5.4
Eastern Kentucky -6.0
Davidson -19.1

And here we are after 10,000 simulations:

team round of 16 quarter finals semifinals championship champion
State of South Dakota 100.0% 95.4% 86.9% 60.6% 30.8%
State of Sacramento 100.0% 90.1% 60.6% 39.4% 21.5%
State of Montana 100.0% 70.2% 60.3% 25.6% 12.5%
State of North Dakota 100.0% 61.7% 49.1% 23.3% 12.1%
Incarnate Word 100.0% 81.9% 33.0% 17.2% 8.9%
Montana 88.2% 36.6% 25.3% 11.5% 6.6%
State of Weaver 75.6% 24.8% 17.4% 6.6% 3.1%
Idaho 62.7% 32.5% 10.0% 3.0% 1.2%
William & Maria 100.0% 74.8% 16.5% 3.5% 1.0%
Samford 100.0% 54.8% 12.8% 3.3% 0.8%
holy cross 100.0% 67.5% 8.5% 2.0% 0.4%
Furman 70.4% 13.7% 3.4% 1.2% 0.4%
North Dakota 24.4% 5.0% 3.0% 0.7% 0.2%
Richmond 94.7% 9.9% 2.3% 0.6% 0.1%
Southeast Louisiana 37.3% 12.7% 2.1% 0.4% 0.1%
Fordham 40.1% 12.9% 1.1% 0.2% 0.0%
Delaware 57.1% 2.6% 1.0% 0.1% 0.0%
Elon 29.6% 4.4% 0.8% 0.1% 0.0%
Gardner-Webb 45.0% 11.9% 1.5% 0.1% 0.0%
Eastern Kentucky 55.0% 13.3% 1.3% 0.2% 0.0%
New Hampshire 59.9% 19.6% 1.6% 0.3% 0.0%
State of Southeast Missouri 11.8% 1.7% 0.7% 0.1% 0.0%
St. Francis (PA) 42.9% 2.0% 0.9% 0.1% 0.0%
Davidson 5.3% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%

It’s the Jacks’ title up for grabs, but the field is the favorite. What a field.

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