It’s still early enough in the season that a win or loss can make teams fluctuate wildly in the playoff chase.
Some even took a fall despite a win.
Such was the case with Somerville, as we’ll explain in a moment.
Here’s our analysis of all the public school sections; we’re not looking at Non-Publics yet since those will be seeded by committees, using UPR as one of several key metrics. For each supersection, click the link in bold to see the actual official standings on Gridiron New Jersey’s website.
Gridiron is the official calculator of UPR for the NJSIAA.
Westfield’s loss to Linden knocks them all the way down from the top perch to No. 6. That’s a big fall, but when the sample size is only three games, that’s the way it goes. OSI values – with OSI rank among the supersection 60% of the formula – are half for a loss, full for a win. At just 2-1, that half value for the loss is a big dent. If Westfield goes 7-1 by the cutoff, then that loss hurt as much.
It’s all math.
But it won’t be easy to do that, starting with the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Autoland this Friday night at No. 2 Union. Then, the Blue Devils host No. 3 Hillsborough next Saturday at Kehler Stadium, also on CJSR.
Union pulled up from seventh to third, another example of what adding wins can do; the Farmers are now 3-1.
Phillipsburg evened up its record at 2-2, but with that win coming over Franklin, it didn’t help them much. That’s the same concept that helped keep Bridgewater-Raritan in tenth, despite a loss. The Panthers’ defeat came at the hands of Hillsborough.
Strength of schedule matters, kids. Sometimes a loss to a really good team is almost as good as a win over a very weak team.
Plainfield’s overtime win over Watchung Hills lifted the Cardinals from the cellar (27 out of 31) to 19th, squarely in the playoff picture. Though 1-3, they have South Plainfield, JP Stevens, Franklin and Perth Amboy next Might be doable.
Hillsborough dropped a spot from third to fourth, but don’t forget, OSI and Power Point rank is what make up the UPR, and it’s all relative to other teams. Under traditional power points, if you gained more than the other guy, you moved ahead of him. It’s different now.
Old Bridge pulled up two spots to fifth, and beating undefeated Monroe surely helped them with residuals on the power points side. North Brunswick edged up a spot, to seventh, after beating New Brunswick.
East Brunswick and New Brunswick both dropped to the bottom of the Top 16, while Edison finds itself one place out of a playoff spot after a second straight loss.
But the biggest change here was Monroe, which amazingly dropped from 9th to 20th. 3-1 vs. 3-0 is a big difference. Sometimes, you have to beat the good teams!
Despite a narrow win over North Hunterdon, 8-7, Woodbridge holds on to the No. 2 spot in the supersection, which is good enough to guarantee home field through the sectional finals.
In fact, the Barrons might have done themselves a favor. Actually, they surely did, but just how much effect it has will remain to be seen. Because they narrowly beat the Lions, they kept North Hunterdon’s Strength Index up, which means Woodbridge gets more OSI points for beating them and thus a higher average, and maybe a better rank (depending what other teams do).
Had Woodbridge blown out the Lions, their SI would have gone down. The Barrons’ SI was about 17 points higher than North Hunterdon’s. So the Lions go up, the Barrons go down (because Woodbridge didn’t do as well as the SI would indicate).
Had Woodbridge won by 17, they would have gotten almost three fewer points in the OSI category, bringing down their average. Had they won by 27, they’d have picked up five fewer points.
Winning closer is better than winning big, no matter how you slice it.
Linden only picked up one spot with the upset of Westfield, but that’s because everyone around them won, too. The only team they managed to jump was Ridge, and the Red Devils won, but over Hunterdon Central in a blowout. So, Ridge falls from 5th to 8th. The blowout win drove down Central’s weak SI even further; the win becomes less valuable to Ridge, and they fall.
Colonia holds in tenth, Sayreville is up a spot to 12th, Scotch Plains-Fanwood picks up a spot to 14th, and North Hunterdon – even though they lost to Woodbridge – gained and moved from 17th to 15th, into the playoff picture.
Why? Because Woodbridge is a strong opponent.
See how this works now?
Cranford – with a win that puts them at 3-0 – retains the top spot here, with the only other team in the playoff picture being Warren Hills, which dropped four spots from eighth to 12th after taking their first loss of the season.
We promised we’d talk about Somerville, and here we go:
The Pioneers – who have a loss to a good Northern Highlands team which leads the North 4 supersection – have won three straight. Yet, they have dropped from fifth to ninth in the supersection. Ninth!
Their two Big Central wins have come over Rahway and Carteret, with a combined 2-7 record. Their SI’s are 60.94 and 43.62, respectively. They’re going to need more help on the schedule than that. Their OSI is a 51.87.
South Plainfield in the 40s next week won’t help, but Phillipsburg will still be hovering around a Strength Index of 80 when they meet in two weeks out on the State Line, so you do the math. Add 80 into an average of 51.87, and the Pioneers will shoot up.
Of course, they have to win the game. Lose, and they get 40, and might spend a full playoff run away from Brooks Field.
A win for Bernards moves the Mountaineers from fifth to fourth, while Delaware Valley – even with a win – drops from fourth to sixth.
Part of that may have been Bernards, but a 40-7 win over winless Governor Livingston didn’t help. The drove down GL’s already weak SI, which didn’t help the Terriers’ cause.
Are you seeing the pattern yet?
Hillside pulled up three places with a win to get to 2-1, and New Providence’s win Friday night over Bound Brook jumped the Pioneers from 16th to 11th. They got an assist, as well, from a few teams ahead of them – namely Sterling and Haddonfield – losing.
Bound Brook drops from 14th to 17th with the loss to the Pioneers.
All alone here stand the Brearley Bears, the only Big Central team even sniffing the playoffs. And right now, they’re squarely in, at 3-0, though their weak schedule dropped them two spots from tenth to 12th.
They’re OSI is 36.68, the average SI of all the teams they’ve beaten. It went up this week, but others, like Wallington, went up more… from 35.41 last week to 41.07 this week, as they beat Butler, with a Strength Index of just over 49.
If they can keep the ball rolling, even just a bit, they’ll get some help. New Providence, Bernard and Bound Brook have SI’s significatly higher than Brearley’s current average. Win, and things will take care of themselves.
South Hunterdon gained five spots to move to ninth after Week 4, even though it’s OSI didn’t improve much. Again, its all relative. What did other teams do? And who did they do it against?
Middlesex dropped from 12th to 15th with a loss, and Manville’s first defeat of the season dropped them from the final playoff spot to 20th. But again, it’s early. One loss in three games hurts much more than one loss in seven or two losses in eight. But with a weak schedule like Manville’s they may need to win seven games to get in.