Will Nashville SC play in the postseason? Or: How I learned to stop worrying and become an insane spreadsheet person

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It depends on how many points they finish with, of course. I ran the numbers: there are 59,049 scenarios affecting the final point totals for other teams still alive in the playoff race (10 total games remaining, three potential outcomes per game – and 310 is 59,049). Here is the percentage of those scenarios in which Nashville makes the playoffs given its final point total:

Nashville points Chances of playoffs
44 0
45 0
46 .174
47 .593
48 .772
49 .989
50 .999 (only 36 of 59,050 possible scenarios)
51 100%

For the sake of simplicity, I’m assuming all tiebreakers remain the same: Nashville loses them to Indy, Bethlehem, Ottawa and North Carolina, holds them over New York, Tampa, and Charlotte. It’s more likely in the scenarios discussed here that Nashville actually improves its tiebreaker status, so the percentages are slightly on the conservative side.

So, if NSC fails to get a single point in its final three games – or gets exactly one point – it will not be participating in the postseason. There are 10,287 scenarios in which it can still finish in the top eight even if the squad only manages two points (likely draws against Richmond and Toronto – and that’s bordering on worst-case realistic scenario for a finish).

By the time you get to that first win, the likelihood jumps to nearly 60%, and with two wins in the books, there’s only one exact mechanism through which the team can miss the playoffs:

  • NYRBII beats NCFC this weekend
  • NCFC wins its other two remaining games
  • NYRBII also wins its other two remaining games
  • Bethlehem Steel has to earn four points (a win and a draw) or more in its final two games

While your top rooting interest is for Nashville SC to take care of its own business and not have to worry about the out-of-town scoreboard as much in the stretch run, certainly seeing the Boys in Gold beat Richmond and North Carolina earn a result against the Baby Bulls would be a great weekend. If both of those things happen, Nashville’s chance to make the postseason is already .632, even if they completely strike out against TFCII and FC Cincinnati.

While there have certainly been some scary moments and head-scratchers, simply avoiding a couple of the latter should see Nashville play in the postseason in its inaugural season.

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