Class A playoff scenarios and tie-breakers explained

I’ve gotten plenty of questions about what might happen with the Section 9 Class A playoff seeding after this upcoming weekend’s results. As a primer: three teams from each of Class A’s two divisions make the playoffs, with the division winners getting the No. 1 / No. 2 seeds and a bye, the second-place teams getting the No. 3 / No. 4 seeds and a home game, and the third-place teams getting a No. 5 / No. 6 seed and a road game.

In a Twitter thread from Monday, I explained the ramifications for Division I and laid out the scenarios. But if you missed it, here’s an explanation for what might happen on both sides of Class AA:

THREE-WAY TIES:

First, it’s important to know what happens when three teams have the same division record and have all beaten one another (i.e. Team A > Team B, Team B > Team C, Team C > Team A). In that case, the transitive property goes out the window and the tie-breaker goes to the “point differential of teams involved in the tie.” Put another way, whichever team lost by the fewest amount of points wins the tie, while the team with the biggest loss finishes third. You’ll see an example below.

DIVISION I

Entering this weekend, Cornwall (6-0, 2-0 Class A Division I), Minisink Valley (5-1, 1-1) and Warwick (4-2, 2-1) have all clinched playoff spots, but the order is yet to be determined by the result of the Minisink Valley at Cornwall game on Friday.

Earlier this year, Cornwall beat Warwick by 14 points, while Warwick beat Minisink Valley by 6 points. If Cornwall loses, those points matter. Remember, in a three-way tie, the teams are ranked based on who has the “smallest loss.”

Here are the possible playoff scenarios:

1) If Cornwall wins: Cornwall gets the bye, Warwick hosts and Minisink Valley travels. Easy.

2) If Minisink Valley wins by more than 14: Minisink Valley gets the bye, Warwick hosts and Cornwall travels. (Why? Because Minisink Valley lost to Warwick by 6, Warwick lost to Cornwall by 14 and Cornwall lost to Minisink Valley by more than 14.)

3) If Minisink Valley wins by fewer than 6: Cornwall gets the bye, Minisink Valley hosts and Warwick travels. (Why? Because Cornwall lost by fewer than 6, Minisink Valley lost to Warwick by 6 and Warwick lost to Cornwall by 14.

4) If Minisink Valley wins by more than 6 but fewer than 14: Minisink Valley gets the bye, Cornwall hosts and Warwick travels. (Same logic as above.)

Full disclosure: I’m not sure what happens if Minisink Valley wins by exactly 6 points or 14 points. My guess is that it goes to a head-to-head between the teams with identical point differentials, so…

5) If Minisink Valley wins by 6: Minisink Valley gets the bye, Cornwall hosts and Warwick travels.

6) If Minisink Valley wins by 14: Cornwall gets the bye, Warwick hosts and Minisink Valley travels.

…but, again, that’s my guess. Feel free to reach out with a correction if I’m wrong there. So those are your Division I scenarios. Now, let’s move onto…

DIVISION II

Same story here: Goshen (5-1, 3-0 Class A Division II), Saugerties (4-2, 2-1) and New Paltz (3-3, 2-1) all enter this weekend as likely playoff teams, barring a surprising Saugerties loss at Wallkill (2-4, 1-2). If that happens, disregard this entire section, as that would trigger an entirely different tie-breaker scenario. But for now, all eyes are on New Paltz at Goshen on Saturday in a game that will either crown Goshen as an easy division champion or trigger yet another complex Class A tie-breaker.

The results to know from this season: Goshen beat Saugerties by 10 points, while Saugerties beat New Paltz by 9 points. That means it all comes down to whether New Paltz wins, and by how much…

1) If Goshen wins: Goshen gets the bye, Saugerties hosts and New Paltz travels.

2) If New Paltz wins by more than 10: New Paltz gets the bye, Saugerties hosts and Goshen travels.

3) If New Paltz wins by fewer than 9: Goshen gets the bye, New Paltz hosts and Saugerties travels.

And then it’s fuzzy after that. My guess is…

4) If New Paltz wins by 10: New Paltz gets the bye, Goshen hosts and Saugerties travels.

5) If New Paltz wins by 9: Saugerties gets the bye, Goshen hosts and New Paltz travels.

…but, again, I could be missing something in the bylaws. I probably am. I never went to law school.

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