The Power Rankings by Tom Nielsen continue after week 7, the penultimate round in the Toyota Minor League Cricket championship regular season. We start over in the Pacific Conference – remember, only the top two teams in each division will qualify for the post-season.
Things are as tight as can be in the Pacific Conference, as the overall power rankings below show. There are five teams leading the pack: East Bay and Golden State from the Western Division and Michigan, Austin and Houston from the Central Division.
Despite Silicon Valley’s strong record at 9-3-1 (including wins over East Bay and Golden State), the model puts them a half-step below the top five in the Conference. This is largely due to their margins of victory – four of their wins came by 15 runs or less, and another was by just two wickets. Also on their ledger are a couple of losses against the Socal Lashings and Hollywood Master Blasters, at the bottom of the table in the West. They’ll have to continue to fight for a playoff spot this week without Saurabh Netravalkar and Abhishek Paradkar, on duty with Team USA.
In the Central, the Austin Athletics have locked in a playoff spot, with Houston and Michigan fighting it out for the second spot. Right now, the Texas teams are favorites to keep their positions at the top. Let’s walk through some scenarios.
The Austin Athletics are already guaranteed a playoff spot. They will clinch first with a win over the Irving Mustangs on Saturday. A loss and a Houston loss later would also keep them in the top spot.
The Houston Hurricanes will clinch a playoff spot with a win or a no result against Irving on Saturday, and first place if they win after an Austin loss. If they lose, they’ll be Chicago Blasters fans, because…
The Michigan Cricket Stars host a double-header against the Chicago Blasters on Saturday. They need to win both and hope that Houston loses. This would put them into the second playoff spot on NRR. A loss or no result knocks them out.
Here’s the viewing guide for Saturday.
In the morning, Michigan will start their doubleheader against the Blasters as 76% favorites to win their match (i.e., 58% favorites to sweep the doubleheader). Austin will be favorites to lock up the #1 spot in their match against Irving.
In the afternoon matches, Houston will be favorites against Irving as Michigan wraps up their doubleheader. If Michigan wins and Austin loses in the morning, Houston will know first place is on the table with a win, or potentially third place with a defeat.
The race in the West looks a little like the race in the Central, as far as the model is concerned. Three teams are in the race, with Golden State and East Bay favored to get into the playoffs. Currently on the outside looking in are the Silicon Valley Strikers, even with East Bay on points but well back on NRR.
The schedule has blessed the fans with essentially a one-round tri-series between the top three teams to end the season. On Saturday, Silicon Valley faces off with the East Bay Blazers in a vitally important match for the playoff picture. On Sunday, Golden State will play a doubleheader: first up is Silicon Valley, then Golden State in the afternoon.
The Golden State Grizzlies have clinched a playoff spot and have a strong hold on first place with an 8-point advantage. A win or a no result would give them the #1 seed. If they lose both while East Bay wins both, East Bay will take first. Silicon Valley is mathematically in the first place race, but it’s a much higher NRR mountain to climb.
The East Bay Blazers are in second with a significant NRR advantage. A win over Silicon Valley on Saturday will effectively clinch them a play-off spot on NRR, otherwise they will need some help from Golden State on Sunday.
The Silicon Valley Strikers are well behind East Bay on NRR and will need to beat them on Saturday to have a chance at the playoffs. Then on Sunday, either a win over the Grizzlies or a loss for East Bay would lock them into a playoff spot.
East Bay are 68% favorites on Saturday. As outlined above, a win for East Bay puts them in the play-offs, while a win for Silicon Valley drags the fight onto Sunday.
First up on Sunday is Silicon Valley vs Golden State. The Strikers are again underdogs. This match will be most important if Silicon Valley wins on Saturday. If that is the case, a win for Silicon Valley would clinch a playoff spot alongside Golden State, while a loss would mean hoping for an East Bay loss to hold onto that playoff spot. The Golden State-East Bay match is a near coin flip, and the playoff ramifications (including a potential fight for first place) will depend on the first two matches, as outlined above.
The Central will wrap up on Saturday with a healthy dose of scoreboard watching between Michigan and Houston. First place is also on the line in Texas. Wins for Irving and Michigan in the morning will make the afternoon prime viewing for Team Chaos. In the Pacific, a blockbuster match between Silicon Valley and East Bay on Saturday kicks off the weekend – neutrals will hope for a Silicon Valley win to extend the excitement into Sunday. Remember, you can watch it all live (and free!) on YouTube!