One of the strangest things about trying to project the playoffs is you know teams are going to rise up and surprise you over the course of the season.
But the problem is that you don't know who and you certainly don't know when.
Week 7 appears to be the week where the apple cart started to get upset. And while there's certainly more to come, Week 7 looks like the week where a good deal of field shaping got done.
12 teams that had either .500 records or below-.500 records recorded victories over teams with substantially better records.
Usually when a team has a record below .500 and topples one above them it usually leads to a direct field shift; surprise team goes in, team that lost to them goes out.
And while that did happen a few times this week, several more instances happened where a team upset another that either will still get into the field or still has a path to get in despite the upset loss.
So that means spots must be created. Last week's projection had us one team short of 256 to get into the field, this week has us six over. So now we're reintroducing teams that the playoff point cut line, something that has not been needed to set the field for four weeks.
When you are adding spots, you also have to consider what is happening to cause you to remove others. Certainly there were teams that lost this week that were not expected to, but seemingly many of those teams had a cushion that will probably still allow them to get in.
A few notables where that was not the case were Oak Park-River Forest, Evanston and Metamora. Oak Park-River Forest and Metamora both still are in the hunt with four losses, but each face at least one more daunting regular season game.
What you'll also notice is a rather significant shift on the class breaks, because while the listed schools in the above paragraph all come from the larger classifications, the ones that fought their way in (Seneca, VIlla Grove, Orangeville, Biggsville West Central) all come from classifications from Class 1A to Class 3A. The line pushed many schools from smaller classifications to larger ones and it was a shift of about four schools each across the board because of it.
East St. Louis watch: Pretty much every single team on the bubble shifted up into a larger classification this week and it was no different from East St. Louis.
Last week East St. Louis resided in slot 159, the second-largest school in Class 5A. This week they find themselves in slot 164, five teams deep in the Class 6A draw. Obviously things could change, and almost certainly will, but this trend indicates it might be less likely that the Flyers end up in Class 5A than originally believed.
Class 8A
Smallest school: Glenbard North
New teams added to the field: Glenbard North, Plainfield East, Glenbard East
Teams removed from the projection: Marist, Oak Park-River Forest, Evanston
The new teams moved around the bracket were largely in the bottom portion of the draw. Glenbard East's addition however led to a team being moved into the top ten seeds and a little bit of shifting of teams around the middle of the draw (11 through 16 seeds).
Class 7A
Smallest school: Yorkville
Largest school: Downers Grove North
New teams added to the field: Yorkville (was in 6A), Reavis (was in 6A), Thornton (was in 6A), Blue Island Eisenhower, Downers Grove North, Chicago Lincoln Park
Teams removed from the projection: Glenbard East (now in 8A), Plainfield East (now in 8A), St. Charles North, Alton, Jacobs, Hoffman Estates.
This is where you begin to see the shifting of the bubbles. The move up by several teams to fill vacant spots in the 8A bracket changed the bubble line which required that several formerly 6A teams were moved up to fill the remaining spots in the draw. The top half of the draw didn't change very much, but almost none of the matchups from a week ago remain intact.
Class 6A
Smallest school: Kankakee
Largest school: Thornwood
New teams added to the field: Kankakee (was in 5A), East St. Louis (was in 5A), Sycamore (was in 5A), Morgan Park (was in 5A), Dunlap (was in 5A), Crystal Lake South
Teams removed from the projection: Danville (points issues), Thornton (now in 7A), Blue Island Eisenhower (now in 7A), Reavis (now in 7A), Vernon Hills (points issues), Yorkville (now in 7A).
The field continues its shift. Five teams formerly in Class 5A moved up into the 6A field and they altered things significantly in terms of the bracket.
Teams added to the field assumed the top seed on both sides of the bracket in Sycamore and East St. Louis.
Class 5A
Smallest school: Peoria Notre Dame
Largest school: LaSalle-Peru
New teams added to the field: Peoria Notre Dame (was in 4A), Hyde Park (was in 4A), St. Viator (was in 4A), Evergreen Park, Morris (was in 4A), St. Laurence.
Teams removed from the projection: East St. Louis (now in 6A), Kankakee (now in 6A), Dunlap (now in 6A), Metamora, Chicago Morgan Park (now in 6A), Sycamore (now in 6A).
St. Laurence made the biggest move among teams in this group, punching their way back into consideration with a win over Brother Rice. Evergreen Park also appears to have a path in a chaotic middle of the pack in the South Suburban. Other than that this was yet another example of some significant field shifting.
Class 4A
Smallest school: Roxana
Largest school: Mount Zion
New teams added to the field: Roxana, Tolono Unity (was in 3A), Wood River-East Alton (was in 3A), Benton (was in 3A), Kewanee (was in 3A), Manteno
Teams removed from the projection: Peoria Notre Dame (now in 5A), Morris (now in 5A), Hyde Park (now in 5A), St. Viator (now in 5A), Chicago Sullivan (now in 5A), Chicago King (now in 5A).
This field was obviously changed substantially because of the new teams entered and departed due to the shift. However, another substantial change came in terms of mapping. The dividing line moved from being near Coal City/Bishop McNamara to farther south closer to central Illinois, which meant moving a potential undefeated team in Illinois Valley Central from the South Bracket to the North Bracket.
Class 3A
Smallest school: Durand
Largest school: Chicago Clark
New teams added to the field: Durand (was in 2A), Alton Marquette (was in 2A), Chicago Phoenix, Seneca
Teams removed from the projection: Wood River-East Alton (now in 4A), Tolono Unity (now in 4A), Benton (now in 4A), Kewanee (now in 4A).
The bracket shift led to a pretty substantial shift in the North Bracket, as more and more Chicago Public League teams seem to be landing on that side of things.
Class 2A
Smallest school: Arthur
Largest school: Breese Mater Dei
New teams added to the field: Arthur (was in 1A), Fithian Oakwood (was in 1A), Carmi White County, Villa Grove
Teams removed from the projection: Durand (now in 3A), Alton Marquette (now in 3A), Nokomis (points issues), Gillespie
Not a lot of substantial changes to this group, the shifting finally slowed down as the spaces needed to fill decreased.
Class 1A
Largest school: Athens
New teams added to the field: Orangeville, Biggsville West Central
Teams removed from the projection: Fithian Oakwood (Now in 2A), Arthur (now in 2A).
Think the small schools don't affect the big ones?
Consider the case of the two schools added this week in 1A. Orangeville, the state's smallest enrolled school that plays football, toppled Stockton in a substantial upset. Biggsville West Central surprised Cambridge-Ridgewood a team that entered that game with a 5-1 record. Both wins created spots for those teams that wouldn't have been there before. Both of the teams that lost still look to be in the field. So two spots had to be created, which bumped out two significantly larger schools. So the field shifted several teams in basically every class.