Friday, March 4, 2022

Checking in on that super-easy prediction contest, in which several hundred of you are already out

One the even of the 2020-2021, I had an idea for a prediction contest. I admittedly didn’t put a ton of thought into it, but I liked the concept and thought it could be fun, so I threw together a call for entries. About 900 readers obliged, answering my eight “easy” questions about what would happen during that shortened season with as many or as few answers as they wanted. In the end, only one of those 900 entries was perfect, and it didn’t score well enough to win.

In other words, this thing was harder than it looked. So of course, the sequel had to be even tougher. This year’s version had ten questions, including one fiendish but optional bonus. Then again, we now had a proof-of-concept from year one that could guide your strategy, so maybe this would be no problem at all.

Halfway into the season, how’s everybody doing? Let’s take a look and see.

The short answer is that it’s a bit of a mixed bag, which is probably to be expected given how many entries we have to wade through. There are 1,554 of them, to be precise. (And thanks to readers Mike and William, I now have some tools to help me parse all the entries rather than doing it by hand.) As with last year, there are a few questions that look like they’ll be easy pickings and a few others that are causing big problems. The key is whether you could figure out which were which.

A quick reminder of the rules: You got ten simple and straightforward questions like “Name a GM who’ll definitely keep his job” or “Name a team that definitely won’t make the playoffs”, and you had to give at least one or as many as five answers. You get more points the more answers you give, but even one wrong answer gets you a zero for the question, so you had to balance the risk and reward when deciding how far to go.

This year’s edition of the contest can be found here, and you can search for your entry in Mike’s database here. Let’s run through the questions and see how it’s going.

1. Name up to five teams that will make the playoffs this year.

2. Name up to five teams that will not make the playoffs this year.

Simple enough, and last year both of these questions ended up being easy money, with only the Flyers tripping up more than a handful of entries. Otherwise, the teams that everyone knew would make the playoffs – like the Avalanche, Lightning, Golden Knights – cruised to their spots, and the consensus bad teams – like the Sabres, Senators, and Red Wings – all missed by a mile. Basically, you should have had a ton of points in the bank after these two questions, and if you didn’t then you were probably already out of the running.

That led to an obvious strategy for this year’s contest: Load up on with max answers on the first two questions. So how’s that working out?

Not great! This year’s standings have thrown some curveballs at us, and a whole lot of you are going to swing and miss. The big killer here is the Islanders, who showed up on about 900 entries as a sure-thing playoff team. They’re not mathematically eliminated yet (nobody is), but barring a miracle the majority of entries will be taking a zero on Question 1. And if you did dodge the Islanders, you still may not be out of the woods yet, as about 400 entries picked the Oilers and 140 had the Jets.

It could get even worse on Question 2, although the outlook here is better than it was looking a month ago. A whopping 1,200 entries had the Ducks as a team that wouldn’t make the playoffs, and they’ve been holding down a spot for most of the season. They’re fading now, but still in the race, so there will be some nervous eyes on Anaheim. If they can’t make a comeback then this question should be relatively safe, aside from a few dozen of you who had the Kings or Rangers on your list.

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