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Dana White responds to reports of UFC 249 happening at Tachi Palace Casino – BJPENN.COM



On Tuesday night, the New York Times reported that UFC 249, which has been without an official location for several weeks, will go down at the Tachi Palace Casino on tribal land in California. UFC President Dana White refuses to confirm that report, insisting that all that matters is that the card will be viewable on ESPN.

“We’re going to be live from ESPN,” White told ESPN Get Up! host Mike Greenberg when asked where UFC 249 will occur. “It doesn’t matter where it is. First of all, no fans can come. You can’t come to the fight, you can’t buy a ticket. The only place to watch this in the United States is on ESPN and that’s the only thing that matters.

“I know that several news sources are putting out places where they think it is,” White added, referencing the New York Times report. “ESPN is where it is. That’s all you need to know.”

Greenberg then pressed White, asking him point-blank to comment on the New York Times report.

“What you’re referring to is the New York Times is reporting that UFC 249 will be held on tribal land in California,” Greenberg asked White. “Can you react to that?”

“ESPN,” White responded, side-stepping the question.

“So now confirmation whatsoever,” Greenberg replied, perfectly summing up the UFC boss’s response.

White has been adamant that he intends to keep the location of UFC 249 a secret to keep the “creeps” away — which explains his reluctance to confirm the New York Times report.

“There’s a lot of creepy people out there, you know? And when they find out the location, they start attacking the location and making phone calls,” White told ESPN earlier this week.

“So (keeping the location a secret) keeps the creeps at bay.”

What do you think of these comments from UFC President Dana White? Where do you think UFC 249 will happen?

This article first appeared on on 4/8/2020.

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Predictions for all 8 Stanley Cup qualifying round series | Offside – Daily Hive



Betway is a leading provider of first-class entertainment across sports betting and casino. Since 2006 it has been at the forefront of the online gambling industry, utilizing the very latest technologies to provide innovative and interactive gaming experiences in a secure environment.

They’re not technically the playoffs, but they’re not the regular season either.

When Gary Bettman announced the details of the NHL’s return-to-play plan earlier this week, he introduced us to a new term.

The eight best-of-five series will look and feel like the Stanley Cup playoffs (other than the lack of fans in attendance), but it will in fact be known as the “qualifying round.”

Call it whatever you want; for hockey fans, this is a godsend.

In what amounts to a 24-team Stanley Cup tournament, 16 teams will compete for a chance to play one of the top four teams in each conference. We don’t know exactly when or where it’ll take place yet, but we do know the matchups.

Western Conference

Edmonton Oilers (5) vs Chicago Blackhawks (12)

Are Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl enough to beat the Chicago Blackhawks? The oddsmakers certainly think so.

Perhaps that’s unfair to the rest of the Oilers, who played much better under new head coach Dave Tippett, but no other team in the league can boast two stars as dominating as Edmonton’s.

Prediction: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith won’t let Chicago get swept, but Edmonton’s star players are in their prime and will overpower them. Oilers in 4.

Nashville Predators (6) vs Arizona Coyotes (11)

  • Odds:
    • Arizona Coyotes +105
    • Nashville Predators -125

The Arizona Coyotes haven’t made the playoffs since 2012 and looked poised to qualify earlier this season. They traded for Taylor Hall but they didn’t exactly take off after the acquisition.

Nashville, conversely, has made the playoffs in five straight seasons. Are they a sleeping giant or a team that’s over the hill?

Prediction: The pause will help Arizona, a team that’s already used to playing in empty arenas. Coyotes in 5.

Vancouver Canucks (7) vs Minnesota Wild (10)

  • Odds:
    • Minnesota Wild +120
    • Vancouver Canucks -140

These two teams last met in the playoffs in 2003 when Minnesota overcame a 3-1 series deficit to upset the Canucks. Vancouver is favoured this time around, too, in a matchup of opposites.

The Canucks are led by young stars like Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, and Brock Boeser. Conversely, many of the Wild’s star players, like Ryan Suter, Eric Staal, Zach Parise, and Mats Zuccarello, are in their 30s.

Prediction: Jacob Markstrom will outperform Alex Stalock in goal, and Vancouver’s young stars will excel while Minnesota struggles to shake off the rust. Canucks in 4.

Calgary Flames (8) vs Winnipeg Jets (9)

  • Odds:
    • Winnipeg Jets -110
    • Calgary Flames -110

Oddsmakers are split on a matchup between the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets. These two teams played just once during the regular season, a 2-1 overtime win by Calgary at the Heritage Classic in Regina.

Both teams have dangerous forwards, but the Flames have the unquestioned advantage on defence, as Winnipeg’s blue line was decimated in the past 12 months. But the Jets have the clear advantage in goal, where Connor Hellebuyck posted one of the best save percentages in the NHL (.922).

Prediction: Hellebuyck will keep Winnipeg in every game, but David Rittich will step up to minimize the advantage. Flames in 5.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins (5) vs Montreal Canadiens (12)

  • Odds:
    • Montreal Canadiens +170
    • Pittsburgh Penguins -190

In the biggest mismatch on paper, instead of preparing for the NHL Draft, the Montreal are getting a shot at the Stanley Cup. They were 10 points back of a playoff spot when the season paused, while the Penguins are one of the best teams in the league, eyeing another Stanley Cup.

But in a short series, anything is possible, and the Habs have Carey Price. They’ve also got nothing to lose, and that might be a scary proposition for Sidney Crosby and company.

Prediction: This series will be competitive, but Pittsburgh’s quality will rise above the Canadiens. Penguins in 4.

Carolina Hurricanes (6) vs New York Rangers (11)

  • Odds:
    • New York Rangers +130
    • Carolina Hurricanes -150

After a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Final last year, the Carolina Hurricanes aren’t exactly a Cinderella team this time around. They’re favoured to beat the New York Rangers, who have one player that should scare them: Artemi Panarin.

Panarin finished tied for third in league scoring with 95 points, but Carolina is deep up front and on defence, and should come out on top.

Prediction: With last year’s experience under their belts, the Canes know how to win in the playoffs and they’re still a team on the rise. Hurricanes in 3.

New York Islanders (7) vs Florida Panthers (10)

  • Odds:
    • Florida Panthers -120
    • New York Islanders +100

The Florida Panthers are the only team the oddsmakers like that are below their opponent both in terms of overall points, and points percentage. New York Islanders fans surely will feel slighted by it, but maybe they shouldn’t.

The Islanders limped into the pause, losing seven straight games, and 11 of their last 13. The Panthers weren’t exactly rolling either though.

Prediction: The Panthers have the better team on paper, but the Islanders have Barry Trotz’ suffocating system. Islanders in 5.

Toronto Maple Leafs (8) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (9)

  • Odds:
    • Columbus Blue Jackets +140
    • Toronto Maple Leafs -160

They might still have to play the Boston Bruins on their journey to the team’s first Stanley Cup since 1967, but the Toronto Maple Leafs will get a bit of a break against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But despite a talented lineup, the Leafs will need to be careful against Columbus, who swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs one year ago. The Blue Jackets don’t have star power like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, or John Tavares, but they do have a plucky group with excellent defence and good goaltending.

Look out.

Prediction: The Blue Jackets will indeed give Toronto a scare, but there won’t be an upset. Leafs in 5.

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Jack Eichel 'fed up with the losing' as Buffalo Sabres' playoff drought hits nine years – ESPN



Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel said he’s “fed up” with the franchise’s futility after the team’s ninth straight season without a playoff berth, which covers the entirety of the 23-year-old star’s career.

“Listen, I’m fed up with the losing and I’m fed up and I’m frustrated. You know, it’s definitely not an easy pill to swallow right now. It’s been a tough couple of months. It’s been a tough five years with where things have [gone],” Eichel said on a conference call Thursday. “I’m a competitor. I want to win every time I’m on the ice. I want to win a Stanley Cup every time I start a season.”

Eichel was drafted second overall in 2015 by the Sabres. In 354 NHL games, he has 337 points. That includes 36 goals and 42 assists in 68 games this season — which was cut short on March 12 when the NHL paused for the coronavirus pandemic — leading Buffalo in both of those categories as well as points (78).

But despite his efforts, the Sabres finished 13th in the Eastern Conference at 30-31-8 (68 points), failing to make the cut for the 24-team postseason “return to play” format the NHL announced this week. Eichel has yet to appear in an NHL playoff game during his five-year career. He’s had two general managers and three different coaches during that span.

The Sabres announced that general manager Jason Botterill will return next season. Eichel praised coach Ralph Krueger for his work during his first season on the Buffalo bench.

“I’d be lying if I said that I’m not getting frustrated with where things are going and I think we took a step this year, but I will say it’s been a pleasure working with Ralph. He does so much for our group every day. There are tough times and he does an amazing job of … narrowing our focus and getting us back to where we need to be mentally,” Eichel said. “And just the few times that I’ve spoken with him, you know, throughout this quarantine, whatever you want to call it, it’s been good.”

Eichel said he remains dedicated to finding a way to lead his team to success.

“You know, I’ve already started preparing for next season now. I’m already back on the ice, I’m already training, I’m already doing things to try and better myself for the start of next season, whenever that is,” he said. “But yeah, I’m definitely not in the greatest place with where the last little bit’s [gone], and it’s definitely worn on me.”

Eichel wasn’t the only Sabres player to express frustration on Thursday. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who hasn’t made the playoffs in his seven-year career in Buffalo, is also tired of the team never breaking through to becoming a contender.

“Buffalo has a bright future, but we’ve been [talking about] the bright future for seven years now, and I’m not sure when it is,” he said.

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Will a New Playoff Format Alter the Fate of the NBA’s Title Race? – The Ringer



All indications are that the NBA will resume play at a closed environment within Disney World, most likely in late July. Left more uncertain is what, exactly, the schedule will look like. With a variety of possible structures generating buzz in recent days, it’s conceivable that the postseason format will be as abnormal as the season preceding it.

The day-to-day rhythm of the playoffs will change depending on the format—but will the eventual structure impact teams’ chances of advancing and winning a championship? To investigate, we can use a prediction model—based mostly on regular-season point differential, a strong predictor of future success and a strong historical basis for playoff predictions—with tweaks for the various possibilities, and compare the results.

Today we’ll look at four potential scenarios: a standard playoff format with 16 teams and conferences intact; a conferenceless format with 16 teams seeded straight through, regardless of East/West affiliation; an expanded format with 20 teams and play-in games for the bottom seeds in the bracket; and a World Cup–style format, as outlined by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, with 20 teams and a group stage round.

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1. Standard Format

We’ll start with the simplest and most familiar-looking bracket. If the NBA used the standings as they stood when the season came to a halt on March 11, some teams like the Pelicans might complain about being deprived the opportunity to chase the no. 8 seed, and others like the Rockets might complain about unlucky seeding. But the regular season was mostly complete by the time the COVID-19 pandemic forced a league shutdown. There isn’t a perfect solution; going with familiarity might be the best option.

This system would function the same as any standard playoff bracket, just without home-court advantage. Yet that advantage doesn’t typically have a major impact on playoff odds; it really only matters in a potential Game 7, which doesn’t occur all that often, and even then isn’t ironclad. The higher-seeded team usually wins a playoff series because it’s better, not because it has an extra game at home.

So while teams lose a few points of playoff odds without home court—Milwaukee’s title odds, for instance, drop 4 percentage points on neutral courts, according to this model—the differences aren’t staggering. If the NBA doesn’t make any other changes to the playoff format, either via shorter series or the kinds of structural changes discussed below, the bracket will look fairly routine. Here’s the baseline expectation:

2020 Playoff Odds, Normal 16-Team Bracket

TeamSeedSecond RoundThird RoundFinalsTitle
TeamSeedSecond RoundThird RoundFinalsTitle
MIL1 East98%90%72%57%
LAL1 West92%72%46%17%
TOR2 East89%52%14%7%
LAC2 West53%37%19%6%
BOS3 East75%39%10%5%
DEN3 West46%14%4%1%
MIA4 East59%6%2%1%
UTA4 West55%15%6%1%
IND5 East41%3%1%<1%
OKC5 West45%11%3%<1%
PHI6 East25%7%1%<1%
HOU6 West54%18%6%1%
BRK7 East11%2%<1%<1%
DAL7 West47%31%15%4%
ORL8 East2%1%<1%<1%
MEM8 West8%2%<1%<1%

Three surprising takeaways emerge on first blush. The first is the Bucks’ predominance, which is echoed in other projection systems from Basketball-Reference, ESPN’s BPI, and ESPN writer Kevin Pelton. There’s much more to say about Milwaukee’s robust fortunes, but let this chart suffice for now. In addition to these Bucks, 11 teams in NBA history have posted the point differential of a 65-win season or better; eight of those 11 teams won a title, a ninth lost to another team on the list, and a 10th famously blew a 3-1 lead in the Finals.

Best NBA Seasons by Point Differential (Prorated to 82 Games If Necessary)

TeamPythagorean WinsPlayoff Result
TeamPythagorean WinsPlayoff Result
1996 Bulls69.6Won title
1997 Bulls67.5Won title
1971 Bucks67.3Won title
2016 Spurs67.1Lost in second round
2008 Celtics67.0Won title
1972 Lakers66.9Won title
2017 Warriors66.7Won title
1972 Bucks66.1Lost in conference finals (to 1972 Lakers)
2020 Bucks65.7???
1992 Bulls65.6Won title
2016 Warriors65.3Lost in Finals
2015 Warriors65.0Won title

The second takeaway is the model’s pessimism toward the Clippers. Anyone reading this piece—and writing this piece—probably thinks L.A. has better than a 6 percent chance to lift the trophy; in its case in particular, with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George missing many games, the regular-season numbers could underestimate the team’s potential.

If we adjust the Clippers’ baseline expectation by considering only the 32 games that Leonard and George played together, and not the team’s entire body of work, their Finals odds jump from 19 to 32 percent, and their title odds double from 6 to 13 percent. Those odds still aren’t too high for two reasons, though: First, even with both stars playing, the Clippers posted a much worse point differential than the Bucks (plus-8.4 points per game, versus plus-11.3 for Milwaukee). And second, the Clippers would still be forced into an unpleasant first-round series.

That takes us to takeaway number three: Dallas is an excellent team and, based on its underlying numbers, a sneaky pick to make a deep playoff run if the bracket allows for it.

Best 2019-20 Teams by Point Differential

TeamNet RatingSeed
TeamNet RatingSeed
Bucks10.71st (East)
Lakers7.11st (West)
Clippers6.42nd (West)
Raptors6.42nd (East)
Celtics6.13rd (East)
Mavericks5.87th (West)
Rockets3.46th (West)
Jazz3.34th (West)
Nuggets3.13rd (West)
Heat3.04th (East)

Six teams this season have a net rating better than plus-3.5 points per 100 possessions. Five are top-three seeds in their respective conferences; the last team is Dallas, all the way down in seventh place in the West. Thanks in large part to the most efficient offense in recorded NBA history, the Mavericks boast a point differential far better than that of every other second-tier contender. Perhaps that’s why Mark Cuban is so eager to ensure his team remains in the full playoff field and not forced into a play-in tournament—he knows his team has a real shot to advance a few rounds.

2. No Conferences

A second possible playoff format is much like the first, with 16 teams frozen in the standings as they were on March 11, but with conferences eliminated because travel concerns no longer apply. This scenario seems somewhat unlikely because of opposition from Eastern teams—but the math suggests they don’t actually have anything to worry about, at least for this season.

The 16-team setup would feature these matchups:

  • No. 1 Milwaukee vs. no. 16 Orlando
  • No. 8 Miami vs. no. 9 Oklahoma City
  • No. 4 Clippers vs. no. 13 Dallas
  • No. 5 Boston vs. no. 12 Philadelphia
  • No. 2 Lakers vs. no. 15 Brooklyn
  • No. 7 Utah vs. no. 10 Houston
  • No. 3 Toronto vs. no. 14 Memphis
  • No. 6 Denver vs. no. 11 Indiana

And this chart shows how each team’s odds would change for each round, as compared to the baseline scenario:

2020 Playoff Odds, Bracket With No Conferences

TeamSeedSecond RoundThird RoundFinalsTitle
TeamSeedSecond RoundThird RoundFinalsTitle
MIL198% (0 change)89% (0)72% (0)57% (0)
LAL291% (-1)69% (-3)44% (-2)16% (-1)
TOR390% (+1)67% (+16)35% (+21)11% (+4)
LAC453% (0)31% (-7)8% (-11)4% (-2)
BOS575% (0)38% (-2)10% (0)5% (0)
DEN657% (+11)18% (+5)6% (+1)1% (0)
UTA748% (-7)13% (-2)5% (-1)1% (0)
MIA855% (-3)6% (0)2% (0)1% (0)
OKC945% (0)4% (-7)1% (-2)<1% (0)
HOU1052% (-1)16% (-2)6% (0)1% (0)
IND1143% (+2)11% (+8)3% (+2)<1% (0)
PHI1225% (0)6% (-1)1% (0)<1% (0)
DAL1347% (0)25% (-6)6% (-9)3% (-1)
MEM1410% (+2)3% (+1)<1% (0)<1% (0)
BRK159% (-3)2% (0)<1% (0)<1% (0)
ORL162% (0)1% (0)<1% (0)<1% (0)

The greatest beneficiary would be, surprisingly, Toronto. The difference isn’t particularly noticeable for the first round (neither Brooklyn, without Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant, nor Memphis should give the Raptors trouble), but it manifests in the second. Toronto vs. Boston, a likely second-round matchup in the standard format, would be an effective toss-up (52-48 percent in the Raptors’ favor), while Toronto would have a theoretically easier time defeating the Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets, or Pacers in the second round of a conferenceless setup. The Raptors would also get to avoid the Bucks—the league’s best team on paper—until the Finals, as opposed to facing them a round earlier in a world with conferences.

Beyond Toronto, Denver would benefit from an easier first-round opponent (Indiana, instead of Houston), while Utah would suffer from the reverse (Houston, instead of Oklahoma City). The Clippers’ odds would actually fall because of a brutal gauntlet of opponents: They’d still have to face the pesky Mavericks in the first round, then potentially the Celtics in the second, then the Bucks, and then the Lakers. That’s four of the five best teams by point differential in the league (not counting themselves).

For the most part, though, the odds aren’t all that different from team to team. Differences of just 1 or 2 percentage points aren’t worth any attention, and especially after the first round, larger gaps between the two formats don’t appear very often. Of course, the Bucks would be anxious to avoid a potential matchup with the fourth-seeded Clippers in the semifinal round, and as we mentioned above, the pure odds are underselling L.A.’s potential. Even then, however, given the Bucks’ statistical superiority and the Clippers’ difficult route through the first two rounds, the Bucks wouldn’t see their odds drop by a prohibitive amount using the adjusted Clippers numbers—only falling from 57 to 54 percent, with L.A.’s title odds rising from 4 to 10 percent and other teams’ shifting imperceptibly.

3. Play-in Games

Another playoff structure with support among general managers expands the field with a play-in tournament, although the logistical details of such a tournament aren’t yet clear. To project this sort of scenario, we adopted a miniature version of the boss’s Entertaining-as-Hell idea and pitted the no. 9 seed Wizards and no. 10 seed Hornets in a single-game matchup in the East, with the winner taking on the no. 8 seed Magic in a single game to determine which team would face the Bucks. Out West, no. 9 Portland matched against no. 10 New Orleans, with the winner taking on no. 8 Memphis to determine which team advanced to play the top-seeded Lakers. (Sacramento and New Orleans have the same record, so the NBA would need to figure out a mechanism to break this tie; for the sake of illustration, we used the Pelicans, who hold the tiebreaker in the current standings.)

Single Elimination Play-in Odds

TeamSeedAdvancement Odds
TeamSeedAdvancement Odds
ORL8 East63%
WAS9 East25%
CHO10 East13%
MEM8 West50%
POR9 West23%
NOP10 West27%

While this scenario removes some possibility of the Magic and Grizzlies making the “real” first round, it barely budges any odds beyond the play-in round itself. The no. 1 seeds are already so dominant that a first-round upset is unlikely, and it’s not as if the Wizards or Hornets have a better chance to defeat Milwaukee than the Magic do. (In fact, the Hornets are so poor, with the fourth-worst Pythagorean record in the NBA, that a Bucks vs. Hornets playoff series would register as the most lopsided playoff matchup in the entire 65-year shot clock era, even without the Bucks’ typical home-court advantage.)

Milwaukee’s baseline odds to make the second round are 97.7 percent. Add in the play-in tournament and those odds scarcely move, to 98.3 percent. The Lakers’ odds evince an even smaller change, from 92.3 percent to 92.4 percent. And because the no. 8 seeds were so unlikely to advance very far anyway, and because the difference in team quality between, say, the Grizzlies and Trail Blazers/Pelicans is already meager, the ripple effects beyond the first round are negligible.

In other words: A play-in tournament would affect early entertainment only—not the actual challenge for any team outside the current no. 8 seeds, nor any future portion of the bracket.

4. Bring on the Vuvuzelas

Now we’re in for a much greater change, with the World Cup–style group stage proposal discussed at The Ringer this week. Essentially, this structure would replace the first round of the playoffs with a larger group stage, with 20 teams (the 16 current playoff teams, plus the next four in the standings: Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, and San Antonio) drawn into four groups of five teams apiece. The teams would be placed into tiers, with one team drawn from each tier to form a group, and then two of the five teams in each group advancing to the second round.

The tiers would shape in descending order of record, meaning:

  • Tier 1: Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers
  • Tier 2: Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat
  • Tier 3: Thunder, Rockets, Pacers, 76ers
  • Tier 4: Mavericks, Grizzlies, Nets, Magic
  • Tier 5: Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs

The implications of this scenario are less clear than the others, in part because it’s wider afield from normal and because the placement of teams into groups means more randomness versus a strictly seeded bracket. So to make sense of the situation, we ran a bunch of simulations, generating possible groups, predicting the chances that each team would advance, and averaging all the results.

Also, because the World Cup scenario is really a hybrid playoff format, with regular best-of-seven series after the initial group stage cuts the field to eight final teams, we projected just that first round to see how teams’ odds of reaching the final eight would change.

2020 Simulated Playoff Odds After Group Stage

TeamTierSecond RoundChange from Baseline
TeamTierSecond RoundChange from Baseline

First, the Clippers would be thrilled—their odds would rocket upward because they’d no longer be guaranteed to face the Mavericks. Denver’s odds would also remain stable because they wouldn’t necessarily face Houston. But every other team in the top 10 would see its second-round chances fall, with the drops ranging from 4 to 14 percentage points. The favorites would still be favored, of course, but not by as much; it seems that a group stage really would increase the chances for chaos in the playoff bracket.

That randomness might make for a more entertaining spectacle; of all the major American sports, basketball sticks closest to the expected script in its postseason. Fans like upsets.

And in this scenario, also-rans in a typical season would have a real chance to make noise in the playoffs. The four new teams added to the bracket—the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, and Spurs—all have low advancement odds individually, but taken together, there would be a roughly 30 percent chance that one of those four advanced. In that same vein, odds for Orlando and Memphis rise, even if they’re still low, because those teams would be able to play some easier opponents than the Bucks and Lakers, respectively.

Yet fans also like watching stars compete in the late playoff rounds, and it stretches the imagination to think that the NBA would artificially reduce the chances that LeBron James advances. As Kevin explained, one way to advantage the top teams in a World Cup scenario would be to give the teams from better tiers the tiebreaker in the event of a tied record—so if the Lakers and Grizzlies each finished 5-3 to tie for second place in their group, the Lakers would advance by virtue of their superior regular-season record. (The above odds reflect this tiebreak instruction.) That advantage matters; if every team were equally talented, the teams from better tiers would receive a decent boost because of the tiebreaker alone.

Group Stage Advancement Odds With All Teams Equal in Talent

TierFirst Place OddsSecond Place OddsAdvancement Odds
TierFirst Place OddsSecond Place OddsAdvancement Odds

But there’s also a great deal more uncertainty in this scenario, even with that advantage. Beyond suppressing odds in the higher tiers, the World Cup setup would also add more variability to teams’ possible outcomes. Different teams’ chances could fluctuate wildly depending on the luck of the draw.

For instance, in one simulation, the Lakers nabbed a group with the Celtics (the best Tier 2 team), the Rockets (the best Tier 3 team), the Mavericks (the best Tier 4 team), and the Pelicans (the best Tier 5 team). In that scenario, the Lakers would still be favored to advance—but only 71 percent of the time. Conversely, if the Lakers were drawn with the worst teams in every tier, their advancement odds would rise to 87 percent. That’s a wide range based entirely on luck, and one the NBA might not want to pursue with so many eyeballs on the line.

Kevin laid out a number of attractive reasons for a World Cup scenario: more games, more variety, and more immediate stakes. Yet there would be some cost, as well—in this case, some real chances for the league’s best and most popular teams to advance to the later knockout rounds. Those teams are understandably resistant to the idea. The entire planning process for an unprecedented postseason involves tradeoffs; here would be just one more on the pile.

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