Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2018/19 First-Round Preview

The draws have been made for the first two qualifying rounds of the Champions League and the Europa League, so it's time to examine Scotland's path.

Where We Stand



Here are the rankings before this year's performance is added in. As a reminder, these rankings will affect qualification for the 2020/21 cycle. Scotland is 23rd for this cycle, and locked into 26th for the 2019/20 cycle. As another reminder, the countries ranked 18-24 are equivalent, so the thresholds we care about are the 17/18 drop and (more realistically) the 24/25 drop. (This year because of various things, 20-25 were equivalent, so the drops were 19/20 and 25/26.)

I consider the 2 point zone around Scotland to be their "neighborhood" and cut the charts from Bert Kassies' site to show that competition. Cyprus zoomed from 26th to 19th last year, so that kind of jump is not unprecedented.

First-Round Matches


As the second-place Scottish Premiership finisher, Aberdeen is spared first-round Europa League entry this year. On the other hand, the shuffle that put more teams from the big leagues into the group stages of the Champions League means Celtic faces first-round matches this year. So three teams with a potential for 1.5 points. Romania and Belarus field only one and two teams respectively this round, because of their previous higher rankings. Azerbaijan, Serbia, Kazakhstan and Bulgaria all field four, however.

Fourth-place finisher Hibs faces Runavik from the Faroe Islands. As I did last year, I will be using Clubelo.com to preview the matches. Runavik has an Elo of 897, while Hibs show up at 1296. A 399-point difference is massive, and should make Hibs the overwhelming favorites.

Third-place Rangers faces Shkupi of Macedonia. I don't have an Elo for Shkupi, but Rangers' is 1341, which is close to the top teams in the Macedonian league. Rangers should be favored, but it won't be a runaway.

In the Champions League, Celtic (Elo 1510) is up against Alashkert (Elo 995) of Armenia. This is a massive mismatch.

I'll expect 1.25 points, and all three teams to advance.

Second-Round Sneak Peak


As usual, the second-round draw happens at the same time, so let's see what lays in wait.

Should Hibs advance, they face Asteras Tripolis (Elo 1424), so they will have a tough path.

If Rangers goes on, they face the winner of Petrocub and Osijek (Elo 1438) -- so they will probably be underdogs to Osijek.

Aberdeen (Elo 1373) faces Burnley (Elo 1684), an unfair task for Derek McInnes' side.

Celtic would be up against the winner of Rosenborg (Elo 1494) and Valur (Elo 1161). By the Elo and their narrow win last year, Celtic should be only slight favorites.

It will be a tough second round, but they will have to make it there first.

I'll expect 1.25 points, and only Celtic to advance. It's really a rough draw.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Jazz Fest Hat, Part 2

In 2007, I posted a bunch of pictures of places I had been to in my favorite hat.
It's 2018, time for a new one:
Pictured: Las Vegas, Borneo, Frederick, Annapolis, Puerto Rico, Fallingwater, Seoul, Monterey, Hong Kong.


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Herndon Restaurant Project: Introduction

Seven years ago, when moving to Bowie, I started the Bowie Restaurant Project, with the goal of reviewing all the restaurants in Bowie. I got within two restaurants of finishing, then we moved, new restaurants opened, and I'm somewhat behind. I still work in Bowie, so I still do occasional reviews, but I am abandoning my quest for completeness there.

Now we live in Herndon, and I'm eager to start reviewing restaurants there. Let me review key similarities and highlight key differences between the two projects.

Key Similarities

  • The Town of Herndon has a restaurant guide I used as a starting point.
  • I got to send them a correction, too! (They had missed one restaurant I knew of.)
  • I am eliminating places that don't have dine-in options.
  • I am eliminating places that don't serve meals (for example, dessert-only locations).
Key Differences
  • I am not trying to be complete! Part of the motivation for the Bowie Restaurant Project was living and working there. I will have less chance to dine in Herndon. Also, Herndon dining is more expensive.
  • I will review restaurants when I feel like it, rather than requiring a certain number and type of visits. If I had been a teensy bit more relaxed about this, I would have actually finished the Bowie Restaurant Project.
  • Although I think the difference between Herndon town limits and Herndon mailing address is meaningful, we are moving out of those town limits, so I will, at least, consider anything in ZIP codes 20170 and 20171 to be Herndon for the purposes of this project.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Scottish Football: Two Matches to Go

There are two matches (per team) left in the Scottish Premiership, and it's time for a new program.

That's because there are only 4 games left that can affect the European participation. With only 3 possible outcomes for each game, that's 34=81 total possibilities. It's better to exhaust over all the possibilities versus randomly simulating them.

To recap, Celtic has sewn up first place, Kilmarnock is locked into 5th, and Hearts is guaranteed 6th. Aberdeen has 69 points, Rangers has 68, and Hibernian has 66. Aberdeen has Rangers and Celtic remaining, Rangers has Aberdeen and Hibs, and Hibs has Hearts and Rangers. It is either the case that second place gets a first-round bye for Europa League qualifying while the other two don't, or second and third get in the Europa League while fourth doesn't. So the outcome matters.

Rangers has goal differential of +26, Aberdeen +18 and Hibs +17. I am therefore going to assume Rangers wins any tiebreakers. If Aberdeen and Hibs both end up with 70 points, Aberdeen will end up with a negative differential in their last two games, with Hibs positive. In other cases, I will throw up my hands.

Of the 81 possible outcomes...
  • 29 have Aberdeen, Rangers, Hibs
  • 24 have Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibs
  • 14 have Aberdeen, Hibs, Rangers
  • 5 have Rangers, Hibs, Aberdeen
  • 3 have Hibs, Aberdeen, Rangers
  • 2 have Hibs, Rangers, Aberdeen
  • 2 have Rangers, and then a tiebreaker
  • 2 have a tiebreaker and then Rangers
If we assign the remaining tiebreakers randomly (why not?), that gives:
  1. Celtic 100%
  2. Aberdeen 54% Rangers 37% Hibs 9%
  3. Rangers 38% Aberdeen 36% Hibs 26%
  4. Hibs 67% Rangers 23% Aberdeen 10%
  5. Kilmarnock 100%
  6. Hearts 100%

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Scottish Football: Three Matches to Go

Well, last weekend's matches determined a couple of things. Celtic clinched the league, and thus the Champions Cup berth. Kilmarnock will do no better than fifth, and is thus out of Europe. (Whew.) Hibs, Aberdeen and Rangers are the Europa League entrants, if Celtic wins the Cup. In that case, all that is left to be determined is who gets the first-round bye.

If Motherwell wins the Cup, they're in Europe (with the first-round bye), and one of Hibs, Aberdeen and Rangers loses the game of musical chairs. It's not entirely clear whom. Here's what my simulation shows:
  1. Celtic 100%
  2. Aberdeen 60.5% Rangers 21.3% Hibs 18.2%
  3. Rangers 39.8% Hibs 33.0% Aberdeen 27.2%
  4. Hibs 48.7% Rangers 38.9% Aberdeen 12.3%
  5. Killie 99.6% Hearts 0.4%
  6. Hearts 99.6% Killie 0.4%

Here is where a weakness in my simulation comes in. Rangers and Hibs have both faced Celtic already; Aberdeen is up next. The projected higher finish for Aberdeen does not reflect that harder road ahead.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Scottish Football: Four Matches to Go

Since I wrote this crude simulation of the remainder of the Scottish Premiership (top half only), I thought I'd indicate where things stand after the first set of post-split fixtures:
  1. Celtic 99.6% Rangers 0.2% Aberdeen 0.2%
  2. Rangers 49.9% Aberdeen 39.0% Hibs 10.7% Celtic 0.4%
  3. Aberdeen 39.2% Rangers 35.8% Hibs 24.8% Kilmarnock 1.1%
  4. Hibs 61.9% Aberdeen 21.5% Rangers 13.9% Kilmarnock 2.6% 
  5. Kilmarnock 96.0% Hibs 2.6% Hearts 1.2% Rangers 0.1% Aberdeen 0.1%
  6. Hearts 98.8% Kilmarnock 1.2%
So basically, by beating Celtic, Hibs all but assured itself of a European slot assuming Celtic win the Cup. Kilmarnock all but played itself out of Europe, and Aberdeen and Rangers stayed on track for the two slots not dependent on the Cup outcome.