League 2 permutations: 14-15 Mar 2017

What’s possible

Here are the highest and lowest possible positions that each club can occupy after the forthcoming round of fixtures. I’ve drawn lines under the automatic promotion and play-off spots, mid-table and the last spot above the relegation zone on both “axes” for ease of reference.

These graphics are explained here, but in a nutshell I crunch through every possible combination of results to work out how far it’s mathematically possible for each club to rise and fall.

The top three aren’t going anywhere this week as they are all more than three points ahead of the team immediately beneath them. However three different clubs could sit in fourth and anyone down as far as 11th-placed Wycombe could wind up in the play-offs.

Leyton Orient are six points adrift of Hartlepool, which renders the bottom two a closed shop for the time being, but four other sides could sink to 22nd position after the midweek games.

What’s likely

The above shows what’s mathematically possible but doesn’t make any allowances for what’s likely to happen, so I’ve come up with a second graphic that uses my E Ratings prediction model (used to simulate the forthcoming round of games thousands of times) to assign some probabilities to all these potential changes.

It’s structured very similarly to the one above: the clubs are still listed in the same order as the current league table down the side and the dividing lines are all in the same place, but now across each row is the percentage chance of them moving to other positions in the table. As above, green indicates a rise, red a drop and grey staying put. The darker the red or green, the higher the probability. If there’s no number in a square, it means that the club didn’t fill that position in any of the thousands of simulations I ran and is therefore very unlikely.

With Stevenage away at Blackpool they’re likelier to fall than stay where they are, particularly as the two sides capable of overtaking them – Carlisle and Luton – are playing each other. Unless both matches end in a draw, failure to win for Boro will see them drop at least one place.

While it’s mathematically possible for Colchester or Wycombe to break into the top seven if they were to win and Exeter lose, the gulf in goal difference would require some improbably extreme results to overcome.