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I had intended to get a post up about Points Per Play predictions earlier in the week, but kind of fell behind on that...so instead, you get that, the GPS Weekly preview, the podcast, and one other fun stat I came across this week, all in one massive, packed-and-ready-to-go blog post.

First, the video.

GPS Weekly Preview - Semifinals

Here's a link to this week's podcast, where we discuss this weekend's semifinals in AA, A and B. For more info on subscribing for free through the iTunes Music Store, click here.

Now, some more analysis on the AA semifinals, using the Points Per Play stat, after the jump.

What follows are a team's PPP up this point (regular season, plus one playoff game).

Great Falls CMR vs. Billings West When CMR has the ball... CMR offense: 0.48 PPP West defense: 0.16 PPP allowed

Throughout the regular season, the Rustlers posted 17 or more points in every game except for one: their loss to West, where they scored seven. Also from that game, West also held CMR to its lowest PPP of the season, an absurdly low 0.13. Except, that absurdly low PPP isn't that absurd at all, since West, on average, posted a defensive PPP of 0.16. Point being, what looked like an extraordinary defensive effort may have been slightly better than average when compared to what West has done all season long. By the PPP numbers, CMR isn't as explosive as Flathead, who West just waxed by 43 points.

But two things have to be taken into consideration. Against Flathead, the Bears benefited from some really silly turnovers (like hiking the ball over your 6' 8" quarterback multiple times). Against CMR, the Bears also benefited from some center-quarterback exchange problems, as well as the Rustlers losing their starting running back. Do those things make a difference in this game? Hard to say.

This part, however, I believe will make a difference. It's a lot easier to keep teams from scoring when you take the ball out of their hands, and West has done that better than anyone in the state with 29 takeaways and a +12 turnover margin the regular season. CMR, meanwhile, was a dismal -3, tied with Big Sky as lowest of any playoff team.

When West has the ball... West offense: 0.63 PPP CMR defense: 0.28 PPP allowed

Strong numbers by both teams, though like the first set of stats, West is again slightly ahead.

Thus far, the Bears have been more successful completing big plays, and more successful preventing them as well. Throughout the season, when a good PPP offense has matched up against a good PPP defense, the defense won in most cases. What's more, these teams enter the game ranked 1-2 in scoring and total defense. I would be surprised if we didn't see any big scoring plays (in fact, I'd expect a couple from both squads), but I'd also be surprised if we saw more than 30 total points from this game. I'm thinking we're in for a low-scoring, high-pressure game, close game.

Great Falls vs. Helena Capital When Great Falls has the ball... Great Falls offense: 0.44 PPP Capital defense: 0.30 PPP allowed

Hard to pick up too much from these stats, to be honest. Capital is above-average, yet not extraordinary, at preventing the big play. Great Falls is ok at completely big play, but just ok, not great, not that bad either. Let's move on to the other side of the ball and see if we can glean anything there.

When Capital has the ball... Capital offense: 0.81 PPP Great Falls defense: 0.30 PPP allowed

You see that? That ridiculous high PPP that Capital has posted? That's downright dangerous. The Bruins are scarily close to putting a point on the board every time they run a play. Great Falls is actually pretty good at preventing the big play, but even knocking Capital's high-octane offense down a few pegs means the Bruins are still more explosive than most teams on their best day.

What's more, check this out. This is using the Margin of Victory stat I discussed previously. Capital: +30 Great Falls: 5.73

Granted, they played slightly different schedules (Capital played Skyview twice and Butte, while Great Falls faced CMR and Big Sky), but I don't think that compensates for nearly a 25-point difference in MoV. Great Falls could pull their third-straight upset and knock off the defending champs, but the numbers suggest Capital wins in not-that-close fashion.

So what's your take? Any score predictions? Does West-CMR come down to the wire, like these numbers seem to suggest? And do you see the comfortable win for Capital that these numbers indicate?

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