Odds say Tennessee has about a 57 percent chance of going to a bowl game

The Music City Bowl in 2010 was the last time Tennessee was in the postseason (Photo by Michael Patrick, News Sentinel)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — If all goes according to conventional wisdom, Tennessee’s chances of going to a bowl game after this season are about 57 percent.

How do we know that? Short answer: Math.

The long answer follows.

Remember those annoying but frighteningly accurate blog posts I did in an attempt to predict the Vols’ season? (You can review the preseason and mid-season versions here and here.)

The one flaw in those predictions was my inability to run a true simulation that would “play” the season many times over and over.

Well, I developed a makeshift Monte Carlo simulation using this spreadsheet. I only ran the simulation 1,000 times — ideally, I’d do it about 10,000 times, but I might break Google.

I used the following odds of winning for Tennessee’s final six games. (The process of obtaining these odds wasn’t arbitrary, but the percentages aren’t meant to be infallible. They’re just good estimates for the purposes of this exercise).

South Carolina — 33 percent

Alabama — 8 percent

Missouri — 40 percent

Auburn — 45 percent

Vanderbilt — 66 percent

Kentucky — 79 percent

Then I fed these odds into my Monte Carlo gizmo, and here are the results it spat out….

Likelihood of Tennessee finishing the season…

6-0: 0.20 percent

5-1: 4.92 percent

4-2: 17.83 percent

3-3: 34.84 percent

2-4: 30.33 percent

1-5: 10.04 percent

0-6: 1.84 percent

Bowl eligible? 57.79 percent

Not bowl eligible? 42.21 percent

When you open the spreadsheet, those numbers may change. Why? The simulation generates 1,000 new random numbers each time, essentially “playing” these six games another 1,000 times and generating new results.

[gdoc link=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AgBQnqCTaaxzdGZtNzJjVlRBb2lLWjllaF9QcFNrT1E&single=true&gid=0&output=html&widget=true” height=”450″]

If any math majors out there have any ideas on how to improve this model or make it easier, drop me a line.