The Balanced Schedule Leads to 6 teams at (5-2) or better.
In 2018 the schedule was based on a Round-Robin Schedule, but 8 games instead of a full 10 (which would have been each team playing each other).
So how is it determined which teams don’t play each other?
Well, the #1 factor was Travel. Cut out the two 500-mile trips; Fargo to Fox Valley & Sioux City to Fox Valley.
#2 was to keep previous rivalries, so previous West teams played each other and previous East teams played each other. From there it turned into trying to align Top Teams (similar to NFL, #1 West vs #1 East).
2. Sioux City (Champ from MFA)
3. St Paul
5. Battle Creek (later Renegades)
Med City was used as a flex team between the two divisions
2. River City
3. Chippewa Valley (later Vipers)
4. Fox Valley
So Minneapolis for example, plays the entire ‘West’ & then the 2-games they don’t play would be Hudson & Fox Valley – but due to Fox Valley travel, their 2 byes were already accounted for (Fargo/Sioux City), so Chippewa Valley turned into the 2nd bye.
Continuing with that method in the ‘East”, Northland plays all east teams and then avoids Battle Creek & Fargo.
The Fargo/Sioux City/Fox Valley caused a few adjustments to this model, as did the 11th team (Med City). A month later the Minnesota Vipers took over Chippewa Valley's schedule, and Granite City filled in for Battle Creek.
Here’s a look at travel, which was used to help determine Home/Away matchups (no teams travel to Both Fargo & Sioux City). Also, based on strength of schedule & close proximity, no teams traveled to Both St Paul & Minneapolis.
There were a lot of factors that were taken into account for the 2018 schedule and for the most part things have worked out as planned; we have 7 teams battling for playoff spots on the last week of the season, while seeds #2 through #5 are separated by 5 Points Against.
Things may get tricky - travel wise - in the post season, as it's possible for a team to have to travel to Fargo, Fox Valley, & Sioux City in a matter of 3 weeks. Or even for Fox Valley to travel 500+ miles in the first two rounds.
The schedule was designed to be as even as possible, and seedings/potential travel will come down to Points Against on the Last Week of the Season.