Usually, the math is pretty simple: When you win more games than you lose, you go to the playoffs.
Occasionally, though, that simple math doesn’t quite work the way it should.
Since 2000, the number of playoff-eligible teams to finish with a winning record but still miss the playoffs is short: Saratoga in 2013 (5-3), Greybull in 2011 (6-4) and Sheridan in 2007 (5-4). (Riverton finished 6-4 in 2002 and did not make the playoffs, but was 4-4 in the regular season before winning the consolation playoffs. Remember those?)
Prior to 2000, missing the playoffs with a winning record was more common, in part because many classifications still only had four teams reach the postseason. However, some programs still finished with winning records in classifications with eight-team brackets only to miss the playoffs, usually because of a poor conference record but a strong nonconference stretch. That included two programs in 1999, Sundance (6-3) and Meeteetse (4-3), the last time two teams with winning records missed the playoffs in eight-team brackets in the same year.
But 1999 has nothing on 1994, when four teams with winning records in classifications with eight-team brackets — Tongue River, Greybull, Lingle and Guernsey-Sunrise — all missed the playoffs. All four finished 4-3.
The last team to be victimized two years in a row in this way was Ten Sleep, which finished with winning records in 1996 (5-2) and 1997 (4-3) but missed the playoffs both times in eight-team brackets.
The last two-loss team to miss the playoffs was Lyman, which went 6-2 in 1998 but missed the playoffs in the four-team Class 2A bracket. The last one-loss team to miss the playoffs was Wright in 1988; the Panthers were 7-1 but did not make the four-team 2A playoffs.
(Note that Lusk finished 7-0 in 1991 and 8-0 in 1992 but did not qualify for the playoffs, as the Tigers were not eligible for the playoffs those years.)