Which teams benefit from the AFL draw?
Rohan Connolly draws up some statistics to see which teams have an advantage and which clubs face an uphill battle from the 2013 AFL draw.PT0M0S 620 349
IF YOU accept the premise that the best-performed teams of the season gone should get the tougher end of the following year's fixture, you'd have to be fairly satisfied with the AFL draw for 2013.
In a handicapped fixture, this is, across-the-board, about as even as things are going to get, with some of the anomalies of 2012 removed.
As a rule, this year's top teams will be playing the bottom teams less and each other more. This year, eventual finalists Adelaide and North Melbourne played fledglings Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast twice. Next year, only strugglers Melbourne and Port Adelaide earn that relative free-kick.
Under a formula developed for assessing each club's fixture from a purely football perspective, which takes into account the five teams played twice, road trips, the home-versus-interstate side advantage and consecutive six-day breaks, seven of this year's top eight have the seven hardest draws in 2013.
There's always going to be the odd anomaly, however, and it's the 2012 finalist not among those toughest draws which is bound to raise some eyebrows, along with a team which just scraped into September.
Adelaide, according to my calculations, had officially the best draw of 2012, and despite coming within a kick of a grand final, has done well again, with a draw ranked seventh, playing only three of last season's top eight and none of the other members of the top four twice.
The Crows have got bigger fish to fry at the moment, but when the dust from the Kurt Tippett affair settles, their 2013 schedule will provide more than a little comfort when compared with their top-order rivals of this year.
North Melbourne, meanwhile, has paid a clear penalty of sorts for its status as a 2012 finalist. It has the second-hardest draw.
While the Kangaroos would be happy with the commercial aspects, with more appearances in the coveted Friday night timeslot and more games against the bigger-drawing teams, theirs is a classic case of the financial benefits of a fixture to a club often being at cross-purposes with its football ambitions.
Of the five teams the Roos play twice, four are finalists from 2012 - three of them top-four sides.
North Melbourne's start is a challenge, to say the least, with the first five games against Collingwood, Geelong, Sydney, the Brisbane Lions and Hawthorn.
The Roos have two trips to Perth, and eight six-day breaks - alongside West Coast - the most of any team. The only consolation is that none of those are back-to-back.
It's those short breaks that will be arguably Geelong's biggest challenge in preparation terms next season.
The Cats are the only team to have to deal with three consecutive six-day breaks, leading up to rounds two, three and four, and have another two back-to-back later on.
The Western Bulldogs, given their poor 2012, might also feel a little aggrieved with, by my reckoning, a harder road to negotiate than Adelaide, Essendon, Carlton or Richmond.