Month: September 2019

  • Less Madness More Chalk

    The first two days of March Madness came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. On Thursday, two of the first three games in the men’s tournament featured major upsets, with No. 14 seeds UAB and Georgia State defeating No. 3 seeds Iowa State and Baylor. Those games were enough to ruin more than 99 percent of people’s prefect brackets.Then No. 6 Southern Methodist lost to No. 11 UCLA on a terrible goaltending call. And No. 7 seed VCU lost to No. 10 Ohio State (although Ohio State had been favored according to Vegas odds and the FiveThirtyEight forecast).But that was pretty much it. In fact, the better seed won 23 consecutive games on Thursday evening and Friday until No. 11 Dayton finally beat No. 6 Providence late Friday night. (That game wasn’t much of an upset either: Dayton had a 49 percent chance per the FiveThirtyEight model.) Somehow No. 5 seeds even avoided their historic “curse,” going 4-0. Upset magic dissipated into a cloud of chalk.So where does 2015 rank historically? Is it an upset that there were so few upsets?I came up with a quick way to score upsets in the round of 64 in men’s tournaments since 1985, when the field expanded to 64 teams. Every time the inferior seed wins, it accumulates “upset points” based on the difference in seeding. (See the footnote for more detail.1More technically, upset points are based on the typical power ratings associated with each seed. On average, for instance, No. 4 seeds have a power rating 8 or 9 points better than No. 13 seeds, which means they’d be favored by 8 or 9 points on a neutral court. That translates into the No. 13 seed having a 79 percent chance of being defeated. When the inferior seed wins, its number of upset points is calculated as its probability of losing minus 50 percent. So when a No. 13 seed beats a No. 4, it gets 29 upset points (a 79 percent chance of losing minus 50 percent), for example.) The more unlikely an upset, the more upset points. When a No. 9 seed beats a No. 8, it gets just 2 upset points. But a No. 16 would score 49 upset points for beating a No. 1 (something that’s never happened in the men’s tournament.)This year, underdogs scored 105 upset points in the round of 64:No. 14 UAB got 37 upset points for beating Iowa StateNo. 14 Georgia State got 37 points for beating BaylorNo. 11 UCLA got 12 points for beating SMUNo. 11 Dayton got 12 points for beating ProvidenceNo. 10 Ohio State got 7 points for beating VCUThis total is below average, especially by the standard of recent tournaments. Last year, there were 130 upset points in the round of 64. In 2012 and 2013, there were 195 and 192, respectively, the highest totals since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. However, this year’s tournament hasn’t been an outlier, by any means. The first round of the 2000 tournament featured just 26 upset points, while 2007 had just 30.In theory, we might expect to see upsets increase as parity increases in the men’s game and the differences between the teams becomes smaller. And it might not be so surprising that there have been fewer of them in this year’s tournament, which bucked the trend toward greater parity.But the NCAA has also made one move to reduce the number of upsets: It’s gotten better about seeding the teams correctly. The FiveThirtyEight model had the inferior seed favored in only 3 of the 32 games between Thursday and Friday, as did Las Vegas odds.2In fact, the FiveThirtyEight model and Vegas had the same favorite in all 32 games. So while real upsets like UAB over Iowa State may be increasing, “fake upsets” like Ohio State over VCU are on the wane.Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions. read more

  • Pacman Jones Proves There Is Life After Roger Goodell

    Adam (Pacman) Jones has a criminal rap sheet that reads as long as a playbook. And yet there he was last night, picking off Peyton Manning in the Cincinnati Bengals’ victory over the Denver Broncos. Seeing him on the field brought to mind how far he apparently has grown since he had a run of trouble. Or maybe it’s just that he’s become skilled in the last year at not getting arrested.Jones, from Atlanta, has been fingerprinted so many times that it is hard to find an official count. The Cincinnati Inquirer says it’s “at least eight.” Whatever the number is, it’s a lot, too many to believe he could remain an NFL player, especially with Roger Goodell reigning over the league as the “Discipline Commissioner.”But his presence on the Bengals’ roster after so much drama speaks to two things: One, Jones has been authoring a redemption story for the ages, a man who seemed he would be run out of the league for his misdeeds not only remains, but is thriving. If nothing else, Jones has fortitude, which cannot be understated.His place on the field also shows that teams will forgive you if you have talent to help them win. Yes, the desire to win is insatiable, and that is why Jones and players like Donte Stallworth, who killed a man driving while under the influence, and Leonard Little, whose drunk driving killed a woman and her two children, were allowed to wear an NFL uniform again.Jones’ crimes have not been as heinous, but the aggregate total makes it startling that he is still around. Goodell, for all his toughness on player discipline, has allowed Jones back time and again. It also is a credit to him to have, perhaps, turn the corner on the boorish behavior, something many did not believe was in his makeup.But it has been a year since Jones has had any troubles. So, Pacman Jones leagues the comebacks suspensions. Hopefully, this new Jones is the Jones moving forward, and that his highlight reel will be exclusively about playing football. Hopefully. read more

  • 2017 NCAA Mens Tournament Preview

    Top seed: UNC (30 percent chance to win the region)Likeliest Cinderella: No. 10 Wichita State (24 percent chance to get to the Sweet 16)Hoo-boy. The South may not be the most loaded region, but it’s stocked with multiple Final Four contenders and a handful of legitimate Cinderella candidates.North Carolina held onto its No. 1 seed despite losing two of its last four games, including this season’s second loss to Duke, and that seed comes with a favorable draw. Carolina’s half of the region is soft compared to the piranha tank in the lower half. Arkansas and Seton Hall are both seeded basically in line with their metrics as No. 8 and No. 9 seeds, while No. 4 Butler is if anything a little over-seeded. The most dangerous team in the draw may be No. 12 Middle Tennessee State, which upset Michigan State as a No. 15 seed in last year’s tournament and this year comes in one rank ahead of first-round opponent Minnesota in FiveThirtyEight’s blended power rankings (44th to 45th).Our model’s favorite to make it out of the region, however, is No. 2 Kentucky, which edges UNC by a few tenths of a percentage point (both are about a 30 percent to make the Final Four). Kentucky’s most likely path is loaded with good teams (Wichita State, UCLA, UNC), but the Wildcats are rated more or less as strongly as UNC and pick up a big advantage once they reach the Sweet 16, which will be held in Memphis, about 350 miles from Kentucky’s campus. Likely Sweet 16 opponent UCLA would be traveling more than 1,600 miles, while Carolina has nearly 900 miles to go. Illustrations by Gluekit Midwest Region The bottom half of the bracket isn’t exactly filled with cupcakes, either. Many thought No. 2 Duke had a strong case for a No. 1 seed of its own after it tore through the ACC tournament, and the Blue Devils are finally playing like the team that entered the season ranked first in the AP’s rankings. Our model says there’s a 51 percent chance they’ll be waiting for Villanova when the Elite Eight tips off. And that’ll only happen if either SMU or Baylor — two of the 13 best teams in the country according to Pomeroy — don’t beat Duke to it.So in terms of the sheer number of potential upsets, it’s hard to find a No. 1 seed with anywhere near as dangerous a path as Villanova will face. But the Wildcats also have a tourney-best 15 percent chance of repeating as champs because they’re an uncommonly good team. According to FiveThirtyEight’s power ratings, only one team in the last four years — Kentucky’s ridiculously dominant 2015 squad — entered the tournament with a better power rating than ’Nova has now.Of course, those Wildcats served as a reminder that there are no sure things in March Madness. That Kentucky squad entered the tourney with nearly three times Villanova’s current title probability, and still lost. (At 15 percent, ’Nova has pretty weak odds for an overall favorite, on par with Louisville’s chances in 2014.) If Villanova does fail to repeat, they’ll have a legitimate beef with the selection process. The committee basically turned one of the most talented teams of the past few seasons into one of the weakest favorites, all because it threw the Wildcats into a region of death. Top seed: Villanova (40 percent chance to win the region)Likeliest Cinderella: No. 10 Marquette (9 percent chance to get to the Sweet 16) You’d think the defending-champion Villanova Wildcats could catch a break from the NCAA’s selection committee, given that they were considered the top overall seed in the whole tournament. But instead of getting a relatively favorable draw for their trouble, ’Nova ended up in what ranks as the most competitive region of all, at least according to FiveThirtyEight’s power ratings. And yet, our model still gives the Wildcats the highest championship probability of any team in the field. But the path is much harder than it might have been otherwise.Things start out relatively calmly for Jay Wright’s team, with games against a 16-vs.-16 play-in winner and the winner of No. 8 Wisconsin vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech. Neither round is likely to present a major threat to the Wildcats. But the degree of difficulty ramps up quickly because of the committee’s decision to seed Florida and Virginia — two of the nine best teams in the entire field according to the rankings of college-basketball stat whiz Ken Pomeroy — fourth and fifth in this region, respectively. The result will likely be a Gators-Cavs clash in the round of 32 that should be far better than games in that round usually are, and the winner could give Villanova a major headache in the Sweet 16. Our model gives ’Nova a 59 percent chance of powering through to the Elite Eight anyway, but the Wildcats’ title defense will be tested relatively early in the tourney.VIDEO: A No. 16 seed will win, but don’t bet on it Related: Hot Takedown West Region South Region Top seed: Kansas (38 percent chance to win the region)Likeliest Cinderella: No. 11 Rhode Island (15 percent chance to get to the Sweet 16)As expected, Kansas got the Midwest region’s No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Now we have to see if the Jayhawks can outswing a number of heavy-hitting offenses that got placed in the same bracket.The South, West and East regions got four, five and six of the nation’s top-25 offenses in their brackets, according to Pomeroy. But the Midwest somehow ended up with seven teams, including Oklahoma State (the most efficient offense in the country, per Pomeroy); Michigan (No. 5 offense, and one of the hottest teams the past month); and Iowa State (the lone team to win at Kansas), which closed the regular season with nine wins in 10 games.The Midwest likely boasts the best perimeter shooting, too, as six of its teams — Purdue, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Creighton, Iona and Kansas — rank in the top 20 nationally in 3-point percentage, according to Sports-Reference.com.Still, Kansas is the team most-favored to make it out of the region, according to FiveThirtyEight’s predictions (38 percent chance of making the Final Four). Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson were among the best scoring backcourts in America this season. But being placed in a scoring-heavy region could cause issues for Kansas: The Jayhawks went 23-0 in games this season when holding opponents under 80 points. They were just 5-4 in matchups in which they surrendered 80 or more.That said, other teams in the Midwest may have their own reasons to feel uncomfortable. The Big Ten likely won’t be thrilled that three of its seven tournament teams are all competing in the same region. (Coaches and players often say how difficult it is to have to beat the same opponent multiple times in one season.1It doesn’t seem as if that’s actually true in college basketball, though.) Oregon may be disappointed with falling to a No. 3 seed, a slide that might have been the result of losing top shot blocker Chris Boucher to a season-ending ACL tear. (Boucher’s absence could really hurt if and when the Ducks meet a bigger, more physical team such as Louisville2The Cardinals rank as the 16th-tallest team in college basketball; the Ducks rank as the 85th-tallest, per Pomeroy. in the Sweet 16.)No particular underdog in this region stands out as a great bet to get out of the first round, but No. 11 Rhode Island over No. 6 Creighton might be the best choice if you’re feeling adventurous. The Rams, ranked for part of the season, were one of five teams to beat Cincinnati and played a competitive game with Duke. And while Creighton is no slouch — having beaten conference foe Butler earlier in the season — the Bluejays lost their best player, guard Maurice Watson Jr. to injury and finished the regular season just 5-7 without him.Regardless of what happens — and whether Kansas makes it out of the region — be prepared to see a lot of scoring in the Midwest. All season long, a number of these teams showed they excel at it. As for No. 3 UCLA, our model gives the team just a 10 percent chance of making the trip to Glendale. But there’s some good news for anyone hoping to see Lonzo Ball and the high-scoring Bruins offense make a deep run in the tournament if you look a little deeper. Despite playing in the South region, UCLA will play its early-round games in Sacramento. Meanwhile, the Bruins’ first-round opponent Kent State and likely second-round opponent Cincinnati are both traveling about 2,000 miles from Ohio to northern California. They rank fourth and fifth in travel distance for the first weekend, respectively, while UCLA has a comparatively short trip of 350 miles (44th). UCLA catches another break in avoiding a second-round matchup with one of the more habitually underseeded teams in the tournament, Wichita State.The Shockers once again find themselves seeded below what the analytics think of them. Last year, the team was saddled with a No. 11 seed despite a statistical profile that more resembled a No. 5 seed, forcing it into a “first four” play-in game against similarly underseeded Vanderbilt. Wichita would be a No. 2 seed going by its Pomeroy rating (No. 8 overall) or a No. 3 seed going by FiveThirtyEight’s power rankings (No. 11). It will face No. 7 Dayton in the first round, and we give them a 69 percent chance of advancing to the second round. However, a likely second-round matchup against Kentucky drops Wichita’s chance of reaching the Sweet 16 to 24 percent. Still, that’s an outstanding chance for a No. 10 seed, and if a few things break their way, the Shockers could kick up a Cinderella run in a region stacked with blue bloods.Check out our March Madness predictions. Every year, FiveThirtyEight dusts off its March Madness predictions and forecasts the win probabilities of each team in the tournament. And every year, we’re reminded that the joy and chaos of March Madness can’t possibly be summed up in win probabilities alone. Each of the men’s tournament’s 68 teams has charted its own course to the field: Some have endured devastating injuries, some have made surprising runs in their conference tournaments, and some have weathered tripping scandals. But now they all get a clean state. Win six — or maybe seven — games, and they do what no team is likely to do: win the NCAA Tournament.To help you get ready for the tournament — and, yes, fill out those brackets — we’ve broken down each region, including the path of each No. 1 seed, and who the Cinderella teams could be in each one. No team has better than a 15 percent chance to win the tournament, according to our predictions, so there’s plenty of madness to come. Top seed: Gonzaga (41 percent chance to win the region)Likeliest Cinderella: No. 11 Xavier (17 percent chance to get to the Sweet 16)For just the second time over their two-decade rise from quirky mid-major to national powerhouse, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The last time it happened didn’t end well for the Zags; they were knocked out in the round of 32 by ninth-seeded Wichita State back in 2013. This year’s version is a more complete team on paper than those Bulldogs were, though, faster-paced and better on both offense and defense.But the stigma of being a power team in a non-power conference has dogged Gonzaga all season (it played by far the weakest schedule of any team in ESPN’s top 20 by Strength of Record), as have the low expectations the Bulldogs carried into the season (they ranked just 14th in the preseason AP poll). Even after 33 games, we probably know less about Gonzaga than any other No. 1 seed in the tournament.That doesn’t necessarily mean the Bulldogs are the most vulnerable top seed; according to our model, they have the best Final Four odds of any No. 1 team. But the Zags have a difficult road ahead: The West contains five of the top 25 teams in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy’s power ratings, two of which (Notre Dame and West Virginia) are packed into the Zags’ half of the bracket. West Virginia seems particularly dangerous if it can overcome a case of criminal underseeding; WVU is seeded fourth in this region despite ranking fifth in the entire nation by Pomeroy’s stats. Assuming the Mountaineers and Fighting Irish advance through what should be relatively easy first-round tests, their matchup should be one of the best of the second round — and its winner could prove to be a major roadblock for Gonzaga. Our model gives the Bulldogs a 60 percent chance of making it to the Elite Eight, which is the best of any No. 1 seed, but far from a safe path.The other side of the bracket also contains its share of strong teams, some seeded more appropriately than others. Upset aficionados, look out: At No. 40 in Pomeroy’s numbers, No. 11 Xavier actually ranks better than its first-round opponent, No. 6 Maryland (No. 45 in Pomeroy), although the FiveThirtyEight model still gives the Terrapins a 51 percent shot at advancing. And while No. 7 Saint Mary’s does rank higher in the advanced metrics than No. 10 VCU, the Gaels’ No. 14 national rank in Pomeroy’s ratings indicates that they have the talent of a No. 3 or No. 4 seed. Barring any huge upsets, the bottom half of the West could contain two more of the best second-round matchups in the entire tournament, to go with the Mountaineers-Irish tilt shaping up in the top half. Our predictions give Arizona and Florida State the best chances of emerging from them, with the Wildcats boasting a 39 percent probability of making the Elite Eight.And if Gonzaga can survive that potential matchup with West Virginia or Notre Dame, the Bulldogs will have to clear one last hurdle to reach the Final Four, whether it be Arizona, FSU or even their longtime West Coast Conference rival, Saint Mary’s. The Zags should be favored against any of the three; without having played a game, our model considers them 41 percent favorites to move on to Phoenix. Those odds will only increase if they make it to the Elite 8.But this is still Gonzaga we’re talking about here. No matter who the Bulldogs have to go through, they won’t be given quite the same benefit of the doubt as your typical No. 1 seed. Then again, this might also be their best chance yet to silence the doubters and prove they truly belong among college basketball’s blue-blood programs. Hot Takedown’s March Madness Special East Region read more

  • Low Pay Limits Player Experience in National Womens Soccer League

    The second season of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) starts April 12, which will be about the time people ask, “There’s a professional women’s soccer league?” Yes, there is: It’s the third attempt since 1999 at professionalizing women’s soccer in the U.S. The previous two leagues both folded after only three seasons, so to say that Year 2 is crucial for the NWSL’s survival would be an understatement.This season also carries the added pressure of needing to be really competitive in the run-up to summer 2015’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. If the U.S. national team hopes to have the best shot at the World Cup, it needs to be playing at the highest level. That means the rest of the players in the league (those who won’t be going to the World Cup) need to be very good. But it isn’t easy to entice international talent (or even domestic talent) with the lurking ghost of two failed leagues and a salary that typically ranges from $6,000 to $30,000 (with most players seeing the lower end of that range).Herein lies the biggest problem for the NWSL: To keep the league afloat, it is paying preposterously low salaries. And who can afford to play professional soccer for $6,000 per year? Mostly women in college or only a few years out, as well as those with minimal national-team-level experience. And though this modest budget has helped the league’s bottom line, it has made it more difficult to attract high-level players — well, high-level players who are not members of the U.S. national team.When the NWSL was organized, U.S. Soccer, the sport’s governing body, agreed to subsidize the salaries of U.S. national team players — typically the best and most expensive players in the league. Last year, the Canadian and Mexican federations agreed to do the same, so the league evenly allocated all national team players among the eight teams. (A ninth team, the Houston Dash, was added this year, so many players were reallocated.)With a roster squad of 20 — assuming each team has the maximum three “free” U.S. national team players and three “free” Canadian or Mexican national team players — this leaves 14 roster spots to be filled. Last year’s salary cap was $200,000, so, divided evenly, pay would be less than $15,000 per player for the entire season.On Wednesday, each team had to cut its roster to 25 players, with five more cuts to come before the season begins. We wanted to look at the distribution of talent in this season’s player pool to see who is trying to play professional women’s soccer. Below is a chart that illustrates the relative experience and age of the 228 players who remain (not all teams had released their roster cuts by Wednesday’s deadline):We counted one year out of college as finishing collegiate soccer in 2013, although technically these players are still in college (most are just about to graduate). For national team experience, we counted the number of consecutive years a player appeared in the full national team player pool. This data does not reflect international players who did not play college soccer and also probably over-represents younger players who are more likely to be released when the final rosters are cut to 20 in the coming weeks.Still, it’s interesting that the NWSL pool is dominated by players two years out college with zero years of national team experience — there are currently 42 of these women. The median number of years of national team experience is zero, which makes sense because the national team pool is very small — typically about 30 players per year. Almost half of the player pool is made up of women only one or two years out of college.This data doesn’t speak to the longevity of a player’s career, which varies wildly by individual. The data also doesn’t mean that a freshly graduated collegiate player is any worse or better than Christie Rampone, the league veteran with 17 years of national team experience. There are wunderkinds in every sport, but overall we think that more professional experience probably means more talented players.The main thing the data illustrates is that the NWSL is skewing young and inexperienced, which might have more to do with finances than soccer ability. For most players, and people in general, there are only so many years you can do the thing you love on a $15,000 annual salary before you have to move on. read more

  • Can The Celtics Keep On Winning

    Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (Nov. 16, 2017), Neil, Chris, and Kyle discuss the recent Time article on athlete activism by the head coach of the Detroit Pistons, Stan Van Gundy. Next, the Boston Celtics. The team’s prospects looked dire after Gordon Hayward’s opening-game injury, but the Celtics have won 13 consecutive games and have the best record in the NBA. Can they keep up this remarkable start? We investigate. Plus, a small-sample-size take on East vs. West parity.Subscribe to the show in your favorite podcasting app, or use the links in the player above.Here are links to what we discussed this week:Earlier this year, FiveThirtyEight found that NBA fans tend to lean liberal.Keep an eye on our 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.In case you missed it, check out our conversation about the Celtics in the immediate aftermath of Hayward’s injury. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner read more

  • Smith OSUMichigan rivalry faces uncertain future past 12

    Ohio State and Michigan will be in separate divisions when the 12-team Big Ten begins in 2011. Their annual rivalry game will remain in the final week of the regular season for 2011 and 2012. However, schedules were only decided for those two seasons.   There is no guarantee that the game, which has been the last conference game every year since 1934, will not be moved in future seasons. “We didn’t even talk about if ’13 or ’14 would be the same or look different,” said OSU athletic director Gene Smith of the scheduling talks. “So we’ll have those discussions in October. My guess is it’ll be the same, but I can’t speak for my colleagues.” Smith said that only the 2011 and 2012 schedules were discussed so that they could be finalized as soon as possible to allow communities to plan accordingly. When future schedules are discussed, Smith said he will push for the game to permanently remain at the end of the season. “I know what my position will be, for it to be the same,” Smith said. “But again, I can’t speak for what (Wisconsin athletic director) Barry Alvarez might bring in the room. So I’m going to listen to my colleagues and their pros and cons and I’m also going to represent what our interests are.” There does not seem to be any question as to what the fans want. “Over 90 percent of people want us to keep that game at the end of the schedule,” Smith said in a video statement released by the athletic department before the initial decision. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany assured that those fans will be considered. “We’re not fan-insensitive, we’re fan-receptive and are only interested in doing what is going to grow our fan base,” he told ESPN.com. It seems that the growth will not occur through further conference expansion. “We’re finished (with expansion),” Smith said. “The only thing that would cause us to look at it further is if someone contacted us.” Smith acknowledged that few Big Ten representatives have closed the door to further expansion. “The reason most of us say it’s not done is because we think there are some schools that are going to try to talk to some conferences. But we’re not actively out looking at expansion,” Smith said. “After our October meetings, that’s going to be the last we talk about it.” read more

  • Buckeyes stun No 1 Akron with late gametying goal

    A record-setting crowd at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium saw the No. 19 Ohio State men’s soccer team shock the nation’s top ranked Akron squad with a game-tying goal with only three seconds left in regulation. The heated intrastate rivalry game included multiple skirmishes, a red card and no shortage of drama as the shorthanded Buckeyes escaped with a 2-2 tie. “This team has a strong belief and they don’t quit,” coach John Bluem said. “I’m so proud of our team, the way they played tonight. Going a man down, continuing to battle and to be rewarded with a goal that late is a great sign for us that justifies the work and justifies the effort.” After being down 2-1 with three seconds to play, David Tiemstra scored the game-tying goal when the desperate Buckeyes elected to play two forwards and only three defenders after giving up the go-ahead goal with 22 minutes to play. “Unbelievable, there’s no other feeling I can describe or I’ve ever felt in my life besides that. Unbelievable,” Tiemstra said. The late switch in game plan worked out, said Austin McAnena, who scored for OSU in the first half. “It shows that we can attack, too,” he said. “We were sitting back, but we switched it to three backs and put two up top and started attacking and pressuring them because they had so much time.” The 7,255 fans were an all-time record for OSU soccer and added electricity to an already gripping contest. “Besides scoring the goal, it was the best feeling ever,” Tiemstra said of the attendance. “Even when the away fans are so loud, you’re talking about the extra 10 percent on the field, that’s coming from everyone (in the stands). We get those chills that everyone hears about.” With the game tied at one early in the second half, Konrad Warzycha was called for a foul and kicked the ball out of frustration. It drilled Akron’s Dalington Nagbe in the head, causing his teammates to confront Warzycha, and a skirmish ensued. Warzycha was given a red card and the Buckeyes were forced to play a man down for the rest of the game. Shortly thereafter, Akron’s Darren Mattocks scored to make it 2-1, leading to Bluem’s change in scheme. “I think the guys just really, the last 30 minutes, we got into an aggressive mode when we were defending most of the game and I think that really caught them by surprise.” Coming into Wednesday, Akron had tied the all-time NCAA record for posting 11 consecutive shutouts. “We wanted to play to win,” McAnena said. “We didn’t want to sit back against these guys.” A shorthanded tie against the nation’s top team bodes well for the Buckeyes heading into the start of conference play Sunday against Michigan State. But Bluem made sure not to underscore the importance of getting a head start in the Big Ten standings. “You live and breathe for your conference,” he said. “Our guys have set a goal for themselves to finish as high as they can in the conference standings and that means getting as many points as we can at home.” When asked if he expected a result like this, with no hesitation, Bluem said, “Yes.” “All the drama that went on, well no, I guess I didn’t expect that.” read more

  • Simon says Ohio State football defense ready for Spring Game

    Nearly everyone in the world of college football is aware of the impending suspensions of star offensive players Terrelle Pryor and Dan Herron on the Ohio State football team. However, the defense, which was ranked No. 2 in total defense last season, must replace seven starters for the upcoming season. Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward is expected to be drafted at the end of the first round in this month’s NFL draft, and the Buckeyes must also replace starting cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence. With all new starters and just a week left before the Spring Game, the defense dominated the OSU offense in Saturday’s scrimmage, forcing five turnovers and not allowing a single touchdown. Although the offense struggled, junior defensive lineman John Simon said he is not worried about its performance when the season begins. “We see them in practice every day, and we know the offense is very good,” Simon said. “I just think all week we’ve focused on relaxing a little bit and just playing together, and I think it paid off.” Simon said losing Heyward is a huge loss for the defense, but he has been encouraged by its performance this spring. “Seeing a lot of the young guys improve and get better every day and just seeing the excitement even though we aren’t working toward a big game or anything,” Simon said. “Just seeing the excitement and passion we have.” During Saturday’s scrimmage, the defense was on target. After sophomore Dorian Bell recovered a fumble by redshirt freshman wide receiver Verlon Reed, he was hit hard by freshman quarterback Braxton Miller to end the play. The defensive players and coaches on the sideline were joking with, and yelling at, Bell, something Simon said is important for a defense. “We were having a good time,” Simon said. “That’s the way defense should be: Just let loose and have fun.” Junior defensive back Travis Howard has been impressive this spring, making big plays at the cornerback position, and he said his experience behind Chekwa and Torrence at the end of last season helped his progress in spring practice. “It helped tremendously,” Howard said. “I feel like I knew a lot, and I feel like I had a lot of experience. So, coming into this spring my confidence level just went up, and it allowed me to make a lot of plays this year.” Junior defensive back Orhian Johnson, a returning starter for the Buckeye defense, said he has seen a lot of promise from Howard this spring. “I believe that he is one of our next corners,” he said. “If he keeps on the path, he could be one of the next great corners out of here.” As a returning starter, Johnson has become a leader for the young Buckeye defense. “I’ve been really trying to just go out there and make sure I can help out in any way necessary that the defense needs me,” Johnson said, “whether it be being vocal and telling someone something, or stepping in and making a play.” Although the defense was impressive, Simon said there is still room for improvement before Saturday’s Spring Game. “We’ve got to clean up a lot of stuff,” Simon said. “We’re gonna watch the tape, and then I’m sure as long as everyone does their one-eleventh, we’ll be all right.” Johnson agreed. “I hope we have no more injuries, and we just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Johnson said, “keep learning and keep getting better.” Coach Jim Tressel, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas join Pryor and Herron on the five game suspension of the upcoming season. read more

  • NFL draft Pat Elflein selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the third

    OSU senior center Pat Elflein takes questions during media day on Dec. 29. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorFormer Ohio State center Pat Elflein was selected in the third round with the 70th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings.Elflein is the sixth Buckeye selected in the draft and the third selected on Saturday.Returning for his senior season, Elflein made the transition from right guard to center and was named one of the team’s captains. In his first season at the position, Elflein was awarded the Rimington trophy, given to the best center in the country, and was named the Big Ten’s Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year.He was also recognized as a consensus first-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten, the latter of which was his third such recognition in three years. Elflein appeared in 53 games over his five-year career, including a streak of 40-consecutive starts from the beginning of his redshirt-sophomore season to the end of his redshirt-senior year. In his final year on the line for OSU, Elflein helped the Buckeyes average more rushing yards per game than any other team in the Big Ten with 245.2, 11th-best among all FBS schools.Elflein joins former OSU offensive linemen Alex Boone and Reid Fragel on the Vikings.The Vikings open the season at home against the New Orleans Saints on September 11. read more

  • Womens Basketball Ohio State opens season with 7147 loss to No 22

    Ohio State freshman forward Dorka Juhasz shoots a jumper in practice. Credit: Daniel McNatt | Lantern ReporterThe Ohio State women’s basketball team opened the season Tuesday night against No. 22  South Florida, falling in defeat with a final score of 71-47.South Florida freshman point guard Sydney Harvey, senior wing Kitija Laksa and freshman center Beatriz Jordao were constant thorns in the side of the Buckeyes Tuesday night, pouring in 50 of the 71 points with a combined 15-17 on free throw attempts, signifying the Buckeyes jitters and possible lack of discipline on defense to begin the season. The Buckeyes committed over 20 fouls in the game, some on calls that left the players visibly frustrated, but redshirt senior guard Carly Santoro recognizes the importance of fighting through those moments. “Once you get in foul trouble it takes away from your aggressiveness,” Santoro said. “That’s what was happening. But we have to learn how to play through that because not every game are we gonna be able to go out there and play as physical as we want. We have to learn how the refs are calling that game and go out and adjust accordingly.” Through the first four minutes, the Buckeyes looked frustrated during a sequence which seemingly needed to be saved with a timeout, as the team committed four fouls along with a travel call on freshman forward Dorka Juhasz. The frustrations continued as the Buckeyes went into the second quarter trailing 21-11. Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff’s team continued to fight through the second quarter during a stretch lasting until 2:11 left in the half in which the Bulls offense didn’t score a FG for over five minutes, but the Buckeyes shot 25.8 percent from the field in the first half compared to 33.3 percent from USF.Ohio State went into the half down 37-19, its largest deficit of the night to that point. Juhasz earned a double-double in her first collegiate game with a 10-point, 10-rebound effort in the opener, but said she sees more room for improvement. “I think everybody was nervous. It was the first game,” Juhasz said. “It’s like a whole new team. So I think it was just about that, and sometimes our concentration was not really on point, but I feel that like we can really improve on that.”The Buckeyes went on a 6-0 scoring run in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 63-43. In the end, the Bulls handedly defeated the Buckeyes by 24 points. Ohio State faces Detroit Mercy on Friday at 7 p.m read more