Jordan Spieths Grand Slam Chances

By capturing his second major of the 2015 season, U.S. Open winner Jordan Spieth has placed himself in some very elite company. It’s only the fourth time since 19581Roughly speaking, 1958 marks the beginning of the modern era of major championships; that’s when the PGA Championship adopted a stroke-play format. that the same player has won both of the year’s first two majors, and just the 13th time any player won back-to-back major titles.The conversation has quickly turned to Spieth’s Grand Slam chances. This has been the Year of Spieth on the PGA Tour, and a Slam would solidify his season as one of the best in golf history. And yet he’s not considered to be the best golfer on tour. Spieth is still the second-ranked player in the world behind Rory McIlroy, who is probably the better golfer on a per-round basis and has, in the past, won the two major tournaments remaining on the 2015 schedule.That’s why the betting markets consider McIlroy, and not Spieth, the favorite to win each of the season’s final two majors. After adjusting for the house edge built into betting odds, the sportsbook Bovada.lv assigns2To the best of our knowledge, Bovada only lists the players upon whom they’ve gotten action, and will release odds for other players upon request. The inclusion of additional players could slightly alter the house-edge adjustment we made, but those players’ odds of winning are so low that the change would be minimal at best. McIlroy a 13 percent probability of winning the British Open and an 11 percent chance of winning the PGA Championship; the site gives Spieth a 9 percent shot at winning each tournament.Those numbers are similar to the ones you’d see if you looked at how past back-to-back major winners did in their next two major tournaments. Of those who won back-to-back majors, only Tiger Woods — who won his “Tiger Slam” by capturing the 2000 U.S. and British Opens and the PGA Championship, plus the 2001 Masters — went on to win any of the next two majors, giving the group an 8.3 percent success rate per major.Of course, sometimes you can play well enough to win but run into another great performance. That’s when a method such as Bill Barnwell’s Z-scores is useful, because it tells us how well a player scored relative to the rest of the field on the same day. We can then use that number to track how often a player’s performance would be good enough to win a typical major against typical competition, which helps even out comparisons between fields of varying quality. And according to this calculation, the average back-to-back major champ’s Z-scores over his next two majors were good enough to win a generic major3From 1958 on. 11.3 percent of the time.No matter how you cut it, the odds of Spieth finishing off the Grand Slam are still fairly low — about 1 percent, if the probabilities above are any kind of guide.Even if Spieth doesn’t win the Slam, however, his future looks exceptionally bright. Back in April, we developed a model (based on the historical performance, by age, of people who won majors) to track Woods’s progress in his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’s all-time majors record. If we plug in Spieth’s expected major count at year’s end — roughly 2.2, using the odds from Bovada — he’s currently on pace to finish his career with just under 12 major titles, a total that would rank third all-time if it came to fruition. (And remember, that’s just a mean projection — the variance around it means there are plenty of scenarios in which he wins more than 12.)Either way, it’s been an incredible start to Spieth’s career, Grand Slam or not. read more

Read More


Miami Dolphins To Star in HBOs Hard Knocks

Dolphins will get national exposure in training camp.The Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets declined a chance to star in HBO’s popular, insightful show, “Hard Knocks,” which provides unprecedented insight into an NFL training camp. But the Miami Dolphins, a team struggling for an identity, did not.In its seventh season, this version offers the first time with a rookie coach, Joe Philbin.“It’s a great opportunity to connect with our fans, for the people who aren’t going to be able to come out here daily in 110-degree heat index weather and watch our guys participate in training camp,” Philbin said.HBO Sports president Ken Hershman said in a statement: “We are delighted that ‘Hard Knocks ‘ will be returning this summer and placing the spotlight on the Miami Dolphins, a venerable franchise that had an excited offseason activity. This marks the first time that series has featured a first-year head coach and we are extremely grateful to both coach Philbin and the entire organization for agreeing to participate. As always, there will be plenty on the line for veterans, free agents and rookies.”“Hard Knocks” won three Sports Emmys for its coverage of the New York Jets in 2010. The show made its debut in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens, and has had the Dallas Cowboys (2002 and ’08), Kansas City Chiefs (2007) and Cincinnati Bengals (2009) as the focus in the past. read more

Read More


Dez Bryant Arrested on Misdemeanor Assualt Charge

Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who has had a tumultuous off-the-field existence, was arrested Monday after turning himself in to DeSoto, Tx police. The charge: misdemeanor domestic violence against a female family friend, DeSoto (Texas) police confirmed.Bryant was booked around an event that allegedly occurred Saturday, police said. No further information was immediately available.A source said late Monday night that Bryant was in an argument with his half brother and wound up pushing his mother, Angela. According to the source, police responded to a call , but no arrests were made at that point. Further examination of the reports resulted in Monday’s arrest, the source said.Bryant was charged with a Class A misdemeanor for assaulting a female family member, police told KDFW-TV in Dallas. The woman did not need to be taken to the hospital for her injuries, the report said.The station said police declined to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding the arrest or Bryant’s relationship to the alleged victim.Bryant’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, declined to comment. The Cowboys said they were aware of the incident late Monday.The Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and up to a year in jail. The arrest also subjects Bryant to possible penalty under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.This is Bryant’s first arrest, but it is not his first incident that required police involvement since the Cowboys traded up to select the former Oklahoma State star with the 24th overall pick in the 2010 draft.In January, Bryant was detained by police but not arrested after an alleged altercation at a Miami Beach night club.Last summer, off-duty police working as security at an upscale Dallas mall kicked Bryant and friends out of the mall because of inappropriate attire (sagging pants) and language. Bryant was temporarily banned from the mall.Bryant, who was widely considered a top-10 talent but slipped in the draft due to teams’ character concerns, has also been sued for unpaid debts for jewelry and sports tickets from before he was drafted. read more

Read More


Do Over Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman Rematch Set

The rematch between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight title will be held Dec. 28 at MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas as the main event of UFC 168. Dana White made the announcement live on ESPN’s Sports Center just moments after the deal closed.Chris Weidman knocked, Silva, the greatest mixed martial artist in the history of the sport, out cold in 2012. Weidman caught Silva with a hard left hook straight to the chin during one of Silva’s infamous cocky moments in the octagon.The day after the fight at the post-fight news conference, Weidman said that he wanted the rematch. He referred to the rematch as “a done deal.”Watch the blow that knocked Silva out cold in the video above.

Read More


Beside The Points For Monday April 23 2018

Predictions NBA See more NBA predictions All newsletters Oh, and don’t forgetA successful no no nearly killed this man We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆  Join the squad. Subscribe Things That Caught My EyeSeattle to earn more frequent flyer milesThe Seattle Seahawks, by virtue of playing in a city that is very far away from other cities that host NFL teams, spend a lot of time on planes. Once every four years, they get a reprieve and get to play in Oakland, a place only 801 miles away. This year the NFL scheduled that advantage away, as Seattle will play Oakland 4,789 miles away in one of the London games. [ESPN]Detroit isn’t as bad off as it seemsEvery year, people talk about a strength of team’s schedule, and every year they tend to use the one thing that isn’t super predictive of future results, namely total wins and losses. Football is fluky, and a team’s win percentage is often no indicator of how a team will do in a subsequent year. What is helpful is looking at Pythagorean wins, which looks at how a team with a given points scored and allowed would be expected to perform as. Ranking strength of schedule by that, a team like Detroit — which has the second hardest schedule according to wins — can breathe easier, as they’d be more in the middle of the pack, with the 15th hardest schedule. [FiveThirtyEight]Pine tar seems like a bigger problem?Gerrit Cole’s spin rate on a fastball jumped from 2,163 rpm last year to 2,332 rpm this season, a jump that Trevor Bauer of the Indians suggested may have been due to the use of pine tar. Several years ago a particularly brazen use of pine tar — which can aid in grip and control of the ball and is super illegal — got Michael Pineda ejected from a game. How widespread this practice is is unclear, but pitchers and managers reportedly seem to tolerate it because many people regardless of club are using it. [ESPN]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?Shady way of doing businessWe are several weeks into baseball, which means that finally top-tier talent that was forced to marinate in the minors for an arbitrary two weeks in order to defer free agency for another year is being brought up to the big leagues. The CBA gives teams control over a player for 4 or 5 minor league seasons, then six full major league seasons. Operative word being full; if you force a rookie to spend a few weeks in the minors and then bring him up, teams can defer free agency for an additional year. [The Ringer]Don’t call it a tankThe Miami Marlins, which FiveThirtyEight forecasts will have an estimated 60 wins at the end of this season (the lowest in the league), are in part owned by Derek Jeter, who oversaw a roster wipe. Confronted about this by HBO’s Bryant Gumbel, Jeter vehemently denied that the tank was on and that he truly expects the team to contend this year. [Miami Herald]Browns attempt to defy historySince 1950, the Browns have drafted 49 quarterbacks. Of those, eight were in the first round. Only one of those eight was a successful pick, Bernie Kosar, who led the Browns to three AFC championship games. In their whole history, they’ve had 55 different starting quarterbacks, of whom only 11 started in a playoff game, and only 2 since 1993. Let’s see what they do with their No. 1 pick. [ESPN]Big Number(s)21 pitchesCongratulations to San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt and condolences to viewers of a baseball game he played in! Belt has the record for most pitches in a single at bat, with 21 pitches. The at bat lasted 12 minutes and 45 seconds. [ESPN]Leaks from Slack: neil:That has to be one of the least likely no-hitters ever(at least based on the opponent)chris.herring:I’m just seeing the highlights of the no-hitter! Thats so shady! The error they called def shouldve been a hit! read more

Read More


Ohio State Is Always Facing High Expectations — Scandal Or Not

2Ohio StateFootball6594 RKTeamSportCountRate* *In preseason polls since 1976-77 season for women’s basketball, 1961-62 for men’s basketball and 1950 for football.Source: College Poll Archive Ohio State has at least five more appearances on the AP preseason poll than any team in any sport, having qualified in 94 percent of available seasons. Since 1989, Ohio State’s average ranking in the preseason AP poll is 10.3. And perhaps no team dominates the opening month of the season like Ohio State, which has gone 21-2 over the last six years in the month of September, winning by an average margin of more than 30 points per game. But preseason rankings aren’t always pinpoint precise: Ohio State typically underperforms relative to its lofty preseason ranking.AP preseason polls typically draw from blue-blood schools, so it’s no surprise that other well-heeled programs like the football teams at Oklahoma and USC and the men’s basketball team at Kentucky are among the most-ranked.But on the gridiron, no team is accustomed to high expectations like the Buckeyes. Columbus has produced the second-most first-round NFL draft picks all time, and the team is expected not only to win, but to dominate. In this weekend’s season opener against Oregon State, Ohio State opened as 38-point favorites, the most lopsided betting line of any opening-week contest for a ranked team. “A place like Ohio State, we’re expected to win every game we play,” Meyer has said. “There’s not many places like that.” Those are expectations that Meyer also noted aren’t always “easy to embrace.” But players and coaches alike should recognize that’s what they’ve signed up for in Columbus: a culture of on-field success, national title aspirations and a preseason ranking. TexasFootball5275 The year was 1956. Ohio State’s college football program was ranked fifth in the annual Associated Press preseason college football poll and was coming off a season in which they had won all but two games. Expectations for a strong season were, no doubt, high.But head coach Woody Hayes was in hot water with the Big Ten for providing loans to his players, and after an investigation, the conference put the team on probation for one year and banned it from playing in that season’s Rose Bowl.Sixty-two years later, Ohio State is once again entering the season with a No. 5 preseason ranking, having won all but two games the previous season. Controversy blankets the campus once more: Head coach Urban Meyer has been suspended for the opening three games of the season after an investigation concluded that he had mishandled domestic assault allegations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith.High expectations are nothing new in Columbus. For about as long as college football has been around, the Ohio State Buckeyes have been a force. In the annals of the sport’s history, only Michigan (943) — oh, the irony — and Notre Dame (906) have won more games than the Buckeyes (898).1Excluding Yale, which is not currently a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision team. Since the turn of the century, only Boise State, which has played in three non-Power-Five conferences over that stretch, has won more total games than Ohio’s flagship university.And that prodigious success isn’t lost on Associated Press voters.Ohio State has failed to make the poll just four times in the 69-year history of the poll, most recently in 1988. That was John Cooper’s first year at the helm after taking over for the fired Earle Bruce. Cooper wouldn’t miss another preseason poll. Hayes only missed out in 1966 and 1967, the lone instance of the team failing to crack the AP preseason poll in consecutive years.Which got us thinking: Does Ohio State dominate this poll more than any team in any sport dominates its preseason poll? AP voters produce a preseason, weekly and postseason poll for three college sports: football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. In 1989, the polls expanded to a 25-team format, which remains the current standard.Across the three sports, only the Tennessee Volunteers women’s basketball program has been more of a mainstay on the preseason poll than the Ohio State football team, according to data from the website College Poll Archive. Tennessee has made the AP preseason poll 98 percent of the time. It’s missed just once in the poll’s 42-year history — in 1976, the year the poll was introduced. Largely under their legendary coach, the late Pat Summitt, the Volunteers piled up eight national championships and 18 Final Four appearances, controlling the sport for decades before Connecticut assumed the mantle. 3KentuckyMen’s basketball5088 9GeorgiaWomen’s basketball3276 Appearances North CarolinaMen’s basketball4884 1TennesseeWomen’s basketball4198% 8TexasWomen’s basketball3379 7Notre DameFootball5580 4OklahomaFootball6087 UCLAMen’s basketball4375 The preseason eliteTeams with the highest rate of appearances in AP Top 25 preseason polls in men’s or women’s basketball and college football 5USCFootball5884 10AlabamaFootball5275 read more

Read More


The Race For The Top Pick In The 2015 NFL Draft

The 2-12 Jacksonville Jaguars host the 2-12 Tennessee Titans Thursday night, ending this season’s sad slate of Thursday night games with the saddest game of all. But this awful matchup still matters. The top pick of the 2015 NFL draft is in play.This week, we added each team’s chances of getting the No. 1 overall pick to our weekly playoff implication interactives. In 50,000 simulations, just Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Oakland, Jacksonville and Washington managed to clinch the No. 1 overall pick at least once (the New York Jets blew their chances with last week’s win). The Buccaneers are your clubhouse leader, getting the pick in 54.8 percent of simulations, while the Titans are second at 25 percent.The size of that gap is a little misleading. The Buccaneers don’t control their own destiny, and the loser of Tennessee at Jacksonville will be nipping at their heels:The game also affects a much weirder scenario. If two teams from different conferences finish with the same record and strength of schedule, the pick will be decided by coin flip. These flips aren’t so uncommon, but they’ve never decided who gets the No. 1 overall. Before Thursday’s game, there is a 2 percent chance the top pick will be decided by a Tennessee vs. Tampa Bay coin flip. If the Titans lose, that figure bumps up a bit to 3.2 percent.But which team would actually keep the pick? The presumed top player of the 2015 draft is Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. None of the teams in contention saw impressive QB play in 2014: Josh McCown is old, Zach Mettenberger is shorn, Blake Bortles is bad and Derek Carr is dinky. Washington is just a mess, but they’re pretty much out of the running.Jacksonville and Oakland are the most likely to trade the first pick, as Bortles and Carr have likely done enough in their rookie seasons to warrant a second look. Tennessee and Tampa Bay would be much more likely to take Mariota. This means the St. Louis Rams – or even the Philadelphia Eagles – could be keeping an eye on an otherwise terrible Thursday night game, crossing their fingers for a Jacksonville loss.Mike Beuoy contributed analysis. read more

Read More


NFL Week 17 Playoff Implications Someone Has To Win The NFC South

The playoff situation is slightly more open in the AFC. The New England Patriots have clinched the top seed. And the Indianapolis Colts are locked into the fourth seed, where they will face either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round. A matchup with the Bengals looks slightly more likely at this point, with a probability of 60 percent.The San Diego Chargers’ playoff fortunes have swung wildly. Their probability of making the playoffs was as high as 76 percent in mid-October, but dropped to near single digits just a month later following some key conference losses. Going into Saturday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Chargers’ playoff chances were just 15 percent. In that game, San Diego overcame a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime before winning on a Nick Novak field goal.With that victory, the Chargers now have a playoff probability of 41 percent going into their matchup this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, and a win guarantees the Chargers a playoff berth. However, if the Chiefs can win at home, their playoff chances stay alive, along with those of the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans. With a total “swing” of 200 percentage points, the Chargers-Chiefs game is one of our top matchups this week: With just one week remaining in the NFL regular season, the playoff implications are fairly straightforward, and running thousands of simulations of Week 17 outcomes may seem like computational overkill. But the playoff field is far from settled, particularly the seeding, so a simulation model can still be helpful in sorting out the probable from the improbable.Speaking of improbable, the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers will play for the NFC South division title this Sunday. They are No. 22 and No. 24, respectively, in our rankings based on the betting lines:The winner will most likely face the Arizona Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs, though there is still a 7 percent chance the NFC South winner will face the Seattle Seahawks instead.There are four NFC teams with any real chance at the conference’s top seed.1Technically there are five, but the Dallas Cowboys would need a tie between Detroit and Green Bay for a chance at the top seed — something that’s very unlikely. The Seahawks can clinch the top seed with a win over the St. Louis Rams. A Seahawks loss would boost the chances of securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and the Cardinals.If you find the various clinching and elimination scenarios for your team too difficult to keep track of, we’ve made it easy on you. Use the interactive tool below for a quick summary of which games matter — including those that matter for the top draft pick.2The interactive does not include the 16 teams that have nothing to play for this week, which is all the teams already eliminated from the playoffs that don’t have a shot at the No. 1 pick, plus teams like New England and Indianapolis whose playoff position is set. The race for the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft is between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans. The Buccaneers are the current favorite, owing to a weaker projected strength of schedule than the Titans. read more

Read More


This Years Patriots Are Almost On Pace To Be The GOAT

2Chicago Bears19426-01751 TEAMYEARRECORDELO AFTER 6 WEEKS 1Chicago Bears19866-01756 23Indianapolis Colts20056-01697 8Chicago Bears19435-0-11718 Once again, the New England Patriots find themselves atop the NFL heap: 5-0 so far this year with the league’s best points-per-game margin. Las Vegas oddsmakers consider New England far and away the best team in football. Excellence isn’t unfamiliar for the Pats; just last month, we anointed their 2007 squad1Unbeaten in the regular season. as the best single-season team in NFL history. But this year’s version is also one of the greatest teams in NFL history — through a season’s first six weeks.Of course, that last qualifier is important; the Patriots aren’t even a third of the way through their schedule, and you don’t win any prizes for being really good going into Week 7. On the other hand, the Patriots are really, really good.We can measure this using Elo ratings, one of our favorite metrics for ranking football teams. You can read the fine details of how they work here, but in a nutshell, Elo assigns each team a strength rating based on how likely it thinks that team is to win games in the future. The ratings are simple — their only inputs are the score, strength of opponent and location of each game — but they’re also predictive and self-correcting, so a team’s strength estimate is constantly evolving.And in the case of the 2015 Patriots, that rating is ridiculously good. Through the first six weeks of an NFL season,2Which technically encompasses only five games for the Patriots, because they had a bye in Week 4. only three teams have ever possessed a higher Elo rating than New England’s current mark of 1736: 5San Francisco 49ers19905-01734 19Green Bay Packers19626-01702 12New England Patriots20045-01714 7Denver Broncos19986-01724 11Miami Dolphins19735-11714 15Philadelphia Eagles19505-11711 9Pittsburgh Steelers19795-11717 16Miami Dolphins19846-01709 13Canton Bulldogs19236-01714 24New England Patriots20115-11695 25Cleveland Browns19515-11693 22Los Angeles Rams19686-01697 14Green Bay Packers19635-11713 18Minnesota Vikings19705-11707 3New England Patriots20076-01748 10Dallas Cowboys19944-11716 21Chicago Bears19415-11698 17Green Bay Packers19306-01708 4New England Patriots20155-01736 6Green Bay Packers20116-01728 20Chicago Bears19346-01698 I wrote three weeks ago, when they were 3-0, that this year’s Pats were unlikely to match the 2007 team’s 16-0 regular season record … and they still aren’t. (New England has roughly a 7 percent chance of going undefeated now.) But the Patriots are within striking distance of where the ’07 Pats were at the same point that season, and that ought to strike fear in the hearts of New England’s remaining 11 opponents.CORRECTION (Oct. 23, 10:50 a.m.): An earlier version of a table in this article listed the 1950 Philadelphia Eagles twice. One of the entries, which represented the Elo of the Eagles after five games, was incorrect and has been removed. The teams below that entry have each been moved up a slot, and the 2011 Patriots were added to the list as the 25th team.CORRECTION (Oct. 25, 1:25 p.m.): An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect record for the 1931 Green Bay Packers through the first six weeks of the season. The team was 6-0, not 7-1. The Packers’ Elo through those six weeks was too low for them to be in the top 25, so we have removed them, moved the teams below up a slot, and added the 1951 Cleveland Browns. read more

Read More


Theres No Reason To Think Barry Bonds Can Coach Like He Could

Barry Bonds is back in baseball. The Miami Marlins announced Friday that Bonds will become their hitting coach, joining new manager Don Mattingly’s staff.1Since retiring, Bonds has worked as a spring-training guest instructor for the San Francisco Giants, but not on a full-time basis. So now we’ll get to obsessively analyze Bonds’ proportions all over again, this time in arguably the majors’ worst uniform.Bonds is a lightning rod because of his role in MLB’s steroid era, but I’m not here to re-litigate how much he cheated or what his punishment should be. The guy was pretty terrific at hitting a baseball long before we knew what BALCO was.My question is simple: Does a good hitter make for a good hitting coach?Not necessarily.To find out, I looked at every hitting coach going back to 19732The year the designated hitter was introduced. using data from Retrosheet.org, and for those who played in MLB, I gathered their Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+, a per-plate appearance measure of offensive production that we’re quite fond of at FiveThirtyEight) and the number of wins above replacement (WAR) that can be attributed to their offensive contributions.3For sticklers, this means I removed both positional defense and the overall position adjustment from a player’s WAR. But I did leave baserunning in offensive WAR, as is the custom for the statistic, even though that aspect of the game is often managed by instructors other than the hitting coach.But how does one go about quantifying coaching performance? It’s a complex question that I’ve struggled with over the years. One simple way to judge a hitting coach’s effectiveness is how well his hitters outperformed their expectations. To that end, I used a historical database of Marcel projections — named for the pet monkey from the show “Friends” because they’re so basic a monkey could compute them — and measured the degree to which a hitting coach’s pupils performed better in the batter’s box (according to Weighted On-Base Average, or wOBA) than they were projected to.Armed with all this information, we can see the (non-)relationship between a hitter’s offense and his coaching talents. Whether we make the comparison using the hitting coach’s career WAR, as in the chart above, or using a weighted average of his lifetime wRC+, the correlation between hitting well and coaching others to do the same is effectively nonexistent.While Bonds may have been second only to Babe Ruth among career hitters — ignoring steroids — we have no idea what that means for Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and the rest of the Marlins hitters. So while the thought of Stanton becoming even more Bonds-like has pitchers everywhere reconsidering their chosen profession, it’s still anyone’s guess whether Bonds will be able to communicate to others just what drove his preternatural plate discipline and freakishly fast reflexes at the plate. read more

Read More


Which NBA Playoff Teams Have The Most Star Power

Portland Trail Blazers15810102 ButlerPHI+4.0MillsapDEN+2.8 San Antonio Spurs15480000 Orlando Magic15340102 VucevicORL+4.5SiakamTOR+3.0 Detroit Pistons14250022 ConleyMEM+2.6 Boston Celtics16410113 IrvingBOS+4.1WalkerCHA+2.8 HardenHOU+8.0WestbrookOKC+5.3LeonardTOR+3.7 CurryGS+6.6PaulHOU+4.9Nurkic*POR+3.3 The NBA’s championship-caliber players, 2019 edition2019 NBA player tiers based on CARMELO-projected plus/minus talent EmbiidPHI+4.4GriffinDET+2.9 ALPHASBETASGAMMAS Golden State Warriors17941116 PLAYERTEAM+/-PLAYERTEAM+/-PLAYERTEAM+/- Milwaukee Bucks17391014 Philadelphia 76ers16730215 Indiana Pacers15440000 JokicDEN+6.8GobertUTA+5.1GreenGS+3.3 Cousins*GS+4.1BledsoeMIL+2.8 The NBA playoffs can sometimes come down to key role players knocking down clutch shots in important moments. But mostly, it’s all about the stars. The league revolves around its top players more than any other sport, and those players usually determine where the championship resides each season.So which playoff team has the most star power? One way to measure this is to break players into tiers based on their performance metrics. A few years back, my boss Nate Silver devised a system called “star points,” which awarded teams a score based on how many stars it had on its roster. Players in the top tier of stars (“Alphas”) are worth 3 points apiece, those in the next (“Betas”) are worth 2, and the lower tier (“Gammas”) are 1 apiece. Teams generally need at least 5 of these star points in total to begin thinking about a title run, and 7 star points is where a championship roster really begins to take form.Perhaps surprisingly, there aren’t any teams with 7 or more star points this season. The Golden State Warriors would have had 8 if DeMarcus Cousins hadn’t been injured Monday night, but Cousins is out indefinitely with a torn quadriceps and may miss the rest of the playoffs. That drops the Warriors into the co-lead with 6 star points, alongside Toronto. And that could mean a more wide-open postseason than we’ve been used to, in which role players might take on an even greater degree of importance.To calculate star points this season, I turned to the constantly updating player talent ratings from our CARMELO projection-system depth charts. (In the previous iteration of star points, Nate used an amalgam of various advanced metrics, but that was before our player ratings updated in-season.) After resetting the cutoffs for each tier to maintain a similar number of players of each type,1An Alpha now has a CARMELO-projected overall plus/minus of +5.5 or greater; a Beta has a projected plus/minus of less than +5.5 but at least +4.0; and a Gamma has a projected plus/minus of less than +4.0 but at least +2.5. I found that the NBA has six current Alphas (four of whom are active in the playoffs), 13 Betas (12 of whom are in the playoffs, but one of those — Cousins — is injured) and 17 Gammas (13 whose teams are in the playoffs, with two injured). In an unusual twist, two of this season’s Alphas — LeBron James and Anthony Davis — actually missed the playoffs. (Their intertwined soap opera is worth its own set of charts.) But among the postseason’s remaining star power, there are some interesting mixes of player tiers on the top teams.The Warriors might be a surprise with only one Alpha (Stephen Curry), one Beta (Kevin Durant) and one Gamma (Draymond Green). Durant didn’t quite qualify for Alpha status, in part because he ranked only ninth in Real Plus-Minus (and 18th in Box Plus/Minus) this season. Meanwhile, Green was downgraded to a Gamma because of a weak offensive season,2According to our mix of RPM and BPM, he was 0.9 points per 100 possessions worse than the average NBA player on offense, though his defense more than made up for it. Klay Thompson barely broke even in projected plus/minus talent (+0.1), and Cousins now appears to be lost for at least most of the playoffs. The usual caveats about the Warriors’ sometimes lax regular-season efforts apply, but based on performance metrics, this team’s name recognition might outpace its actual star power at this point.And yet, only the Raptors match the Warriors in that regard among postseason teams. They also did it in a very different way: Unlike Golden State, Toronto boasts no Alphas, but it does have one Beta (Kyle Lowry) and four Gammas (Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Danny Green and Marc Gasol). Wait … Lowry is a Beta and Leonard is only a Gamma? The difference between the two (+4.0 vs. +3.7) is so slim as to be splitting hairs, but Leonard had a surprisingly down year in RPM, ranking just 37th in the league, while Lowry ranked 20th. The broader point, however, is that Toronto has assembled an unusually deep stable of star talent. The team has long been known for its depth down the roster, but a series of moves helped turn that depth into something slightly different: a collection of quasi-star-level talent at the top of the lineup. How the playoff teams stack up on star powerCurrent CARMELO ratings and star points* for 2019 NBA playoff teams Utah Jazz16990102 DurantGS+4.6Oladipo*IND+3.1 Oklahoma City Thunder16730204 Los Angeles Clippers15000000 * Star points are based on a weighted total of a team’s stars, in which Alphas are worth 3 points, Betas are worth 2, and Gammas are worth 1.Team totals do not include injured players.Sources: ESPN, Basketball-Reference.com LowryTOR+4.0GreenTOR+2.8 Denver Nuggets16731014 JamesLAL+6.3TownsMIN+4.9HolidayNO+3.2 The Rockets and Sixers rank just below the Warriors and Raptors in star points with 5 apiece, but where in that group is Milwaukee, the East’s No. 1 seed? The Bucks have perhaps the Alpha of all Alphas this season in Giannis Antetokounmpo. But only one other player around him qualified as a star: Eric Bledsoe is a Gamma, while Brook Lopez barely misses the cutoff. Milwaukee’s overall lack of supporting star power would make it a historical anomaly if it does end up winning the NBA title.The Utah Jazz, in the midst of a brutal first-round matchup against the Rockets, also has very little star power (one Beta in Rudy Gobert). But they have a bunch of guys who just barely missed Gamma status: Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Ekpe Udoh and Donovan Mitchell all had CARMELO plus/minus ratings under +2.5 but greater than +1.5. If we added an extra category for “Deltas” — worth, say, a half-point per player — the Jazz would leapfrog Boston and be much closer to the top of the heap than the bottom.Regardless, there’s a reason that star points don’t track perfectly with a team’s CARMELO rating or its championship odds. Depth does matter some, even if the effect is less of a factor as rotations shorten during the postseason. And sometimes teams are simply built with a blueprint that helps them perform better than their star power would suggest (the Bucks are a good test case there as well), while others aren’t quite as good as their multiple stars say they should be (the Sixers could be lumped into that group).Before they blew a 31-point lead Monday night — and, more importantly, lost Cousins to injury — the Warriors were looking every bit the star-studded machine we thought they’d be all season long. Now, they are still sizable favorites to win it all, but their edge in star power is not quite as decisive as it’s been in recent seasons. We’ll find out soon enough whether that will matter in Golden State’s quest for a third straight championship, or if another team near the top of the rankings above can finally supplant the Warriors and build a star-powered legacy of its own. TeamCARMELO RatingAlphasBetasGammasStar Points Players By Tier Brooklyn Nets14780000 DavisNO+5.8LillardPOR+4.7SimmonsPHI+3.1 Toronto Raptors17750146 DrummondDET+2.7 * Out indefinitely with injuryPlayers in italics are on teams that missed the playoffs.Sources: ESPN, Basketball-Reference.com GasolTOR+2.5 CovingtonMIN+2.7 Houston Rockets17531105 AntetokounmpoMIL+6.9GeorgeOKC+5.2HorfordBOS+3.4 Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more

Read More


OSU’s defense watches a tipped ball that would then be intercepted by redshirt freshman cornerback Damon Arnette (3) during the first half of the Buckeyes game against Northwestern on Oct. 29. The Buckeyes won 24-20. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor“Defenses win championships” has been the motto adopted by numerous teams throughout sports that defines the winning attitude of a team. Ohio State is notorious for its own catch phrases to capture that final missing piece of motivation during its journey to a national title run.In 2014, it was “The Chase.” 2015 was “The Grind.” This season OSU has lived off of “The Edge,” which is where average stops and elite begins, coach Urban Meyer said in August. To defend and limit an offense as potent as Clemson’s, OSU defense has to surpass that edge on Dec. 31 in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl.OSU defense has already set a school record this season with seven interceptions returned for touchdowns. Co-defensive coordinator and associate head coach Greg Schiano implemented the “sideline return” play that has seized momentum-changing opportunities time and time again. Redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker has become one of the most dominant safeties in the country in his first season of significant playing time. He is responsible for three of the team’s seven pick-sixes this season, which is an individual school record.But it’s not necessarily just Hooker. Sophomore linebacker Jerome Baker has arguably been the most improved player this season, considering he didn’t start at the beginning of the year. An injury to junior linebacker Dante Booker put Baker in the lineup. Redshirt sophomore Marshon Lattimore has also excelled in his first season starting at cornerback. Schiano said when talking about Hooker, Baker and Lattimore, you’re talking about three elite athletes at their positions.Schiano and co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell have shared defensive play-calling duties this season that have led to the Silver Bullets being in the top 10 in the nation in several defensive categories, including third in total defense and scoring defense. The play of OSU’s secondary has been its saving grace at times this year. Hooker, Lattimore and company might have to be that safety blanket again up against a Clemson team that completes 27.9 passes and throws for 333 yards per game.“I’ve never coached a secondary as talented as this, and I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Schiano said. “We had some talented ones in Miami (Florida), but this, to me, is the best.”It’s well known that Clemson junior quarterback Deshaun Watson is the keyholder to coach Dabo Swinney’s offense. Watson, a 2015 and 2016 Heisman finalist, is 30-2 as a starter when he finishes the game healthy. He has completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,914 yards with 37 passing touchdowns, which all rank in the top 10 in the country.Watson is without question the leader of the offense, but having wide receivers like Artavis Scott, Mike Williams, tight end Jordan Leggett and running back Wayne Gallman make the Clemson offense that much more terrifyingly difficult to defend. Scott, currently sitting at 592 receiving yards, likely needs just one catch to join Williams, Leggett and Deon Cain as the fourth Tiger receiver with 600 yards or more.To give some perspective on just how talented the Clemson receiving corps is, Clemson only had two receivers with at least 600 yards in 2011 when All-American quarterback Tajh Boyd had five NFL players — Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, Dwayne Allen, Martavis Bryant and Jaron Brown — to throw to. Boyd accumulated over 3,800 passing yards in 2011 compared to Watson’s almost 4,000 yards this season.“They have athletes all around the field,” Baker said. “Great athletes, great quarterback, great running back, great receivers. They definitely have athletes pretty much everywhere at every position.”OSU allowed 226 yards against Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, the nation’s leading passers in quarterback rating. During that game, OSU also shut down the other Oklahoma Heisman finalist Dede Westbrook who racked up just 51 yards on five catches against the Buckeye defense.Coach Meyer said his team wasn’t young anymore following the 42-24 victory at Oklahoma in September. He said his team was experienced. Schiano still believes his team is young, but thus far the defense has stood the test and he doesn’t have any reason to believe his playmakers won’t step up to the task at hand against the No. 2 Tigers.“I just look at (the defense) as we have a chance to keep getting better,” Schiano said. “If you get better every day, hopefully at the end you’re playing for it all.” read more

Read More


No one is asking the Buckeyes to replicate last season’s bowl game use of quarterback Terrelle Pryor.In Ohio State’s 24-21 Fiesta Bowl loss to Texas, Pryor threw for 66 yards, rushed for 78 and even caught a touchdown.But as Pryor has battled through injuries to his ankle and knee, the well of offensive diversity has dried up. As coach Jim Tressel called for more runs and asked less of his sophomore quarterback, the team rolled off five straight wins, with Pryor’s arm playing far less of a role.Now, will the untested quarterback finally be let loose in the team’s most critical game of the year?“I hope so,” Pryor said. “I hope for that every game, but I just want to get a ‘W’. Whatever the team needs me to do, I want to do it.”OSU sprinted past its last five opponents, posting at least 225 rushing yards in each victory. But after nearly six weeks off, will the team revert to its steady ground game, or open things up through the air?Pryor believes a balanced scheme would fare best.“It’s whatever they can’t stop,” he said. “If they can’t stop our passing game, then we’re going to keep doing that. We’ve gotten a lot better passing, we can throw the ball, it just depends on if we’re going to do it. If we keep everything balanced, then we’re going to be good.”Receiver DeVier Posey predicted that Pryor is primed for a break-out performance.“I definitely believe he can have a great game,” Posey said. “He’s poised for a great game, he’s been practicing well.” NFL bound?Ten Ohio State juniors filed paperwork to the NFL to learn about their potential status in the league’s April draft.Many players go through the process simply to gauge their draft stock heading into their final collegiate year.Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward suggested that he wouldn’t mind sticking around for his senior season.“Right now, I’m leaning towards staying,” Heyward said. “I’m just enjoying time with my guys. These guys are my brothers.”Defensive end Thaddeus Gibson refused to cave in to constant questions from reporters, saying that the decision only serves as a disruption.“I don’t want any distractions,” he said. “I’m just locked in on [the game], I’ll worry about that later.”Linebacker Brian Rolle, however, fully expects to return to Columbus for a final hurrah.“It’s not something I weighed about, whether I was going to stay or leave,” he said. “I just did it just to know where I’d be if I did think about leaving. I’ll be back next year most definitely.”Rose Bowl adds trio to HallFormer Buckeye offensive lineman John Hicks was one of three inductees Wednesday to the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.Hicks paved the way for running back Archie Griffin to collect a pair of Heisman trophies. During Hicks’ time at OSU, the Bucks played in three Rose Bowls, winning one.Hicks spoke to a crowd of family, friends, Rose Bowl bigwigs and media about how the Rose Bowl meant so much to him and his family growing up.Along with Hicks, Barry Alvarez, the current athletic director and former coach of Wisconsin, and Tom Hansen, the former Pac-10 Commissioner, were also elected to the Hall of Fame.Rain, rain go awayInclement weather led to the cancelation of Ohio State’s outdoor practice Wednesday afternoon.A steady rain kept the Buckeyes indoors, where they instead held offensive, defensive and position meetings. read more

Read More


Courtesy of MCTSan Diego State running back Adam Muema (4) is tackled after a run during a game against Boise State Nov. 3, 2012, at Bronco Stadium. SDSU won, 21-19.Whether the Ohio State football team plays in the BCS National Championship Game at the end of the season could be determined in part by the strength of its non-conference schedule. San Diego State’s season-opening 21-point loss to Eastern Illinois won’t help the Buckeyes in that capacity.OSU was originally scheduled to play Vanderbilt this Saturday before the Commodores canceled that contest in October 2012 because of schedule changes in the Southeastern Conference. That left the Buckeyes scrambling to find a new non-conference opponent for the second game of their 2013 schedule. Enter the Aztecs.Instead of an SEC opponent, the Buckeyes are now scheduled to play a team who fell to a non-NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision school. Eastern Illinois plays in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, a level of Division I college football one step below the FBS.Aztecs coach Rocky Long said his team played “terrible” in the 40-19 loss.“We’re a pretty hurting football team right now,” Long said during a media teleconference Monday. “We expected to play better than we did. We were bad on offense, defense and special teams.”After losing to an underdog opponent, SDSU will be trying to turn the tables against the No. 3 Buckeyes Saturday.“We know we’re playing a great football team in Ohio State this weekend,” Long said. “We’re hoping to fix some things that we did wrong and play a competitive football game.”Although the Aztecs are coming off of a 21-point loss, junior linebacker Curtis Grant said the Buckeyes will not take their opponent lightly.“Everybody’s respected, so they got the same respect as anybody else that steps into the ‘Shoe,” Grant said. “When that ball sets down, it’s go time.”The Aztecs put up 440 total yards of offense, but were beset by four interceptions thrown by redshirt-junior quarterback Adam Dingwell. Dingwell threw for 318 yards, but only completed 27 of 63 passing attempts.Both Long and SDSU quarterbacks coach Brian Sipe expressed confidence in Dingwell bouncing back against the Buckeyes and said there are no current plans to make a quarterback change.“I don’t expect (Dingwell) to struggle,” Sipe said Monday. “I don’t see him on a hot seat. I’m absolutely convinced and I think the players are that he’s our man … he has intangibles that are very important to this team and I expect him to play well on Saturday.”Dingwell said he takes responsibility for the loss.“I’ll put that loss on my shoulders,” Dingwell said during a press conference Tuesday. “I didn’t play well enough for us to win, I didn’t get the ball in the end zone and that’s my job as a quarterback and a leader on this team. I’ve watched the film, I’ve seen what I’ve done wrong and now I just have to go out there and practice and (get) better.”While Sipe expects Dingwell to play better, he also expects the Aztecs’ offense to have a better balance between passing and running plays against the Buckeyes, after passing on 64 of 99 offensive plays last week.“(Running a balanced offense) was (offensive coordinator Bob) Toledo’s intent going into the season, we just found ourselves backed into a corner,” Sipe said. “Statistics tend to get skewed when that happens, but absolutely, we run a balanced offense here.”The Aztecs’ ability to run a balanced offense may have been affected by the loss of redshirt-junior running back Adam Muema, who left the game early due to an ankle injury. Long said Tuesday he expects Muema, who ran for 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns last season but only gained 17 yards on 10 carries before his injury last week, to be “full speed” for Saturday.OSU coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday Muema could be the best running back the Buckeyes face all year.“When he went down, they weren’t quite the same,” Meyer said. “We’re preparing to see a heavy dose of No. 4 (Muema).”SDSU gained a total of 122 yards on 35 carries versus Eastern Illinois. While Muema’s injury may have played a factor in the Aztecs’ game on the ground, senior left tackle Bryce Quigley said responsibility also falls on the offensive line.“We have to be more physical up front,” Quigley said Monday. “We didn’t prove that we can run the ball. If we don’t do it on the field, then we have to resort to the passing game.”Defensively, the Aztecs are looking to bounce back after giving up 533 yards and six touchdowns to the Panthers.Meyer said the SDSU defense, whose base scheme uses three defensive linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs, could present a challenge.“It’s an odd-stacked 3-3-5 defense that they blitz, high percentage of pressures,” Meyer said Monday. “Their movement, they are a chaos defense that play really hard with some good players.”Redshirt senior safety Nat Berhe said the defense has to “move on” from the disappointment of last week.“I think we came in and we thought it was going to be easy, and that’s our fault,” Berhe said Monday. “We have to get everybody on the same page.”The Aztecs won’t be underestimating their opponent this week. Long said Tuesday he thinks OSU might be the “best team in the country.”“They’re as good as anybody else I’ve seen on film over the past 2-3 years,” Long said.Long said he considers OSU junior quarterback Braxton Miller to be the “leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy.”“He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s got a great arm,” Long said Tuesday. “He’s improved his accuracy tremendously since last year, and not only that, he’s a really big running threat. He’s hard to tackle, he makes people miss, he can outrun people. Let’s just put on ESPN and (see) what they say about him, because it’s all true.”The key to holding Miller in check will be whether or not SDSU can bring pressure and get to the quarterback, redshirt-junior defensive end Cody Galea said.“He’s a good quarterback, but they’re all the same,” Galea said. “If you hit them enough times, they’re not going to play as well, so you just got to get there.”As for Meyer, Long said he considers his counterpart to be “one of the top five coaches in the country.”“I think there’s a lot of good football coaches in the country,” Long said. “There are a few coaches in this country that have, I call it, magic. They have a special feel or touch that make their teams a little bit better than other teams that have similar talent. And now (Meyer is) at a place that he’s got really, really good talent, so he’s a great coach and he’s got talent with a little bit of special magic.”While Long had no shortage of praise for the Buckeyes, he said he is more concerned with his team improving than he is about the competition.“I sense that our team is upset and embarrassed about the way they played, and they’re more worried about getting better than they are about who they play,” Long said.Long said there are multiple benefits to playing OSU, including the $1.2 million that SDSU receives for the game, according to an Associated Press report.“There’s some real financial benefits,” Long said Tuesday. “No. (3), it gives your players an opportunity to compete against the best. Everybody that’s a competitive athlete wants to try to compete against the best to see where they stack up, so that’s the case, if we are competitive and play well, it could help some other things.”The Buckeyes will likely be considered heavy favorites to win this game following SDSU’s loss, but Long made it clear the team has not lost confidence in its goal of winning the Mountain West Conference title this season.“One game does not make a season,” Long said. “We’ve got a lot more games to play.”Kickoff between the 1-0 Buckeyes and 0-1 Aztecs is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium. read more

Read More


The Ohio State wrestling team wins the 2017 Big Ten championship. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsAfter junior Kyle Snyder sealed his individual championship at heavyweight, it became official: the Ohio State Buckeyes are the 2017 Big Ten wrestling champions.OSU scored 139.5 points as a team to claim the top spot while Penn State placed second with a score of 130. Both teams entered the tournament with three No. 1 pre-seeded wrestlers.In addition to the team victory, the Buckeyes also took home four individual championships, including redshirt junior Nathan Tomasello (133 pounds) winning his third, and redshirt freshman Kollin Moore (197 pounds) winning his first.The other two champions were redshirt junior Bo Jordan at 174 pounds, his first Big Ten championship after finishing as a runner-up twice previously, and world champion Snyder winning his second at heavyweight.Two other Buckeyes finished as runners-up: Myles Martin at 184 pounds and Micah Jordan at 149 pounds.The Buckeyes next competition will come at the NCAA National Championships tournament March 16-18 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. read more

Read More


Ohio State redshirt senior guard Carly Santoro (10) controls the ball in the Buckeyes’ game against Indiana on Jan. 10. Ohio State won 55-50. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorRivalry games are a constant. Regardless of the trajectory of a team, players will get fired up and ready to play when they see certain teams on their schedule. The Ohio State and Penn State women’s basketball teams are no exception.The Buckeyes beat Penn State 76-71 on Jan. 17 in overtime after coming back from down double digits. Since then, Ohio State has gone 2-3 while the Nittany Lions have dropped three of their past four games. While the teams have faced similar struggles since their past matchup, their rivalry was the only thing that mattered Wednesday night when Ohio State (10-11, 6-6 Big Ten) beat Penn State (10-12, 3-8 Big Ten) for a second time 78-73.Averaging more than 15 turnovers per game, ball control has been a point of emphasis for the Buckeyes as of late. With a Penn State team averaging 7.7 steals per game coming to town, the Nittany Lions stingy defense was a tough test for Ohio State.“Penn State is good,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said. “They’re talented, they’re a hard matchup because they’ve got some really fast, athletic guards. They were beating us off the dribble early, one guarding the ball and one in the gaps to kind of help each other.”The Nittany Lions forced five turnovers in the first quarter, but a strong defensive performance gave Ohio State the 16-12 lead heading into the second quarter.Penn State searched all night for the 3-ball in an attempt to jump ahead of the Buckeyes, but poor shooting and strong pressure from Ohio State limited the Nittany Lions to just 5-of-19 from deep, with eight of their attempts coming in the first quarter. The Buckeyes connected on 5-of-13 of their attempts from 3.The teams continued going back and forth in the second quarter with neither gaining more than a three-point advantage. After a missed layup by Penn State with less than 30 seconds remaining, the Buckeyes quickly made their way back down the court and freshman forward Dorka Juhász found the basket as the buzzer sounded to tie things up 29-29 at halftime. Juhász notched a double-double, scoring 14 points and earning 11 rebounds.“I think [Dorka] is getting back closer to 100 percent, we needed her tonight, obviously,” McGuff said. “She’s a difference maker for us and it’s great to see her play so well.”Coming out of the locker room, the Buckeyes went on a quick 6-0 run to take the lead again 35-29, though it didn’t last as the Nittany Lions responded with a 6-2 run of their own to make it a two-point game.The Buckeyes later took a 49-39 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter, but Penn State refused to go away, finishing the quarter on a 12-2 run to tie things up heading into the fourth.Ohio State made its living at the free throw line on Wednesday, connecting on 25-of-32 attempts at the charity stripe and hitting 18-of-22 in the fourth quarter. The first eight points for the Buckeyes in the fourth quarter came from the free throw line, which wasn’t broken until a layup from redshirt senior guard Carmen Grande with 5:26 remaining. Adding 14 points and four assists, Grande said she knew fouls and free throws would be an important part of the game for the Buckeyes. “We were in the bonus early in the fourth quarter, so it was either get some layups or some free throws and just rack up points because we were having some trouble moving,” Grande said. The back and forth continued late into the fourth quarter, as neither team was able to put the other away. Penn State took a three-point lead, its largest of the game, with 3:30 remaining, but Ohio State quickly responded with a 3-pointer by Grande to tie things up. Freshman guard Janai Crooms stole the ball by deflecting a Penn State pass and Grande quickly found the basket at the other end to give Ohio State a 72-68 lead, but Penn State junior guard Jaida Travascio-Green responded with a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game. After a miss by Grande on the ensuing possession, Penn State junior guard Siyeh Frazier hit a jumper to take 73-72 with just 30 seconds remaining. Despite the earlier miss in crunch time, Grande came back and scored on a layup to give Ohio State the 74-73 lead.Penn State missed on its possession and the ball went out, and after a review possession was given to Ohio State and the Nittany Lions were forced to foul. Santoro was fouled twice in the final seconds and made all four free throws to make the final 78-73.Santoro finished with 20 points on 4-of-8 shooting, going 11-of-13 from the free throw line.Redshirt senior Makayla Waterman, who finished with a career-high 19 points and seven rebounds on 4-of-6 shooting, knocking down 10 of her 14 free throw attempts, said the team knew it would come down to its defense.“We knew that eventually it was going to come down to getting a couple stops in a row regardless if we’re scoring or not,” she said. “I put that in my mind and I think our whole team did, and we ended up getting a lot of good team stops at the end.The Buckeyes shot 49 percent from the field and tied a season high in points scored with 78. Four players reached double digits.Ohio State will stay home to take on Iowa at 4 p.m on Sunday. read more

Read More


first_imgThe last few years have seen a raft of changes in the education system, not least for GCSE qualifications. While some of these have already been implemented, reforms will continue for the next few years, all the way up to 2020 when current plans will see all GCSE students take the English Baccalaureate (EBacc). Exam hall From course content, to performance measures and grading – here are the changes parents and pupils should expect to see over the next few years.There seems to have been a lot of changes already, what have I missed?The introduction of linear GCSEs in September 2012 effectively prevented students from retaking the same test twice in one year. This reform addressed the widespread ‘resit culture’, which often saw pupils sitting units repeatedly until they had achieved the desired grade.Many welcomed this move to abolish the January and March exams, arguing that modular assessment contributed to grade inflation, encouraged ‘teaching to the test’, and didn’t give an accurate picture of ability.New league tables were also introduced that only took into account a pupil’s first attempt at an exam, meaning there was less incentive for schools to enter pupils early for GCSEs.Haven’t there been changes to subjects as well?So far, exam awarding bodies have strengthened qualifications in geography, history and English.In terms of English language, marks awarded for teacher-assessed speaking and listening exercises were scrapped, while marks for written papers became worth 60 per cent of pupils’ overall grade, compared with 40 per cent previously.Additionally, from January 2013, a small number of additional marks were introduced to reflect the quality of spelling, punctuation and grammar in written exams. This amounted to 5 per cent of overall marks in English literature, history, religious studies and geography papers.What’s the new grading system?New GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths were launched in September 2015 in schools in England, with the first qualifications due to be awarded in August 2017. Courses will be taken over the full two years, rather than by modular assessment.One of the main differences with these GCSEs will be the grading system. No longer will these qualifications be graded A/B/C, students will – in 2017 – receive a grade between 1-9, with 9 being the highest grade awarded.It is thought that roughly the same number of students will achieve a grade 4 and above as currently achieve a grade C and above, while the top 20 per cent of those who get a grade 7 and above, will get a grade 9.Grade 5 – equivalent to a low B or high C – will be the new benchmark for a “good pass” required by league tables, where currently the required grade is C. This, the Government says, will bring the country in line with some of the top performing education systems around the world.It is hoped that this new grading will introduce greater differentiation between high performing students and will also mark out the new GCSEs from their older counterparts.In 2017, students collecting their results will received a mixture of the old style grades and the new numerical system. By 2019, all pupils will be graded with a 1-9.  What will the new GCSEs entail?Maths: From September 2015, pupils will be expected to learn key formulae by heart, while the syllabus will also cover proportion, ratio and “real-world problems” including financial mathematics.There will also be a greater emphasis on non-calculator work. Where previously, as little as 25 per cent of exam papers were “non calculator”, new GCSEs will need to include between a third and 50 per cent.Documents published in 2014 also revealed that the exams would be lengthened to cover the extra content, with pupils set to sit three test papers over four-and-a-half hours.English language: Students will be required to read a greater range of challenging literature and non-fiction texts from a variety of genres and time periods – with reading and writing being equally weighted in the overall grades. There will be greater emphasis on the correct use of spelling, punctuation and grammar.English literature: While no longer compulsory (and not a part of the EBacc performance measure), pupils who take the subject will have to assess a 19th century novel, a Shakespeare play, a selection of poetry since 1789 and a British fiction or drama from 1914 onwards. There will also be emphasis on ‘unseen texts’ in the exam.What about the Ebacc?For those who don’t know, the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a performance measure that allows the public to see how many pupils achieve a grade C or above (a “good pass”) in core academic disciplines, including English, maths, the sciences, history or geography and a language.In June 2015, the Government announced plans to make sure all school pupils study the Ebacc to GCSE. This will be implemented for all pupils starting Year 7 in 2015, who will take their GCSEs in 2020.I’ve heard people mention Progress 8, does this concern me?Realistically, Progress 8 will only concern you if you’re a teacher, the Government, or if you’re looking at league tables. It is a new performance measure which aims to compare the progress of pupils over eight key subjects.It will, in fact, be the Department for Education’s headline performance measure when tables are published for GCSE results in January 2017, alongside traditional measures including; the percentage of pupils obtaining five A* to C grades and the percentage of pupils obtaining the EBacc.A pupil’s Progress 8 score will be reached by first calculating their Attainment 8 score. This score is based on eight subjects taken at GCSE; English and maths (which receive double points), three EBacc subjects, and three additional subjects.Points are assigned to each subject, depending on the grade received. A total is then taken and divided by 10, which becomes the Attainment 8 score.A pupil’s Progress 8 score will be calculated thus: Attainment 8, minus ‘estimated’ Attainment 8.The estimated Attainment 8 score will be the average Attainment 8 score of all pupils who achieved the same level in primary school key stage 2 tests.Each school will also receive a Progress 8 score, based on the average taken from their pupils. Schools will be required to meet a national benchmark, set by the Government, or could be labelled as failing.Still confused? Basically, all you need to know is that Progress 8 will tell you how well a school is performing with all their pupils, not just the high fliers. So, are lower attaining students being left to flounder in favour of the bright students who would previously push up a school’s position in the league tables?There are worries, though, that schools will start to share individual pupil’s scores with parents, when this is intended as a Government measure looking at the whole school, not as an additional way to assess pupils.Is that it then? Or are these changes going to continue?That is definitely not ‘it’. English literature, English language and maths were simply the first new GCSEs to be introduced. Biology, chemistry, physics, modern foreign languages, history and geography – among others – will be launched in September 2016.In September 2017, it will be the turn of economics, psychology, sociology and design and technology.center_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. By 2019, all pupils will be graded with a 1-9.Credit:PAlast_img read more

Read More


first_imgFormer SAS soldier 25-year-old Sgt Ralph ‘Jock’ Hay from Burghead in Morayshire 25-year-old Sgt Ralph ‘Jock’ Hay, who served with 2nd SAS The site of the shootings as it looks now. Among those captured was 25-year-old Sgt Ralph ‘Jock’ Hay from Burghead in Morayshire. His party found itself surrounded by SS Panzer troops and was forced to surrender after it ran out of ammunition following an hour-long battle.He and seven others were later driven to a remote forested spot and executed on October 15.According to the testimony of German soldiers accused of the murders after the war, the captured men were one-by-one told to strip off their uniforms and were led at gunpoint from a truck into the trees.As each was led away, those remaining listened in silence until a gun shot was heard and another captive was ordered out.As the eighth and final man was led to a pit now filled with the naked bodies of his comrades, he looked at his German guard and told him: “We were good men.”The victims were exhumed from their shallow grave in late 1945 and reburied by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at the Durnbach War Cemetery.In the intervening years, the actual site of the shootings became lost. Historians believed they had found it in the 1980s and a memorial was erected, but the author believes he has now found the correct site 12 miles away, west of the hamlet of La Grande Fosse. Site where the body of Sgt. Ralph 'Jock' Hay was discovered New memorial stones will be placed at the sites of two notorious massacres of captured British SAS troops, after the locations were rediscovered in a 13-year-project to commemorate all Second World War deaths from the elite regiment.The locations in eastern France have been tracked down in research to compile the stories of each of the 374 members of the elite regiment, and its forerunner the Long Range Desert Group, killed in the conflict.The research behind the roll of honour has found previously unpublished photographs of the exhumation of some of the soldiers, as well as new pictures of the SAS team sent to investigate the war crimes after the end of the conflict. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Lt James ‘Desmond’ Black of 2nd SAS  The author now intends to place memorial stones at the two sites in the Vosages Mountains after he trawled war crimes trial records and military files and talked to elderly local residents to pinpoint the locations.The killings happened in the aftermath of an audacious SAS mission, codenamed Operation Loyton, to parachute behind enemy lines and attack communications lines in August 1944.The mission is believed to have been betrayed and the men of 2nd SAS found they had parachuted into an area full of German troops.After weeks of hit and run raids, starved of supplies and hunted by German troops, the SAS party withdrew to Allied lines, with many men listed as missing, believed captured.But unknown to the SAS men who had taken part in the mission, Hitler had given his now notorious order dictating that captured commandos should be executed rather than taken prisoner of war, even if they were wearing military uniform. One clue was a new photo discovered of men of the SAS War Crimes Investigation Team (SASWCIT) recovering the bodies from their shallow grave.Don Hay, 69-year-old nephew of Sgt Hay, told the Telegraph: “It’s quite horrific what happened really. The fact that they were captured in uniform and they thought when they went on that operation, if they were captured, they would be taken prisoner of war.”The site of the September 20 execution of another eight men, led by Lt James ‘Desmond’ Black of 2nd SAS, is also believed to have been found near Saint-Die.The author, who has published his roll of honour of all Second World War SAS casualties under the pen name Ex-Lance Corporal X, said: “The Germans made them strip then shot them on the edge of pre-dug pits one by one.“They then back-filled these pits, covering them over in an attempt to erase their crimes.“They buried the men’s personal effects elsewhere or burnt them. Inevitably, when tracked down those responsible all claimed to have been only the duty driver or only a sentry posted on the edge of the area.“Eventually the stories came out and many began to turn evidence against each other.”Profits from The SAS and LRDG Roll of Honour 1941-47 will go to Combat Stress and to fund more memorial headstones. Former soldier Lt James 'Desmond' Black of 2nd SAS last_img read more

Read More


first_imgA woman who plotted to let a paedophile rape her seven-year-old daughter has been jailed for nine years.The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, planned a sex attack on the girl with Stuart Bailey in a series of “depraved” text messages, Cardiff Crown Court heard.She also sent the 54-year-old a naked picture of the youngster and bought sleeping pills to drug her.The court heard that the pair exchanged dozens of messages and the offences only came to light when the woman’s partner found the messages on her phone and reported her.Bailey, who was jailed for a total of 13 years, and the woman were found guilty of conspiracy to rape a girl aged under 13 after a trial in December. Cardiff Crown Court Bailey, of Rhydyfelin, Pontypridd, South Wales, was also convicted of encouraging the distribution of indecent photographs of a child and encouraging the sexual assault of a child by another woman.At an earlier hearing the woman admitted distributing five indecent images of a child and Bailey admitted possessing those images.The judge, Recorder of Cardiff Eleri Rees QC, said Bailey was “prolific” in contacting a number of women on the dating website Plenty Of Fish.She said a “pattern emerged” whereby Bailey quickly turned to talking about “perverted and unlawful” sexual activity, seeing how far he could push the women.”The discussion, unless cut short by the women, would then escalate to you encouraging them to (engage in) sexual activity with children, she said. The mother, who was described as “vulnerable and gullible” by Judge Rees, asked Bailey at one point what she would get out of the plan to rape her daughter and Bailey responded by mentioning sums of £200 to £300.The pair planned to rape the girl during the Whitsun school holiday and talked about drugging her.Judge Rees said that despite speaking to her GP, who advised against giving a child melatonin, the mother went ahead and bought some online.”By your own admission you tried it out a week before the rape was due to take place,” she added.Lucy Crowther, for Bailey, said her client was “totally ashamed of his behaviour and his actions, which he acknowledges will affect his grown-up children and his partner, who is currently standing by him”.Alex Greenwood, defending the mother, said social services had identified her as a person at risk of being manipulated by men prior to the offences and that was what had happened.He added that she had been “bullied, cajoled and blackmailed” by Bailey.Both defendants were made the subject of sexual harm prevention orders and given one year of additional licence to serve. [Stuart Bailey is] totally ashamed of his behaviour and his actions, which he acknowledges will affect his grown-up children and his partnerLucy Crowther, defending Bailey Officers began investigating in June last year after the mother’s then partner found “to his disgust” the messages and she was arrested, Judge Rees added.The investigation led to Bailey, who, it was discovered, was having similar discussions with other women.Judge Rees said of the pair: “You met once face to face for sex. During that encounter you, Bailey, saw a photograph of (the woman’s daughter).”The mother later posed her daughter naked in the bath, exposing her genitals, to take pictures to send to Bailey.Another image showed the girl in school uniform with her underwear exposed, the court heard.Judge Rees added that the pair claimed they never had any intent to carry out the content of their “depraved discussions of a perverted sexual nature”. You met once face to face for sex. During that encounter you, Bailey, saw a photograph of (the woman’s daughter)Recorder Eleri Rees QC Cardiff Crown CourtCredit:PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Read More


first_imgIt follows the Oscars envelope fiasco which resulted in La La Land mistakenly named as the winner of the best picture gong instead of coming-of-age drama Moonlight.“We treated last night’s packed screening of Moonlight to a little extra something,” the cinema posted on Facebook. Rio Cinema manager Andrew Woodyatt told Metro.co.uk the audience got the joke and “everyone loved it”.“It would have been quite awkward if they hadn’t got the joke- but luckily they did,” he explained. Well done @riocinema for playing the beginning of La La Land before tonight’s showing of Moonlight.— Zef 🌵 (@ZefTillDeath) February 27, 2017 Just booked my ticket for Moonlight tonight @riocinema Hope they don’t show LaLa Land instead…(Bargain too, only £4 with Friends card)— Paul Treloar (@PaulieTandoori) February 27, 2017 Awkward: The Oscars mix-up Credit:AP  Oscars mix-up  “We played the beginning of one of the La La Land trailers, which is not exactly like the opening of the film, but everyone in the audience were [like], ‘hang on a minute, something’s wrong here’.“We stopped it, made it look as though we made a mistake, and then started Moonlight. It got a huge round of applause and everyone loved it.”’Envelopegate’ was the highest-profile fiasco in the ceremony’s history, with the Oscars launching a formal investigation and promising to take “appropriate action” following the mix-up. Apparently @riocinema played the first 20 seconds of La La Land before their showing of Moonlight yesterday. Complete genius.— Clement (@clem_murphy) February 28, 2017 A cinema in East London took inspiration from the Oscars mix-up by playing La La Land at a screening of Moonlight as a prank on the audience.The Rio Cinema, a Grade II listed Art Deco building in hipster hotspot Dalston, played 20 seconds of the Oscar-winning musical romcom starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone at the beginning of the screening. Props to @riocinema in #Dalston for playing the first 20 seconds of La La Land immediately before last night’s screening of Moonlight pic.twitter.com/2ZLllrnPFq— Sophie Dukebox (@sophiedukebox) February 28, 2017 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Read More