I have a longstanding grievance with the term “toss-up.” It implies an outcome that resembles the toss of a fair coin, one whose prospects are about 50-50. But in political contexts, the term is sometimes applied far too liberally. Any reasonably competitive race is a “toss-up.” On the eve of the 2012 presidential election, for example, Karl Rove described 12 states as “toss-ups,” including Wisconsin and Nevada, where Mitt Romney had not led a poll in months. (Rove nevertheless seemed to be surprised by the election’s outcome.)Poker players use a related term, “coin flip,” to describe certain hands that get all-in before the flop. Big edges are hard to come by in poker, and so poker players are more precise in their use of probabilistic language. Even so, there is some slack; a matchup between a pair of queens and an ace and king of different suit is often described as a “coin flip,” even though the queens have a 57-43 edge.But Monday night’s NCAA men’s basketball national championship game? It really is a toss-up, at least according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast model, which gives Connecticut a 50.1 percent chance of winning and Kentucky a 49.9 percent chance.You may have noticed that our odds changed since Saturday’s national semifinals. (You can find a complete archive of updates to our projections here). Right after Kentucky beat Wisconsin, we had the Wildcats as a 55 percent favorite to beat Connecticut.But Kentucky’s chances dropped slightly with the news that Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky’s starting center, will miss the championship game. Our model adjusts for injuries, accounting for the value of individual players through a formula derived from Sports-Reference win shares. Cauley-Stein was the Wildcats’ fourth most valuable player, according to that system. His loss can obviously be overcome — Kentucky beat Wisconsin and Michigan without Cauley-Stein. But Kentucky’s edge against Connecticut was so narrow to begin with that the news was enough to tip the odds to 50-50.Las Vegas still had the Wildcats favored by 2.5 points as of late Sunday night. I’m a bit curious as to why. Las Vegas odds usually track computer ratings closely, and Connecticut and Kentucky are about even in most computer systems based on their resumes this season. But those systems assume both teams are at full strength.One reason may be the perception that Kentucky is simply the more talented team. I wouldn’t dispute that. (The FiveThirtyEight model’s way of accounting for a team’s talent is by looking at its preseason ranking, and Kentucky was No. 1 in the preseason. That’s one reason the model was more bullish on the Wildcats than the seeding committee.) On the other hand, if the perception is that Kentucky has been the hotter team, I’m not sure that’s true. Both teams have overcome exceptionally tough draws to reach the championship, but Connecticut has been more emphatic while doing so, winning by an average of 8.2 points so far in the tournament as compared to 3.6 for Kentucky.In fact, Kentucky’s streak of close wins could be historic. Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, the team to win the championship by the lowest aggregate scoring margin was Villanova that year. Villanova outscored its opponents by just 30 points combined over six wins (five points per game). Kentucky will break that record if it beats Connecticut by 11 points or fewer.
If Saturday’s night game at FedEx Field were any indication, the NFL’s quarterback-driven popularity is in pretty good hands for the next decade or so. Rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were both as good as advertised in the much-anticipated preseason game between their respective teams, the Indianapolis Colts and the Washington Redskins.Luck went No. 1 overall as the two highly-regarded prospects were the first two players selected in the most recent NFL Draft, with each knowing they will likely be inextricably linked for the rest of their careers.Both players showed why their arrivals were so anticipated by their respective franchises, each showing tremendous poise and command in the pocket that belied their youth in the Redskins’ 30-17 win.Luck completed 14 of 23 pass attempts for 151 yards and a touchdown, while Griffin, who was last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, went 11 of 17 for 74 yards and a scoring strike of his own.Both players completed at least one pass on every drive before leaving the game after just one third-quarter series.“I haven’t had any overall bad performances for myself,” Griffin said. “I thought [Luck] did a good job out there as well. [The media] blew this up as head-to-head, and we’ll see what happens next.”Barring an unlikely Super Bowl match-up, the two quarterbacks won’t see each other on the field again until a 2014 regular season meeting.But there’s no escaping the comparisons.“It’s not something you can just push away or put aside,” Griffin said. “It’s everywhere. It’s going to be there for our entire careers.”The Colts are coming off a 2-14 season a year ago, while the Redskins are hoping to better their 5-11 mark from last year.Through three preseason games, Luck has completed 63 percent (40 of 64) of his passes for 514 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Griffin has been on target for 65 percent of his attempts (20 of 31) for 193 yards and two scores without an interception.
Playing in the NFL isn’t always fun and glamorous, a point Brandon Jacobs was hoping to make on Tuesday when he revealed some of the seedier side of his celebrity.The San Francisco 49ers running back is a big fan of Twitter and boasts 16,000 followers on the social media outlet.Only not all of them are all that nice, a lesson he discovered the hard way after the results of an MRI taken on the knee he injured against the Houston Texans earlier this month came back negative. The bruising 6-foot-4, 264-pound back tweeted about the positive results and expected a wave of cheers in response.That wasn’t exactly the case entirely.“One person said, ‘I hope you die a horrible death,’ ” Jacobs told Matt Maiocco of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. “I tweeted him back saying, ‘I’m sure my wife and kids appreciate that. Have a good day.’ It’s stuff like that, it’s uncalled for. There are some real dumb, stupid people out there.”Jacobs, who helped lead the New York Giants to a Super Bowl championship last season before signing with the 49ers in the offseason, re-tweeted a handful of the boorish tweets that some offensive words in the hopes that they might shed better light on the kinds of rude antics professional athletes sometimes endure.“Everybody thinks this life is all easy,” he said, “and you’ve got to deal with nothing. I like for people to see what else is out there, what else we deal with as NFL players. Let them see what it is that we go through.”But Jacobs remained convinced that Twitter is a great way to communicate with fans in a positive way.“But it’s also a great method for weak, heartless cowards,” he said. “There are a lot of those people out there. It’s more funny to me than anything to know there are stupid, dumb people out there like that. I deal with it and move on with my day.”
4/26/1972Tom SeaverMets67.3+72.8 7/19/1995Greg MadduxBraves71.8+67.3 10/5/2004Johan SantanaTwins67.6+66.9 10/8/1998Kevin BrownPadres67.4+65.4 4/7/2002Curt SchillingDiamondbacks69.1+64.3 5/16/2000Randy JohnsonDiamondbacks71.8+83.3 5/25/1969Bob GibsonCardinals68.6+76.6 7/13/1915Pete AlexanderPhillies67.7+64.7 Pitchers in the table above are listed only once, at their absolute peak. The only new entrant from last year is Clayton Kershaw.In addition to scores for each pitcher, we maintain a pitching score for every team — these are based on the game scores of every starting pitcher on that team. Each pitcher’s Elo adjustment is relative to his team’s pitching score; pitchers above the team average give the team a bonus when they start, and pitchers below the team average give the team a penalty. Note that in the table above, one pitcher may have a higher overall score than another pitcher but a smaller Elo adjustment; this generally means that his team had a better rotation or that he started more games and his game scores contributed more to the team’s overall average.These are the top 2017 pitchers, according to our pitcher scores: Clayton KershawDodgers65.1+50 5/6/1986Dwight GoodenMets68.5+74.4 6/13/1932Lefty GroveAthletics66.9+64.1 8/4/1940Bob FellerIndians68.4+64.7 6/24/1977Frank TananaAngels68.4+72.2 Justin VerlanderTigers62.3+47 Since starting pitcher bonuses from the two teams are additive, they cancel each other out when two top pitchers face each other and can be quite large when a strong pitcher faces a weak pitcher. The biggest mismatch of all time according to our pitcher scores was a 137-point Elo swing back in 1997, when Randy Johnson (+87) faced Ricky Bones (-50).Our 2017 preseason team ratings are a blend of our 2016 end-of-season ratings (reverted to the mean by one-third) and three projection systems (PECOTA, FanGraphs and Davenport). Our preseason team pitcher scores use our 2016 end-of-season pitcher scores combined with projected starts from the same three projection systems.We use Monte Carlo simulations to play out the season thousands of times to see how often each team makes the playoffs or wins the World Series. As with our other forecasts, we run simulations “hot,” meaning that a team’s rating changes within each simulation based on simulated results, including the bonus for playoff wins. For games where a starting pitcher is not yet known, we assume a pitcher of average strength will play.Our Complete History Of MLB uses a slightly simplified Elo system that doesn’t take pitchers, travel or rest into account.6This means that the ratings in our Complete History interactive won’t always match the ratings in our 2017 MLB Predictions, but using separate rating systems gives us the flexibility to alter our forecast methodology from year to year but keep our Elo history interactives unchanged. Like the forecast, it will update after each game.It’s early, but the Cubs are looking pretty good again. We’re looking forward to the rest of the season and hope you’ll follow along with us. 10/14/1965Sandy KoufaxDodgers68.1+64.4 Kyle HendricksCubs60.2+24 10/7/2015Jake ArrietaCubs68.3+63.4 Chris SaleRed Sox58.9+22 5/18/1987Mike ScottAstros66.9+61.4 This methodology article is for an old version of our MLB forecast. See how our latest MLB predictions work.Editor’s note: This article is an adapted version of one we published last year about how our MLB predictions work.FiveThirtyEight is again publishing a season’s worth of MLB win predictions, using our baseball Elo. The predictions preview upcoming games and show the chances that each team will make the playoffs and that it’ll win the World Series. We’ll also be updating our Complete History Of MLB feature throughout the season, which charts the successes and failures of every franchise throughout history. Here’s how both work.Thanks to Retrosheet, we’ve collected game results and box scores back to 1871 and used them to create an Elo-based rating system and predictive model for baseball that incorporates home-field advantage, margin of victory, travel, rest and — most importantly — starting pitchers. The ratings are also adjusted for park and era effects and account for the fact that favorites are more likely to win in the postseason than in the regular season.Elo is a simple but elegant system that can be tuned and customized endlessly to incorporate available data. In our baseball Elo system, each team has a rating (the average is about 1500), and after every game, the winning team gains some Elo points while the losing team loses the same number of points. The number of points exchanged is based on the chances our model gave each team to win the game and the margin of victory; a win by a big underdog results in a bigger exchange of Elo points than a win by a favorite, and the larger the margin of victory, the larger the exchange.Before every game, we also adjust each team’s rating based on whether it has home-field advantage, how far it’s traveled to the game, how many days of rest it’s had and which pitcher is slated to start. DATENAMETEAMPITCHER SCORETEAM RATING ADJ. 9/15/1978Ron GuidryYankees66.9+62.4 Sources: Retrosheet and ESPN 6/21/2016Clayton KershawDodgers69.6+77.5 7/28/1997Roger ClemensBlue Jays70.6+75.3 The pitcher score is a running average of a pitcher’s individual game scores.Sources: Retrosheet and ESPN Starting pitcher adjustments can have a substantial impact on pre-game team ratings and win probabilities. For example, in June of 2000, Pedro Martinez was worth about 109 Elo points to the Red Sox each time he started, which is the equivalent of a 15 percent boost to their chances of winning the game.3Starting pitcher adjustments give our model about a 1 percentage point improvement in the percentage of games correctly “called” and a corresponding improvement in mean squared error. This means Martinez was worth 109 points more than the average starting pitcher on his team (or even a bit more, since his starts were already incorporated into the team’s overall rating).To generate these pitcher adjustments, we’re using a version of Bill James’s game scores proposed by Tangotiger (and slightly modified by us) to isolate pitching performances. After each game, the starting pitcher’s game score is calculated as:47.4 + 1.5*outs + strikeouts – 2*walks – 2*hits – 3*runs – 4*homerunsWe maintain a running average of these game scores for each pitcher to produce his overall pitcher score.4Just like the margin of victory modifier, game scores are normalized for eras and stadiums so pitchers are directly comparable. They’re also adjusted to take the opposing team’s offensive strength into account. Here’s a list of the pitchers with the highest peak scores in history, the dates when they peaked and their corresponding Elo bonus:5A pitcher’s Elo bonus is calculated with 4.7*(pitcher_score – team_pitching_score). 5/5/1929Dazzy VanceRobins69.7+76.3 All-time pitcher peaks, based on pitcher score Jon LesterCubs61.4+29 Corey KluberIndians61.0+36 Home-field advantage is worth 24 Elo points in our model, and travel and rest adjustments are worth up to about 5 points each1The travel adjustment is calculated as (-MILES_TRAVELED^(1/3))*0.31, and the rest adjustment is DAYS_REST*2.3.; these three components are combined into the “Adjust for home field, travel and rest” section in the image above.2Here are some more of our baseball Elo parameters:The general K factor is 4, though it’s 6 for postseason games and also is adjusted based on margin of victory.The difference in rating between two teams is multiplied by 4/3 for postseason games.Expected margins of victory are calculated with elo_diff^3*5.46554876e-08 + elo_diff^2*8.96073139e-06 + elo_diff*2.44895265e-03 + BASE (BASE is dependent on the year and stadium the game is played in but has an average of about 3.4).The actual margin of victory in each game is also adjusted for era/stadium effects and then flattened a bit with ((abs(margin_adj) + 1)^0.7)*1.41.Thus, the whole Elo shift is (outcome – winprob) * (adjusted_margin / expected_margin) * (6 if postseason else 4). 4/30/1980J.R. RichardAstros67.7+67.1 Johnny CuetoGiants58.8+23 NAMETEAMPITCHER SCORETEAM RATING ADJ. Madison BumgarnerGiants58.9+23 Max ScherzerNationals60.6+33 Top 2017 starters by pitcher score 6/8/2000Pedro MartinezRed Sox78.0+108.6
Things That Caught My EyeI hope you don’t enjoy hitting in baseballBen Lindbergh looked at partial no-hitters, that is games where a pitcher threw a no-hitter threw a certain number of innings, and found that this season so far has had the most no-hitters though the 5th, 6th and 7th innings since the late 1960s. Through May 8, there were 28 no-hitters through the fifth inning, or 5.3 percent of games played. On any given day with a full slate of games, a no hitter through five innings is more common than not. [The Ringer]Brad Stevens is responsible for something historic in BostonSince 1980, only six NBA teams that were projected to have a record less than .500 won at least 55 games. One of them is the 2017-18 Boston Celtics, and a lot of that is attributable to coach Brad Stevens, who has an average of 4.9 extra wins per season over his first five years on the sideline. [FiveThirtyEight]How the Warriors break youIn the four seasons since Steve Kerr has been coaching the Golden State Warriors, the team has put up 10 unmatched points a total of 253 times, the most in the NBA. These 10-0 periods are where the Warriors really shine. These happen in the first quarter (74 such occasions), the second (66), the third (70) and the fourth (43). [ESPN]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?Esports expansion team prices are risingIt appears the $20 million plopped down by buyers of the initial 12 teams in the nascent Overwatch League is panning out, as the reported price for the next batch of expansion teams is reportedly $30 to $60 million. The broadcasts for the three stages that have aired since January averaged 80,00-170,000 and sponsorships and broadcast sales have come close to $150 million. [ESPN]It’s lotto time!With a 25 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick after the NBA Draft lottery and a 64.2 percent chance of getting in the top three, the Phoenix Suns have sufficiently tanked to take the top spot probability-wise in the forthcoming lotto. The Memphis Grizzlies have a 19.9 percent of the first pick, followed by Dallas with a 13.8 percent chance of No. 1. [ESPN]Warriors win in the Rockets’ casinoHere’s a peculiar situation: Tilman Fertitta owns the Golden Nugget Casino in Vegas, and also as of September, the Houston Rockets. The Golden Nugget casino took bets on the Rockets chances of winning the Western Conference prior to Fertitta’s purchase of the team, and later revised the offering to be “best record in the West” and did not offer a Houston option. As a result, anyone who bet on the Warriors has won already, regardless of whether the Warriors are indeed the best in the West. Moreover, this could hurt the Golden Nugget’s sportsbook should the Rockets make the finals. [ESPN]Some personal news, though, before we get to the big number: I’m leaving FiveThirtyEight to start a forthcoming daily morning newsletter, Numlock News, and work on other exciting projects. Beside the Points will absolutely continue, but if you’ve been a fan of my run, please subscribe to my new newsletter!Big Number(s)$1 billionThe U.K.-based Perform Group is planning a billion-dollar disruption to U.S. boxing, with the war chest intended to entice American talent to box with their production partner Matchroom Boxing. The plan is to fight back against a domestic boxing establishment predicated on hiding its best content in $100 pay per view packages. [Bloomberg]Leaks from Slack: natesilver: neil:Here’s some context from SIG: If Casey wins the “official” coach of the year award (yesterday’s thing was a COTY voted on by other coaches; the real COTY is voted by journalists), he’d be the fourth coach to win Coach of the Year and then not return to that team the next season (Dolph Schayes in 1965-66; Pat Riley in 1989-90; George Karl in 2012-13).natesilver:were the other guys fired, though? karl was, right?neil:Yeah, Karl was firedRiley resignedSchayes stepped down to become the supervisor of NBA refereesOh no, Schayes was firedneil:“He was named the N.B.A. coach of the year in 1966 for taking the Philadelphia 76ers, the successor to the Syracuse franchise, to a 55-25 regular-season record and the Eastern Division title, only to be fired after they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the powerful Celtics in a series in which the two dominant centers of that era, Boston’s Bill Russell and Philadelphia’s Wilt Chamberlain, went head-to-head.”Russell was to Schayes as LeBron is to Casey — Boston beat Philly in 65 and 66Predictions NBA See more NBA predictions All newsletters Oh, and don’t forgetBLAKE BORTLES IS A NATIONAL TREASURE We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe
OSU cornerbacks redshirt sophomore Marshon Lattimore (2) and redshirt junior Gareon Conley (8) embrace while redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker (24) looks on following the Buckeyes’ 31-0 loss against Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorGLENDALE, Ariz. — The six returning starters from the 2015 Ohio State football team were put on draft board to begin the season. Following Saturday night’s 31-0 loss to No. 2 Clemson in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl, a few of them answered questions about their future.“It will be really hard for me to walk away when we lost 31-0,” said redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett. Junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan, redshirt junior defensive end Tyquan Lewis and redshirt junior cornerback Gareon Conley said they will have to sit down and talk to their families and coaches about possibly leaving early for the NFL draft. However, two Buckeyes who were draft eligible declared their intentions to return to the Buckeyes. Redshirt junior guard Billy Price and redshirt sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard said they will return to the program in 2017.“We just got to get to work in the offseason,” Hubbard said. “We know what it takes now and we got to do more.”Price listed getting his degree and his performance tonight as motivators to play next season.“We’ll start off the season training, and this is going to be a burning feeling in my stomach,” he said. “I didn’t do enough to win tonight.”Having to fill a total of 16 starting spots on offense and defense opened the door for a few players to have breakout season. So good, in fact, that some of those breakout stars have to decide if they will return to Ohio State for the 2017 season.Redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker, junior H-back Curtis Samuel and redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore all echoed McMillan, Lewis and Conley.McMillan said it would be difficult to leave on a bad note.“I gave my all to this program,” he said. “I want to finish it off the right way.”
The NCAA might have hit the Ohio State football program with a one-year bowl ban and cut nine scholarships over three years, but it hasn’t affected the school’s recruiting. According to recruiting experts, no OSU football recruits have indicated they are thinking about switching their commitment. In fact, the opposite is true. “In actuality, we surveyed most of the commitments that they have and basically it was almost unanimous that they’re going to stick with their commitments to Ohio State,” said Steve Helwagen, managing editor of Bucknuts.com. “I don’t think anybody is planning to back out.” Kevin Noon, managing editor for BuckeyeGrove.com, said he has also spoken to many of OSU’s recruits and doesn’t foresee any problems. “We’ve spoken to a lot of the big names of the class and they’ve all said that they want to sign with the Buckeyes,” Noon said. “They’re still excited about their opportunity to be part of the Buckeyes.” The bowl ban will affect OSU after the 2012 regular season, which would be the freshman year for the incoming recruits. Typically, most freshman at OSU don’t play a large role on the field. “They’re probably going to be backups if they don’t redshirt,” Helwagen said. “For those guys, to miss a bowl game, they don’t figure to be frontline players. It’s probably not that big of an issue.” But the bowl ban is something that many didn’t expect. OSU athletic director Gene Smith repeatedly said he didn’t think a bowl ban was likely and said he was “surprised” when the NCAA Committee of Infractions announced their decision Tuesday. When new head coach Urban Meyer first took the job at OSU, he indicated that he didn’t expect a bowl ban either. Helwagen and Noon said recruits were probably being told not to expect a harsh decision. “When they hired Urban Meyer, he said that Gene Smith and Gordon Gee told him that they didn’t think a bowl ban was in the cards,” Helwagen said. “I think Urban Meyer was telling recruits what he was being told … (the ban) couldn’t have been unforeseen because it was a possibility. I think it did catch a lot of people off guard though.” In addition to the bowl ban, the NCAA slashed nine scholarships over three years and put the football program on three years probation. Noon agreed the bowl ban may have come as a surprise, but said the other sanctions shouldn’t worry the recruits in the slightest. “I think the one-year bowl ban comes as a little bit of a surprise,” Noon said. “But when you look at the rest of the penalties, none of those directly have bearing on kids whether they commit to a program because scholarship reductions don’t mean anything to you if you already have a scholarship.” Before the NCAA levied its punishments, Meyer had been on quite a roll on the Buckeye recruiting trail. Noah Spence, Se’von Pittman and Tommy Schutt, three highly rated defensive line recruits gave their pledge to the Scarlet and Gray within the past two weeks. Two of those players, Pittman and Schutt, were previously committed to other Big Ten schools, but Meyer was able to flip Pittman from Michigan State to OSU and Schutt uncommitted from Penn State. With OSU now facing a bowl ban, some fear opposing coaches might use that fact to negatively recruit against players already committed to the Buckeyes. But Noon said finally knowing the penalties might actually be a good thing. “I think Ohio State was already being negatively recruited when the whole NCAA cloud was hanging over its head,” Noon said. “I’m sure that schools will try and potentially use this to see if they can shake somebody loose, but I don’t expect it to be anywhere to the point of where it was beforehand where schools were saying allegedly that Ohio State was going to get USC-type penalties.” The USC football program just finished the second season of its two-year bowl ban this year and had 30 scholarships cut by the NCAA as part of violations involving former Trojan running back Reggie Bush. Recruits now know what they’re facing if they choose to enroll at OSU, but that doesn’t mean opposing coaches won’t try their best to convince the recruits to change their minds. “If they really want those guys, they’re going to go after them,” Helwagen said.
CHICAGO–For large stretches of the final game of the night in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten tournament, it looked like Ohio State’s opponent in its semifinal game Saturday would be Iowa. The No. 6-seeded Hawkeyes took a 10-point lead into halftime against No. 3 seed Michigan State and held a 12-point lead 10 minutes into the second half. Paced by junior forward Adreian Payne, who scored 18 points, MSU started to chip away at the deficit. The Spartans went on a 13-2 run with 10 minutes remaining in the contest and took a 50-49 lead on a 3-pointer by freshman guard Gary Harris with 4:11 left. Play was back-and-forth from there, but MSU held on to a 59-56 victory after an Iowa 3-pointer in the waning moments clanked off the rim. Down the stretch, there were a few controversial calls that upset Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. Iowa junior forward Zach McCabe was called for a foul on MSU senior forward Derrick Nix when it appeared Nix had traveled before his shot. This led to McCaffery throwing his suit jacket onto the floor. With 30 seconds to play and Iowa down, 57-56, Hawkeye sophomore forward Aaron White was called for a foul on a Harris jumper, causing McCaffery to slam his fists onto the padding of the scorer’s table. “This team deserved a better fate,” McCaffery said afterwards, indirectly but almost assuredly blaming the officials for the loss. With the victory, MSU (25-7) will face OSU (24-7) Saturday at 4 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago. Let’s take a closer look at OSU’s upcoming opponent: Record: 25-7, 14-5 Big Ten Against OSU in the regular season: 1-1 Jan. 19: MSU 59, OSU 56 in East Lansing, Mich. The Buckeyes lost a heartbreaker to the Spartans in the first matchup of the season. MSU scored the first 10 points of the game and took a 30-26 lead into halftime. OSU, trailing by three points with seven seconds remaining, settled for an errant 3-pointer by sophomore guard Shannon Scott that clanked off the backboard with three seconds left. The shot confused many, as it came with time left on the clock and junior forward Deshaun Thomas open on the wing. Feb. 24: OSU 68, MSU 60 in Columbus OSU got its revenge on the then-No. 4 ranked Spartans, led by a rarely-seen offensive-minded Aaron Craft. The Buckeyes’ junior guard–known for his defense–scored a game-high 21 points, more than he had in the previous three games combined. OSU trailed, 31-25, at halftime, but led by Craft, the Buckeyes outscored MSU by 14 in the second period. Matchup to watch: Payne vs. OSU’s big men Payne dominated OSU in the Spartans’ loss in Columbus. The Ohio-native had 12 points, 15 rebounds, a block and a steal, having his way with every forward Thad Matta put on him. With OSU’s strength on defense being its guards, the Buckeyes can expect to bottle up–to an extent–MSU junior point guard Keith Appling and Harris. If sophomore center Amir Williams or redshirt senior forward Evan Ravenel can contain Payne, OSU could fare well Saturday. Saturday’s games: No. 1 seed Indiana vs. No. 4 seed Wisconsin, 1:40 p.m. No. 2 seed OSU vs. No. 3 seed MSU, 25 minutes following IU-UW
“We’ll help them with the excuses,” said Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer after the team’s Tuesday practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. It was the team’s third practice of the spring and its first in full pads, but according to Meyer, it was “not a great day.” “First day back from spring break, full pads for the first day. It didn’t feel like a top-5 practice so we just need to get back and have one Thursday,” Meyer said. A number of developments will be facing the Buckeyes when they take to the field for their next practice. New injury for Jordan Hall Rising redshirt senior running back Jordan Hall sat out Tuesday’s practice with what Meyer called a “slight tug on the hamstring.” Meyer said Hall could have practiced but sat out for precautionary reasons. “He could probably practice at 80 percent,” Meyer said. “I held him out today because I want to get him someplace higher.” After sitting out the majority of last season with a torn PCL, Hall was granted a medical redshirt that will allow him to play this fall. The running back said he is excited to have another opportunity to play in the spread system and feels he can help the offense. “We have a lot of playmakers on offense and I just think I can be another one,” Hall said. “I just want to be another person the defense has to prepare for and I’m looking forward to that.” Hall, who is expected to be a versatile, hybrid-type player, might give the Buckeyes an advantage out on the edge. He said he is not sure what he will be doing in the position, but likened it to what he played in high school. “I played a little bit of slot in high school, so it’s kind of coming back,” Hall said. “It’s just different going against a college defense instead of a high school defense.” Offense operated at “60 percent” in 2012 Running backs coach Stan Drayton coached with Meyer at Florida and said he has seen a spread offense operating at its full potential. Drayton said, though, that OSU’s 2012 offense operated at “about 60 percent” of its potential, but he expects improvement in the 2013 season with the addition of Hall. “When you sit there and study our film, you see safeties sitting there at eight yards because (rising senior running back) Carlos Hyde and (rising junior quarterback) Braxton Miller are in the backfield,” Drayton said. “The moment we are able to pose a pass threat and get that balance in our offense we are hoping it to be very explosive.” Hyde taking OSU team motto to heart The Buckeyes’ 2013 season motto is “The Chase,” intended to reflect their pursuit, in part, of a conference and national championship. Hyde said the idea of “The Chase” is something he takes to heart. “‘The Chase’ means a lot. It’s not just one thing,” Hyde said. “I want to be the first running back under coach Meyer with 1,000 yards, I want to hold that crystal ball. I want it all.” Drayton said Hyde became more of a team player as last season went on. “Carlos matured, and it became more than just about him,” Drayton said. “That was the difference in his burst onto the football field last year. It is definitely the direct reason he had the success that he had.” Running back depth pushing Hyde On National Signing Day, Drayton told his running backs that his goal was to find players better than them. He said he made the comment with the intention of making the running backs work harder than they did last year. “I want to see them compete,” Drayton said. “I’m trying to create the best competitive environment in one single group in the country and I think we are getting close to that, I really do.” Drayton added that Hyde will not be receiving special treatment, despite being the starting running back last year. “Carlos Hyde needs to know that nothing is going to be given to him, and he knows that,” Drayton said. “That’s why he is out here practicing his butt off, because he knows everyone is coming after him. He can’t relax.” The Buckeyes are set to hold their fourth spring practice Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa (right) hugs redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett following a game against Penn State on Oct. 25 in State College, Pa. OSU won in double-overtime, 31-24.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorHeading into its second straight Big Ten Championship Game, the Ohio State football team will boast 16 players on at least one of the three all-conference lists.Redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett was named to the first team All-Big Ten list by the coaches and media in addition to winning the Griese-Brees Big Ten Quarterback of the Year award despite suffering a fractured ankle against Michigan, ending his 2014-15 season.Barrett finished the year with 3,772 total offensive yards and 45 total touchdowns, breaking the Big Ten record of former Purdue quarterback and current New Orleans Saint Drew Brees, whom the award is partially named after.OSU sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa was also a first team All-Big Ten selection and received the Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Bosa currently needs just one more sack to break the single-season school record of 14 set by Vernon Gholston in 2007.Other Buckeyes named to the first team All-Big Ten list were redshirt-sophomore guard Pat Elflein and senior cornerback Doran Grant who were both selections by the media.OSU selections for all three All-Big Ten teams can be seen below:Coaches’ selections all-Big Ten first team:QB J.T. Barrett, OL Pat Elflein, DL Joey Bosa, DB Doran GrantCoaches’ selections all-Big Ten second team:OL Taylor Decker, TE Jeff Heuerman, DL Michael BennettCoaches’ selections all-Big Ten honorable mention:OL Darryl Baldwin, P Cameron Johnston, LB Joshua Perry, WR Devin Smith, WR Evan SpencerMedia selections all-Big Ten first team: QB J.T. Barrett, DL Joey BosaMedia selections all-Big Ten second team: OL Pat Elflein, OL Taylor Decker, TE Jeff Heuerman, DL Michael Bennett, LB Joshua Perry, DB Doran GrantMedia selections all-Big Ten honorable mention:OL Darryl Baldwin, SAF Vonn Bell, RB Ezekiel Elliott, P Cameron Johnston, WR Devin Smith, WR Michael Thomas, DL Adolphus Washington