Starting this week, with the help of basketball analytics experts Jeremias Engelmann and Steve Ilardi, we’re rolling out weekly NBA power rankings fueled by ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus player ratings. These power ratings predict how well each team will perform over the coming week of games; we’ll also list each team’s projected end-of-season win total and its odds of making the playoffs.If you want to read more about how these ratings work, scroll below the rankings.Q: What do these ratings mean?A: They represent each team’s projected per-100 possession performance — schedule-adjusted and relative to league average — for the coming week, taking into account the quality of players on each roster, as well as injuries and expected minute allocations.Q: How is player quality measured?A: Using ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus (RPM), which attempts to isolate each player’s contribution to the team’s scoring margin while on the court by adjusting for the quality of his teammates and opponents faced. While the version of RPM listed at ESPN.com is a single-season metric, these power ratings use the more predictive multiyear version of RPM.Q: Where do the rosters come from?A: ESPN’s depth charts and injury wire.Q: Who generates the projected minute allocations?A: Jeremias Engelmann, the creator of Real Plus-Minus, provides the minute projections for each team.Q: How are these different from other computer power ratings available, such as the Hollinger Power Rankings?A: Most power ratings are, to some extent or another, backward-looking; they can only generate ratings using inputs from games the team has played. Given a large enough — and relevant enough — sample of played games, this is usually not a problem. But in the case of early-season rankings, or when a team experiences roster changes midseason (via trades or injuries), it takes time for traditional power ratings to catch up to the team’s new quality.These RPM power ratings, however, are based on the talent of the players on hand for each team. The advantage of this approach is that when a player is added to or subtracted from a team, a talent-based rating can adjust immediately, without waiting for new games to be played. In other words, injuries, trades and signings are instantly accounted for in these rankings.The other side of that coin is that, barring personnel changes, these ratings aren’t going to change drastically from week to week. RPM player talent estimates have a strong grounding in Bayesian statistics; and for veteran players, their prior rating carries a good deal of weight. So, while a team’s “statement win” in a given week might have a tangible effect on human or even recency-weighted computer power rankings, it’s unlikely to move the needle much with these ratings.Q: Why look at only the next week?A: The ratings can also be modified to use long-term minute projections for players who are injured but will return later in the season. For now, though, we’ve chosen to use the short-term version to get a good snapshot of where each team stands.Q: What are the projected wins and playoff odds?A: Those are generated via the aforementioned long-term RPM talent ratings, rather than the short-term numbers from the power rankings themselves. The long-term ratings are used to simulate every remaining game in the 2014-15 schedule, and the simulated results are added to the NBA’s actual standings. Expected wins are the average number of wins for the team at the end of the season across the simulations; playoff probability shows the percentage of simulations in which the team qualified for the postseason.Q: How good are these ratings?A: It’s hard to say, as this type of analysis — using aggregated player talent ratings to estimate team strength — doesn’t have a long track record. However, RPM itself (or at least its predecessor, xRAPM) is consistently the single most predictive advanced metric available to the public. And the FiveThirtyEight preseason projections, which used a similar methodology, are performing well in a prediction contest against other metrics.
It took a while, but San Antonio billionaire and Texas Longhorn booster Red McCombs finally offered an apology to new Longhorns coach Charlie Strong for saying Strong’s hiring was a “kick in the face.”McCombs told San Antonio Express-News that he had a phone conversation with Strong, who is Black, and said the new coach had his “total support.”McCombs, who also slighted Strong by saying the former Louisville coach “would make a great position coach, maybe a coordinator,” said: “He wanted my help and my support,” McCombs said. “I told him I’d be happy to do it.”He tried to explain away his comments by saying “my interest in this coaching issue was to see that we had one of the three best coaches in the United States.”McCombs, former owner of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Vikings of the NFL, sounded genuinely hurt that his comments had been interpreted as racially motivated. McCombs obviously cares about the school; he’s donated more than $100 million to Texas.
Well, that was quite a game. Despite a 10-point fourth quarter comeback, the New England Patriots looked like they were headed for another gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of a circus catch (this time with the Seattle Seahawks’ Jermaine Kearse playing the role of David Tyree), before undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler stepped in front of a Russell Wilson pass and sealed the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl crown since 2001.Much will be made of the Seahawks’ decision not to run the ball from the Patriots’ 1-yard line, instead opting for the fateful pass that Butler intercepted. During the 2014 season, 57.5 percent of all rushing plays from the opponent’s 1 yard-line ended in touchdowns — and, as Harvard Sports Analytics Collective pointed out Sunday night, you could make a strong case for Seattle’s probability of scoring being even higher against New England’s defense: But I’ll leave most of the second-guessing to others for now. In the moment, I was mainly interested in where this game ranked among all classic Super Bowls in terms of excitement. (After all, it featured an impressive comeback and some wild swings in win probability late in the game.) To quantify how thrilling the game was, we once again turn to the Excitement Index, which we wrote about in our Super Bowl preview Friday. The Excitement Index measures the sum of the absolute changes in win probability throughout a game, which theoretically captures how many extreme ups and downs there were in a given Super Bowl.Perhaps surprisingly, though, this year’s game only ranks 12th all-time if you use the data from NumberFire’s in-game Win Probability tool:(Consider this an unofficial early return; the numbers we used last week were from Pro-Football-Reference, which won’t post Super Bowl win probability until Monday. It’s worth noting that some of the NumberFire probabilities don’t completely match what Brian Burke’s model lists.)Certainly, there were some plays that moved the probability needle dramatically. According to NumberFire’s model, Wilson’s interception dropped Seattle’s chances of winning from 64 percent to essentially zero. The bobbled completion to Kearse several snaps earlier raised the Seahawks’ probability by 30.8 percentage points. But most of the changes before that sequence were more gradual. The Patriots built a modest cushion for most of the first half before the Seahawks tied the game; likewise, the Seahawks rise to 91 percent win probability early in the fourth quarter was a slow march.At the same time, models like the Excitement Index are, well, just numerical representations of football reality. No index can really capture the craziness and excitement of what just transpired on the field — and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
OSU then-freshman attacker Cian Dabrowski (14) during a game against Maryland on May 1. Credit: Courtesy of Ben SolomanSenior attackman Cian Dabrowski said she believes the leadership and influence of the senior class will lead the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team to reach new heights this season on the heels of a 13-8 campaign.Dabrowski enters her senior season coming off a 2015 season for the books. She is the team’s active leader with 69 goals and 25 assists and she scored a team-high four goals when OSU knocked off No. 1 Maryland in the semifinals of the 2015 Big Ten tournament. This broke the Terrapins’ 27-game winning streak and gave the Buckeyes their first win over a top-ranked team in program history.“That was my favorite moment of my career as a Buckeye,” Dabrowski said. “No one really expected us to beat them, so it made that victory so much sweeter, and we all take a lot of pride in that game.”Going into the 2016 season, Dabrowski said she wants to continue the success the team has had in the past as different people step up and fill new roles.“Our team’s goals this year revolve around trying to build off of a great season last year and continuing to grow,” Dabrowski said. “We proved to be a big threat in our conference, as well as in the country, so continuing with that elite mentality is something we work on everyday.”Dabrowski said her personal role on the squad has evolved drastically since her freshman year.“We had some phenomenal players my first few years, so it was my job to learn from them and find a way to complement them,” Dabrowski said. “Now it’s my opportunity to put everything I’ve learned to work, and I’m looking forward to having more trust and assurance from my teammates when I have the ball.”OSU then-freshman attacker Cian Dabrowski (14) celebrates with teammates after a goal during a game against Maryland on May 1. Credit: Courtesy of Ben SolomanCoach Alexis Venechanos, in her sixth year at the helm for the Buckeyes, said Dabrowski and the rest of the senior class have always had great leaders above them, and she expects them to carry that quality on to their younger teammates.“I think Cian is really taking on the leadership role well,” Venechanos said. “She’s taking some of these newcomers under her wing in the attacking end, and she’s working well with our returners and some players who need a little more game experience.”Dabrowski said having nine teammates in her class brings a sense of variable leadership, which is reflected throughout the entire team.“Looking at nine of us for leadership is a blessing for our team, because it allows for so much diversity, and that unifies us with the younger girls,” Dabrowski said. “Our senior class is the most determined, hardworking and passionate group of girls that I am fortunate enough to call my teammates.”Venechanos said she is excited to see how Dabrowski will influence her team this season.“In the big stage, Cian is clutch,” Venechanos said. “She will be a person we will look up to both on and off the field this year.”Growing up in a lacrosse and hockey family, Dabrowski said she has a different perception of the game, which is something that she said she can use to her advantage as a leader.“I hope to continue to use this to my advantage in the upcoming season by inspiring my teammates to approach things differently,” Dabrowski said. “This is something that the Buckeye lacrosse atmosphere motivates me to do, while continuing with our own traditions, it can be truly humbling.”Venechanos said Dabrowski is a phenomenal player and an even better person, making her the ideal leader for the team. The hype around the Canadian product led to her being one of three OSU players named to the Big Ten’s players to watch list on Monday.“She has this great sense of self-confidence and never gets flustered when she makes a mistake,” Venechanos said. “She has this poise around her, and I’m really impressed with her competitiveness and determination.” Dabrowski and the Buckeyes are set to kick off their 2016 season on Feb. 13 against Detroit at 3:30 p.m. at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
As if Evan Turner didn’t do enough already.In the game of basketball, guards typically handle the ball and pass, forwards shoot and score and centers rebound and block shots. So what position is Turner, who led Ohio State in points, rebounds, assists, 3-point percentage and steals a year ago?“He would be your hybrid point forward, whatever those announcers call those guys,” coach Thad Matta said. “He’s a guy that can do a lot of different things.”Technically speaking, Turner started all 33 games last season at shooting guard, with juniors Jeremie Simmons and P.J. Hill splitting the point guard duties. But the 6-foot-7 swingman handled the leather as much as any point guard would, as evidenced by his team-high 7.1 assists per game.As the Buckeyes turn the page on a new season, Matta will present Turner with a new role to add to his arsenal: the team’s true point guard.“I think I’m going to do a little bit of everything,” said Turner, a First Team All-Big Ten selection last year. “I’m going to start off at point guard, trying to orchestrate the team. I always prefer to have the ball in my hands and try to have control over the game.”While his all-around statistics impress, Turner’s passing ability caught Matta’s eye, triggering the idea to start the junior at the point.“One thing I’ve seen a lot of improvement in is Evan’s passing,” Matta said. “That’s something that we talked about in the offseason. From that standpoint, we’ve got to get him the ball in certain situations because he finds guys, and it’s advantageous for us where he is when he catches it. The defense has a lot of decisions to make. When we have guys around him that can shoot it, that’s good for us.”The switch means that Hill and Simmons will both come off the bench, a demotion they refuse to scoff at, knowing full well that the team excels best when Turner possesses the ball.“It benefits us a lot because Evan is such a great player that he can not only create for himself, but he can create for others,” Hill said. “That makes the game easy when a guy can drive. Everybody is all eyes on him, they help, we move into position, and he gets us the ball on time every time where we want it.“And even if they don’t help, then he scores. Good things happen when he has the ball. He’s a very special player.”Matta hopes that the move will enable Turner’s teammates to contribute more for a team that won 22 games and lost in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago.While defenses concentrate on Turner setting up the offense, forward David Lighty expects the rest of the players on the court to get less attention, and open shots as a result.“He creates for everyone out there on the floor,” said Lighty, who missed the majority of last season with a broken foot. “You have to double-team him because if you don’t, he’s going to hurt you. Whatever defenders have to do to stop him, it’s going to help us out because they have to read him.”He might not match his league-high 17.3 points per game average from last year, but Turner should find plenty of open teammates.“I score in other ways,” Turner said. “We have an equal balance of scoring, and it makes it even easier for everyone else on the team. If [his scoring] takes a hit, it takes a hit. We’re just trying to get some more wins in the win column.”In all, both coaches and players feel that placing Turner at the point puts him — and the team — in the best position to exceed the predicted preseason finish of third in the conference.“Coach Matta is helping me understand the system more and putting trust in me to carry out what needs to be done,” Turner said. “I think that I can make plays, and I have a lot of teammates who can make shots. Whichever way we go, we’ll try to be successful with it.”
In an era of Ohio State athletics history defined by discounted tattoos, dishonesty and disgrace, it’s hard not to feel let down or jaded as football scandals are unearthed, one by one. But it’s times like these when the character of the majority should outshine that of a few. In my time with The Lantern, I’ve covered a variety of sporting events and talked to countless athletes and coaches. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that the athletes worthy of recognition aren’t just the ones wearing helmets and shoulder pads. Sure, Terrelle Pryor hitting DeVier Posey over the middle for a touchdown is impressive. But it pales in comparison to synchronized swimmer Meghan Kinney fighting for her life against bone cancer as she’s forced to watch her team win a national championship without her. Watching Solomon Thomas’ Sugar Bowl-clinching interception was incredible, but it’s no more impressive than watching the men’s volleyball team defeat California-Santa Barbara for its first national championship in program history. Watching women’s lacrosse player Kirsten Donahue check opponents to the turf can be just as brutal as watching Mike Adams pancake defensive linemen. I could discuss men’s track and field All-American Michael Hartfield’s pursuit of competing at the Olympic trials in the name of his father who passed away shortly after Hartfield arrived at OSU. Or senior women’s tennis captain Paloma Escobedo fighting back from a late-season injury to compete in the sport she loves. I sat glued to my seat while softball’s Karisa Medrano pitched a complete game to clinch a 4-3 victory with runners on base against Pittsburgh. The point is, all of these athletes play with grit and determination. They win with pride and courage, and they lose with emotion and dignity. Just because they don’t enter Ohio Stadium every Saturday and play while millions watch live on television, doesn’t mean we should ignore, or worse, forget who these athletes are. They compete at every opportunity for a fraction of the recognition, and they do it with integrity and love for their sport. These are the people who represent what Buckeye athletics really are.
Fresh off a win that moved Ohio State into solo first in the Big Ten East Division, coach Urban Meyer met with the media to discuss the win against Michigan State and an upcoming matchup with Minnesota.Meyer praised the offensive performance against Michigan state, but added the Buckeyes have room to improve defensively as they prepare for a Minnesota team that gives “relentless effort.” He also addressed the play of a few particular Buckeyes and said one OSU sophomore made a big play on a broken foot during Saturday’s 49-37 win in East Lansing, Mich.He said sophomore H-back Dontre Wilson has a broken foot. “He actually caught a touchdown pass with a broken foot.”Wilson is “out for a few weeks,” Meyer said. Added he might have to have a pin put in his foot.He said the Buckeyes are “fortunate” and “blessed” to have both Barrett and injured senior quarterback Braxton Miller set to return to OSU next season.Meyer said the Buckeyes “played their best game” against Michigan State, but added there’s still a lot of room for improvement.Meyer said the players to grade as champions on defense were sophomore safety Vonn Bell, senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett and senior cornerback Doran Grant. Grant was the defensive player of the game.He said the players who graded out as champions on offense were senior wide receiver Evan Spencer, sophomore H-back Jalin Marshall, redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas, senior tight end Jeff Heuerman, redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Pat Elflein and redshirt-freshman offensive lineman Billy Price.Meyer on Spencer: “He’s my MVP, as far as just all around what we ask him to do.”He said the offensive players of the game were junior offensive lineman Jacoby Boren, redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, senior wide receiver Devin Smith and sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott.Meyer said Devin Smith played his best game against Michigan State.Meyer said Spencer and redshirt-junior wide receiver Corey Smith were the top special teams players. He said Corey Smith should be in the wide receiver rotation going forward.He praised Minnesota coach Jerry Kill and called him a friend. He added Minnesota gives “relentless effort” and is “very well coached.”Meyer on moving on from the win at Michigan State: “We’re done with the celebration part, now we’re learning from it. The players will receive their directive tomorrow, and now we’re moving forward.”Meyer on performance against Michigan State: “We didn’t play as well as we could on defense, and we expect to play much better.”He said Barrett has to be in the Heisman Trophy conversation statistically, but conceded he hadn’t watched many other players nationally.Meyer on the offensive performance against the Spartans: “It’s our best performance we’ve had since we’ve been here.”He said he’s “upset” that the Buckeyes haven’t found a strong rotation on the defensive line.Meyer said he’s very comfortable with redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall running the wildcat. Added the Buckeyes have “a couple passes ready for” Marshall.He said Barrett’s biggest improvement has come from his “understanding of the game.”Meyer: “Early in the season, we were not a great team.”“This is the most improved team I’ve been apart of,” he said.Meyer praised the play of OSU’s wide receivers, said he’s comfortable with that group for the first time in a long time.The Buckeyes are scheduled to play Minnesota on Saturday in Minneapolis. Kickoff is set for noon.
Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook (12), under pressure, puts the ball in the air against Michigan on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. The host Wolverines won, 14-7. Credit: Courtesy of TNSLocation: Madison, Wisconsin2016 record: 11–3 (7–2)Head coach: Paul Chryst2017 record so far: 2-0All-time record vs. OSU: 18-58What has happened thus far in 2017Wisconsin made quick work of Utah State and Florida Atlantic, outscoring both by a combined score of 90-24. Its offense rode the legs of two running backs, freshman phenom Jonathan Taylor and redshirt sophomore Bradrick Shaw. Taylor ran all over Florida Atlantic, racking up 223 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, the Badgers have been lights out against their opponents, limiting them to an average of only 276 yards per game and just 24 total points. Wisconsin travels to Provo, Utah, to take on BYU in its next test Saturday.Impact playerWhile eyes might gravitate to 6-foot-6, 249-pound senior tight end Troy Fumagalli, the Badgers’ season hinges on the play of redshirt sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook. He’s been steady through the team’s first two games, throwing for 445 total yards and four touchdowns with one interception. Hornibrook grew into the starting role last season, and though his numbers from a season ago indicate he might not put up eye-popping stats, he should be able to, at least, remain a steady presence for the team under center.StrengthsWisconsin fields another all-around solid team in 2017. There’s plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but the Badgers’ offensive line has the potential to be the best unit on the team. If redshirt sophomore left guard Jon Dietzen can stay healthy, the line could provide Hornibrook with some of the best protection in the conference. With Taylor and Shaw also lining up in the backfield, Wisconsin boasts its latest grouping of talented running backs.WeaknessesYou’ll be hard-pressed to find someone willing to pencil a different Big Ten West team ahead of Wisconsin. Why? The Badgers are extremely talented and have one of the easiest schedules in the country, with neither Ohio State nor Penn State on the docket. The problem with the Badgers last year, though, was their inability to close out games, losing by seven points to Michigan, to Ohio State in overtime and then to the Nittany Lions in the conference-title bout. Wisconsin must come out on top in those kind of matchups if it is to take the next step this season.
Jeremy Hunt will impose a new contract on junior doctors from October Credit:Neil Hall But the first such strike was suspended following warnings that the health service could not operate safely if so many doctors walked out at short notice.A number of senior doctors have expressed concern about the dangers of pushing ahead with such lengthy periods of action. Until now, the longest strike has been two days. The meeting on Wednesday came after the head of the NHS said it was impossible to ensure no harm to patients, if up to 50,000 junior doctors abandon their posts for weeks on end – regardless of how much notice was given.In a public intervention last week, Simon Stevens said: “We should be in no doubt that it will not be possible to ensure there will be no harm to patients, even with several weeks’ notice, if we are talking about multiple weeks of up to 50,000 doctors not being available for emergency care at hospitals across this country.” 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. Junior doctors have been urged to consider calling off planned strikes by senior medics from the British Medical Association.A meeting of the union’s council -made up of around 30 leading doctors – on Wednesday urged trainee medics to think again before embarking on the biggest strikes in NHS history. It followed warnings from senior BMA figures that the plans could cost lives. The meeting is understood to have passed a motion urging the BMA’s junior doctors committee (JDC) to consider all actions short of the strikes, before planned industrial action goes ahead. Sources close to the negotiations said several senior doctors felt the plans were too dangerous and did not have the backing of most junior doctors. However, one said they expect the more militant JDC to proceed with the strikes regardless, after holding their own discussions later this month. Thousands of medics have been asked to take part in a string of week-long strikes, starting on October 5, in action which was billed as “the trade union dispute of this century”. The BMA last night refused to comment on what was discussed at the meeting. Leaked documents have recently revealed a limited appetite for strike action among junior doctors, who will sacrifice three weeks’ pay if they take part in the action.Junior doctors were initially balloted about a new contract last November, when they voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action to reject changes to pay and working patterns.However since then there have been a series of concessions, resulting in terms which the head of the union’s junior doctors committee described as “fair” and “safe.”In recent weeks, a number of junior doctors have expressed concern that they have never been asked if wish to strike over the current deal, let alone take part in week-long walkouts. Private polling of junior doctors has found just one in three support walkouts.