Monthly Archives: September 2019

Four Strikes And Youre Out

The plane at the bottom of the figure is the plane that rises from the front of home plate — the same one on which the official strike zone is occasionally rendered in television replays. The thick red lines on the axes denote the strike zone. The red on the horizontal axis is the width of home plate; the red on the vertical axis is the normalized distance between the batter’s chest and the bottom of his knees.3MLB’s Pitch f/x system provides measurements of the top and bottom of each batter’s strike zone, which we used to normalize the height of the strike zone for each batter. If you were a home-plate umpire, you’d be looking down through the plane, over the catcher’s head and towards the pitcher.The 3D heat map rising from the plane measures the probability of a called strike at each location on the plane. Home-plate umpires are good at calling the obvious. Pitches that travel right down the center of the official strike zone — through the red at the top of the heat map — are called strikes more than 99 percent of the time. Pitches that cross the plane well outside the official strike zone — where the heat map is its deepest blue — are called strikes less than 1 percent of the time.Umpires are inconsistent at the edges of the official strike zone, where the heat map turns green. Here, pitches that cross the plane in the same location are sometimes called strikes and sometimes called balls. This band of uncertainty is wide: about six to eight inches separate pitches that are called strikes 90 percent of the time and pitches that are called balls 90 percent of the time.There’s a difference between an umpire being inconsistent and an umpire being biased. Inconsistency usually takes place within that band of uncertainty, when the umpire makes different calls on pitches at the same location. But he is biased when those differences correlate with factors other than pitch location, like the count. Where umpires are inconsistent, they also happen to be biased. To see this, consider two versions of the figure above: one for when the count has three balls, and one for when the count has fewer than three balls. These heat maps should be the same. Whether there are three balls in the count shouldn’t matter. All that should matter is the location of the pitch.When we look at the difference between these two heat maps, we should see no difference — a flat plane. But we don’t. We see an expansion of the strike zone in three-ball counts.Change in the Probability of a Called Strike With Three Balls The official strike zone is the red rectangle beneath the heat map. The color and height of the heat map measure the change in the probability of a called strike when the count has three balls versus when there are two or fewer balls. The deep blue signifies no change — these are the pitches that are so obviously a ball or strike that not even a three-ball count changes them. In the center of the official strike zone, obvious strikes are still strikes; on the periphery, obvious balls are still balls. But on the edge of the official strike zone — in the band of uncertainty — a ring of mountains rises from the plane. The strike zone expands in three-ball counts, particularly at the top and bottom of the zone’s vertical axis. Borderline pitches, which are normally called strikes 50 percent of the time, are called strikes about 60 percent of the time with three balls in the count. Umpires act as if they would rather keep an at-bat going on a borderline pitch than issue a walk.In two-strike counts, we see the inverse effect. For close pitches, a strike is now less likely to be called, which makes our heat map look like a moat.Change in the Probability of a Called Strike With Two Strikes Consider a forgotten game in April 2010 between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox were up a run with two outs in the eighth. Their set-up man, Matt Thornton, was on the mound, protecting a lead with a runner on first and the right-handed Jhonny Peralta at bat. Ahead in the count with one ball and two strikes, Thornton froze Peralta with a slider on the outside half of the plate, a couple inches below the belt. For a pitch like that, the umpire, Bruce Dreckman, would normally call a strike — 80 percent of the time, the data shows. But in two-strike counts like Peralta’s, he calls a strike less than half the time.Sure enough, that night Dreckman called a ball. Two pitches later, Peralta lashed a double to right, scoring the runner and tying the game. Neither team scored again until the 11th, when Cleveland scored twice to win the game. Had Peralta struck out to end the top of the eighth, Chicago almost certainly would have won.1When the home team carries a one-run lead into the bottom of the eighth, it wins 89 percent of the time.This one call illustrates a statistical regularity: Umpires are biased. About once a game, an at-bat ends in something other than a strikeout even when a third strike should have been called. Umpires want to make the right call, but they also don’t want to make the wrong call at the wrong time. Ironically, this prompts them to make bad calls more often.That’s according to research I did with David P. Daniels showing that the strike zone changes when the stakes are highest. We looked at more than 1 million pitches, almost all ball and strike calls from the 2009, 2010 and 2011 regular seasons, and found that the strike zone expands in three-ball counts and shrinks in two-strike counts.2Baseball observers have previously documented how the strike zone changes with the count. Other researchers have shown that the count changes how likely umpires are to call a strike outside of the official strike zone or a ball within it. It also shrinks again when the preceding pitch in the at-bat was a called strike. To put it another way, on close calls, umpires are unlikely to call a fourth ball, a third strike, or a second strike in a row. Umpires call balls and strikes as if they don’t want to be noticed.The umpire’s job is simple: Call a strike when the pitch crosses the official strike zone; call a ball when it doesn’t. When the right call is obvious, umpires make it almost every time. One way to see this is to look at the probability of a called strike by pitch location.Probability of a Called Strike The strike zone shrinks by as much as 20 percentage points in the top and bottom. With two strikes, borderline pitches — those that are ordinarily 50/50 calls — become 30/70 calls (30 percent strikes, 70 percent balls) for the average umpire. And with two strikes, the most biased umpire calls balls on borderline pitches almost every time. On close calls, umpires act as if they would rather give the batter another chance than call a third strike.In both maps, the biases are greatest where the boundaries of the official strike zone are least apparent. What matters most is the vertical location of the pitch. Standing behind the plate, the umpire can easily tell whether a pitch is too far inside or outside. But it’s harder to know where the pitch is relative to the batter’s knees and chest. We would expect this uncertainty to breed inconsistency. But it also seems to induce the greatest bias. The highest peaks and the deepest parts of the moat are at the top and bottom of the strike zone.Finally, we see that the strike zone shrinks again when the previous pitch in the at-bat was a called strike.Change in the Probability of a Called Strike When the Previous Pitch Was a Called Strike Here, the shrinkage is more uniform — about the same on the sides as on the top and bottom. The blue tips of the moat are about 15 percentage points deep: 50/50 calls become 35/65 calls when the last pitch in the at-bat was a called strike. Umpires appear reluctant not only to end the at-bat but also to call two strikes in a row. (Interestingly, there is no change in the probability of a called strike when the last pitch was called a ball.)These mistakes are frequent — pitchers tend to pitch to the borders of the official strike zone. And they are consequential — they happen in the most pivotal calls. When a 50/50 call becomes a 60/40 call, as it does with three balls, umpires are mistakenly calling strikes on 10 percent of borderline pitches. When a 50/50 call becomes a 30/70 call, as it does with two strikes, umpires are mistakenly calling balls on 20 percent of borderline pitches.Major League Baseball has embraced technologies that are meant to make calls on the field more consistent. The league has long used pitch-tracking technology to encourage home-plate umpires to behave more like machines, evidently without complete success. This past offseason, the MLB extended replay review to cover essentially all umpire decisions — except ball and strike calls. Now as before, no justice will be served when a pitcher throws a strike and the umpire drops the ball.This article is adapted from “What Does it Take to Call a Strike? Three Biases in Umpire Decision Making,” which the author wrote with David P. Daniels. read more

Posted in fqqjg Tagged , , , , , , , , , .

Muslim Brothers Hamza and Husain Abdullah To Sit Out

Husain and Hamza Abdullah.NFL free agents Hamza and Husain Abdullah, brothers who are practicing Muslims, plan to sit out the 2012 season to speak at mosques this summer, then make a pilgrimage to Mecca, NFL.com reported Thursday.It’s unclear whether they are leaving the NFL permanently.“It has been a blessing to play in the NFL for both Husain and I,” Hamza said in a press release, “but we would be remiss if we didn’t give thanks to the One who made it all possible.”“I visited Makkah, Saudi Arabia in March and a strong sense of urgency overcame me to attend ‘Hajj’ in October,” Husain said. ” I love the game of football but, it would directly coincide with my pilgrimage. So, I’m taking some time off.”Husain, 26, a defensive back who started 15 games for the Minnesota Vikings in 2010 and nine more for the Vikings in 2011, has turned down contract offers from the Vikings and other teams, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.Husain’s career may have been in jeopardy before this decision. He sustained four concussions over the past two seasons, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and had visited a concussion specialist to determine whether his long-term health was in dangerHamza, 28, played sparingly for the Arizona Cardinals in 2011, but he appeared in 16 games. read more

Posted in apepb Tagged , , , , , , , , , .

How Our College Football Playoff Predictions Work

ReferencesAssociated Press Top 25 poll / College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings / Elo rating / ESPN’s Football Power Index The DetailsThe goal of any statistical model is to represent events in a formal, mathematical way — ideally, with a few relatively simple mathematical functions. Simpler is usually better when it comes to model-building. That doesn’t really work, however, in the case of the College Football Playoff’s selection committee, the group tasked with picking the nation’s four best teams at the end of each season. As you might imagine from a bunch of former coaches and college-administration types, they can sometimes resist the clean logic that an algorithm would love to impose. So while we’ve found that our model can do a reasonably good job of anticipating their decisions, it has to account for the group behaving in somewhat complicated ways.That’s one of the challenges our College Football Playoff forecast faces, but one of the fun parts, too. Unlike our other prediction models, which only really try to predict the outcomes of games, it also tries to predict the behavior of the humans on the selection committee instead. Here’s a rundown of how we go about doing that.The key characteristics of the model are that it’s iterative and probabilistic. It’s iterative in that it simulates the rest of the college season one game (and one week) at a time, instead of jumping directly from the current playoff committee standings to national championship chances. And it’s probabilistic in that it aims to account for the considerable uncertainty in the playoff picture, both in terms of how the games will turn out and in how the humans on the selection committee might react to them.Games are simulated mostly using ESPN’s Football Power Index. We say “mostly” because we’ve also found that giving a little weight to the playoff committee’s weekly rankings of the top 25 teams helps add to the predictions’ accuracy. (We use the Associated Press Top 25 poll as a proxy for the committee’s rankings until the first set of rankings is released in the second half of the season.) Specifically, the model’s game-by-game forecasts are based on a combination of FPI ratings and committee (or AP) rankings — 75 percent on FPI and 25 percent on the rankings.1Because the committee ranks only the top 25 teams, we estimate how it would rate the remaining Football Bowl Subdivision teams based on our Elo ratings, which we’ll discuss a little later.In many ways, that’s the simple part. While predicting games isn’t always the easiest endeavor, there’s a science to it that we’ve applied across our many sports interactives over the years. But the next part, the process of predicting the human committee, is unique to our college football model.After each set of simulated games, our system begins to guess how the committee will handle those results. These predictions account for the potential margin of victory in each game and for the fact that some wins and losses matter more than others. To assist with this part of the process, alongside a separate formula based simply on wins and losses, we use a version of our old friend the Elo rating. In other sports, we use Elo to help predict the games, but in this case, we mainly rely on it to model how college football’s powers that be tend to react to which teams won and how they did it. This special version of Elo is designed to try to mimic the committee’s behavior.We’ve calculated these Elo ratings back to the 1869 college football season. Between each season, ratings are reverted partly to the mean, to account for roster turnover and so forth. We revert teams to the mean of all teams in their conference, rather than to the mean of all Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Thus, teams from the Power Five conferences2The ACC, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12 and the SEC. — especially the SEC — start out with a higher default rating.3To be more precise, our model treats conferences as existing along a spectrum, rather than in binary groups of “power” and “minor” conferences. As a consequence of this, our system also gives teams from power conferences more advantages, because that’s how human voters tend to see them.This conference-centric approach both yields more accurate predictions of game results and better mimics how committee and AP voters rank the teams. For better or worse, teams from non-power conferences (except Notre Dame, that special snowflake among independents) rarely got the benefit of the doubt under the old BCS system, and that’s been the case under the selection committee as well.Some of the model’s complexity comes in trying to model when the selection committee might choose to break its own seemingly established rules. For example, we discovered in 2014 — when the committee excluded TCU from the playoff even though the Horned Frogs held the No. 3 spot in the committee’s penultimate rankings and won their final game by 52 points — that the committee isn’t always consistent from week to week. Instead, it can re-evaluate the evidence as it goes. For example, if the committee has an 8-0 team ranked behind a 7-1 team, there’s a reasonable chance that the 8-0 team will leapfrog the other in the next set of rankings even if both teams win their next game in equally impressive fashion. That’s because the committee defaults toward looking mostly at wins and losses among power conference teams while putting some emphasis on strength of schedule and less on margin of victory or “game control.”We’ve had to add other wrinkles to the system over the years. Before the 2015 season, for example, we added a bonus for teams that win their conference championships, since the committee explicitly says that it accounts for conference championships in its rankings (although exactly how much it weights them is difficult to say).4Determining how much a conference championship matters is tricky because a team that wins a championship game has a lot of other things going for it — for instance, by virtue of winning its conference’s championship game, a team gets an additional head-to-head win against another strong team, something the committee (and our model) already values highly. And late in 2016, we added an adjustment for head-to-head results, another factor that the committee explicitly says it considers. If two teams have roughly equal résumés but one of them won a head-to-head matchup earlier in the season, it’s a reasonably safe bet that the winner will end up ranked higher.Going into 2019, we also added a tweak to how we treat independents — most notably Notre Dame (remember, special snowflakes and all that) — when they have a strong season. In previous years, our model handled a team like the Fighting Irish by assessing their résumé using the tools above but not giving them any kind of conference championship bonus … since they are, you know, not in a conference. This ended up somewhat significantly underrating Notre Dame’s chances of making the playoff, because the selection committee effectively treats the Irish like they had won a conference (or similar to it) if they make it to the end of the season undefeated or with just one loss.To deal with this piece of college football reality, we now assign the conference championship bonus to independents on a fractional basis, depending on their W-L record. These fractions are based on how often different win and loss totals (up through and including championship week, but not bowl games) are associated with the probability of winning conference championships in the CFP era, in conferences that have championship games. Here are those percentages: How to give conference-champion credit to independentsChance of winning a conference championship based on both wins and losses (through championship week but excluding bowls), 2014-18 131000100 1164231 1289174 Model CreatorNate Silver FiveThirtyEight’s founder and editor in chief. | @NateSilver538 Source: ESPN 1026314 <=9<1>=4<1 For an independent team with a given record, we average together the fractional chance of winning a conference based on its wins with the chance based on its losses. So an 11-1 Notre Dame team would receive (0.64 + 0.74) / 2 = 0.69 of a conference championship bonus added to its playoff bona fides.One last note here: The value of our conference championship bonus depends on the quality of a school’s conference. So in the case of independents, Notre Dame is treated as being in the equivalent of an average-strength power conference. For other independents, their “conference” strength is estimated based on their Elo rating.Even after all of these adjustments, there are no guarantees. So not only do we account for the uncertainty in the results of the games themselves, but we also account for the error in how accurately we can predict the committee’s ratings. Because the potential for error is greater the further you are from the playoff, uncertainty is higher the earlier you are in the regular season. In early October, for example, as many as 15 or 20 teams will still belong in the playoff “conversation.” That number will gradually be whittled down — probably to around five to seven teams before the committee releases its final rankings.Editor’s note: This article is adapted from previous articles about how our College Football Playoff predictions work. Based on Wins:Based on Losses: Related ArticlesJust Win, Baby (And You’ll Probably Make The College Football Playoff)Should Alabama’s Résumé Have Trumped Ohio State’s Conference Crown? WinsConference Title %LossesConference Title % Version History1.6 Forecast updated for 2019 season; conference champion adjustment added for independents.Sept. 19, 20191.5 Forecast updated for 2018 season.Oct. 4, 20181.4 Forecast published for 2017 season; game-by-game forecasts incorporate team rankings, power conferences given a boost, AP poll used before committee releases rankings.Oct. 5, 20171.3 Head-to-head results incorporated into model.Dec. 2, 20161.2 Forecast published for 2016 season.Nov. 1, 20161.1 Forecast published for 2015 season; conference champion bonus added, uncertainty increased.Nov. 3, 20151.0 College Football Playoff model first published for the 2014 season.Nov. 21, 2014 read more

Posted in oxytg Tagged , , , , , , , , , .

Lion tamers Turner OSU top Penn State

Desperate times call for desperate measures.When Ohio State let the majority of a 17-point lead slip away Wednesday at Penn State, Evan Turner took matters into his own hands.Despite making just one of his eight shot attempts in the first half, Turner continued to fire away down the stretch, leading the Buckeyes (22-7, 12-4) to a 75-67 victory over the Nittany Lions (10-17, 2-13).The National Player of the Year candidate dished out seven assists and grabbed seven rebounds to go along with his 25 points, one of four Buckeyes in double figures.OSU used a 19-6 run to open up a 49-32 second half lead before Penn State fired back. The Nittany Lions connected on a barrage of 3-pointers to cut the lead to 50-44.After the Buckeyes built the lead back up to 11, Penn State forced a series of OSU turnovers to trim the lead to 59-57.That’s when Turner took over. The junior scored OSU’s next eight points, pushing the lead to eight, an advantage the Buckeyes wouldn’t relinquish.Forward David Lighty chipped in 18 points, while Jon Diebler added 16 and William Buford 12. Guard Talor Battle paced Penn State with 22 points.The win marked the 13th in a row for OSU over Penn State, the longest current streak of one team over another in the Big Ten.Ohio State welcomes Michigan to the Schottenstein Center for a Saturday matinee this weekend at noon. read more

Posted in fpplr Tagged , , , , , , .

Will Turner excel at next level

As expected, Ohio State junior point guard Evan Turner announced Wednesday that he will enter the NBA draft. The announcement marked the end of his time at OSU, and the focus now turns to Turner’s life as a professional basketball player.After withdrawing from classes, Turner will begin preparing himself for the draft, which will take place on June 24. The first step will likely be hiring an agent, and then presumably select a location to train, something that Turner says shouldn’t be too difficult of a decision.“I haven’t really fully selected an agent yet because I just made the decision last night,” Turner said. “I’m not sure where I’m going to work out or anything like that, but anywhere where there’s a rim and a ball that’s fine.”OSU coach Thad Matta said he spoke with NBA scouts and that they had plenty of good things to say about Turner. Matta couldn’t say specifically where scouts told him Turner would be drafted.“I think he’s going to be in really good shape,” Matta said. “They love a lot of things about his game.”The consensus is that Turner will be at least a top three pick, and possibly be drafted behind only Kentucky’s John Wall, who also declared for the draft Wednesday. As such a high pick, it is likely, if not definite, that Turner will play for one of the league’s worst teams.Depending on how the draft plays out, Turner could end up in a New Jersey Nets uniform, a team that may end the year with 70 losses. For someone who Matta said is one of the most competitive players he’s ever coached, the futility may be difficult to handle.But Turner said it is just all part of the process.“I don’t plan on losing, but if it happens I always say you have to pay your dues,” Turner said. “The most important part is learning from your losses. You have to have confidence and be committed to the mission.”The question remains, however, what position will the Buckeye point guard play in the NBA?In his first two years at OSU, Turner played mostly forward before making the move to the point. The lack of a true point guard on the Buckeye roster may have forced the move, but Turner thrived at the position en route to winning a bevy of national awards.With his size and myriad of skills on the offensive end, however, the possibility remains that he could play a number of different positions. Turner said he doesn’t know what position he expects to play, but he doesn’t plan on preparing any differently.“I just think I’m a basketball player,” Turner said. “I don’t know, I’m not the coach and I don’t know what type of coach or staff I’m going to have.“I’m just going to do the same thing I’ve been doing, be the first one in the gym and the last one out of it.” read more

Posted in njnrm Tagged , , , , , , .

Position battles continue as season approaches for Ohio State football

Ohio State football is again a nationally ranked team and appears to be entrenched as a squad worth paying attention to in 2012, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t uncertainty among its personnel. OSU, which The Associated Press announced Saturday was ranked No. 18 in its first Top 25 poll of the 2012 season, begins its third week of preseason preparation Monday and is less than two weeks until its season-opening game Sept. 1 against Miami University (Ohio). Several key position battles are yet to be sorted out for the Buckeyes, though. Senior tight end-turned tackle Reid Fragel and freshman Taylor Decker are continuing what coach Urban Meyer called a “battle” for the starting right tackle position while both the running back and wide receiver groups are jockeying for position up and down their respective depth charts. Perhaps chief among the position competitions is the one being waged between Fragel and Decker. During OSU’s Aug. 12 media day, Meyer said the Buckeyes weren’t functional at right tackle, a position Fragel volunteered for after Meyer arrived at OSU in November. “I knew when coach Meyer came in, his offensive philosophy was different from (former OSU coach Jim) Tressel,” Fragel said at OSU’s media day. “Being a pro-style tight end, I knew I couldn’t fit in as a spread tight end. I also knew I had some blocking ability and size to work with.” For his offer to switch positions, Fragel was rewarded with a fight for playing time with Decker, a 6-foot-10, 310-pound first-year player from Vandalia, Ohio. By Friday, the final day of a week that included eight practices and three two-a-days, Fragel said he feels that he’s been put up against a wall. “I tend to respond pretty well to pressure,” Fragel said. “Taylor’s a great kid, a great player, so, he’s going to be a great player in the future and this year I’m just trying to get the No. 1 (right) tackle spot, and whoever that is in the way, I look to compete against them. In the end, I plan to win.” The competition at running back is a bit more complicated than the straightforward, one-versus-one battle between Fragel and Decker. Senior running back Jordan Hall is the team’s No. 1 option at running back, but he could miss as many as three games during the non-conference portion of OSU’s schedule due to an injury. Hall stepped on glass while walking his dog, a pit bull named “Cali,” in June. Surgery was needed to repair a torn ligament after the incident, and junior back Carlos Hyde might be called upon to fill the void. Hyde carried the ball 106 times for 566 yards, six touchdowns and an average of more than five yards per carry in 2011. Perhaps his strongest outing of the 2011 season came in the electric atmosphere of Nebraska’s first-ever Big Ten conference home game where he rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Through nearly two full weeks of fall camp, running backs coach Stan Drayton said Hyde has stepped his game up and “answered the bell.” “I didn’t coach Carlos last year, I coached those wide receivers. And just kinda (through) side vision, I thought he was a little lazy as a football player, quite honestly,” Drayton said. “I’m sure he’ll tell you the same thing. And the one thing that he’s improved upon is his approach to the game and his passion and energy level is through the roof right now. He’s really escalated his value to this football team.” For Meyer’s part, he said during Big Ten Media Days that he feels this is the defining moment in Hyde’s career. “It’s either yes or no (for Hyde),” Meyer said. “There can’t be any more gray area. He’s had too much gray in his career, and he’s got talent.” There’s no room for complacency for Hyde – there’s a competition brewing for the backup position once Hall returns. Included in that competition, Drayton said, is redshirt sophomore Rod Smith and freshman Bri’onte Dunn and Warren Ball. “That’s a competition. You know, you’ve got Bri’onte Dunn who’s really had a physical camp. With the ball in his hands, he’s really good. Just the other stuff – he kinda needs to get honed in on protections.” Drayton said. “That’s going to take a little longer for a back. You know, and Warren Ball just got off the boat, man. “You know, he’s hearing this stuff for the first time, getting a feel for the intensity for the first time. You know, but again, he’s a guy that goes from Point A to Point B as fast as he can go.” Finally, the receivers are battling for catches and playing time under the supervision of first-year receivers coach Zach Smith. Smith told the assembled media on Friday that he feels senior receiver Corey “Philly” Brown has emerged along with sophomore Devin Smith, calling Brown “unbelievable” while adding that Devin Smith has made the most progress of any player in that position group. After Brown and Devin Smith, it might be a thin group – Zach Smith declined to rank his receivers, choosing instead to continue complementing the two standouts he had already noted. Smith said the pressure has been mounting on him and his players since he came on the job. After all, the Buckeyes’ passing offense finished 116th in the nation last season according to multiple sources. “There’s definitely pressure. I mean, obviously, it’s been world renowned from (Meyer), beneath him to anyone that talks about it (the passing offense),” Smith said. “There’s pressure on the group. I think that really gives them an opportunity. You kind of see who thrives under that pressure and who doesn’t. “A lot of them have embraced that as an opportunity. You know, some of them kind of crumble depending on the kid. But it’s a very, very positive thing for the group and the kid because they see it as an opportunity to go out and be more of a focal point of an offense and catch footballs and actually touch the ball.” These battles will continue into this week and Fragel has confidence in the system for both his personal battles as well as those of his teammates. “The way it should be in any system is the better player will play,” he said. OSU’s season-opening game against Miami University (Ohio) kicks off Sept. 1 at noon at Ohio Stadium. read more

Posted in yelfw Tagged , , , , , , .

Ohio State womens volleyball set for Kentucky in 2nd round of NCAA

Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe waits to serve during a game against Lipscomb on Dec. 5 in Lexington, Ky., during the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament. OSU won, 3-0.Credit: Chris Slack / Lantern photographerLEXINGTON, Ky. — Ohio State and Kentucky have not played one another since the Wildcats defeated the Buckeyes in four sets in the 2012 NCAA women’s volleyball tournament, in Lexington, Ky.But after two years have gone by, each team has changed. And with that comes a chance at redemption.OSU and Kentucky are scheduled to square off Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament after the Buckeyes swept Lipscomb on Friday.The No. 13 Wildcats were 15-3 in the 2014-15 regular season at Memorial Coliseum, but against ranked competition, things didn’t go their way.Playing five ranked teams this season, the Wildcats went 1-4, including a 1-2 record against ranked opponents at home. Their losses at home came to then-No. 6 USC and then-No. 7 Florida, while they swept then-No. 22 Texas A&M at home on Oct. 5.The No. 18 Buckeyes are 4-7 against ranked opponents on the season, and were 1-5 on the road in those games. Their lone ranked win on the road came against then-No. 8 Nebraska on Oct. 4 in five-sets.Now with OSU and the Wildcats set to face-off on Kentucky’s home court, both teams will have to adjust after playing a night earlier.“Fatigue is always something I worry about,” Buckeye coach Geoff Carlston said. “But I think we’ve done a pretty good job as a group of coaches, to taper a little bit, in terms of how we’re lifting and how we’re going about the length of practices … it’s a necessity in the Big Ten. So I think our team is pretty fresh.  We’re as healthy as we’ve been, for a long time, so the kids will be ready.”OSU hasn’t played in a back-to-back since Nov. 7-8, when it faced Maryland and Rutgers. On the other side, the Wildcats haven’t played in a back-to-back, since they played in the Carolina Classic Sept. 12-13.Kentucky coach Craig Skinner said his team can adjust to the Buckeyes’ style of play, even though they haven’t played them this year.“Because we’ve gone through game plans thirty- some times this year, there’s going to be a lot of things that we’re going to say that they’ve already done,” Skinner said. “We’re not going to tell them things that they haven’t executed before. There’s not enough turnaround time. We’re going to give them information that we’ve executed on certain teams in the past, and let us go after it, see where it falls.Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal commented on the possibility of OSU and the Wildcats playing before the second match Friday, between Kentucky and Oakland. One thing he said OSU needed to pay attention to is the play of Wildcats’ middle blockers.“I think that what you’ve seen out of Kentucky, as of late, especially with (freshman middle blocker) Kaz Brown, is more middle play and a lot more middle attacks,” Rosenthal said. “And I think that Ohio State’s gonna have to focus on that a little bit more. Obviously, everybody wants to focus on (senior outside hitter Lauren) O’Conner and what she can do. I think that’s gonna be fun to see as the outsides go at it. (Junior outside hitter Shelby) Workman on the outside does a real nice job.”Against the Golden Grizzlies, O’Conner led all players in kills with 14, followed by Brown with 10.  Workman provided six digs and three kills.One category that the Wildcats seemed to struggle in against the Golden Grizzlies, was service errors, in which the team had 11.The match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start. read more

Posted in qhaeg Tagged , , , , , , , , .

Track and Field Ohio State prepares for one of years fastest meets

The Ohio State track and field team will not send its full roster for a second consecutive meet when it competes in the Meyo Invitational against 37 teams in South Bend, Indiana, on Friday and Saturday.Ohio State’s men’s team will be without senior Nick Demaline, senior Zack Bazile, freshman Eric Harrison Jr. and junior Nick Gray during the meet. The women’s team will not send junior Sade Olatoye, junior Mikaela Seibert or senior Karrington Winters to the invite.During last weekend’s meet at the Armory Invitational, Ohio State did not send its distance runners or pole vaulters to compete.  For the distance runners, missing last week was part of a strategy for the overall season, said distance coach Sara Vergote. Senior distance runner Christine Frederick said it was nice to have a hard workout without having to go at the same speed as she might have during a race.The Speed of MeyoThe Meyo Invitational could be the place for many Buckeyes to set personal records.“Anytime you go to a big meet like this the races are fast and they are set up to be fast,” Vergote said. Frederick and nine other Buckeyes set their season bests at last year’s Meyo Invitational. Women’s team scheduleSenior Chantel Ray is scheduled to run first for the Buckeyes in the 60-meter hurdle prelims at 4:30 p.m. Friday.The women’s distance-medley-relay, which placed third at the Kentucky Invitational, will be running at 7:05 p.m. Friday.Sophomore Taylor DeLoach, sophomore Tamani Wilson, senior Maggie Barrie and senior Beatrice Hannan are set to run in different preliminary heats in the 200-meter dash, starting at 7:35 p.m. Friday.Frederick will run in the women’s 3,000-meter run at 10:15 a.m. Saturday. Senior Madison Roberts and sophomore Megan Hoffman will pole vault at noon Saturday.Wilson will compete in the women’s 400-meter dash at 2:20 p.m. Saturday. Barrie and Hannah will also be in 400-meter dash, competing in the same heat as Margaret Bamgbose, who ran for Nigeria in the 2016 Olympics. Men’s team scheduleFreshman Tavonte Mott will run in the men’s 60-meter hurdles and the 60-meter dash Friday. Senior Duan Asemota will compete in the same preliminary heat with Mott in the men’s 60-meter dash.Junior Coty Cobb and senior Cole Gorski will pole vault at 5 p.m. Friday night.Senior Mitch Leitch, senior Jake Mandel and senior Clayton Bowie will run in the men’s 500-meter race for the first time this season at 6:25 p.m. Friday. Junior Kyle McKinney, sophomore Brent Carroll and freshman Tyrese Fajardo will compete in the men’s 40-meter dash at 12:25 p.m. Saturday.For most of the sprinters, Saturday’s schedule of events will be based on Friday’s results.The Meyo Invitational will be streamed on WatchESPN from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. read more

Posted in hbpjm Tagged , , , , , , , , .

Mens Hockey Ohio States Frozen Four run ends with 21 loss to

Junior forward Dakota Joshua skates with the puck against Princeton during the Buckeyes’ NCAA tournament win on March 24. Credit: Nick Hudak | For The LanternThe Ohio State men’s hockey team could not have dreamed of a worse start in its first Frozen Four game since 1998. It giving up two goals to Minnesota Duluth in the first three minutes of the game and got outshot 17-4 by its opponent in the first period.The Buckeyes seemed to tilt the momentum toward them as the game wore on and picked up their first goal with 10:33 remaining in the game. But the late push was not enough and the No. 1 Ohio State men’s hockey team fell 2-1 to No. 3 Minnesota Duluth in the semifinals of the Frozen Four, ending its season. This is the second year in a row that the Bulldogs (23-16-3) eliminated the Buckeyes (26-9-5) from the NCAA tournament.The game’s first goal came less than two minutes into the game on a cross-ice pass from Minnesota Duluth freshman defenseman Matt Anderson. He found Louie Roehl alone, and the freshman forward buried a shot past redshirt goalie Sean Romeo to take the early lead.Just 71 seconds later, Bulldog senior forward Jared Thomas beat Romeo low on a breakaway attempt made possible by a pass through the neutral zone by senior forward Karson Kuhlman. It was his 10th goal of the season.Romeo badly misplayed the puck and nearly gave up a third goal shortly after the Bulldogs’ second goal. But he was able to recover just in time to keep the puck out of the net. Romeo held strong the remainder of the game and stopped 26 shots. The Buckeyes got on the scoreboard in the third period with a power-play goal by sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski. With the help of sophomore defenseman Wyatt Ege’s broken stick, Laczynski found himself alone in the slot with the puck, and ripped it past goalie sophomore Hunter Shepard to make the score 2-1.The biggest missed opportunity for Ohio State came in the second period on a power play. Sophomore forward Ronnie Hein had a wide-open net to shoot at while Shepard was down, but Kuhlman blocked the attempt with his stick, shutting down Ohio State’s momentum on the man advantage.Shepard gave the Buckeyes fits, saving 19 of 20 shots. read more

Posted in tznls Tagged , , , , , , , , .

Football No 21 Northwestern brings offensive challenges to No 6 Ohio State

Ohio State freshman wide receiver Chris Olave (17) and redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin (83) celebrate after Olave scored a touchdown in the first half of the game against Michigan on Nov. 24. Ohio State won 62-39. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorAfter Ohio State’s 62-39 win against then-No. 4 Michigan, the Buckeyes go into the Big Ten Championship with momentum — momentum that could lead the Buckeyes into the College Football Playoff, a feat that seemed impossible just a few weeks ago. Redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin has thought the committee has been pretty consistent on its view of Ohio State in the playoff rankings, something that has fueled the team as a whole. “I think up until last week, I think they thought there were some inconsistencies or they want to say our defense or our offense can’t run the ball, things like that,” McLaurin said. “We’ve heard it all and we just try and focus on getting better each and every week. At the end of the day, we’ve been winning games and that’s what really matters.” But No. 6 Ohio State remains on the outside looking in, and it needs a convincing performance against No. 21 Northwestern on Saturday to earn a place in the College Football Playoff. This is something Northwestern has prided itself on all season long: playing its opponents close.The Wildcats (8-4, 8-1 Big Ten) have been within 14 points in each game it has played this season, falling to ranked opponents Michigan and Notre Dame by a combined 13 points, yet narrowly defeating Nebraska in overtime and recording one-score wins against Rutgers and Illinois. This hurt Northwestern in significant ways, losing all three of its non-conference games, including a 39-34 loss to Akron. However, head coach Urban Meyer does not view the Wildcats as a team Ohio State will play down to, something he admits happens in the program. “You watch them play. They’re very — they’re not averaging 55 points a game. But they’re very productive,” Meyer said.  “So, yeah, we play at the level of competition. That happens sometimes. You’d like to not have that happen. It does. That certainly is not this case.” The Northwestern defense brings something that will not allow for the Ohio State offense to have what McLaurin refers to as a “hangover” after putting up 62 points against the Wolverines. Despite having the 20th-worst offense in the country, the Wildcats allow 21.7 points per game, tied for No. 29 in college football. Much of this has to do with head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s pass defense strategy: perfecting the zone. “You just don’t see big hits against them,” Meyer said. “They keep the ball in front of you. And sometimes that’s — nowadays that’s harder than a team that you know is going to be man coverage across the board.” Despite allowing 238 yards passing per game, placing near the bottom of the Big Ten in pass defense, the Wildcats have allowed only 14 passing touchdowns all season, the same as Penn State and Wisconsin, who are the No. 2 and No. 5 pass defenses in the conference, respectively. With redshirt junior defensive lineman Joe Gaziano, who was named as a second-team All Big Ten defense member, and sophomore linebacker Blake Gallagher, Ohio State will have to overcome a Northwestern defense that McLaurin says is “bend and don’t break.”Redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins even said his approach to the offense will have to change when facing zone coverage instead of man-to-man coverage. “With zone coverage, you have to complete 70 percent of your passes to be able to move the ball down the field against them,” Haskins said. “So you have to be able to pick them apart, dissect them and be able to see the coverages and zones and knowing that every pass is not going to be a touchdown.” While the Ohio State offense faces a defensive scheme it’s not used to, the Buckeye defense will face a Northwestern offense that does not exactly stand out on paper. The Wildcats hold the 23rd-worst scoring offense in the country, averaging 23.7 points per game. Northwestern has not found much success running the ball, recording only 114.8 rushing yards per game. However, it has found its signature back in freshman Isaiah Bowser after Jeremy Larkin announced in September that he had medically retired from football. Bowser, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, has recorded six touchdown runs this season. The Sidney, Ohio, native has also rushed for more than 100 yards in four of his past six games, recording two multi-touchdown contests. The passing game is led by redshirt senior quarterback Clayton Thorson, who has completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Even with underwhelming numbers, Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano views Thorson, who threw for 256 yards and ran for 44 yards with two total touchdowns against Ohio State in 2016, as an accurate passer who understands schemes very well. “He’s an NFL quarterback,” Schiano said. “We need to make sure we understand how that all fits in their entire offense.”PredictionOn paper, it’s clear who has the advantage in this game. Northwestern’s numbers do not stand out on the page and do not have any advantages personnel-wise over Ohio State.  But that has not kept the Wildcats from playing these games close. Northwestern led then-No. 14 Michigan 17-0 prior to allowing 20 unanswered points from the Wolverines. Even with the collapse, Northwestern still had a very close deficit when the clock hit zero. Now, the Wildcats go into its first Big Ten Championship with something to prove: that it can overcome a ranked Ohio State team that has arguably the most momentum heading into a conference championship game than any other team in the country. But even if a loss is not in the future for Northwestern, it is likely the Wildcats will play a game similar to the other ranked opponents it has faced this season, keeping with Ohio State until the very end. The Wildcats can do this by limiting Ohio State’s success in the passing game, erasing any big-play ability for Haskins and his wide receivers by limiting the Buckeyes to short slant and crossing routes. This may not keep the Buckeyes off the scoreboard, but would take time off the clock and take away an important part of the Ohio State passing attack. Ohio State is favored and likely will win this game. But Northwestern will not become the 59-0 example that the Buckeyes got in Wisconsin during the 2014 season. Colin Gay: 42-24 Ohio State Wyatt Crosher: 30-13 Ohio StateEdward Sutelan: 34-17 Ohio StateRachel Bules: 54-21 Ohio StateAmanda Parrish: 35-14 Ohio State read more

Posted in mskyy Tagged , , , , , , , , .