IndianaKentucky1966-2016491930183818851857 WINSELO RATINGS 5IndianaKentucky613288436 13GeorgetownVillanova456251205 Among top Elo rivalries, UNC-Duke stands out Related: Hot Takedown ELO RKTEAM ATEAM BTOTAL GAMESPROXIMITYEVENNESS BaylorKansas1952-201733429172819871844 DukeMichigan1964-201430228195517751856 KansasTexas1960-201733267200318471920 15ArizonaUCLA338705287 TEAM ATEAM BSEASONSGMSTM ATM BTM ATM BHARMONIC MEAN Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 11Florida StateNorth Carolina518741788 GeorgetownSyracuse1958-2017834043183718511842 4DukeNorth Carolina230155 6DukeMichigan823750703 8DukeGeorgia Tech378643736 ArkansasKentucky1950-2017381127178319881877 RANK (OUT OF 843) DukeN. Carolina1950-20171748193186418761864 1KansasTexas792784772 12DukeNotre Dame834772729 14Georgia TechNorth Carolina355632686 When Did Sports Become So Political? Add it all up, and it’s difficult to find a rivalry that combines so many different measurable factors of animosity between two schools. None of the rivalries with an Elo rating in the same neighborhood as the Tar Heels and Blue Devils have played anywhere near as often3The other Research Triangle rivalries — both Duke and North Carolina versus N.C. State — are the only ones that come close., nor do any have the physical proximity, nor are any as closely matched recordwise. It’s a set of conditions custom-built for hate — and that’s without even considering less-quantifiable factors, such as the cultural divide between a public university (UNC) and a private one (Duke), the fact that most UNC students are from in-state while most Duke students are from outside North Carolina, or the many memorable incidents that have stoked the rivalry over the years. KentuckyN. Carolina1950-2017351520183418721849 10GeorgetownSyracuse40156082 DukeGeorgia Tech1956-2017866521196317481846 9BaylorKansas792756825 3KentuckyLouisville705144543 Best college basketball rivalries since 1950, according to Elo KentuckyLouisville1951-2017402614191918451877 7KentuckyNorth Carolina765626291 Min. 50 years between initial and most recent meetings, and at least one game played every two years.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 2ArkansasKentucky730771667 The fifth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels will close out their ACC regular season on Saturday the same way they always do — with a game against the Duke Blue Devils, ranked No. 17. The two teams’ longstanding feud is almost always mentioned first when people discuss great college basketball rivalries. But what’s in a rivalry anyway? A good one is a bit like a good obscenity — you know it when you see it. It’s an extra charge in the arena when the opponent comes to town; an unwillingness to give an opposing player the benefit of the doubt; a vilification of the other team’s coach as an evil mastermind.But all that’s tough to measure, and measuring things is sort of the point of what we do around here. So I gathered data on some of the factors we can quantify, to put at least a few numbers on what makes Duke-Carolina so intense — and to see if any other pairings have the stats to contend with Tobacco Road’s finest for the sport’s top rivalry.One obvious place to start is with the quality of the teams involved. I took every pair of teams that has played each other at least once every other season1On average. for at least a half-century, and sorted them by the average harmonic mean of the two teams’ Elo power ratings whenever they played. (I used the harmonic mean to make sure both teams hold up their end of the bargain in terms of high ratings.) By that measure, North Carolina and Duke have the fourth-best rivalry since 1950, which is when our dataset starts tracking Elo:2Unfortunately, that data does only cover a little over half the history of the rivalry. But in this case that’s OK, because Duke-UNC didn’t really become the high-stakes rivalry we now know until the mid-1950s, when both teams started to emerge simultaneously as national powerhouses. Of course, rivalries are about more than just how good the two teams are. In the case of Duke-Carolina, it’s also about the sheer number of times they’ve played each other: 243 games in total (not including Saturday’s tilt), including 174 since 1950 — second only to the 198 editions of the “Civil War” staged between Oregon and Oregon State. And those games have been close, with UNC coming out on top overall, with a 93-81 record against Duke over the span of those 174 contests. In terms of proximity to a perfect .500 split, that’s in the top 18 percent of all 843 rivalries in our sample.Proximity also plays a major role in Duke and UNC’s hostilities. Aside from the 14 rivalries in our dataset that involve teams from the same city — think Saint Joseph’s and Temple in Philly, or UCLA-USC in Los Angeles — North Carolina and Duke are the 16th-closest pair of schools, with only about 10 miles separating them. Saturday’s regular-season finale in Chapel Hill won’t serve as the de facto ACC regular-season championship, like it has at times in the past. (UNC can do no worse than a tie with Notre Dame for No. 1 in the conference standings, while Duke can’t win the conference.) But, as always, it will pit two of the nation’s top teams against each other in a preview of the kind of high-caliber matchup each squad will face on the road to the Final Four. And maybe that’s what stands out most about this rivalry: Both teams are always in the national championship hunt. (Famously, you have to go back to Feb. 25, 1955, to find a Duke-UNC matchup in which neither team was ranked nationally at tipoff.) So no matter who wins, we’ll be spending a lot of time with both the Tar Heels and Blue Devils over the next month.
Again, you can see that QBs who are consistent contributors are concentrated very early in the draft – so much that, by the time you get 30-40 picks into the draft, a QB’s expected contribution drops below Brock Osweiler/Cody Kessler levels.It’s amazing to me that Osweiler has spent three years on the bench, played reasonably well for half a season, and played badly enough in his only year as a full-time starter that his team gave away draft picks to avoid paying him – and yet, for all that, he has had above-average production for a second-round draft pick. That’s why you don’t reach down for QBs in the draft.The three quarterbacks taken high in the draft may yet prove to be as good as their draft positions suggest. Projections are often wrong, and NFL teams presumably know how to evaluate talent. You’d think as much, anyway. But reaching down in the first round hasn’t worked out very well of late. ESPN’s scouting gave Trubisky, Watson and Patrick Mahomes grades of 89, 88 and 85, respectively. Since 2009, six quarterbacks with grades lower than 90 have been selected in the first round, and a quick “where are they now” isn’t pretty: Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, Brandon Weeden, Tim Tebow and Teddy Bridgewater did not play in 2016 (whether on account of poor play or injury), while E.J. Manuel had 131 yards passing (for the season) as a backup in Buffalo.And again, the Browns already have two players on their roster who have performed like late-first-round QBs!Of course, it’s always a gamble – and I have nothing against gambling – but part of being a good gambler is understanding the odds you’re getting. If the Browns thought none of these prospects was worth betting the franchise on (putting them in agreement with projections), their first-round choices were prudent. The Cleveland Browns entered the 2017 NFL draft with a haul of draft picks and a dire need for a quarterback. Yet, despite rumors swirling for days that the Browns might use their No. 1 overall pick to take North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (ESPN’s 27th-ranked prospect), they were conservative and selected the draft’s top prospect, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. By the end of the round, the Browns still didn’t have a QB, having passed up the chance to take Deshaun Watson in the 12th spot, as well.So how could the Browns, pick-rich and desperate, fail to pick up one of the top QBs available in the draft? This has been cause for some criticism. For example, here’s ESPN’s Kevin Seifert:But failing to use any of [their draft picks] on a high(er)-end quarterback will doom them in the short- and mid-term. Unless you think the Browns can grow with 2016 third-rounder Cody Kessler or — gasp — recent acquisition Brock Osweiler, it’s difficult to see how they can move forward while continuing to slow-play the position.I see this type of argument made a lot: A team that needs a QB needs to take a QB. But it isn’t quite that simple. Quarterbacks are almost always high-risk prospects, and investing in a bad quarterback can kill a franchise just as easily as not having one.It’s a bit of a cliche, but there is only a small group of people walking this earth who are capable of playing quarterback for the NFL. And most QBs taken in the draft aren’t among them. QBs have long careers, and (by definition) there are only 16 at any time that are better than average starters.Most are not Tom Brady. Brady, a sixth-round choice in 2000, almost single-handedly gives late-round picks everywhere hope. But most successful quarterbacks entered the league as top prospects. For example, of the 37 QBs who started at least five games last season, nine were former No. 1 overall draft picks (of 12 drafted in the Brady era1Brady was the only starting quarterback last year who was drafted before 2001.). Another eight came from picks 2-10 in the draft (of 14 taken in the Brady era), and four came from later in the first round (of 19).2Two were undrafted, though the pool of undrafted would-be NFL QBs is impossible to measure.Of the 211 QBs drafted in the Brady era, what share from each round were in starting roles last year? That chart may look like taking a QB at the top of the draft is even more imperative. But the key point is that, after the blue-chippers, things get dicey. So when you’re sitting in a blue-chip draft position (as the Browns were), and you don’t see any blue-chip QBs, taking the next-best thing doesn’t get you a rough approximation of a blue-chip QB. It gets you something substantially different.OK, that’s just a snapshot of where things stood last season using a crude (though dramatic) metric. Ultimately, a QB doesn’t contribute just by playing games, he contributes by playing well in them. (Though one, of course, can certainly follow from the other.) While I generally still think QB value is a mystery, there are some metrics – such as ESPN’s QBR – that at least try to divide credit between a QB and his team.Using the QBR breakdown, we can estimate how many points each QB has contributed to his team’s scoring. Here’s the average QBR points above replacement contributed by QBs depending on where they were drafted, from 2006 to 2016:
More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed FiveThirtyEight With the NFL kicking off Thursday, Hot Takedown employs a segment of “Model Talk” to assess some of the hot takes and speculation swirling around this season. Our NFL prediction model will be live Wednesday morning, but for a preview of the 2019 season, take a listen!In partnership with Major League Baseball, the Atlantic League is experimenting with new technology and rules. Automated strike zones and the ability to steal first base are certainly bringing intrigue to the game, but there have been several unintended consequences. Kent Blackstone, shortstop for the Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, has experienced this all firsthand. Blackstone joins the show to bring a player’s perspective to what these changes could mean for the future of baseball.Our Rabbit Hole celebrates Sara’s obsession with college fight songs. If you haven’t already, check out our interactive to see how your school’s fight song stacks up — clichéwise.What we’re looking at this week:Stay tuned for our 2019 NFL prediction model, which will be live Wednesday morning.Attend a Southern Maryland Blue Crabs game and see these new rules in action.Listen to our fave version of “Hail to the Victors,” the least cliché of all the fight songs. Embed Code
Scoring is up at the World Cup, but it would be even higher if more players could shoot straight.Teams have taken 221 shots on direct free kicks or off shots set up by direct free kicks. TruMedia, a soccer stats supplier to ESPN, has developed a model, based on club soccer data from Opta, to predict the probability of any shot going in, according to its location and other variables. That model predicted that those 221 shots should have yielded 21 goals. But just 11 have gone in the net.Or take long-distance shooting. In the World Cup’s first 62 matches, players have let shots fly when they were 20 yards away from the goal or farther 817 times. TruMedia predicted the ball would go in 31 times. But it has gone in just 17 times. (There is some overlap between these categories, because some shots off free kicks are from long-range.)The low yield from these shots could mean that World Cup goalkeepers are better than the club goalkeepers who defended the shots that were used to build the model. Or it could mean that the average shooter in the World Cup isn’t as good as the average shooter in top club soccer, because many World Cup nations can’t field 10 shooters who play for top clubs.To check who was missing the shots, I cross-referenced the World Cup shooters with shooters from the top five European leagues — the top divisions in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — in the most recent club season.Not surprisingly, players who didn’t take any shots of a certain type in those club leagues — either because they don’t play in them or don’t get the chance to take those shots — have been the source of many of the misfires in the World Cup. But even the players who shoot often on free kicks or from long-range in Europe have been firing blanks more often in Brazil.The effect is particularly pronounced on shots from 20 yards or more. Players who took no shots in the big five leagues in Europe could have expected to score 9.5 goals on their World Cup kicks off long shots. They’ve scored three goals — or about a third as much as we’d expect on their shots. The European long-range shooters have been better, but not great — scoring about two-thirds as many goals as we’d expect. Two players — the impossible Lionel Messi, and the merely improbable James Rodriguez, who plays club soccer for Monaco and national soccer for Colombia — account for a very large chunk of long-range outperformance in Brazil.On shots created through free kicks, the players who didn’t take any such shots in the top European leagues have been dreadful — scoring four goals for every 10 expected. The European club shooters again have been better but still disappointing, scoring at just 79 percent of expectations.The errant World Cup shooting, then, is partly a result of shooters without top club experience taking lots of shots, and of shooters with top-level experience underpeforming. That’s especially disappointing because the overlap between the top five European leagues and the World Cup is a very impressive set of players, who as a group scored 8 percent more goals on free kicks than expected in club play last season and 11 percent more goals than expected on long-range shots.Three explanations come to mind:1. World Cup goalkeeping is very good. There are more than three times as many teams in the top five European leagues as there are in the World Cup. World Cup teams need to field 10 outfield players, but they need just one high-quality goalkeeper.2. It’s easier to organize a defense made up of players who don’t play club soccer together than it is to organize an offense. Defensive principles transfer more readily and require less training, so World Cup defenses have the advantage on these plays.3. This is a bit of a fluke, because factors Nos. 1 and 2 apply at every World Cup, yet this has been the worst shooting performance on these kinds of shots since 1966 — as far back as Opta has tracked the stats.
A multitude of factors will come into play Saturday night to determine the outcome of the Ohio State-Southern Cal rematch. The dynamics of revenge, motivation, criticism, talent, speed and experience will all pitch in to uncover which squad is better in ’09. USC manhandled Ohio State at The Coliseum, 35-3, last September, but the teams appear to be more evenly matched heading into Saturday’s clash.Quarterbacks: The Horseshoe isn’t the ideal venue for an opposing freshman quarterback to make his first road start, and just his second appearance overall. But Matt Barkley, the heralded rookie recruit, claims he’ll be unfazed by the scarlet crazies on Saturday night. “It will be a little louder [than The Coliseum], but I’ve got a loud voice,” he said.Still, Terrelle Pryor has played amid this pressure before, while Barkley has not. And don’t forget- though he was the top quarterback recruit this past offseason, Barkley is prone to make mistakes. He threw 18 interceptions during his senior year of high school.Advantage: Ohio State Running Backs: The Trojans can roll six-deep with their plethora of talented running backs. In last week’s shellacking of San Jose State, three USC rushers averaged more than 10 yards per carry, while the Trojans racked up 342 yards on the ground. They can take the pressure off of their young quarterback by handing to the shifty Joe McKnight, the elusive C.J. Gable, the hard-nosed Allen Bradford or the touchdown machine Stafon Johnson.On the other side, Ohio State is still trying to figure out if they can efficiently replace Chris “Beanie” Wells. The “Boom” and “Zoom” duo of Dan Herron and Brandon Saine has shown some punch, but hasn’t yet proven the ability to hit the home run. That’s where OSU hopes Pryor’s legs can contribute.Advantage: USC OSU Receivers vs. USC Secondary: Terrelle Pryor has almost an entirely new arsenal of weapons, but has yet to establish a rapport with one or two playmakers. Sophomore DeVier Posey is the best bet to become Pryor’s favorite target, but he has all of 13 catches in his brief career. An encouraging note was Pryor finding his running backs and tight ends often against Navy. The more options he has on the field, the more dangerous Pryor becomes.The Buckeyes probably won’t beat USC on deep, downfield passes, but they can excel in the short passing game as they did against the Midshipmen. USC’s defense is fast and athletic, but is more suited to shut down the run. Safety Taylor Mays could be a top-five draft pick next April.Advantage: Ohio State USC Receivers vs. OSU Secondary: Barkley will look to a trio of seniors as his primary options. The Trojans will rely heavily on receiver Damiam Williams to ease Barkley’s burden. Tight end Anthony McCoy, a large target at 6-foot-5, also figures to play a sizeable role in the USC passing game. And fullback Stanley Havili, who burned the Bucks with a 35-yard touchdown last year, can catch the ball out of the backfield.Safety Jermale Hines will see plenty more opportunities for OSU, as he has worked with the starters this week in place of senior Anderson Russell. Hines, whose strong suit is defending the run, will likely be asked to take away the threats of Havili and McCoy. If cornerback Chimdi Chekwa can limit the production of Williams, then Barkley will be hard-pressed to find open targets.Advantage: EvenUSC Offensive Line vs. OSU Defensive Line: Perhaps the each team’s greatest strength, this battle could determine Saturday’s outcome. The Trojan offensive line must give Barkley all the protection he needs to get in a rhythm, and the Buckeye defensive front must find a way to disrupt that. OSU coach Jim Tressel acknowledged the USC offensive line as being one of the best in the nation. Barkley was sacked just once last week, while OSU managed a pair against Navy. The Buckeyes will use a variety of defensive sets to try to force their way into USC’s backfield, a must if a Buckeye upset is to happen.Advantage: USC OSU Offensive Line vs. USC Defensive Line: The Buckeyes looked overmatched against Navy, despite a substantial size advantage up front. After years of criticism for having a “slow” line, the Bucks have started the transition toward a more agile, athletic group to protect the quarterback. The more time Pryor has to make decisions, the better decisions he will make.USC will use its quickness up front to pressure Pryor into making the wrong choices. Texas implemented a similar plan in the Fiesta Bowl, and OSU’s quarterbacks were never given enough time to get in a rhythm.Advantage: USC Linebackers: Both teams are replacing their top producers at the position from a year ago. Southern Cal lost its top four ‘backers to the NFL Draft, including three in the first 36 picks. OSU replaces its tandem of James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman. The new groups for both sides are geared more toward speed and athleticism, but both still have plenty to prove.Advantage: EvenCoaching: Aside from the incessant banter about Tressel’s supposed inability to win big games, there is a stark contrast in style between the Vest and USC coach Pete Carroll. Tressel plays things by the book and prefers a more conservative approach. That doesn’t always work in games of this magnitude. The Buckeyes need to make a statement, avenging last year’s 35-3 debacle, and ending a five-game streak of losses against elite opponents. Tressel must let Pryor run wild, and reach out of his ordinary element to play aggressively. Carroll’s insistent persona can be seen through the way his teams constantly blow out the opposition. Tressel needs to take chances to win on Saturday, something he hasn’t proven willing to do in the past.Advantage: USC Intangibles: From USC starting a true freshman at quarterback to Ohio State having the motivation to silence critics of its program and conference to playing at home in front of the potentially largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history, every minor off-the-field advantage points to the Buckeyes.Advantage: Ohio State
Aaron Craft insisted all week it wasn’t about him versus Trey Burke. But with only seconds remaining in No. 15 Ohio State’s matchup against No. 2 Michigan, that’s exactly what it came down to. With 29 seconds left, OSU’s once dominating 21-point lead had been whittled down to two, and the sold-out crowd at the Schottenstein Center – some of which had been camping out for the game since Friday – roared in anxiety. Isolated one-on-one against Craft, Michigan’s sophomore Player of the Year candidate stepped back and launched a three over Craft’s outstretched arm in the game’s waning seconds. “I thought it was going to go in when I turned around,” said Craft, a junior guard. And for a second it appeared he was right. But then the ball rattled around the rim and squirted into the arms of a leaping junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. His free throws, along with Craft’s, put the contest away in the final 14 seconds as OSU pulled away for a grueling 56-53 victory. The missed shot gave OSU (13-3, 3-1) its first win against a ranked team in four attempts this season and allowed the Buckeyes to remain within striking distance in the young Big Ten season. “It’s always in the back of your mind,” Craft said. “We haven’t played our best when we played the better teams that we played throughout this year. I think we just took a step back and found a way to get a big win.” The victory was a stark contrast to OSU’s previous contests against No. 1 Duke, No. 6 Kansas and No. 12 Illinois when the Buckeyes never shot better than 35 percent and struggled to find an offensive rhythm outside of junior forward Deshaun Thomas. OSU shot 52 percent from the floor Sunday, and though Thomas led the way, it was far more than OSU’s leading scorer that helped the Buckeyes jump out to a commanding 20-point advantage about 10 minutes into the first half. Craft, who has been criticized for a lack of production on the offensive end, attacked the basket early, scoring from both the outside and in. He stepped into a three in the game’s opening minutes and followed it up by twice slicing to the basket, finishing with nine points and four assists. Sophomore forward Sam Thompson added a spark as well, equaling his season average of seven points before the nine minute mark of the first half. Then there was Thomas, who continued his high-level of offensive play this season, with 20 points, including two 3-pointers in the first half – one of which fueled him and many of his teammates to pound their chests on the way down court. “I was geeked, as they say,” Thomas said. The biggest contributor of all though, might have been the Buckeye defense, which smothered the Wolverines from the opening tip. Led by Craft, OSU forced 13 turnovers, nine of which came in the first half. Burke, junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr., and freshman guard Nik Stauskas came into the game averaging a combined 48 points per contest but were held to just 27 points on 9-for-31 shooting Sunday. “Ohio State is a really, really good defensive team,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “Really good. You’re seeing a team that plays defense, buys into it and very skilled defenders out on the perimeter.” Behind that defense, OSU built a 29-8 advantage, but slowly Michigan started chipping away. By halftime the lead was down to 12. A 10-0 run cut the lead to one and, with 6:59 remaining, the score was knotted up at 46. “We stopped executing,” said OSU coach Thad Matta. “We need five guys to play and we went through a stretch there when only the guy on the screen and the guy with the ball were the only guys playing.” But it was the Buckeyes that would write the game’s final chapter. Back-to-back buckets from senior forward Evan Ravenel and a jumper from Thomas gave OSU a six-point lead it would never relinquish. After Burke misfired on his late-game three, free throws sealed the win. “In the past we might have splintered apart on that run,” Craft said. “But we just kind of got together and took a few deep breaths and understood that our system has worked throughout the game and it was going to work down the stretch.” The win moves the Buckeyes to 13-3 on the year and hands Michigan, which was previously the nation’s only unbeaten team, its first loss of the season. It also prevented the Wolverines from rising to the top of the national rankings, and though the basketball rivalry between the two schools certainly isn’t as storied or intense as it is in football, the circumstances made the win a little sweeter for the Buckeyes. “There’s always satisfaction in denying Michigan the No. 1 spot in the country,” Ravenel said. OSU is set to next play Michigan State Saturday in East Lansing, Mich.
Junior center Amir Williams (23) drives past a defender during a game against Delaware Dec. 18 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 76-64.Credit: Mark Batke / For The LanternThe college basketball season is long, having the potential to go nearly five months if your team makes a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.Losses are bound to happen, and how a team bounces back from them can be instrumental to its success down the stretch.The No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes have lost three straight games for the first time since February 2009, having yet to recover and get back on their feet as conference play continues.OSU’s (15-3, 2-3) latest loss was a 63-53 setback at the hands of Minnesota, a game where the Buckeyes made just 18 field goals and committed 13 turnovers.So where does the team go from here?“It’s very easy to continue to feel sorry for yourself and continue to look back on mistakes,” senior guard Aaron Craft said. “When you lose a game you always look back and think about them but we’ve lost three now, so there’s three games of mistakes kind of running through everyone’s mind.”But with those losses sticking in the brains of his players, OSU coach Thad Matta wants his team to move on as it prepares to take on Nebraska (8-8, 0-4) Monday at 7 p.m. in Lincoln, Neb.“I think that’s one of the battles of trying to play forward and not hang on. We can’t change the past in terms of what’s transpired,” Matta said. “The only thing that we can control is the next game, the next practice … I think the biggest thing I want them doing is focusing their attention obviously on Nebraska but also on themselves and getting back to playing their best basketball.”The Buckeyes still have 13 regular season games remaining including Monday’s game against the Cornhuskers, so it may not be time to hit the panic button quite yet. That’s not the case though, Craft said.“I think we need to have a sense of urgency because of the amount of games that are left. We’re over halfway with the guaranteed number of games we got this year,” Craft said. “It’s really easy to continue to say we have a lot of time, but in a sense we don’t. As soon as we can find a way to get back on the right track, the better.”In OSU’s three losses, the Buckeyes gave up an average of 73 points compared to the 54.9 allowed in the their 15 straight wins to open the season. For a team that has been struggling shooting the ball, the need for solid defense increases.“We talked about it in the locker room the other day that we weren’t where we were defensively at the beginning of the year,” junior center Amir Williams said. “We just have to get back to our basic principles of hedging ball screens the right way, being in the right position.”Matta said the defensive execution has been what he wants it to be, noting rise in scoring defense to be the cause of a lack of offensive production by OSU.“I told the guys, we are putting so much pressure on our defense every, single, time down the floor,” Matta said. “But hopefully we can find a groove offensively.”The Buckeyes dispatched Nebraska, 84-53, Jan. 4 at the Schottenstein Center, but the Cornhuskers have been in the other two conference games they’ve played since then, falling by a total of seven points to Michigan and Purdue.“(Nebraska’s) playing better, especially at home. They’ve had a rough schedule to this point,” Matta said.“They’re not going to feel sorry for us. They seem to have another energy level when they play at home in front of all those fans, on the new floor, in the new arena,” Craft said. “So it’s going to be another challenge. It’s not going to be anything like the game we had in here that seems like forever ago. We’re both different teams and it’s going to be a challenge.”No matter who or where the Buckeyes are set to play for the rest of the season, or how many games they’ve lost in a row, the focus is on them as a team.“It is what it is. I’ve always said this: That’s why the focus has to be on us in terms of the mental, physical preparation and knowing that it’s not going to be easy,” Matta said. “You’ve gotta roll your sleeves up and go to work.”
Senior outside hitter Erin Sekinger serves the ball during a game against Florida Gulf Coast on Sept. 5 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-1.Credit: Emily Yarcusko / For The LanternAfter playing away from home for over a month, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team turns its focus to a ranked opponent.OSU is scheduled to host No. 15 Illinois (11-4, 3-1) on Wednesday at St. John Arena.The Buckeyes (11-5, 2-2) are coming off a weekend in which they won back-to-back matches at Iowa and Nebraska.Junior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell and senior setter Taylor Sherwin each received Big Ten weekly awards. Campbell was named Player of the Week, while Sherwin was named Setter of the Week.Both players are set to go up against a Fighting Illini team that is led by two of this season’s Big Ten Player of the Week honorees in senior opposite side hitter Liz McMahon, a native of Liberty Township, Ohio, and redshirt-junior outside hitter Jocelynn Birks. The team is also led by a two-time Freshman of the Week in defensive specialist Brandi Donnelly.Going into Wednesday’s match, Sherwin said the team doesn’t need to make many adjustments, as the Fighting Illini are very similar to the Cornhuskers. They do, however, stand out for one reason.“They (don’t) run as quick of an offense,” Sherwin said.Freshman outside hitter Ashley Wenz said the squad has the capability to continue having strong performances if it can keep up its focus.“We’re a great team,” she said. “We just need to (focus) on certain little aspects of our game to make it great.”The Buckeyes’ match against the Fighting Illini is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.Following Wednesday’s match, the Buckeyes are scheduled to face No. 24 Northwestern (13-2, 3-1) in Columbus on Saturday. That match is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and is set to air on Big Ten Network.
Ohio State then-freshman defender Lisa Bruno (22) attempts to slow a Gopher fast break in the first period of the game against Minnesota on Jan. 19. Ohio State won 3-2. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for DesignFor half the game, Minnesota State looked like it had a chance to upset.Midway through the second period, with Ohio State dominating in every part of the ice except the scoreboard, the Mavericks remained deadlocked with the Buckeyes 0-0 thanks to impressive play from freshman goalie Abigail Levy.Eventually, Ohio State broke through, and from there, the floodgates opened.No. 5 Ohio State (4-1, 1-0 WCHA) defeated Minnesota State (2-1, 0-1 WCHA) by a score of 4-0. From start to finish, it was clear who the better team on the ice was. Ohio State outshot the Mavericks 46-22, won 32 of 44 faceoffs and thoroughly outplayed its opponent from start to finish.After a scoreless opening 29 minutes, the Buckeyes took the lead when senior forward Charly Dahlquist beat Levy off a turnover to take the 1-0 lead. The shot was Ohio State’s 34th of the game.After one breakthrough, Ohio State continued to pile it on, with sophomore forward Emma Maltais scoring five minutes later on a rebound that beat Levy on the right side. Maltais ended the day with two points and six shots on goal.“I think we wore her down a little bit,” head coach Nadine Muzerall said. “Sometimes it’s hard to crack, it’s not just the goaltending it’s just when everybody jams it in front of the net, they get frustrated and you just gotta tell them to stay patient.”Sophomore defenseman Lisa Bruno and junior forward Samantha Bouley added insurance goal in the third period to put the game out of reach. The goal was Bruno’s first in her collegiate career.“It’s unbelievable,” Maltais said. “Seeing how hard she works every day in practice and, she’s been close in her first couple games this season and she was always close last season, so it’s nice for her to finally break that barrier and get one.”Maltais earned an assist on the Bruno goal, giving her nine points on the season, No. 1 in the NCAA.Maltais said it was all about the full-team effort in tonight’s victory.“Tonight, it was really just the best team win I think we could have,” Maltais said. “I think that the big focus for us right now is really like the support we have, and how everyone on our team is playing and everyone is contributing and I think that’s what’s making us successful.”After failing to score on the first 33 shots, the Buckeyes scored four goals in their next 10 attempts.Ohio State came out dominant, taking over the offensive pressure and putting up 19 shots against Minnesota State in the first period, but freshman goalie Abigail Levy stood tall against all of them to keep the game tied.Senior forward Madison Field had the best chance at Levy on a breakaway attempt, but was stuffed on an attempt at the five-hole.Freshman goalie Andrea Braendli earned her first collegiate win and shutout, making 22 saves in the victory over the Mavericks.“You have to understand that was her first ever collegiate game,” Muzerall said. “I think today seemed a little more composed and, she’s I think going to be a good player for us in the future.”Ohio State sophomore goalie Amanda Zeglen was not on the ice for warm ups. Zeglen won her only three starts this season, and holds a 2.00 goals against average in 10 career games. Muzerall had no comment on Zeglen’s status.The Buckeyes face off against Minnesota State again at OSU Ice Rink at 1:07 p.m. on Saturday.
Princess Charlotte charmed the watching worldCredit:Francis Dias/NEWSPIX INTERNATIONAL Prince George, not to be left out of the fun, showed off how much he has grown since he last played with other children in public – telling a balloon-maker all about his knowledge of lava as he was made a balloon volcano.The outing, on the lawns of Government House in Victoria, Canada, saw the two children join 24 military families for a morning of fun, with the Duke and Duchess watching on proudly. Stroking him, with the encouragement of her mother, the Princess sat firmly on his back to bounce up and down on the patient dog.Prince George, meanwhile, looked as if he is set to follow in the footsteps of his great-grandmother, the Queen, after confidently mounting a miniature horse to pose for pictures. The pair later showed a glimpse of the cheerful sibling rivalry typical of children their age, after the Prince spotted his sister being made a balloon animal and ran over to ask: “Can I have one?”Paul Kilshaw, the children’s entertainer, said: “I made a teddy bear and a flower for Charlotte and made George a tree and a volcano. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at a children’s party at Government House in Victoria with Prince George and Princess CharlotteCredit:CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS Her brother, a little more boisterous than during his shy appearance at Victoria airport a few days before, followed quickly behind her before the pair entered the fray surrounded by animals, musicians and fellow under-fives.If they had been missing their own dog, Lupo, the Princess more than made up for it after taking a shine to Moose, a six-year-old golden retriever-poodle cross who is a cancer therapy dog. The Duke and Duchess are really pleased to have this opportunity to introduce their children to CanadaKensington Palace spokesman Prince George, Princess Charlotte and the Duchess of Cambridge with a balloon animalCredit:Chris Jackson/Getty Images “When I made him a spider he started to laugh and pushed it in my face then pushed it in Dad’s face.”William said ‘We try making balloons at home but it doesn’t work’.”At first George wasn’t interested in getting one until Charlotte was getting one, then he was right over. He wanted what she had. 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. “George especially asked for a volcano and he was very proud to tell me all about volcanoes.”When I started with the orange flames he was pleased to tell me: ‘And that’s lava’.”While the Princess, dressed in a blue Pepa & Co dress with red embroidery across the bodice, spent most of the morning supervised by her mother, the Prince was entertained by his father at a bubble-blowing station. Princess Charlotte with the Duchess of Cambridge Credit:Getty Images Princess Charlotte meets a rabbit at the partyCredit:Reuters The toddler, and her big brother Prince George, appeared besotted with a range of inflatables, making a beeline for them the moment her mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, set her down on the grass.So excited was the little Princess that the balloons inspired what appeared to be her first words in public, exclaiming “pop” before summoning her father with a lively “Dada!” Princess Charlotte takes an interest in the balloons at the children’s partyCredit:Reuters The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to Princess Charlotte as they arrive for the children’s partyCredit:CHRIS WATTIE/Getty Prince George watches as bubbles are blownCredit:Reuters “She talked about bath time and how she [Charlotte] is always hungry.”Food on offer at the party included mini quiches, scones and strawberries dipped in chocolate, with drinks served in special blue cups adorned with Union flags, Canadian maple leaves and crowns.After the morning tea party, Prince George and Princess Charlotte enjoyed the rest of the day in private with their parents.On Friday, they will remain at Government House with their nanny while the Duke and Duchess travel for for a day of outdoor pursuits on the islands of Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, off the coast of British Columbia. The Princess was also delighted with a black-and-white pet rabbit, and the tail of a goat named Bethany, before clamouring to be put down and return to stand by her beloved balloons. Andrea Callaghan, 41, and her daughter Brielle, three, met the Duchess and Princess Charlotte at the party.”Charlotte was chewing on her fingers so I asked if she was teething and yes – it’s very normal,” she said. Prince George plays with bubblesCredit:Getty Images After laying his hands on an orange fish-shaped bubble gun, he made his parents laugh by squirting floating bubbles over them before watching the Duke create giant versions for all the children.The pair also spent time in the petting zoo, with one teenage volunteer saying: “Charlotte bent down and was hugging Honey so much and hugging her neck, it was the sweetest most adorable thing ever. “I asked William if they had a pony for her at home and he said ‘not yet’.” After the family made an entrance as a group of four down the steps, the Prince and Princess’s faces lit up as they saw the treats ahead of them, including puppets, bubbles and a petting zoo starring a Nubian goat and miniature ponies named Honey and TC.After a quick introduction, the Princess barely paused for breath before scampering across the grass to a balloon archway, excitedly hitting it and attempting to pick it up. With a few steps of her determined little legs, a toddling Princess Charlotte took her first strides into the world of official royal duties on Thursday with a star appearance at a children’s party.Princess Charlotte, just 16 months old, charmed the watching world with an adorable entrance to a tea party for military families, compete with bubbles, bunnies and a very patient dog.And while party organisers pulled out all the stops to provide every bit of entertainment a child could hope for, Princess Charlotte appeared to fall in love with one thing: the balloons.