Photo by Getty Images.Jameis Winston, whose season included accusations of sexual assault and winning the Heisman Trophy, added to his year to remember by spearheading Florida State’s historic comeback in the Rose Bowl Monday night. Needing a touchdown to secure the national championship, Winston calmly engineered the game-winning, 80-yard drive in the waning seconds, giving the Seminoles a thumping 34-14 victory for NCAA supremacy while simultaneously ending the SEC’s seven-year run on top.“It was the best football game he’s played all year,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said, “and I’ll tell you why, because for three quarters he was up and down and he fought. And to pull it out in the atmosphere and environment and with what was on the line tonight, to me if that’s not a great player, I don’t know who is.”Winston was less-than-sharp much of the night, as the Tigers built a 21-3 lead and looked to be en route to college football supremacy. But with the help from its defense and a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Levonte Whitfield, Florida State rallied. Still, it needed a touchdown trailing 31-27 with 1:19 to play.Suddenly, that unsteadiness he showed all game eased. Winston was sharp, completing 6 of 7 passes for 77 yards on the game-winning assault. He had a 49-yard run-and-catch when he fit the ball into a tight window and receiver Rashad Greene, who snagged it, eluded two defenders and sprinted up the sideline for the big gain.From there, with 13 seconds to play Winston lofted a pass for the conquering score from 2 yards to Kelvin Benjamin. “Once the ball is in the air on that post route, I’ve got to go get it, and I did,” Benjamin said. “Simple as that.”Winston, on his 20th birthday, finished the game 20 of 35 for 237 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. He was investigated for a year-old sexual assault complaint in November, but after three weeks the Florida state attorney’s office determined it did not have enough evidence to charge him.The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) went out with an instant classic, one of the best title games in its 16-year history. It will be replaced by a four-team playoff next season. And the Southeastern Conference’s seven-year winning streak in college football’s biggest game was snapped by the Atlantic Coast Conference school that played in the first three BCS title games but hadn’t been back since.
New York Jets cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who mysteriously was missing for two days, returned to the team’s facility Sunday night and met with coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik.Patterson didn’t show up for Friday night’s exhibition game against the New York Giants and couldn’t be reached or located. Idzik termed it an “unexcused” absence, saying he still hadn’t talked to Patterson. The only thing the Jets knew was that he was safe and unharmed, Idzik said.Drew Rosenhaus, Patterson’s agent, declined to comment.Idzik hinted that Patterson could be disciplined, but he declined to speculate on whether the absence would result in a fine or impact his standing on the team. Idzik said he needed to speak with Patterson before making that determination. He wanted to find out why the well-traveled veteran “would take such a drastic step.”On Friday, Patterson attended meetings, the walk-through and the pre-game meal, but he never showed up at MetLife Stadium. Because of his injuries, it was questionable whether he would play. At first, they thought he may have been stuck in traffic. Team officials spent the night trying to track him down, making numerous phone calls.“Without putting an APB out, you’re trying everything you can,” Ryan said. “You’re trying all the numbers you have, you name it. . . Obviously, as the game wore on, we still had a major concern.”Saturday Idzik confirmed that Patterson was all right, although the team did not know his whereabouts. The players were off Saturday. On Sunday, he did not show up for practice.“Not to my knowledge,” Idzik said, when asked if it was legal matter that kept Patterson away. “We have a very cursory knowledge of what’s going on. That’s the extent of it. . . That’s it in a nut shell.”
Michael Bennett has been one of the most outspoken pro athletes on numerous social issues. Last month, he held a benefit for the family of a pregnant black woman who was fatally shot by two white Seattle police officers in June. Police said the woman threatened the officers with at least one knife after calling 911 to report that someone had broken into her apartment and stolen video-game consoles.“For me it’s always finding a way to impact the community on every single level; locally, nationally, and globally,” Bennett said following the benefit. “To be able to have something happen in your city and to be able to build a bridge between people regardless of color, regardless of gender, and regardless of economic hardships, you want to be able to bring people together and be able to do something for kids.”Advocates on Wednesday cited Bennett’s treatment by police as an illustration of troubled race relations in America.Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter advocacy group, called it “a testament to the police violence targeting black people in the United States.”Cullors endorsed an online petition calling for Las Vegas police to release information about what she called an assault on Bennett.Jocelyn Benson, chief executive of the nonprofit Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, released a statement crediting Bennett with “courage and leadership in addressing issues of racial injustice in our country.”“The revelation of Michael Bennett’s terrifying experience with Las Vegas police officers last month underscores the need to continue fighting against racial profiling and inequality,” Benson said. LAS VEGAS (AP) — Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett accused Las Vegas police on Wednesday of racially motivated excessive force, saying he was threatened at gunpoint and handcuffed following a report of gunshots at an after-hours club at a casino-hotel.Bennett said on a Twitter message titled “Dear World” that police “singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.”Police later attributed a report of gunfire at Drai’s at the Cromwell resort to the sharp sound of velvet rope stands being knocked to a tile floor. It happened a few hours after the Aug. 26 fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor.Bennett, a 6-foot-4 defensive end who has been a leader of the national anthem protests started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, said he was among several hundred people running away.He said he was handcuffed face-down on the ground after an officer held a gun to his head saying he would blow his head off if he moved.“All I could think of was ‘I’m going to die for no other reason than I am black and my skin color is somehow a threat,’” he wrote. He said he thought of his wife and children.Equality. pic.twitter.com/NQ4pJt94AZ— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) September 6, 2017Bennett said he was taken to the back of a police car “until they apparently realized I was not a thug, common criminal or ordinary black man but Michael Bennett a famous professional football player.” He was released without charges.Las Vegas police Officer Jacinto Rivera said police were checking for casino and police body camera video and written reports. He said the department couldn’t immediately verify Bennett’s account or identify the officers involved.“Without looking at video footage or reading any reports we can’t say yet what happened,” Rivera said.A video posted by celebrity news site TMZ shows a view from a balcony as a police officer kneels on the back of a man who looks like Bennett. Protests are heard, including, “I wasn’t doing nothing,” and, “I was here with my friends. They told us to get out and everybody ran.”Bennett’s attorney, John Burris in Oakland, California, confirmed the words were Bennett’s. The attorney said he believed the 30-second video clip showed some of how his client was treated.“We think there was an unlawful detention and the use of excessive force, with a gun put to his head,” Burris told The Associated Press. “He was just in the crowd. He doesn’t drink or do drugs. He wasn’t in a fight. He wasn’t resisting. He did nothing more or less than anyone in the crowd.”Burris said Bennett waited to make public his account of the incident until after Burris contacted Las Vegas police last week by letter and email, seeking police records of Bennett’s detention.Bennett’s brother, Martellus Bennett, who plays for the Green Bay Packers, posted an Instagram account of a telephone call he said he got from Michael Bennett. He said he heard fear in his brother’s voice.“The emotion and the thought of almost losing you because of the way you look left me in one of the saddest places ever,” Martellus Bennett said.
Things That Caught My EyeUnlikely but inevitable happened!The University of Maryland-Baltimore County accomplished what college basketball fans have long considered inevitable if strikingly unlikely, becoming the first-ever No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed in the University of Virginia. This year looked rather good for a 16-over-1 upset, but analysts were actually more bullish on University of Pennsylvania to be the underdog to pull it off. UMBC’s ride in the tourney was ended by Kansas State in the round of 32 on Sunday, but their ticket into the history books is punched. [FiveThirtyEight]Top four, outFor the first time since seeding began in 1979, a region will not have a single team left in the Sweet Sixteen who entered the tournament a top-four seed — in the South, No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Cincinnati, No. 3 Tennessee and No. 4 Arizona all lost. Moreover, Florida State and Kansas State become the first pair of 9-seeds to make the 16. [ESPN]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?Villanova and Duke, pick your poisonTwo teams combine for a 2-in-5 chance of winning the NCAA Men’s tournament, No. 2-seed Duke and No. 1-seed Villanova, the latter of which we give a 22 percent chance of victory. Other possible contenders include Kentucky (11 percent chance), Kansas (11 percent chance) and last year’s runner-up Gonzaga (8 percent chance). [FiveThirtyEight]A bit overkill, you think?The University of Connecticut, the top seed in the NCAA Women’s tourney, won their opening round game 140-52 against Saint Francis University. They put up 94 points in the first half. They remain the overwhelming favorite to win, with a 76 percent chance of winning. [FiveThirtyEight]Last team in remains inSyracuse University, the last team to make the field of 68, has made it to the Sweet Sixteen. They’ve got the hardest road of any ahead of them – we give them a 15 percent chance of beating Duke, and the numbers get worse for them going further. [ESPN]New York Jets make a moveThe Indianapolis Colts have traded their No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL draft to the New York Jets in exchange for the No. 6 pick, the No. 37 pick, No. 49 pick and a 2019 second round pick. It seems like the Jets think they can get that elusive franchise quarterback with the third pick. Let’s see if the New York Jets can make a great front office decision. [The Ringer]Big Number28 bracketsRight before the University of Virginia ate it and lost to UMBC, there were only 28 perfect brackets still remaining across ESPN, Yahoo, CBS Sports and Bleacher Report out of tens of millions submitted. After the loss, there wasn’t a single bracket left alive out there. [MarketWatch]Leaks from Slack: FiveThirtyEight office bracketFiveThirtyEight has an in-house bracket contest that assigns points based on how many people picked a team to win that game, rewarding upsets.micah:after Day No. 1, Nate is in last place of the FiveThirtyEight men’s NCAA basketball pool. :smile:julia:how does Neil win everything?!neil:¯\_(ツ)_/¯(Fwiw I tend to do pretty well in these opening rounds but fade late in the tourney…)walt:He’s better at spotting first round upsets than anyone else in the game but the aggregate uncertainty of later rounds hurts himthese brackets are won and lost in the NCAAW side thoughandrea:^ oh interesting @walt, why is that? We know less about them so are collectively worse at predicting upsets? (for example)?walt:lotta people go straight chalk on themI’ve won the womens bracket a couple of times iirc and when I did it was because I picked it with a specific high risk/reward algorithm that exploits everyone picking Uconn to winaka the “ignore all quaffles and just catch the damn snitch” style of bracket playneil:I made a sentimental pick for tennessee at one point, because I loved the Lady Vols in the Pat Summitt era(although I also still picked UConn to win it all)#ChamiqueHoldsclawGOATwalt:Here’s who you all picked to win NCAAM: VILLANOVA (x4), VIRGINIA (x3), DUKE (x3), CINCINNATI (x2), AUBURN, PURDUE, NORTH CAROLINAand NCAAW: UCONN (x11), BAY (x2)sara.ziegler:BAYLOR, BABY.walt:thats the bold kind of move that wins brackets[After a weekend of games this trash talking aged like fine wine, as Julia leads overall, Neil is still in 3rd, Nate is in 5th, and Micah is in overall last place]Predictions NBA Oh, and don’t forgetNo. We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe See more NBA predictions All newsletters
Different ways to determine the Warriors’ chance of beating the Cavaliers GameElo difference — playoff dynamics74.0 SeriesChampionship experience and win difference95.0 Note how stratified the regular season coloring is: For any given level of margin of victory, having 10 more wins only affects the odds of winning a (theoretical) series by 5 to 10 percentage points. In the playoffs, on the other hand, the ranges are staggering. If team A is a net of 2 points per game better than team B, its chances of winning the series may vary by as much as 30 percentage points depending on the teams’ relative win-loss records.3. Champs gonna champChampionship experience matters. A lot. And recent champs win way more than similarly situated non-champs.Winning an NBA championship is really hard. And surprise: Teams that pull it off and then keep playing at a high level are likely to do well in the playoffs.Indeed, having demonstrated an ability to win a championship continues to be a strong indicator of a team’s ability to compete for another for several years. Below is a chart that shows all teams since 1984 that finished within five games of the best record in the regular season arranged by their winning percentage and how many other teams finished within five games of the best record as well (our proxy for competition). The differences between those that had won a title within the previous five years (our proxy for championship experience) and those that had not are withering: Obviously, this doesn’t account for particulars like the Cavs turning it on or that a twice-injured Steph Curry has looked shaky at times. And as of this writing, betting lines seem to agree with the standard models, generally installing the Warriors as a slightly better than 2-1 favorite. But if history is any kind of guide this year, the unconventional wisdom may be significantly understating the Warriors’ chances.Check out our latest NBA predictions. SeriesElo difference, win difference and championship experience94.2 The model that projects series results directly tends to add 8 to 10 percentage points to the better team’s chances (though of course this diminishes a bit as the gap between teams gets larger). Coming into the Finals, the Warriors are 64 Elo points ahead of the Cavs, making that difference 9 percentage points — a fairly significant boost to Golden State’s outlook.2. Winning is everythingOr, more shockingly for stats-types: Margin of victory is useless.Virtually any model worth its salt long ago abandoned uncouth metrics like wins and losses in favor of more nuanced metrics like margin of victory. But such proxies are only valuable so long as they’re a more reliable predictor of winning than winning itself. In contexts like baseball (where results are fairly close to a random walk) or football (where sample sizes are always small), looking predominantly at differentials in runs or points may be a sound analytical strategy. But in many sports — and especially basketball — winning is a demonstrably discrete and valuable skill independent from scoring and allowing points. This is why, as I’ve written before, a good model for predicting outcomes should account for both a team’s winning percentage AND its margin of victory. PROJECTION BYUSINGCHANCE OF WINNING GameElo difference — regular-season dynamics69.0% SeriesElo difference and win difference90.2 SeriesElo difference78.1 How much you weight each one depends on the amount of data you have and what you’re trying to predict.In the NBA playoffs, the skill of winning is especially important because — and this is seriously one of my favorite things in all of sports — being good at “winning” manifests both in playoff games and playoff series. “Winning” teams not only win playoff games more than their margin of victory implies, but they win playoff series even more often than that.Thus, seemingly unlikely things like the Warriors’ coming back from 3-1 to beat the Thunder in seven games happen significantly more often for teams with a demonstrated knack for winning.Overall, here’s how the chances of winning a seven-game series change when you adjust the relative weight of win rates and margin of victory to account for playoff dynamics: For the statistically oriented, base concepts like “clutch” and “momentum” generally aren’t a thing. Instead, a different sort of conventional wisdom rules the day: Margins of victory mean more than wins; results are largely random walks of possessions; series are largely random walks of games; and playoff games are like regular games between stronger teams. Despite encouraging overt oversimplification, these ideas remain compelling because metrics built with them in mind have been pretty good at making predictions in many contexts across several sports and in the NBA’s regular season.But the NBA playoffs are a different beast entirely. There, many of the traditional ways of thinking — like the philosophy that the playoffs are where winners win and where champions win championships — turn out to be true.A few years ago, I came up with a heuristic for picking NBA champions that I call the “Five by Five” method: Of teams that are 1) within five games of the best win-loss record in the NBA and 2) have won a championship within the previous five years, pick the one that won a championship most recently. If no team at the top has a ’chip, pick the team with the best record.1Ties go to the team with the higher margin of victory. This correctly picks the eventual NBA champion in 21 of 32 seasons (66 percent) since 1984 (including three of four since I came up with it).The Golden State Warriors, of course, entered these playoffs with a better résumé than the typical favorite. Defending champions? Check. Best record in NBA history? Check. No teams within five wins in the regular season? Check. Yet, playoff models that rely heavily on margin of victory and game-by-game simulations — like ESPN’s Basketball Power Index and FiveThirtyEight’s Elo projections — gave the Warriors less than a 45 percent chance of repeating.The Cavs beating the Warriors in this year’s NBA Finals would be an upset no matter how you look at it. FiveThirtyEight’s projections give the Warriors a 69 percent chance of winning the series. But if we factor in the conventional wisdom — not something we say here very often — the Warriors look even stronger.In particular, I believe there are three clichés about the playoffs that the conventional wisdom gets right and the unconventional wisdom gets wrong — and they’re all good news for Warriors fans:1. The playoffs are a whole different ballgameThe obvious problem with using models built predominantly on regular-season data to predict postseason games is that the playoffs have demonstrably different dynamics. For one thing, both teams try very hard to win each game. When it’s win or go home, there’s no more jockeying for better playoff (or lottery) position, no more using throw-away games to experiment with new lineups, the best players tend to get more minutes per game and no one’s resting on the second night of (non-existent) back-to-backs.For the most part, this has one inescapable effect: The better team wins more often. For example, modeling playoffs separately suggests that a team that is projected to win a regular home game against a particular opponent 66 percent of the time under our Elo model is likely to win an equivalent game 69 percent of the time in the playoffs. Over a seven-game series, those small differences add up: The odds of that team with home-court advantage winning a seven-game playoff series against the same opponent rise from 57 percent to 63 percent.But that’s just the beginning. Better teams win individual games more often, but they also win series more often than their game-winning rate suggests. In other words, there is skill to winning playoff series, and better teams are better at this skill. We can see this by tweaking how we make our projections. Normally, to project a series, we first model how much of a favorite a team is in each game (either sequentially or all at once) and then calculate its odds of winning four out of seven. But an alternative, less granular method is to take the same inputs (like team strength), ignore individual games and just model the odds of each team winning each series. The fact that this method produces very different — not to mention more accurate — results tells us something about NBA series dynamics. Here are the projected series win rates for teams with home-court advantage using three different Elo-based methods: Nine of the 10 teams that had the best record free and clear (no teams within five games) won the championship (including all five with championship experience). That leaves 22 seasons in which no such team existed. In 12 of those 22, the title was won by a team with championship experience (out of 29 such teams “competing”, or 41 percent); in seven, the title was won by a team with no championship experience (out of 50 such teams competing, or 14 percent). Only three seasons had champions that finished more than five games back (of 273 such playoff teams in those years, or ~1 percent).Of the 16 teams that had the best record in the league, at least one challenger within five games and no championship experience, only two won the title — and both times it was the San Antonio Spurs.All clichés consideredTo show how much these clichés potentially affect real predictions, I’ve created a series of models to predict the outcome of the NBA Finals series between the Warriors and the Cavs using different methods and sets of variables discussed above (for championship experience, I introduced a “has more recent championship experience within past five years” variable2So a team gets 1 if they have the most recent championship within five years, -1 if their opponent does and 0 if neither has won a championship in five years.). Here are the results, with methods ordered from least to most predictive:3By adjusted r-squared.
OAKLAND, Calif. — LeBron James’s relative solo act has been discussed at length this postseason. But for how much his showings set him apart from his team, there’s an argument to be made that no Cavalier feels more alone than Kevin Love.And on Sunday night, Love was made to feel like he was on an island again and again and again — maybe a dozen times in all. In each instance, Stephen Curry — a two-time MVP and the greatest shooter on the planet — had Love right where he wanted him: By himself, with no help defender in sight, giving the Golden State star the time and space to dissect him off the dribble to the tune of 33 points and a finals-record nine 3-pointers. The lights-out shooting helped spur the Warriors to a 2-0 edge in the best-of-seven series, which now heads to Cleveland for Game 3 on Wednesday.Certain shots will understandably garner the majority of the attention — particularly this nearly 30-foot circus shot to beat the shot clock early in the fourth that provided Golden State enormous momentum as Cleveland was attempting to make one final push. But beneath the surface, Curry is giving the troubled Cavs defense fits, in part because of what he and Klay Thompson do better than anyone else: move without the ball to free themselves for open shots.In particular, Curry has played a mix of both Hot Potato and Tag, essentially setting up give-and-go plays with his teammates by passing them the ball with the hope and intention of getting it back after he has sprinted to an open spot behind the 3-point line. The style of play makes him an even more challenging cover for the 29th-ranked Cleveland defense, not only because of the occasional confusion it brings about, but also because Curry’s teammates will occasionally use his give-and-go sequences as an opportunity to screen for him in the corner.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/passback1.mp400:0000:0000:10Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/passback2.mp400:0000:0000:11Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.“It’s tough — really tough — to guard Steph anywhere out there on the floor because he’s just so good at finding himself open,” Love said after the game, in which Curry shot a perfect 5-of-5 from 3-point range in the final period.Curry’s ability to shake free was far from the only thing that explained Golden State’s victory. The Warriors, who’ve struggled at times with focus, jumped out to a 15-6 run to start the game and appeared locked in from the outset in the wire-to-wire victory. They made a point of being more aggressive defensively with James after his stellar Game 1 and sought to force the ball out of his hands by occasionally sending a second man at him. And perhaps most noteworthy: Curry’s co-stars, Thompson and Kevin Durant, were even more efficient than Curry himself, with Durant scoring 26 points on just 14 shots and Thompson getting 20 on 13 shot attempts.Yet the performance — with the sprint-and-shoot element of Curry’s game coming alive — highlights something meaningful about the Warriors. After looking stagnant and vulnerable at times on offense in its seven-game bout with the Houston Rockets, Golden State finally appears to resemble itself again — even without injured forward Andre Iguodala, whose presence as a secondary ballhandler has been missed on that end.Since Game 6 of the Houston series, Curry has shot 5-of-9 on give-and-go 3-point tries. By contrast, he has shot just 3-of-18 on all other catch-and-shoot looks from deep, according to analyst Matt Williams with ESPN’s Stats & Information Group. (Worth noting: Curry is getting almost an extra half-foot on average between him and his nearest defender when his shot stems from a give-and-go.)Curry noted Sunday that the sprint-and-shoot strategy is one that he has used for a while now. “We’ve been doing that for a long time — it’s just that everything’s under a microscope now in the playoffs,” said Curry, who’s building a case to win his first NBA Finals MVP. “With how teams guard us with all their switching and things like that, you’ve got to find ways to create space.”That space often comes in the form of a big like Love or Clint Capela lacking the footspeed necessary to track Curry all the way back out to the 3-point line after cutting through the paint. This — and Curry’s hesitation moves into the paint, which defenders have to honor to avoid him getting off 3-point attempts — is how Golden State makes teams pay for perimeter switches.And on Sunday, it resulted in Curry making Love and Larry Nance Jr. look like bad stuntmen — they went lunging and flying after the Warriors guard when he broke free in the short corner.So, sure: The Cavaliers might be able to take some solace in the idea of going back home for Games 3 and 4. But unless they can find a way to bottle up Curry and the rediscovered Warriors offense, even home-court advantage may not be enough to make this a series again.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
OSU junior forward Marc Loving (2) looks on during the Buckeyes’ loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals on March 11,2016 in Indianapolis.Credit: Lantern File PhotoIn the midst of a grueling stretch to begin Big Ten play, Ohio State left the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin, on Thursday night not only with another missed opportunity for a signature win, but also with embarrassment. Senior guard Bronson Koenig and senior forward Nigel Hayes led Wisconsin with 21 and 15 points as the No. 18 Badgers thumped the Buckeyes 89-66, sending OSU back to Columbus with an 0-4 start in the Big Ten, the first time since 1997.This is the third time in six meetings that OSU has lost to Wisconsin by 20 points. It was OSU’s worst defeat of the season.OSU had four players in double figures. Sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle led the Buckeyes with 13 points, followed by redshirt junior guard Kam Williams with 12.OSU had just seven assists to Wisconsin’s 19.Koenig had 15 points at the half, followed by Hayes with 11. OSU was 2 for 10 beyond the arc, compared to the Badgers hitting 6-of-12 shots from 3 in the first half.After halftime, somehow things got worse for coach Thad Matta and the Buckeyes.At the first media timeout, OSU trailed 59-33. The half opened up with two 3s from senior forward Vitto Brown and then two more from Koenig. From there, the lead continued to grow. Wisconsin led by as much as 32 points.Wisconsin made 12 of 22 shots from 3, shooting 55 percent. OSU was 5 of 20 from 3-point territory.For the third time in four games, the Buckeyes found themselves down by double digits in the first half. A pair of 12-2 runs for the Badgers and a couple cold spells in the first half snowballed into a 40-22 lead with 3:03 left in the half.Shooting has been another downward trend for OSU and it reared its head again on Thursday. The Buckeyes shot just 30 percent in the first half, trailing by 18 points after 20 minutes.OSU finished the game with 12 turnovers and was outrebounded 44-31 by Wisconsin.The Buckeyes go for win No. 1 in the Big Ten, once again, versus Michigan State at the Schottenstein Center on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
Freshman outside hitter Luisa Schirmer (5) scans the court during an NCAA Tournament match against Kentucky on Dec. 6 in Lexington, Ky. OSU won, 3-1.Credit: Chris Slack / Lantern photographerLEXINGTON, Ky. — The No. 18 Ohio State Buckeyes found themselves playing the No. 13 Kentucky Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament Saturday, not only as the lower-ranked team, but playing on the Wildcats homecourt.But they ended up pulling off another upset win, with the help of a new face in the line-up as OSU upset the Wildcats in four sets (23-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-19).Around the start of the second set, coach Geoff Carlston inserted junior outside hitter Katie Mitchell, who didn’t appear in the first match against Lipscomb. Mitchell finished the match with nine kills as she sparked OSU off the bench.“Coming off the bench as a player, we need to give a different look and change our things and not do the same things that our team has been doing,” Mitchell said. “So coming in, making a change and making a difference throughout the whole match, I am pretty sure they never scouted my hitting so that was a little helpful. Being able to adapt and make a difference.”While dealing with injuries throughout the season, Carlston said he knew that he could rely on his depth.“She came off the bench and helped us win (the) match,” Carlston said. “And that’s really the kind of team we’ve been all year. We’ve won so many different ways, and I couldn’t be any prouder as a coach with the selflessness of this group.”Senior outside hitter Erin Sekinger and junior outside hitter Elizabeth Campbell each had a game-high of 16 kills. Campbell also had 13 digs. Senior setter Taylor Sherwin assisted on 50 attacks, which was a game-high, and had 12 digs. Sophomore libero Valeria León made a difference on the defensive side with a team-high 14 digs for OSU, along with seven assists.The Buckeyes were able to execute an altered game plan later in the match.“What we weren’t doing early on was, we were trying to blast through that huge block cross-court and bruising our toes,” Carlston said. “And so the game plan was to work the line and try to stay away from libero because she’s exceptional. So what we started doing at the end was Katie Mitchell (doing) a great job of challenging the line and that was a big difference ‘cause we knew that they get energized by their blocking and we were doing a nice job energizing them the first set.”And while the Buckeyes move on, the Wildcats do not. Senior outside hitter Lauren O’Conner and senior libero Jackie Napper couldn’t hold back their emotions after the game.“I mean, that’s it for us,” O’Conner said. “We put our heart and soul into it for four years and for it to be gone like that, it’s just tough.”O’Conner, Napper and setter Alyssa Gergins were the lone seniors for the Wildcats.While the Buckeyes can enjoy the win, they’ll have to get back to planning against a team that’s beaten them twice this season in No. 2 Wisconsin. The Buckeyes and the Badgers are set to play Friday.“Our conference prepares us,” Carlston said. “We played eight of our last 10 matches against top-20, top-25 teams, and so if nothing else than playing in the Big Ten gets you ready for who you’re going to see, even Wisconsin now. Typically if you make it to the Sweet Sixteen, you’re gonna end up playing someone from our conference, or someone who’s really good. Day in, day out, in our conference, you just become more prepared, I think.“If you make it through and survive (the Big Ten), you are ready.”Despite OSU being 0-2 against Wisconsin on the season, and having been swept in both matches, Mitchell said she is confident that the Badgers will see a different team on Friday.“When you play in the Big Ten, you’re playing against some of the best teams in the country,” Mitchell said. “And (the coaches) have prepared us well against the Wisconsin, Penn State and Illinois, for the tournament. But we’re definitely going to give them a different look.”The Buckeyes and Badgers will play at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville on Friday. The match’s start time has not yet been announced.
Ohio State senior outside hitter Ashley Wenz (13) spikes the ball during a game against No. 5 Nebraska on Nov. 17. The Buckeyes lost the match 3-1. Credit: Rebecca Farage | Lantern ReporterThe Ohio State women’s volleyball team (14-14, 7-10 Big Ten) suffered a 3-1 loss to No. 5 Nebraska (23-4, 16-1 Big Ten) on Friday night. After losing the first two sets, Ohio State rebounded in the third set and knocked out multiple kills. Nebraska’s junior outside hitter Mikaela Foecke put up a fight with 11 kills, but the Buckeyes’ 36 kills, 32 assists and 43 digs led them to a 25-22 victory.“We played with a lot of courage,” freshman outside hitter Ayanna Swan said. “We didn’t really get discouraged after the second set considering the score, so I’m really proud of how we played.”Nebraska got off to an 4-1 early lead in the first set. The Buckeyes eventually caught up with three blocks before calling a timeout, leading the scoreboard 12-10. Tensions rose as the teams were locked in a close set that saw 13 ties and four lead changes. The Cornhuskers finished with a final block, which won them the set 25-23.Nebraska took advantage of sloppy play by the Buckeyes in the second set as Ohio State had 15 attack errors. Ohio State’s defense played well again as it finished with five blocks, but the Buckeyes did not deliver offensively. The Cornhuskers’ 26 kills and .277 attacking percentage earned them the set 25-12.The fourth set was a close point-by-point set until the end. With the set tied at 22-22, it was up for grabs. Nebraska’s star player Foecke secured the set for her team with a final kill and the Cornhuskers won 25-23.Although the Buckeyes weren’t victorious, the evening proved fruitful for senior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer, who reached 1,000 career kills. With 10 kills and 13 digs against Nebraska, Schirmer earned her eighth double-double of the season. Wenz played similarly with 11 kills and 10 digs to add a double-double of her own. Freshman setter Becca Mauer also played a significant role with 39 assists and eight digs.Sophomore middle blocker Madison Smeathers said the Buckeyes enjoy playing the big teams even when they don’t come out on top.“We had a lot of … hitting errors and we weren’t always concentrated on what we needed to be,” Smeathers said.Swan admitted the Buckeyes did not play the best serving game and needed to be faster in their blocking tactics. “They did run a pretty fast offense,” Swan added. “It was pretty hard to keep up with them, but I think overall we held our own.”The Buckeyes will be back in St. John Arena at 8 p.m. Saturday for their rematch with Iowa.
Ohio State sophomore forward Andre Wesson (24) looks to pass in the first half in the game against Michigan on Dec. 4. Ohio State won 71-62. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor