After a miracle postseason run, the Kansas City Royals’ quest for their first World Series championship since 1985 looks shaky. Combining Baseball-Reference.com’s in-game win probability model with the series win probability numbers I computed for a post on Friday, we can track the odds of each team winning the series at any point within any game thus far.In the top of the third inning of Game 4, the Royals tagged San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong for four runs, opening up a 4-1 lead. As a result, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was forced to bring in reliever Jean Machi from the bullpen early, and Machi promptly walked Jarrod Dyson to load the bases. At that precise juncture — with the bases loaded and two outs in the third inning, leading the game 4-1 and the series 2-1 — the Royals had an 82.4 percent probability of winning the World Series.Machi eventually got out of the jam, and San Francisco cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the third. But two innings later, the Royals again cracked an 82 percent World Series win probability when Eric Hosmer led off the fifth inning with a double.The odds of scoring at least one run are fairly high with a runner on second base and nobody out, and a three-run lead in the fifth inning would have given Kansas City a better than 80 percent chance of winning the game. With a 3-1 series lead and two of the remaining three games (if necessary) at home, the Royals would have had an 88.5 percent probability of winning the World Series.But they failed to score Hosmer in the fifth, then let the Giants tie the game in the bottom of the inning. An inning later, San Francisco blew the game open with three runs, then tacked on four more in the seventh en route to an 11-4 victory.We may eventually look back at those two moments of Game 4 as the high-water marks for Kansas City’s World Series chances. From the latter point on, the Royals have hemorrhaged win probability. Once tied at two games apiece, the series was almost a 50-50 proposition after taking into account where the remaining games were being played and who was taking the mound for each team. Kansas City still could have pushed its World Series win probability to 78.5 percent with a win Sunday night, but the Royals once again struggled to solve San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, and their odds of winning the series dropped almost linearly from 50.2 percent at the first pitch to 29.3 percent at the final out (just about where they stood after losing Game 1).
When this tournament started, the FiveThirtyEight model said Duke was only 6 percent likely to win the NCAA tournament. Now it’s 100 percent.What the model couldn’t tell you: that Duke would pull away from Gonzaga late in the Elite Eight and demolish a surprising Michigan State team in the Final Four; that it’d have to come back against a Wisconsin team late in the championship game; and that one of the guys helping the Blue Devils do it would be Grayson Allen, the freshman from Jacksonville who scored 16 points in the final of the NCAA tournament. Allen averaged nine minutes and four points a game this season but went 5 of 8 from the field in the biggest game of his life. He’s the kind of folk hero March Madness is so good at finding.That Duke was only 6 percent likely to win the tournament doesn’t mean this was a total shock. The Blue Devils were a No. 1 seed after all and had the sixth-highest probability to win, according to the FiveThirtyEight model. Here’s a look back at the Blue Devils’ win probabilities going into each round of the tournament. Engrave it on to your commemorative DVD, Duke fans. Shining moments shouldn’t be forgotten.Round of 64: 6 percent chance to win the championship.Round of 32: 7 percent.Sweet 16: 12 percent.Elite Eight: 13 percent.Final Four: 22 percent.Finals: 47 percent.Monday night, 11:30 p.m.: 100 percent.
Serena Williams beats Maria Sharapova for Olympic goldIn a fashion that was stunning in its dominance and brevity, Serena Williams captured the gold medal in women’s singles at the London Olympics Saturday by simply crushing Russia’s Maria Sharapova.The crowd at the All England club witnessed one of the most dynamic and explosive efforts ever on its legendary grass Centre Court. Sharapova never had a chance.Not even Williams could have expected to claim her first individual gold – and the second to complete the so-called Golden Slam – in such an overwhelming way. She demoralized Sharapova early with her booming serve and relentless attitude and never let up.The 6-0, 6-1 score gives some idea of the lopsidedness of the match. But even that does not paint an accurate picture of Williams’ demolition of Sharapova. Perhaps nothing can. It was that commanding of a performance by Williams, who smashed aces that left her opponent flat-footed.But it was not just her powerful serve that overwhelmed Sharapova. It also was Williams’ shot placement that kept her opponent off balance. And it was her will and determination that were crushing.To get to the gold medal round, Williams had her way with the No. 1 seed, Victoria Azerenka.Truth be told, she had her way with everyone she faced. She lost only 17 games in her six matches. She went 13-0 this summer at the All England Club, where she won her fifth Wimbledon title a month ago.The career Golden Slam was first achieved by Steffi Graf, won gold in the Olympics in 1988 after winning all four major titles. Williams has14 Grand Slam singles championships, the most of any active woman.If her efforts in London have not shown that she is at the peak of her game and the rest of the tennis world should be concerned, then nothing will. Just ask Maria Sharapova.
Reggie Bush does not like the New York Jets and they do not like the Miami Dolphins‘ running back, which makes Sunday’s meeting between the AFC East rivals even more intense.Jets coach Rex Ryan said he wants Bushto apologize for his “what-goes-around-comes-around” comment from Week 3. Bush, speaking two days after the Jets’ win in Miami, intimated that cornerback Darrelle Revis deserved his season-ending knee injury.Needless to say, that did not go over well with the Jets.“We want to knock him out, but we’re out to do it legally,” linebacker Aaron Maybin said.In the first meeting, Bush was drilled by Jets safety LaRon Landry. Bush got caught under a pile, with nose tackle Sione Po’uha landing on his knee, knocking Bush out of the game. Landry emerged from the pile, clapping his hands, as if he was celebrating.“Every time he sees me, he will remember that hit,” Landry said. “If I’m in the box or I’m going downhill, he’ll remember that hit.”It turned out to be only a bruise, but Bush was angry. Two days later, he went on a South Florida radio station and suggested Revis’ injury — non-contact — was deserved. This was after Ryan had said his team needed to put “hot sauce” on Bush.“They talked all week about putting hot sauce and this and that, and they ended up losing their best player,” Bush said.Afterward, Ryan said Bush misinterpreted his remarks, and has since apologize. On Wednesday, Ryan was asked if he’s worried about payback.“I’m not worried about that, shoot,” Ryan said. “I apologized for my comments, and I expect him to do the same.”Ryan, however, had a slightly different take when he talked to Miami reporters on a conference call.“For him, I don’t want an apology, and, obviously, I hope he’s taken mine and understands the sincerity,” he said.Bush said Wednesday that he didn’t believe Ryan’s apology was sincere.“I don’t believe that, I don’t believe that at all,” Bush said. “But it is what it is. Like I said, the great thing about divisional games is you get to play them twice.”
Two games into Kentucky’s NCAA tournament, the Wildcats are right back where they started: with a 41 percent chance to finish the season as undefeated champions, according to our March Madness predictions. Neither of Kentucky’s wins so far particularly helped its chances; each was expected. Instead, the big event happened on Saturday night in Pittsburgh, on the other side of the bracket: North Carolina State upset Villanova, the team our model pegged as most likely to win the tournament if Kentucky faltered.Before Villanova’s loss, we gave it a 16 percent chance to win it all. Those percentage points are now spoils for the victors this weekend. Virginia, the No. 2 seed on the other end of the East regional bracket from Villanova, saw its chances of winning the title rise by 3 percentage points, roughly the same gain as Kentucky’s. Arizona’s and Duke’s respective title probabilities each rose by nearly 2 percentage points. And Gonzaga, Michigan State, N.C. State, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma and Wisconsin each gained nearly 1 percentage point of title-winning probability. Kentucky’s still the big favorite, but lots of other teams gained on the Wildcats simply by surviving and advancing into the Sweet 16.N.C. State’s convincing win — the Wolfpack never trailed in the second half — erased the chalk residue from the previous two days and restored some parity to a top-heavy tournament. It’s the fifth time in the last six years that a No. 1 seed has lost in the round of 32. In a way, Villanova’s loss at this stage is even more surprising than other recent underperforming No. 1 seeds. Villanova started with a title winning probability of 11 percent. No team that started the event with a chance of 1-in-10 or greater of winning the title failed to reach the Sweet 16 in any of the four previous years FiveThirtyEight has forecasted the tournament.Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions.
1993DALSFDALDAL: 17 | SF: 2✓ So much for settling in at the top. A week ago in this space, I noted that the Kansas City Chiefs had vaulted to No. 1 in our NFL Elo ratings, leapfrogging the previously top-rated New England Patriots with a win over the Pats in Week 1. Well, K.C.’s reign in first place turned out to be brief: The Pats retook the top slot in Week 2, bumping the Chiefs down to second.I know what you’re thinking: Kansas City won on Sunday, so what gives? You can dig deep into Elo’s methodology here, but the basic premise is that it assigns each team a power rating that can be used to predict the outcome of any game. Once that game is in the books, Elo takes rating points away from the loser and gives them to the winner, in proportion with how unlikely the victory was (upsets shift the ratings more than routine wins) and the winner’s edge on the scoreboard (big wins are worth more, although there are diminishing returns to running up the score).In the case of the Chiefs and Patriots, K.C. was a heavier favorite to win Sunday — 73 percent at home versus Philadelphia, as opposed to New England’s 64 percent chance on the road against New Orleans — but ended up winning by fewer points — only 7, as opposed to the Pats’ 16-point margin. So even though the win boosted Kansas City’s Elo rating by 10 points, New England gained 19, enough to erase the Chiefs’ slight Elo edge going into the weekend. (The margin between the teams is still extremely small.)Early in an NFL season, it’s rare to see two teams pass the Elo baton of No. 1 back and forth like this. Before 2017, the last time a preseason No. 1 was overtaken in Week 1 and then reclaimed the top slot in Week 2 was in 1993, when the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers fought over the top ranking. It was a harbinger of things to come that season: The Cowboys and Niners faced off in the NFC championship game, and Dallas went on to win its second-straight Super Bowl. Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com SEASONPREWEEK 1WEEK 2REMAINING WEEKS AT NO. 1MET IN PLAYOFFS? IND53%ARI67%ARI+14.1– TB76TB73TB-4.1– 1974MIAMINMIAMIA: 3 | MIN: 1 CAR66CAR71CAR+0.7– MIA52LAC55MIA-9.5– NO. 1 AFTER … NYG57NYG50DET+4.2– JAX59TEN52TEN+9.0– OUR PICKWIN PROB.READERS’ PICKWIN PROB.ACTUAL WINNERREADERS’ NET POINTS There was a similar situation in the previous season: Washington, the reigning Super Bowl champions, and San Francisco scrambled for No. 1 in the season’s first month. Washington would stumble that year to a 9-7 record but would eventually meet the Niners in the divisional round and lose.But that kind of duel doesn’t usually last much beyond September. In all but one such case since 1970, one of the two teams quickly seized the baton and ran away with it, dominating the top ranking for most of the rest of the season. The exception was in 1974, when John Madden’s Oakland Raiders and Chuck Noll’s Pittsburgh Steelers swooped in and stole No. 1 from both Miami and Minnesota. Either Oakland or Pittsburgh ended up holding the top slot for all but one of the season’s final 17 weeks. (“The Steel Curtain” would defeat the Raiders in the AFC championship game, win its first Super Bowl and dominate the rest of the decade.)Given its dynastic pedigree and Tom Brady’s rebound performance against New Orleans, New England might seem the likely candidate to tighten its grip on No. 1 and hang onto it the rest of the way. But take heart, K.C. fans: Even though the Chiefs are No. 2 in the ratings, Elo gives the Chiefs a better chance than the Patriots of making the playoffs (83 percent to 76 percent) and winning the Super Bowl (14 percent to 12 percent).FiveThirtyEight vs. The CrowdIn Week 2 of our NFL prediction game — in which we invite you to pick football games and try to outsmart our Elo algorithm — FiveThirtyEight’s readers fared slightly better than the computer model, scoring some big wins. One instance in which our readers trounced the model was the Tennessee-Jacksonville game, where the average player picked the Titans to win on the road with 52 percent confidence. The model, which failed to factor in the Jaguars’ inherent Jaguar-ness, had the home team winning at 59 percent. The Jags lost, and it wasn’t close.Readers were also more likely to fade the sad excuse for a football team known as the New York Jets. The Elo model gave the Oakland Raiders a 74 percent chance of winning at home, while readers had 88 percent confidence in Oakland — rightly knowing that the Jets (who systematically shed most of their talent this offseason) stood little chance in the Raiders’ home opener.Elo had its wins, too. The model was more confident than readers were that the reigning NFC champion Atlanta Falcons would win at home against the Green Bay Packers; it gave the Falcons a 63 percent chance of winning, while the average reader saw the game as a coin flip (50 percent). Likewise, Elo predicted the Denver Broncos to stand their ground against the Dallas Cowboys despite their being a home underdog according to the Vegas betting line — while the average player (wrongly) backed Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and company.Here are all the games from the second week of the season, in order of how many more points FiveThirtyEight readers earned, on average, than the model (or vice versa): 1981OAKDALOAKDAL: 11 | OAK: 0 1992WASSFWASSF: 14 | WAS: 1✓ Who wants to be No. 1?Seasons during which the team ranked No. 1 by Elo rating in the preseason was passed in Week 1 and then retook the top slot after Week 2, 1970-2017 CIN63CIN59HOU+1.1– SEA84SEA89SEA+0.1– NE64NE75NE+3.9– ATL63ATL50ATL-15.1– How did readers do against FiveThirtyEight’s picks?Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo across Week 2 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL betting game PIT71PIT65PIT-7.5– LAR55LAR54WSH-1.6– 1983WASMIAWASWAS: 20 | MIA: 0 2017NEKCNE— 1970KCMINKCMIN: 20 | KC: 0 OAK74OAK88OAK+4.1– BAL82BAL82BAL-2.9– DEN56DAL55DEN-14.2– KC73KC71KC-3.6– The Week 2 winner is …Congratulations to Tristan Smith from Nova Scotia, Canada, who scored 282.2 points in Week 2. Tristan, a financial analyst by trade, correctly picked 15 of 16 winners, including picking the Cardinals, Raiders, Seahawks and Patriots at 100 percent confidence.Remember: You can start playing the prediction game this week, even if you didn’t get your picks in Weeks 1-2.Check out our latest NFL predictions.
Ohio State senior attackman Austin Shanks surveys the defense against Furman at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Feb. 5. OSU won 12-6. Credit: Gene Ross | Senior Lantern reporterThe 1-0 Ohio State Buckeyes will host the Detroit Mercy Titans on Saturday at noon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in an attempt to build off last week’s win over Furman. It’s the Titans’ first game of the year.Last year, the Buckeyes defeated Detroit in a formidable victory, 16-5. Then-junior midfielders J.T. Blubaugh and Johnny Pearson had four and two goals, respectively.Titans senior goalie Jason Weber, who saved 18 shots in last year’s game, was nominated when as a 2017 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason All-Conference selection.OSU redshirt senior midfielder Tyler Pfister and coach Nick Myers said they are familiar with Weber and his skill set, which will present challenges to the OSU offense. Myers pointed to OSU’s ability to move the ball and getting off quick, quality shots as two keys to beating Weber.“We have a lot of respect for their goalie,” Pfister said. “He’s a veteran guy who takes control of that defense. We just want to focus on the things we know we need to work on as far as shooting and getting in the reps we need to.” The Titans attack is led by junior attackman Mark Anstead, who was last year’s team leader in points. He had eight more assists than the next highest total on the team.Last week, OSU opened up its season with a barrage of offense that exploded in the second quarter. The Buckeyes knocked out Furman’s goalie from the game by halftime and cruised to a 12-6 victory. Pearson led eight Buckeye scorers with four goals. For that display of offensive dominance to continue against Detroit, Pfister said that there can only be individual success on offense when everyone is doing their job offensively and defensively. “It’s not just one guy going out there taking over the game more times than not,” Pfister said. “The defense can do their job because the offense is doing their job and the offense can do their job because the defense is doing their job.”Detroit ended its season last year at 2-10, but Myers said the team brings a lot of intensity to the field and that it’s important for the Buckeyes to identify the Titans key players. “They got some big-time shooters in their line up who we’re going to have to contend with,” he said. Last year, the Buckeyes’ defense and redshirt senior goalie Tom Carey limited the Titans to only five goals. Carey had 10 saves in last year’s game against the Detroit Titans. Last Sunday, Carey saved 11 shots against Furman. Junior midfielder Bo Lori said the defense wants to continue to give Carey the support he needs in net. “We’ve got to work together and play as seven. If we are all working together and recovering well, we’ll give him the shots he wants to see,” Lori said.
The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team was able to shake off a four-game losing streak to rout the Hobart Statesmen, 11-4, on Senior Day at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The win puts the No. 18 Buckeyes at 6-5 overall and 1-1 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference. The scoring came early and often as the Buckeyes racked up six unanswered goals in the first quarter. Sophomore attackman Logan Schuss led the way with four goals for the Buckeyes with plenty of help from fellow sophomore attackman Jeff Tundo, who pitched in three goals. “I think one of the differences for us (this week) from the get-go is we had a six-goal first quarter,” OSU coach Nick Myers said. “Right now, I’m happy for the seniors and this team for getting their first league win.” The scoring spree began in the first minute when Schuss wound up and delivered a quick strike. The Statesmen failed to respond until the end of the first quarter when they scored on a man-up opportunity, leaving them down, 6-1, heading into the second quarter. The Buckeyes shut out the Statesmen for the next 15 minutes while adding two more goals, leaving the score at 8-1 heading into halftime. OSU proceeded to match Hobart’s effort in the second half, as each team posted three goals, giving the Buckeyes the largest win of their season with an 11-4 final score. Saturday’s win seemed to be a proper goodbye to Jesse Owens Stadium for senior middleman and Upper Arlington native Scott Lathrop, whose family came to support him on Senior Day. “It feels great, especially coming off a streak of losses,” Lathrop said after scoring two goals in the game. “It was really important for us to come in here with a new focus, not get down on ourselves and come out firing.” Senior Paul Beery, also a middleman, weighed in on leaving the stadium with a big win. “I think we put a lot of stuff together that we worked on this week,” Beery said. “It’s great to come out with a victory, especially with all the seniors getting a piece of the action.” While the Buckeyes certainly had no issues scoring, the defense constantly hustled, forcing 16 Hobart turnovers and allowing just seven shots in the first half with starters in. The defense for the Buckeyes rarely let Hobart near the goal, but when the Statesmen did manage to get close, freshman goalkeeper Greg Dutton usually thwarted them. “Greg Dutton had a heck of a game today with three goals against and 12 saves,” Myers said. “When he gets hot, it really ignites our defense.” Dutton exited to a round of applause in the waning minutes when the game was out of reach, allowing senior goalkeeper Ryan Keneally to play the rest of the game. The Buckeyes will now shift their focus to their upcoming April 16 road game against ECAC Conference leader Denver, which is undefeated in conference play.
Brandon Miller has resigned as assistant coach of Ohio State’s men’s basketball. OSU athletic department spokesman, Dan Wallenberg, confirmed Miller’s Thursday resignation. “We wish the Miller family well,” Wallenberg told The Lantern in an email. “Brandon has been a significant part of Ohio State’s success the last several years and he will be missed.” Wallenberg declined to comment further, saying, “we do not discuss personnel situations until positions are filled.” Miller graduated from Butler University in 2003. While there, Miller played under current OSU coach Thad Matta. After his playing career, Miller spent 2005-2007 on Matta’s coaching staff at OSU as director of basketball operations and video coordinator. Miller then returned to his alma mater as assistant coach for Butler’s 2007-08 before rejoining Matta’s staff in the summer of 2008. OSU sophomore forward Jared Sullinger posted on his Twitter account, @Jared_Sully0, at about 1 a.m. Friday morning: “Best Wishes to OSU Basketball assistant Brandon Miller. Leaving The game to spend time with his family.”
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer picked up two more recruits Monday. Defensive end recruits Joey Bosa and Lewis Neal verbally committed to play for the Buckeyes starting in the 2013 season. Bosa, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound junior from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. is ranked as the No. 14 overall player by recruiting website Rivals.com and the No. 2 strong side defensive end. During his junior year at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, he compiled eight sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He also had scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Michigan. From his Twitter account, @jbbigbear, he tweeted, “I’m gunna destroy people this year I feel sorry for who ever I go against.” He also tweeted a picture of a silver bullet. Neal is a 6-foot-1, 232-pound weakside defensive end from Wilson, N.C., Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 16 player at his position. He also had scholarship offers from Clemson, Purdue, Tennessee and South Carolina. Neal and Bosa are the 12th and 13th recruits for OSU’s 2013 class, and their commitments come less than a week after Meyer bagged his first quarterback recruit for the 2013 class. Quarterback prospect J.T. Barrett, out of Rider High School in Wichita Falls, Texas, verbally committed Wednesday. As Meyer’s first quarterback signee, Barrett is expected to compete with 2012 signee Cardale Jones to eventually replace current rising sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller. The Buckeyes’ 2011 regular season begins Sept. 1 against Miami (Ohio) at Ohio Stadium.