Warren Buffett has a great investment track record. So perhaps it’s no accident that he declined to offer $1 billion for correctly predicting the outcome of all World Cup knockout stage games, as he did for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament games.The odds of winning Buffett’s NCAA challenge were about one in 7.4 billion, assuming you chose the favorite in each game as selected by FiveThirtyEight’s NCAA model. But the odds of correctly filling out a 16-team knockout tournament such as the World Cup are much shorter.In fact, though there have been some thrilling matches in the knockout stage so far — six of 12 have gone to extra time and only two were decided by more than one goal — the favorite has advanced every time (at least as according to the FiveThirtyEight’s World Cup predictions).Here is the breakdown so far. The following table lists the win probability for the FiveThirtyEight favorite as of the day of the match, along with the cumulative probability of the model having called all knockout stages correctly up to that point in time.For instance, the probability of correctly identifying the winners in each of the first four knockout matches — Brazil over Chile, Colombia over Uruguay, the Netherlands over Mexico and Costa Rica over Greece — was about 23 percent, or one chance in 4.3. And the chance of going 12 for 12, as the FiveThirtyEight favorites have done so far, is just one in 75.It’s an upset, in other words, when all the favorites prevail. On average, we’d have expected three or four upsets through this point in the knockout round.Of course, there are four matches left — counting the World Cup’s third-place playoff between the two semifinal losers. According to the FiveThirtyEight forecasts, Brazil is favored over Germany on Tuesday (even after accounting for Neymar’s injury) and Argentina is slightly favored over the Netherlands on Wednesday. To complete a perfect knockout bracket, Germany would then need to beat the Netherlands in the consolation game while Brazil prevailed over Argentina in the final.All of the remaining matches look pretty close, so the FiveThirtyEight forecasts are likely to fail at some stage. If the model gets the matches right, however, it will have made good on a 1-in-553 chance of calling all 16 knockout stage winners correctly.Incidentally, this isn’t the huge success for the FiveThirtyEight model that it might seem. The FiveThirtyEight forecasts are probabilistic. Teams listed as 75 percent favorites are supposed to win about 75 percent of the time over the long run — not much less than that but also not any more often. There are supposed to be some upsets. If 75 percent favorites are winning 100 percent of the time over the long run instead, that means the forecasts are miscalibrated and overestimating the chances for the underdogs.In this case, the success of the favorites does seem to be mostly a matter of luck. Three games have gone to a penalty shootout so far — pre-match favorites might have a slight edge in those but not much of one. Mexico, meanwhile, was a few minutes away from defeating the Netherlands, and the U.S. was a few inches away from beating Belgium.The best way to test probabilistic forecasts is to check their calibration and to compare them against alternative probabilistic estimates. For example, if your model says that the U.S. has a 40 percent chance of beating Belgium and the consensus betting line gives the U.S. just a 25 percent chance instead, you should bet on the Americans — even though you expect Belgium to win most of the time. So far, the FiveThirtyEight forecasts have done well against consensus betting lines when used in this fashion — although that could reflect good luck, too.
Spanish3747301.6 NATIONALITYTOTAL GORINGS SINCE 2005PERCENT OF GORINGS SINCE 2005PERCENT OF ATTENDANCE IN 2014GORINGS TO ATTENDANCE RATIO Latin Americans4551.0 Other/unidentified1013210.6 British68%4%1.9 I’m sure this data will do little to dissuade my fellow prospective runners from heading to Pamplona one of these years — if anything, it’ll probably be used to argue that the odds are in your favor. But you’ll take the risk knowing that there have been only three days in the past 35 years when no one suffered a major injury. Hey, it’s gotta happen to someone. North Americans1114240.6 French2350.5 Australians or Kiwis810110.9 Another year, another 10 gorings. The annual nine-day running of the bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain, drew to a close today, with the inevitable bloody results: None was gored today, but five were hospitalized with major injuries in the last of eight runs.The festival is one of the most jarring examples of just how imperfect a process natural selection is. The tradition began centuries ago as a way to transport bulls from their corrals to the bullfighting ring, and grew as more people decided it would be fun to run in front of the bulls and try not to die. Literally the only point of going is to survive extreme risk (and to slap a bull on the butt, apparently). And yet it seems just as popular on bucket lists now1Mine included. as it was when it shot to worldwide fame in 1926 with its depiction in Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises.” The danger is the appeal — but just how dangerous is it to run with the Pamplona bulls?Record keeping on deaths (there have been 15) goes back to 1922, and Navarra — the region of Spain where the festival takes place — has kept track of every major injury that has resulted from the run since 1980. Using their data, I decided to find out for myself what the odds will be of ending up in a Navarra hospital when I inevitably partake in this exercise in idiocy.Although the number of injuries has been volatile from year to year, it’s grown by about 5.1 percent on average each year since 1980.That’s what you might expect if attendance were growing, but it’s not. Pamplona’s City Hall has tracked exact annual headcounts since only 2011 (and hasn’t published numbers for 2015 yet), but the limited available data suggests that attendance is on the decline — 17,126 people participated last year, down from 20,500 in 2011.2Six bulls and six steers run every day, regardless of the number of human participants. (Organizers claim the steers are harmless.) Pamplona blames the decline of the past two years on timing, saying the weekend fell mid-festival rather than at the beginning (coinciding with the big event kickoff), as it did in 2012 and 2011.With injuries going up and attendance going down, each person who runs alongside the bulls has a higher risk of being injured every year. Based on 2014’s data, you’d have a 0.3 percent chance of being injured, which is the same chance of having an unproduced screenplay turned into a feature film.But that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and don that pañuelo just yet. The Associated Press has kept detailed reports on how many people were gored — and the countries they hail from — every day of the festival dating to 2005. I used Nexis to determine whether runners from any nationality stood out. Obviously, Spaniards were hit hardest in terms of the raw number of gorings — 37 of the total 78 over the 10-year period. But Brits take home the prize for most disproportionate number of participants gored. They account for about 8 percent of gorings, but just 4 percent of participants.3Breakdown of attendance by nationality is based on 2014 headcounts.
The WBO completed its review of Timothy Bradley’s controversial split-decision victory against Manny Pacquiao with its five-member international judging panel all scoring the fight for Pacquiao, even though the official result of a Bardley split-decision win will stand.Pacquiao told The Associated Press from the Philippines on Thursday that he would prefer a rematch rather than Bradley giving up the WBO welterweight title that he won on a split decision because “people may think I just usurped it.”Bradley’s victory on June 9 instantly became one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history. While judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross both had Bradley winning 115-113, Jerry Roth scored it 115-113 for Pacquiao, who suffered his first defeat since 2005.“My supporters shouldn’t worry. We’re going to get that title,” said Pacquiao, who has the option of an immediate rematch with Bradley in his contract.The HBO broadcasters and nearly every media member at ringside had Pacquiao winning. The crowd at the MGM Grand booed the decision heavily and there was fan outrage around the world from people believing Pacquiao clearly had won.In the aftermath of the fight, WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel, whose organization sanctioned the title match, said he would have five judges review the video of the bout. On Wednesday, the results of that review were released. The five judges, whom Valcarcel said are accomplished judges with world title experience — but whose names were not disclosed — scored the fight for Pacquiao, 118-110, 117-111, 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113.Valcarcel said the WBO has no authority to change the result. But given the outcome of the panel’s review of the fight, he will order a rematch if Top Rank promoter Bob Arum declines to put on a second fight, or if Pacquiao opts not to exercise his rematch clause.Top Rank and Pacquiao, however, simply could move on to another fight that just would not be for the WBO title.“We can’t change the result but we did this review for two reasons,” Valcarcel told ESPN.com. “If they want to make a rematch, we will approve the rematch and if they don’t, we will order one. Also, we wanted to show (the Nevada State Athletic Commission) that they could bring in other officials from outside of Nevada who can also do a fine job judging fights. It’s good to have different officials.”
Michael Vick rumors that he will end up playing with the New York Jets next season are floating around the league like a Hail Mary pass.Just about the time Rex Ryan benched Mark Sanchez and elevated third-string Greg McElroy to the starting quarterback, bypassing second-string Tim Tebow, it was apparent next year’s Jets would have a new man at QB.Enter Vick. He’s almost assuredly out in Philadelphia, where the Eagles have turned the team over to rookie Nick Foles after Vick had a subpar year shortened by concussions.Sanchez, because of financial commitments, very well could remain with the Jets. But his abysmal play has killed any faith the team had in his ability to lead it to a championship. Tebow is almost certainly out, too, having been under-used by the team all season. He got only 70 snaps at quarterback and was rightfully angry and disappointed that Ryan chose McElroy over him to start the final two games.McElory could be a serviceable backup in the NFL. But if he is your starting quarterback, you are not a contender.So, Vick would be a place the team would turn, according to NFL.com sources. The website said Vick would be willing to play for the Jets, but only if he is the starter. It reported that Vick believe he has another four years of quality play in him.Vick would be due $17 million if the Eagles chose to keep him. They will not. Just two years ago, he signed a $100 million contract — the first player in NFL history to sign two deals at that milestone value. But his play has been shaky ever since the ink dried.He turned the ball over with alarming regularity early in the season and then could not stay healthy. The Jets would be even more of a circus with Vick at quarterback. Which means it very well could happen.
FRANCHISESEASONSPLAYERS W/ RET. JERSEYSCAREERWITH FRANCHISE Celtics6720521.8491.7 Jazz437277.6232.0 Spurs508254.4250.7 1951 to present. Includes franchise lineages as defined by Basketball-Reference.com (e.g., the Oklahoma City Thunder entry also includes players whose numbers were retired by the Seattle SuperSonics)Source: Basketball-Reference.com Magic2800.00.0 76ers6710502.2295.2 Timberwolves2812.21.4 Pistons679252.2206.6 Pelicans29113.34.9 Before Duncan’s number was retired, the Spurs’ retired-jersey crew ranked ninth all-time; now it’s in fourth place, behind the Boston Celtics and the Lakers — no shock there — as well as the Philadelphia 76ers, who’ve had a surprising number of truly great players contribute for them over the years. But if San Antonio eventually retires the numbers of current Spurs Manu Ginobili (38.1 VAR with the club) and Tony Parker (37.0), the Spurs could pass the 76ers for third, particularly because the closest Philadelphia has to a jersey-retirement candidate is ex-Sixer (and current Warrior) Andre Iguodala (17.5) — and because Iggy was no fan favorite, I doubt he’ll even be considered for the honor.Duncan also gives the Spurs an average of 31.3 VAR per honored player, which ranks fourth among all franchises — and is higher than that of both Boston (24.6) and Philly (29.5). The gold standard in this department belongs to the Chicago Bulls (36.0), who’ve retired only four players’ numbers — Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen and multi-time All-Stars Bob Love and Jerry Sloan. (Artis Gilmore and Chet Walker must be wondering what they have to do for their numbers to be taken out of circulation.) But the Spurs’ retired-jersey strategy has struck a nice balance between upholding quality and not being overly picky; San Antonio has discontinued a player’s number every 6.3 years, more than twice as frequently as Chicago’s 12.8-years-per-player ratio. (Duncan’s No. 21 became the eighth number the Spurs have retired.3At least, according to Basketball-Reference.com. Technically, Bruce Bowen allowed San Antonio to unretire his No. 12 for LaMarcus Aldridge to wear, although I still included Bowen in the Spurs’ VAR total.)Other teams have less lofty standards of inclusion. As part of their apparent plan to commemorate every single member of their Bill Russell-era teams, the Celtics honored “Jungle” Jim Loscutoff despite his career average of 6.2 points per game, to go with a miniscule 8.3 lifetime Player Efficiency Rating (15.0 is league-average) and .017 Win Shares per 48 minutes (average is around .100). (In fairness, Loscutoff’s number was later kept active for Dave Cowens, a much better player.) Utah enshrined Darrell Griffith, whose nickname (“Dr. Dunkenstein”) was far superior to his stats (14.6 PER, .049 WS/48), and Portland honored Lionel Hollins (13.0 PER, .059 WS/48) even without a cool moniker to point to. Nate Thurmond became a Hall of Famer because of his performance as a Warrior, but his number was retired by Cleveland even though he played fewer than 12 percent of his career games as a Cav.Of course, winning titles like the Spurs have (five since 1999) is a surefire way to grease the wheels of jersey-retirement. It’s no coincidence that the bottom seven teams in the list above have won zero combined championships, and they’ve only retired three jerseys in total: One for a beloved local legend who played for a different franchise in the same city, and two for players who died during their careers. (Meanwhile, take the Knicks as a counterexample: They’ve won only two titles, and seven of their nine retired jerseys honor a player or coach4Yes, 12 coaches have had their “jerseys” retired, with the number often taking the form of their coaching victory total with the franchise (i.e., the number 832 is “retired” for Phoenix in honor of Cotton Fitzsimmons’s 832 career coaching wins). from those championship squads.)San Antonio wasn’t scrounging for numbers to retire before Duncan came along — it had already raised George Gervin’s iconic No. 44, and David Robinson’s No. 50 was well on its way, to go with some of their less-heralded teammates. But like he did for the Spurs as a franchise, Duncan has now elevated their honorees to the upper echelon of the NBA.Check out our latest NBA predictions. Knicks678198.5162.9 Bucks498313.6150.7 Thunder506145.8100.8 COMBINED VALUE ABOVE REPLACEMENT OF RETIRED JERSEY PLAYERS Nets507163.874.9 With Duncan, the Spurs have elite laundry hanging in the rafters Grizzlies2200.00.0 Cavaliers477139.099.2 Bulls514153.2143.8 Pacers504126.3111.0 Lakers6714672.8471.7 Wizards564103.379.4 Nuggets505165.8111.5 Heat293149.139.4 Mavericks37234.132.7 Suns499266.1173.5 Trail Blazers4710181.0135.5 Hornets1315.81.4 Warriors676210.4133.7 Rockets505224.7144.8 Raptors2200.00.0 Clippers4700.00.0 Hawks675157.3131.8 While he was playing, Tim Duncan lifted the San Antonio Spurs up the list of the most successful teams in NBA history. Now that he has retired, Duncan — thanks to his recently retired jersey — has also made the AT&T Center rafters among the most talent-filled in the league.To rank every team’s group of retired numbers, I grabbed data from Basketball-Reference.com’s franchise pages and then filtered out honored non-players — like longtime Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn (who has a microphone-themed banner hanging alongside the jerseys of Magic Johnson and company) or the No. 6 in Orlando, which is retired “in honor of the fans.” (Because they’re the “sixth man.” Get it?) For each team, I added up the total amount of value above replacement (VAR)1A cumulative value statistic based on a combination of Player Efficiency Rating and Win Shares per 48 minutes. generated by those players, both over their entire pro careers (across all franchises)2For my purposes, ABA statistics were given the same weight as NBA ones, because most former ABA teams that joined the NBA have retired the numbers of their ABA-era stars. and during their time with the specific franchise in question. Here’s the list, ranked by the latter category, to avoid ridiculous situations like the Miami Heat’s getting credit for Michael Jordan, whose jersey the team retired even though he never played for it. Kings679229.6173.4
In the long and varied history of sports heroes — from Pheidippides to Johnny Football — none has signed his name more often, nor more energetically and whimsically, than Pete Rose. Signing for dollars has been at the core of Rose’s livelihood, and lifeblood, since he was banned from baseball 25 years ago. For years now he has appeared four days a week, in five-hour shifts, at a memorabilia shop in a Las Vegas mall. The crowds don’t swarm, but they do come, steadily. An autographed ball costs $99, a bat $200, a jersey $40. Items are also bundled and sold in packages. It’s not unusual for Rose to move more than $10,000 worth of merchandise in a day.Prices and item choices are set not by Rose himself but by the company, Hit King Inc., that employs him. (He gets a flat fee for his work, but if sales pass a certain level, he receives a percentage of the extra money.) That means that when he’s signing somewhere else and has a different employer, the prices, and the menu, can vary. Just the other day, for example, Rose was in Cooperstown for Induction Weekend, where he has made almost annual autograph appearances for the past two decades. He signed at the Safe at Home shop on Main Street, less than 400 feet from the Hall of Fame to which he has been famously denied induction. In Cooperstown, customers could do a lot better for themselves than they could at The Art of Music store, Rose’s autographing venue in Vegas.Here’s a look at some of the price variability of baseballs with two popular Rose inscriptions, by retailer (keeping in mind that an autographed item for sale on eBay may be less reliably authentic than one signed in person or bought from Steiner Sports):The first inscription refers, of course, to Rose’s record career hits total; the second is a winking apology for the crime (betting on baseball) that landed him in the boat he’s in. Rose likes to lampoon his situation further: In certain circumstances he’ll sign baseballs with “I’m sorry I broke up the Beatles” or “I’m sorry I shot JFK.”Downtown Cooperstown is many things to many people on Induction Weekend but it is most conspicuously a bazaar for players selling their signatures. At any moment you can find scores of former big leaguers signing things in shops or at sidewalk tables along the narrow streets. Voices ring out, carnival-barker style, to let you know where to look for your favorite players. “Ernie Banks! A Hall of Famer, he’s right here! Come on in! Ernie Banks here today!”Special inscriptions like Rose’s are sometimes part of the transaction. This year, for example, the former Braves closer John Rocker, famous for his anti-New York rant in the late 1990s, was in town, capitalizing on the influx of Atlanta fans who’d come to see Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox get inducted. You could get a ball signed by Rocker for $20, plus $10 for a personal inscription. The inscription price rose to $25, though, if you wanted him to write “F New York” or “F the New York Mets.”So how does Rose’s Cooperstown fee of $60 compare with other players’ fees? Below is a look at the rate for some notable autographs during Induction Weekend. Typically, a Hall of Famer’s autograph sells for more than a non-Hall of Famer’s. So leaving out Rose’s figure, and relying on help from a pair of fine reporters (big cheers to David Bauer and Larry Mileo), I also calculated the average price for each of those two subsets of players. The autograph prices are set by the vendor and are determined, naturally, based on demand. It sometimes happened that a player appeared at more than one venue during the weekend and his autograph sold for slightly different prices. I took that into account.In comparison with Hall of Famers (the group Rose’s supporters believe he should be part of), Rose commanded 6 percent less than the average price. (Among teammates from the 1970s Big Red Machine, Rose drew about 13 percent less than Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan and about 9 percent more than Hall of Famer Tony Perez.) Compared to other non-Hall of Famers, however, Rose killed it. Braves pitcher John Smoltz, who had the Atlanta contingent in town and who was billed on a price flyer as a “Future Hall of Famer” (he’ll get in next year) was the only non-Hall of Fame player whose autograph went for as much as Rose’s.Most surprising, given how long Rose has been at it and how deeply he has saturated the market for his own signature, is that his price has remained stable as he has continued to sell. At Safe at Home, the signed ball fee went up from $55 to $60 about seven years ago, according to store proprietor Andrew Vilacky, and has remained at that price. In Las Vegas, Rose’s autograph on a ball cost $79 when he was selling at the Field of Dreams in 2009. Today, at The Art of Music, he gets a 25.3 percent higher rate without any drop in volume.So why does Rose, now 73, still draw? As the eBay price in the first table suggests, no one is investing in his autograph in hopes of making much resale profit. Part of the allure is Rose’s continued fame — he may be the most famous non-Hall of Fame former baseball player alive. But there is more to it than that.What people keep buying is not just the autograph, but also the experience of getting it. Plenty of ballplayers can engage with the fan base, but nobody does it better or embraces it more than Rose does. Pete is extremely good at being Pete. You sit with him for five minutes during an autograph session. He’ll banter cornily (“Your name is Bob? Mind if I spell it backward?”) and crassly (“The whole time your wife was taking that photo with me, she had her hand on my ass”). He will give batting tips to kids (essentially, “Be aggressive”) and recall old at-bats with astounding clarity and detail. He’ll break off an anecdote about Willie Mays in a urinal, and he might, without warning or provocation, hold forth on the subject of blow jobs. However all this may sound to you, many customers clearly view it as value added. I have seen people wait to get their ball signed, spend the time with Rose, then get back in the queue and do it again.People are also drawn to Rose for the contradictions in his character — what to make of someone who both honored and dishonored the game so profoundly? Rose, through his gambling and his recalcitrance, has the lure of an outlaw hero. He’s also the only player in baseball history to be expressly denied a place on the Hall of Fame ballot, and that gives customers something edgy to discuss with him. As much as Rose might like to get inducted one day, he is not blind to the notoriety that his banishment has given him, nor to the understanding that, in the autograph trade, it may have helped his bottom line. “You know,” he once said to me. “Not being in the Hall of Fame — that’s my shtick!”For the right price, I’m sure, Rose will write that on a baseball for you.
The Block “M” at midfield of Michigan Stadium was vandalized over the weekend, The Detroit News reported. A 6-inch by 4-foot portion of the turf was cut out and removed. University police are investigating the vandalism.President Barack Obama will carry on a 100-year tradition when he throws out the ceremonial first pitch at the season-opening game of the Washington Nationals. William Howard Taft initiated the tradition when he threw out an opening-day pitch in 1910. Obama will continue the annual deed when he tosses a fastball to Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez before Washington hosts the Philadelphia Phillies April 5.The New Jersey Nets avoided any potential run-ins with historic futility after beating the San Antonio Spurs 90-84 on Monday. The victory was the 10th for the Nets this season, improving the team’s overall standing to 10-64. Before an unforeseen stretch of three wins in four games over the last week, New Jersey had been treading dangerously close to trumping Philadelphia’s all-time worst record of 9-73.Despite three years remaining on his contract, Boston College and men’s basketball coach Al Skinner mutually agreed to sever ties. Skinner had led the Golden Eagles for the last 13 seasons, winning 247 games. Boston College has received seven NCAA Tournament berths in the last 10 years. Skinner interviewed for the vacant head coaching job at St. John’s last week.
One of the Columbus Crew’s newest players has been awarded a piece of Major League Soccer hardware on a day of sweeping roster moves for the club. One notable move saw the team bid farewell to a long-standing member of the organization. Crew midfielder Federico Higuain was named the 2012 MLS Newcomer of the Year on Wednesday, according to the thecrew.com. Acquired on July 27, Higuain tallied five goals and a team season-high seven assists in just 13 games. Higuain helped rally the Crew during the MLS Cup playoff race as the team finished outside of the five playoff-qualifying spots by a single point in the standings. As part of the team’s personnel chances, the Crew said goodbye to goalkeeper William Hesmer, who missed the 2012 season after undergoing hip surgery. Hesmer, whose contract option for the 2013 season was declined by the club, spent six seasons with the Crew and holds club records for wins (59), saves (412) and shutouts (41). He was also in goal for Columbus when it won the 2008 MLS Cup championship. “We want to thank William Hesmer for his six outstanding years of service in Columbus,” said Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers in a team release. “William has been a consummate professional during his time with the Crew and he helped this club achieve its highest honors during his tenure.” Directly related to Hesmer’s departure were the club’s decisions to pick up the contract options for goalkeepers Andy Gruenebaum and former Ohio State men’s soccer player Matt Lampson – those were just three of 17 roster moves announced by the team midweek. Gruenebaum started 33 games for Columbus during the 2012 season and allowed 41 goals. Lampson saw action in three games, playing 170 minutes, allowing three goals while getting credit for his first two professional victories. The Crew also picked up contract options for defenders Eric Gehrig and Josh Williams, midfielders Bernardo Anor, Dilly Duka, Ethan Finlay and Kevan George and forwards Justin Meram and Aaron Schoenfeld. Columbus native Danny O’Rourke, a defender, is out of contract with the Crew, as is fellow defender Carlos Mendes and forward Emilio Renteria, according to the club website. All three players are expected to receive offers to remain with the Crew, the website said. Players that are sure to be on their way out of Crew Stadium and whose contract options were not renewed include defenders Rich Balchan, Julius James and Sebastian Miranda, midfielders Chris Birchall and Tony Tchani, and forward Tommy Heinemann. The Crew did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s Wednesday request for comment.
OSU freshman forward Maddy Humphrey (left) pushes the ball upfield during a game against Iowa Oct. 19 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU lost 4-2.Credit: Ben Jackson / For The LanternA pair of Northwestern goals in each half was enough to take down Ohio State field hockey, 4-1, Saturday afternoon in OSU’s final road game of the regular season.With the victory, the No. 9 Wildcats (12-5, 6-1) stayed tied with Maryland atop the Big Ten standings with one game remaining in the regular season.OSU coach Anne Wilkinson stressed in recent weeks that the Buckeyes need to get out to a fast start against top ranked competition, but OSU (6-10, 1-6) fell behind early to Northwestern.A little more than two minutes into the game, Northwestern forced a penalty corner against OSU’s defense.Sophomore midfielder Dominique Masters capitalized, scoring her 11th goal of the season off a pass from junior midfielder Charlotte Martin to give the Wildcats the 1-0 advantage.OSU freshman goalkeeper Liz Tamburro attempted to keep the Wildcats out of the net after Masters’ goal as she tallied 12 saves, but Northwestern kept continued pressure on the Buckeyes with 19 shots in the game.The Wildcats’ second score came off a rebound as junior forward Kelley Stump approached the net and fired at Tamburro, but the freshman saved the shot with her glove.The ball bounced right to redshirt-sophomore Ashley Bernardi, and the midfielder converted to give Northwestern a 2-0 halftime lead.OSU was able to strike less than two minutes into the second half. Freshman midfielder Maddy Humphrey scored her team-leading 12th goal of the season in front of the net off an entry pass from freshman midfielder Morgan Kile.That’s as close as OSU would get, however.Freshman back Sophia Miller scored her first goal of the season off a rebound to give Northwestern a 3-1 lead with 24 minutes left in regulation.Then, OSU’s struggles continued, allowing a third goal off a rebound from sophomore midfielder Juliet Beatty.OSU is scheduled to be back in action Sunday at Buckeye Varsity Field for the regular season finale against its rival Michigan. The game is set to begin at noon.
LeBron James is 25.7 points, 7.3 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game for the 2nd place Cleveland Cavaliers.Credit: Courtesy of TNSLeBron James is the most valuable player in basketball, but that shouldn’t make him the 2014-15 NBA MVP.Would the Cleveland Cavaliers have locked up their first playoff appearance since James took his talents to South Beach if Akron’s prodigal son hadn’t returned? Obviously not, and Kevin Love wouldn’t have joined the Cavaliers either.But for as good as James has been in his first season back in the Buckeye state — he’s averaging 25.7 points, 7.3 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game — Cleveland wouldn’t have any excuse to have a record worse than its 48-27 mark. In general, James, Love and All-Star guard Kyrie Irving have been healthy this season and the Cavaliers’ only major injury hit was to center Anderson Varejao.But even when Varejao went down, the Cleveland front office responded by bringing in Timofey Mozgov as a more than capable replacement.Then there were the issues with Dion Waiters being, for lack of a better word, a pill. His attitude didn’t fit what James and the Cavaliers wanted to do, so they sent him to Oklahoma City and brought in J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert.James is in the midst of his eighth season with Cleveland, but this is the first time the franchise has truly built a winner around him. That’s why he isn’t the season’s most valuable player, even though the value he brings to any team would surpass all others.James should certainly still receive consideration, but in all honesty, the Cavaliers have been only as good as, if not slightly worse than, was expected. Each bump along the road has been smoothed out for the team, and Cleveland will be streaking into the playoffs with a great chance to win its first NBA Championship.To do what is expected, or even just below expectations, isn’t an MVP-winning performance. It can still be a great performance and make you a contender, but James hasn’t carried his team in the same way NBA MVPs typically do.Enter Russell Westbrook, who has put up other-worldly numbers in recent weeks in order to keep the Thunder — minus superstar Kevin Durant for much of the year — in the playoff hunt.Westbrook himself has missed 15 games this season, but behind him and with Durant out for all but 27 contests, Oklahoma City doesn’t have a lot going on.The UCLA product’s recent triple-double outbursts have been historic, but his contributions are having an effect well beyond the numbers. It would’ve been hard to blame Westbrook had he more or less thrown in the towel on the season and simply started jacking up ill-advised shots and refusing to pass.Instead, he’s answered the call and become the clear leader for the Thunder down the stretch, forcing it into the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference. It’s no guarantee just yet that Oklahoma City will end up in the postseason, but if it does, then Westbrook deserves the credit.Yes, James deserves his share of credit in Cleveland, but to take a team with a questionable supporting cast — including the Cavaliers’ outcast Waiters — and keep it in the hunt in the much-tougher Western Conference is a true MVP run.Is James still the most valuable player you can have on a basketball team? Of course. But that’s not what the NBA MVP is for.