Prediction This NCAA Tournament Will Keep Being Bonkers

We’re a week into this year’s NCAA Tournament, and we’ve already seen crazy comebacks and upsets, games that hinged on the outcome of a single shot (make and miss), and wins from teams seeded Nos. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15. A case has been made that it was the greatest start to an NCAA tourney ever, which isn’t ridiculous.But that’s just the run to the Sweet 16. As for championship odds, has anything really changed since Selection Sunday?We knew going in that this was a notably wide-open college basketball season with no clear favorite. And despite the tournament’s wild start, the odds have barely moved in any team’s favor. Kansas began as the favorite according to our prediction model, with a 19 percent probability of winning it all; it remains the favorite, at 21 percent. No team has seen its title chances boosted by more than a handful of percentage points; North Carolina has enjoyed the biggest bump, from 15 percent to 19 percent.In other words, we haven’t learned much about how this whole thing is going to shake out — and that’s probably for the best if exciting basketball is what we want.According to our Elo ratings, Kansas is the strongest team remaining in this year’s tournament. (Elo ratings, which we’re fond of using across many sports, help estimate a team’s strength at any given moment.) But among Sweet 16 field leaders since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, its rating is seventh-weakest. Meanwhile, Notre Dame, the worst of the teams still in the tournament by Elo, is the sixth-strongest team to hold that distinction since ’85. The result is a balanced crop of Sweet 16 entrants, with the fourth-smallest spread between best and worst out of the past 32 tournaments. 19991Duke229910Purdue1834464 20071North Carolina21065Butler1828279 19941Purdue204712Tulsa1822225 Listen to the latest episode of our sports podcast Hot Takedown. 19881Temple207913Richmond1743336 20081North Carolina215212Western Kentucky1810342 20061Connecticut211411George Mason1844270 20101Duke207512Cornell1878197 19981Arizona217013Valparaiso1700470 20051Illinois21376Texas Tech1873265 YEARSEEDTEAMELOSEEDTEAMELODIFF. 20011Duke215310Georgetown1830323 By Neil Paine 20141Florida210011Dayton1820280 More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed 20043Pittsburgh21239UAB1847276 20021Duke219811Southern Illinois1783415 20151Kentucky216511UCLA1852312 20121Kentucky211810Xavier1783334 A balanced Sweet 16 19851Georgetown214311Boston College1789354 20091North Carolina211312Arizona1870242 19901Michigan State205612Ball State1825232 19921Duke221312New Mexico State1790423 19951Kentucky21246Memphis1849275 20001Duke216410Seton Hall1805359 19911UNLV219210Temple1822370 20131Louisville213515Florida Gulf Coast1754381 19861Duke212712DePaul1745382 Source: Sports Reference 19961Connecticut214412Arkansas1878266 19871North Carolina214512Wyoming1797348 BEST REMAINING TEAMWORST REMAINING TEAM 19971Kansas220114Chattanooga1709492 Embed Code 19931North Carolina215612George Washington1848308 Much ink has been spilled lamenting the lack of Cinderellas in this Sweet 16, and that’s a fair assessment. Gonzaga, No. 11 in the Midwest, is the lowest-seeded team left, and it’s far better than the typical 11-seed. (We thought they played more like a No. 6 seed during the season.) If Syracuse and Notre Dame — two of the nine winningest schools in Division I history — are your best Cinderella candidates, it’s probably a down year for heartwarming underdogs.Even so, we should appreciate the evenness of this Sweet 16 field. Almost all the remaining teams were among the best in the country during the regular season: 12 of them ranked in the top 20 nationally according to our pre-tournament mix of computer ratings, with Gonzaga checking in at No. 21. (Wisconsin ranked 29th, Notre Dame 33rd and Syracuse 35th.)That’s a competitive group, and it should make for riveting basketball. My research indicates that the single best predictor of our excitement index stat — an attempt to quantify a game’s thrills by tracking its average change in win probability per basket — is how closely matched the two opponents are in a power rating like Ken Pomeroy’s or Elo.Given the composition of this Sweet 16 field, we’re going to get a lot of those close matchups over the rest of the tournament. And if all goes according to the numbers, that should mean the excitement of March Madness is just getting started.Check out FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 March Madness Predictions. 20031Kentucky215510Auburn1811344 19891Arizona212711Minnesota1838289 20111Ohio State21305Arizona1876255 20161Kansas21086Notre Dame1867241 read more

Terrell Owens Released From Seahawks After Ineffective Preseason

The Seattle Seahawks released Terrell Owens on Sunday, perhaps signaling the career end for one of the most talented wide receivers to ever play the game.“I’m no longer a Seahawk,” he said via his Twitter account. “I THANK the organization 4 the opportunity, I’m truly blessed beyond belief. My FAITH is intact & will NOT waiver.”Owens, who will be 39 in December, has not played in the NFL since suffering a knee injury late in the 2010 season. He had impressed Seattle in workouts, however, and hoped to show enough flashes on the field to stick for a 17th season.But Owens never got going after signing a free agent contract on Aug. 6, managing just two catches for 41 yards in two preseason games. The improved play of Braylon Edwards left Owens as the odd man out in a receiving corps that also includes Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate among others.The release of Owens came as NFL teams have until 4 p.m. today to reduce their rosters from 90 to 75.“We really liked the group that we assembled,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “Terrell came in here and busted his tail and he looked really effective right from the start. But as we just took a look at our guys that are coming through the program and growing up with us, we thought that it would be best for us to stay with those guys.”Owens had looked impressive in turning in speedy 40-yard dash times during workouts, but never became the deep threat for which Seattle was looking, struggling with a few key drops.Owens has started 201 of the 219 regular season games in which he has played. He has 1,078 career receptions for 15,934 yards in a career that has included stops in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Cincinnati and Buffalo. His 153 touchdowns rank as the second-highest total in NFL history.It remains to be seen whether any other team would be interested in Owens. read more

Finally Healthy David Garrard Eyes The Jets

David Garrard, once an upstart quarterback with the Jacksonville Jaguars, worked out for the New York Jets last week and left feeling like that was the place for him.No longer hampered by a knee injury, Garrard said on XM Radio that he aced his audition and feels the Jets are an ideal place for him to restart his career. Never mind that Mark Sanchez is still on the roster.Garrard, 35, met with Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, and he even encountered Sanchez.“It was a great workout,” Garrard said. “Every drill they had me do, I did great in. I felt like my old self again. They loved what they saw.”Because “they have a lot of issues with the (salary) cap,” Garrard said, the team did not offer him a contract. Yet.“They really couldn’t do anything at that time,” he said. “That’s kind of unfortunate because I don’t want to have to sit here without a job.”A source close to the situation told ESPN last week that the quarterback “anticipates putting a deal together” with the Jets once those cap issues are resolved. A source told ESPNNewYork on Sunday that the team has kept open the lines of communication with Garrard, but no deal is imminent.Garrard, from New Jersey, has not played in a regular season game since 2010.  He spent last offseason with the Miami Dolphins, but was sidelined by a knee injury and was not signed by any other team.“I don’t have anything to prove to myself. I know I can play,” he said. “I’m not ready to be done yet when I can get out there and move around. It’s unfortunate these last two years I’ve had these injuries that really weren’t football injuries, because I didn’t get hit and get hurt.”Garrard has thrown for 16,003 yards with 89 touchdowns and 54 interceptions in 86 career games, mostly with the Jaguars.“I’m not ready to be done yet,” he said, adding, “I’m tired of sitting and watching on my couch.“I want to go out and win ballgames. I’ve been watching for the last few years unfortunately and I’ve been watching some not-so-good quarterback play out there and I know that I can still play and I can play at a high level,” he said. “I want to get back out on the field and show myself that I can stay healthy and help a ballclub, really.” read more

Wildcats Nerlens Noel Declares for NBA Draft

Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel, who is the No. 1 NBA draft prospect in most preliminary drafts, announced Monday that he plans to enter the 2013 NBA draft.Noel, who is currently recovering from surgery to a torn ACL, led the nation with 4.4 blocks per game and averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. He also had 50 steals, which earned him Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year honors.“I’ve learned so much here at UK and am thankful for coach (John) Calipari, the staff and my teammates for all of their support,” Noel said in a statement. “I especially appreciate the Big Blue Nation and all of the support, prayers and well-wishes I’ve received from them during my rehab and decision-making process. I’ll always be a Wildcat!”The 6-foot-10 freshman will now join Wildcats guard Archie Goodwin in the NBA draft. Noel was the nation’s top recruit last year, which headlined a recruiting class that included Goodwin, forward Alex Poythress and center Willie Cauley-Stein. Noel was the only freshman that was consistent all year long.Noel is currently the No. 1 draft prospect ahead of Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Kansas’ Ben McLemore and Georgetown’s Otto Porter.“I support Nerlens’ decision to enter his name in the draft and am excited for him and his future,” Calipari said in a statement. “The hard work and will to win he showed on the floor this year and the dedication and attitude he has shown in his rehab will only be a reward for him and whatever team drafts him in June.”The Wildcats entered last season as the consensus No. 1, but quickly plummeted out of the Top 25 even with a healthy Noel. But after Noel’s Feb. 12 knee injury at Florida, the Wildcats missed the opportunity to earn an at-large NCAA tournament bid.Kentucky went 4-5 without Noel, ultimately missing the NCAA tournament after winning it all in 2012. The Wildcats were the first team since the 2009 national champion North Carolina Tar Heels, to miss the tournament the following year after winning it all. They eventually lost a first-round NIT game at Robert Morris. read more

Baseball Is Overrun By Adam Dunns

Giancarlo StantonMarlins60841596.8 With baseballs flying out of big-league parks at an unprecedented rate — and batters getting rung up at a similarly historic clip — it’s a safe bet that Dunn’s brand of baseball is here to stay, at least for the time being. That means we’ll get to see more of both the highs and lows that come when a player swings as hard as he can and hopes for the best.As for Dunn’s view of the generation of hitters he helped spawn? In his interview with Crasnick, even Dunn himself was skeptical of an entire lineup of batters who hit like he did.“Everything evolves, and this is the era we’re in,” he said. “People see if you hit homers and drive in a lot of runs, you’re going to get where you need to get financially. Does it help a team if you have a couple of those guys? Yeah. But if you have nine of them, it’s going to be tough.” The Adam Dunn Club, class of 2017MLB hitters on pace for at least 25 home runs, 70 walks and 150 strikeouts in 2017, as of Aug. 20 Khris DavisAthletics43742121.9 Sources: FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference.com Joey GalloRangers46762003.8 Domingo SantanaBrewers26751802.1 Eric ThamesBrewers35821681.8 Justin UptonTigers34711735.9 Some of these players count among baseball’s very best. Despite his recent slump,2Don’t say we didn’t warn you! New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge — whose 6-foot-7 frame brings to mind a right-handed version of the 6-foot-6 Dunn at the plate — ranks fourth this season in wins above replacement (WAR)3Using an average of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com versions of the metric. and is still in the American League MVP conversation. Likewise, Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt and Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton are probably the front-runners for MVP honors in the National League — each projects to finish with around 150 whiffs, a minor footnote in their otherwise sparkling stat lines.Simply striking out a ton doesn’t automatically disqualify a player from being considered great anymore, as opposed to in the olden days when there was a stigma attached to strikeout kings. But some hitters can still overdo it; in fact, there are some legitimately bad ballplayers in the Adam Dunn Club these days. A year after Milwaukee’s Chris Carter smashed 41 home runs while playing what was generally agreed to be mediocre baseball,4As if to confirm this, Carter promptly got himself designated for assignment by the Yankees twice in two weeks this season. five of the 14 players tracking for membership in the club are also on pace for fewer than 2.0 WAR, which is generally the benchmark for a worthwhile major-league starter. One — Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays — is headed for a 26-homer, 91-walk season that will also likely be below the replacement level, quite possibly earning him the worst Dunn Club season in history. (And this is to say nothing of the further proliferation of Dunn-“lite” players such as Milwaukee’s Keon Broxton, for example, who check off the home run and strikeout boxes but don’t even draw enough walks to join the club.) When Adam Dunn came to the plate, he would pretty much always do one of three things: He would strike out; he would walk; or he would hit a baseball some 400-odd feet. With his propensity to produce these so-called “three true outcomes” — the three types of plays in which fielders play no role — the former Cincinnati Reds outfielder known as “Big Donkey” was the poster boy for a new generation of batters who swung for the fences and didn’t mind a strikeout or two (hundred).But he didn’t aim to be at the forefront of one of baseball’s most pervasive 21st-century trends.“You would think I would have gotten used to striking out and sucking. It devastated me every single time,” Dunn told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick in July. “At the time, I didn’t really pay attention to [strikeouts, walks and home runs]. I never looked at myself as that low-batting-average guy, but I kind of morphed into it. I always thought one day I would wake up and the old Adam would be back and we would roll.”Whether he meant to be or not, Dunn was always a harbinger of where the modern ballplayer was headed. And for better or worse, today’s game is filled with more Adam Dunns than ever before.In 2002, Dunn’s first full season in the big leagues, only three other players — Derrek Lee, Mike Cameron and Pat Burrell — joined Dunn with at least 25 home runs, 70 walks and 150 strikeouts. (Dunn went on to meet those thresholds nine more times, easily giving him the all-time mark for that kind of season.) But this season, an MLB-record 14 hitters are on track to meet those criteria. The kind of player who was once an oddity now has a place in nearly half of the league’s lineups.Dunn wasn’t the first hitter to specialize in excluding fielders from the action. Washington Senators outfielder Don Lock became the 25/70/150 club’s first member in 1963, and the Giants’ Bobby Bonds hit those marks in back-to-back seasons in 1969 and 1970. From then on, there was typically at least one Dunn-style slugger in the majors, and a variety of guys earned the label, including Greg Luzinski, Dave Kingman and Rob Deer.1All numbers prorated to a 162-game season. But their approach was also seen as a curiosity at best — and a liability at worst. “[Kingman] is regarded by many as one of baseball’s bad jokes, a flashy player but ultimately a loser,” Jonah Keri wrote in “Baseball Between The Numbers.”By the time Dunn hit the scene, however, the sabermetric movement was gaining popularity, and strikeouts were becoming more acceptable, as long as players offset them with power and patience. Likewise, teams were beginning to seek out hard-throwing pitchers with high K rates, creating a perfect storm of aligned incentives that helped lead to today’s three true outcomes-heavy game. So, from Dunn and a handful of others at the dawn of the 2000s, the number of hitters who take his approach — we’ll call guys who hit those 25/70/150 benchmarks members of the Adam Dunn Club — has only grown in recent seasons: Jake LambDiamondbacks35891632.9 Steven Souza Jr.Rays33841844.8 Paul GoldschmidtDiamondbacks381051507.2 Jose BautistaBlue Jays2691166-0.8 PRORATED THROUGH 162 GAMES Mark ReynoldsRockies34761791.3 PLAYERTEAMHOME RUNSWALKSSTRIKEOUTSWAR Wil MyersPadres31711891.1 Miguel SanoTwins37722263.4 Aaron JudgeYankees491192207.3 read more

Our Updating NBA Depth Charts Give You A New Way To Follow

That, of course, stems from the fact that the Nuggets are awaiting the returns of Will Barton, Gary Harris, Paul Millsap and Isaiah Thomas.4It remains to be seen whether Thomas’s return will actually benefit Denver, particularly with how well Monte Morris has been playing as the backup point guard. Denver hasn’t been fully healthy all year. But when the team gets everyone back, it will be interesting to see just how far it can push things.However, while the forecast realizes that the Nuggets haven’t been healthy yet, it only recognizes them as the West’s fourth-most talented club at full strength, after Golden State, Oklahoma City and … Houston. The Thunder and Rockets currently own championship probabilities of 8 and 4 percent, respectively, while the Nuggets claim just a 2 percent chance. The numbers may be a nod to the fact that depth — which Denver has far more of than those other contenders — generally means less during the playoffs, when stars often steal the show (a fact our model now accounts for).If there’s a saving grace for the team’s fans, it’s that the basic Elo projections are still high on Denver and have the club tied for the fourth-highest title probability, with a 9 percent chance.The updated forecast believes in the Rockets but hates the Kings and MavsThe CARMELO forecast model relies on real-time depth-chart information to make its projections. So the CARM-Elo system might have penalized the Rockets for technically having Carmelo Anthony on the roster, even though he’s away from the team and hasn’t suited up for more than a month. But just like Mike D’Antoni, the new mode simply assigns Anthony no minutes on the depth chart and moves forward. EloCARM-EloCARMELO In-season ratings updates use …Game resultsGame resultsPlayer ratings and rosters And speaking of Houston, the club is an interesting one to analyze here because of how fervently the model still believes in the Rockets, who are given a 93 percent chance of reaching the playoffs despite having a record just barely over .500 more than a third of the way through the campaign. By contrast, the basic Elo forecast has them at just 72 percent to make the postseason.Again, this is almost certainly the new model showing faith in the top of Houston’s depth chart: It likely believes that guards Chris Paul and Eric Gordon won’t continue to have career-worst years from an efficiency standpoint.5Keep in mind that CARMELO does project and account for a player’s aging curve, and it updates player talent ratings in-season. (Those deficiencies alone don’t explain the Rockets’ slide — which many of us saw coming — on their own. The team also gambled by letting two of its better, more switchy perimeter defenders walk without having reliable replacements for them.)Yet while the CARMELO team projections are high on Houston, they don’t make much of a pair of a clubs that have been pleasant surprises this season. The Kings and Mavericks, each with records above .500, are given just 6 and 4 percent probabilities, respectively, to make the playoffs. That’s a night-and-day difference from the basic Elo model, which gives Sacramento a 34 percent chance of getting in and Dallas a 21 percent chance.What that spells out, aside from CARMELO’s limited belief in each roster, is the model’s view that neither club has enough battle-tested veterans in their rotation to get a boost for postseason experience. The Mavs are tied with the Nets for lowest playoff adjustment in the new system, while the Kings rank seventh-lowest. Houston, by contrast, has the fifth-highest adjustment for its postseason experience.Overall, we think the changes to our model will help us do a better job of predicting the season. And now you can check out the inner workings of what goes into the predictions on each team’s page. You can see the depth charts we’re working with — which, by definition, are estimates, but we try to keep them updated daily by tracking trades, injuries and other changes to each player’s status — as well as an updating chart of a team’s chance to make the playoffs. Also included is a handy graph of changes to a team’s talent rating, which highlights the difference between how a club looks at full strength compared with the present moment.So when you’re watching the NBA’s Christmas Day games with friends and family, check out our predictions to follow along with how each team has been playing and sound like an expert.Check out our latest NBA predictions. Those numbers, far more in line with conventional wisdom, are based on two things: First, Golden State has an insane amount of talent when healthy — far more than any other club. (This is reflected in the full-strength CARMELO.) Second, the system believes that the Warriors are nowhere near their peak yet because of all the injuries they’ve dealt with to this point. They just recently got Stephen Curry and Draymond Green back in the lineup, and the team should see All-Star DeMarcus Cousins make his Golden State debut soon. And rotation players Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston rejoined the team Monday.Looking beyond the Warriors, there are a handful of other key takeaways that stand out with the new system:The Nuggets haven’t hit their peak, but the system doesn’t fully buy their talent Aside from a poor stretch in mid-November, Denver has arguably been the most solid team in the NBA to this point. The Nuggets are tied for first place out West and have pieced together an unprecedented turnaround on the defensive end.Nothing about this situation comes across as a fluke so far in our forecast. In fact, if anything, the model thinks Denver is capable of more. Earlier this week, Denver has the biggest gap in the league between its full-strength CARMELO rating and its current rating — a 63-point shortfall. Accounts for postseason experience?✓✓ Accounts for trades and injuries? ✓ The Warriors are a great example of the differences between the forecasts. With our basic Elo rating projections, Golden State currently has just a 27 percent probability of reaching the NBA Finals and a puzzling 14 percent chance of winning a title. That’s lower than the Raptors’ 21 percent championship odds — and it’s a relative head-scratcher for a back-to-back champion that’s still relatively young and returned the vast majority of its core from the past two years.Yet using the new CARMELO forecast, which takes into account a team’s talent and fully healthy potential, the Warriors’ probability of reaching the finals is a whopping 67 percent, and their chances of winning a third-consecutive championship sit at 51 percent. If you’ve followed along with our NBA projection system in recent years, you probably noticed a recurring theme. During the regular season, the Golden State Warriors would either hit dry spells while key players were injured, or coach Steve Kerr, guarding against injuries, would frequently sit key players. Because of that, the Warriors would lose games that ultimately didn’t matter that much, and our Elo model — designed to track the ebbs and flows of the season’s wins and losses — would punish Golden State each time. But like clockwork, the Warriors would emerge in the spring as strong as ever — despite their blemished Elo rating.Even after updating our model in 2015 to try to account better for the talent on each team (using a blend of our basic Elo ratings and our preseason CARMELO player projections,1Which estimate a player’s future performance based on the trajectory of similar NBA players. which we called “CARM-Elo”), the model would give us some weird projections because it still reacted solely to wins and losses — it didn’t understand injuries, trades or rest.Last year, that flaw left CARM-Elo insisting that the baby-faced Sixers had a better probability of winning it all as the playoffs approached than the battle-tested Warriors did.2Last season’s system was the first of ours to use a playoff-experience metric, which gave credence to teams with considerable postseason chops. We found the addition necessary after LeBron and the lackadaisical Cavs kept flipping the switch after stumbling into the playoffs each year. The Elo-based system simply proved to be a bit too gullible, with too much of a recency bias to recognize that just because a team is playing extremely well doesn’t mean it’s going to be hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy at season’s end. So we’ve tried to fix these problems by launching a new set of projections specific to each team’s baseline talent.Our NBA forecast now offers two sets of projections: one that will track teams’ basic Elo ratings just like our original forecasts and one based solely on our player projections, without focusing on daily wins or losses.3We’ll no longer be using the CARM-Elo forecast at all. The latter projection will account for real-time movements and talent adjustments on the depth charts for every team — which are available to check out on the new individual team pages. That marks a somewhat seismic shift for the system, since it didn’t previously have a way of factoring in long-term injuries or the idea of players resting. But now those things are considered, and it shows in the new ratings. (Read more about the methodology here.) How CARMELO compares with previous forecastsSide-by-side feature comparison between FiveThirtyEight’s Elo, CARM-Elo and CARMELO NBA forecasts Preseason team ratings use …Last year’s final rating, regressed to the meanUp-to-date depth chartsUp-to-date depth charts Used in 2018-19 predictions?✓(if you select it on the Standings page)✓ read more

Zion Williamson Packed A Lot Of Greatness Into A Short College Career

Zion’s place among Naismith Award winnersFor Zion Williamson and Naismith College Player of the Year winners since 1996, team Final Four status and win share statistics 2011Jimmer FredetteBrigham YoungGSr.8.5.256 The 2019 Naismith winner will be announced April 7Sources: Wikipedia, Sports-Reference.com College basketball’s biggest weekend will be missing college basketball’s biggest star. After Michigan State knocked off Duke 68-67 on Sunday to advance to the Final Four, the Blue Devils are out of the NCAA Tournament — and that means we won’t see forward Zion Williamson again until the NBA draft. (Presumably.) CBS had invested a lot in following Williamson’s every move during the tournament, and with good cause. By at least one metric, Williamson had the best season in recent college history. But that’s all in the past now. So how weird is it that Zion won’t be present for the tournament’s finale in Minneapolis? And what can we make of his brief, brilliant stay in the college game, possibly as one of the final megastars of the one-and-done era?Williamson has spent most of the season as the heavy betting favorite to win the men’s Naismith college player of the year award. His money-line odds were as high as -700 (that’s roughly 88 percent without removing the vig) before his midseason injury, and they currently sit around -300 (75 percent). Other players could potentially take the honor when it is announced April 7, but it would be a surprise if Williamson were not the winner.If Zion does pick up the award, he will become only the third freshman (joining Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis) and 12th underclassman to do so in the history of the honor. It’s an elite award to earn, having been won by the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton and Michael Jordan, in addition to KD and AD. But it hasn’t exactly been out of the ordinary for the Final Four to move on without the nation’s best player. Through 2018, the Naismith award winner has seen his team make the Final Four just 48 percent of the time — meaning roughly half of college basketball’s very best stars since 19691The first year the award was given out. have watched the Final Four from home. Williamson wouldn’t be the first to fit that description, and he likely wouldn’t be the last.But even among players of the year, Williamson would be unusually good — particularly by the standards of some recent winners:2We went back to 1996 in the table below because that’s the earliest season for which Sports-Reference.com calculates its win shares player-value metric. 2004Jameer NelsonSaint Joseph’sGSr.6.6.243 1998Antawn JamisonNorth CarolinaFJr.✓8.3.271 2007Kevin DurantTexasFFr.8.8.280 2014Doug McDermottCreightonFSr.7.7.261 2019Zion WilliamsonDukeFFr.8.3.335 2001Shane BattierDukeFSr.✓10.1.298 2000Kenyon MartinCincinnatiFSr.9.0.398 2015Frank KaminskyWisconsinFSr.✓9.8.299 2008Tyler HansbroughNorth CarolinaFJr.✓8.7.272 2012Anthony DavisKentuckyCFr.✓9.9.310 2006J. J. RedickDukeGSr.7.8.233 2010Evan TurnerOhio StateGJr.6.8.247 2002Jason WilliamsDukeGJr.6.3.213 YearPlayerCollegePos.ClassFinal four?TotalPer 40 2003T. J. FordTexasGSo.✓4.3.155 2013Trey BurkeMichiganGSo.✓8.6.249 2016Buddy HieldOklahomaGSr.✓7.6.232 1997Tim DuncanWake ForestCSr.10.4.367 2018Jalen BrunsonVillanovaGJr.✓7.7.241 1996Marcus CambyMassachusettsCJr.✓8.1.320 2017Frank Mason IIIKansasGSr.7.5.230 2005Andrew BogutUtahCSo.10.9.358 1999Elton BrandDukeFSo.✓10.0.350 2009Blake GriffinOklahomaFSo.9.7.332 Win Shares From ABC News: On a per-40-minute basis, Williamson would have the most win shares of any Naismith winner since Andrew Bogut in 2005 (Bogut went No. 1 overall in the NBA draft that summer) and the fifth-most since 1996, period. And unlike some of the other names on the list above, Williamson wasn’t a one-man show dragging a bunch of weak teammates along. Duke ranked fourth in our pre-tournament Elo ratings — higher than the team of anyone ranked ahead of Zion in win shares per 40 minutes except Elton Brand (whose own Blue Devils ranked first going into the 1999 tourney).In that regard, maybe the best comparison for Williamson’s freshman season was that of Davis on the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats — a stellar, standout individual year on a highly ranked squad full of other elite NBA prospects. But while Davis got to the Final Four and ultimately won the NCAA championship, Williamson and Duke fell short, relegating him to a separate list of freshman phenoms — one including Durant and Michael Beasley, whose individual efficiency in 2008 was (amazingly) even greater than Zion’s this year — on teams that couldn’t get to the tournament’s third weekend.The end of Duke’s season won’t diminish the personal success Williamson had during his one NCAA season, nor will it affect his presumptive status as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. And few fans outside Durham will be crying for Duke, which had its chances to close out Michigan State late on Sunday but was unable to do so (in large part because Williamson took only one shot in the game’s final six-and-a-half minutes). Even so, the Final Four won’t be quite the same without Williamson’s dizzying array of highlight-reel drives, dunks and swats. Instead, the Season of Zion Williamson will come to an end with Zion Williamson nowhere in sight. Check out our latest March Madness predictions. read more

Significant Digits For Friday Jan 30 2015

One more plea for the newsletter: Sign up for it now and be the first to learn about the numbers behind the news. And, as always, if you see a significant digit in the wild, tweet it to me @WaltHickey. $50John Kerry, the United States secretary of state, owes the city of Boston a $50 fine for failing to shovel his sidewalk. Kerry was in Saudi Arabia — a nation not known for its snow-clearance legislation — as a blizzard struck New England this week. [The Boston Globe]63.9 percentThe home ownership rate is now at its lowest level since 1994, down to 63.9 percent in the final quarter of 2014. [Los Angeles Times]96 tonsAmount of dog poop generated in New York City each day. [FiveThirtyEight]98 percent of scientistsAbout 98 percent scientists say the public’s lack of knowledge about science is a problem, so why don’t you guys go learn a book or something, geez. [Re/code]3,000 storiesI thought I was safe in journalism — I’d picked a good field, one that couldn’t be automated. I was wrong. The Associated Press is already automatically generating 3,000 stories each quarter. Right now, those stories are about companies’ quarterly earnings, but who knows when the robots will move on to the dog poop beat. [The Verge]$1.3 billionNew York City cultural institutions spent $1.3 billion on new construction over the past five years on projects including the expansion of the Queens Museum and the renovation of the fountains at the Met. In 2014, construction expenditures were up 46 percent from 2013 to $208 million. [Crain’s New York] You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, subscribe.9 communications majors It shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that the notoriously taciturn Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch is not among the nine communications majors taking the field in Super Bowl XLIX. Playboy broke down the college majors of every player in this year’s game, and communications came out as the most popular course of study, with nine players, followed by sociology and general studies, with seven players each. [Playboy]11.8 percentAccording to the NFL, concussions decreased by 11.8 percent this season compared to last year, to 202 from 229. [The New York Times]14 percent riseThe average American office worker spends nine hours each week in meetings or thinking about meetings, up 14 percent from four years ago. [NPR]25 megabits per secondThe Federal Communications Commission raised the bar on the download speeds for “broadband” Internet to 25 megabits per second (Mbps) from 4 Mbps. Under the previous standard, 6.3 percent of households didn’t have broadband. Now 19.4 percent don’t. [Ubergizmo] read more

Ohio State mens basketball ready to avenge itself vs Michigan State in

Michigan State senior guard Bryn Forbes (5) cheers from the bench during the Spartans’ 81-62 win over Ohio State at the Schottenstein Center on Feb. 23.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorINDIANAPOLIS – The Ohio State men’s basketball team took care of business Thursday night against Penn State, grinding out a 79-75 victory. But its work at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse is not done. In some ways, it’s just beginning for the Buckeyes as they advance into the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. That’s because their opponent Friday night is a team that has beaten them twice in less than three weeks: the Michigan State Spartans. “This is the game we’ve been waiting for,” said OSU freshman center Daniel Giddens. “After our last loss at their place, we’re just ready to avenge ourselves.” The Buckeyes started slow against the Nittany Lions, trailing by double digits at times in the first half before trimming it to a three-point deficit at the break. OSU used an explosive start in the second period to grab control and, eventually, after fending off a few late pushes by Penn State, the victory. In the locker room after the game, most of the chatter wasn’t about what just happened on the floor, but instead, it centered on the things the Buckeyes need to do to extend their stay in Indianapolis into Saturday. Simply put, the list is rather long.“They pose so many problems,” said OSU coach Thad Matta. The first thing the Scarlet and Gray have to do, sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop said, is focus for 40 minutes, not just one half. When the two teams played in Columbus on Feb. 23, the Buckeyes trailed by only five points at the break before losing by 19. The second time around, last Saturday in East Lansing, Michigan, OSU was within striking distance for the opening 15 minutes, then things started to sputter en route to a 15-point defeat.The two-faced nature of the Buckeyes’ performances can’t be attributed to just one thing, said junior forward Marc Loving, who led OSU with 24 points against Penn State, but the Spartans’ pace of play, compounded with their ball movement, takes its toll.If a strong second half is what’s needed to upset Michigan State, OSU showed it’s capable of putting forth one against Penn State. The Buckeyes roared back in the final 20 minutes Thursday night, scoring 45 second-half points. Granted, Michigan State, the tournament’s second seed, is a whole different animal than Penn State, but it gives players confidence, Loving said. “I feel like it should definitely carry over (to Friday),” he said. The other big thing the Buckeyes will try to correct before Friday night, Giddens said, is not trying to put too much focus on just one player. In the first game versus Michigan State, the attention was centered on Denzel Valentine, and rightfully so. The senior guard is a leading candidate for national player of the year, but he isn’t the only elite talent on coach Tom Izzo’s team. With the Buckeyes concentrating on Valentine, senior guard Bryn Forbes took advantage, hitting six 3-pointers on his way to a 27-point performance. In the regular-season rematch, the reverse happened. Steadfast on stopping Forbes, Valentine had a 27-point outing of his own, while adding 13 assists. This creates all sorts of problems, Giddens said, but the team is aware now that everyone on the floor needs to buckle down and defend. If it puts too much attention on Forbes and Valentine, Giddens mentioned that senior forward Matt Costello could do damage of his own.Although the task of advancing to the tournament semifinals will be a difficult one, many of the players said another crack at the Spartans is just what they wanted. After getting beat twice, they know what they need to flip the script this time around.Their work starts now and continues until the ball gets tossed up Friday at 6:30 p.m.“We’ll head back, grab something to eat, and we’ve already got (the film) we need to show ready,” Matta said. “I think they understand that the mission is not accomplished yet.” read more

Depth Chart Week 3 at Oklahoma

WLB33 Dante BookerOR48 Joe Burger47 Justin HilliardJr.Rs. Sr.Rs. Fr. CB8 Gareon Conley3 Damon ArnetteRs. Jr.Rs. Fr. LS49 Liam McCullough44 Aaron MawhirterRs. Fr.Sr. Week 3 defense at Oklahoma PR2 Dontre WilsonOR5 Corey SmithOR4 Curtis SamuelSr.Rs. Sr.Jr. C65 Pat Elflein79 Brady TaylorRs. Sr.Rs. So. TE85 Marcus Baugh88 A.J. AlexanderRs. Jr.Rs. Fr. SAF24 Malik Hooker34 Erick SmithRs. So.Jr. SAF7 Damon Webb4 Jordan FullerJr.Fr. WR5 Corey SmithOR1 Johnnie DixonRs. Sr.Rs. So. DE6 Sam Hubbard            OR11 Jayln Holmes          97 Nick Bosa     Rs. So.Jr.Fr. P95 Cameron JohnstonSr. WR-Z83 Terry McLaurinOR82 James Clark9 Binjimen VictorRs. So.Rs. Jr.Fr. RB25 Mike WeberOR4 Curtis Samuel2 Dontre WilsonRs. Fr.Jr.Sr. RT59 Isaiah Prince76 Branden BowenSo.Rs. Fr. H-Back4 Curtis SamuelOR2 Dontre WilsonJr.Sr. CB2 Marshon LattimoreOR12 Denzel WardRs. So.So. K92 Tyler Durbin96 Sean NuernbergerSr.Jr. QB16 J.T. Barrett10 Joe  BurrowRs. Jr.Rs. Fr. Week Two special teams versus Tulsa LT  74 Jamarco Jones75 Evan LisleOR63 Kevin WoidkeJr.Rs. Jr.So. KR2 Dontre WilsonOR82 James ClarkOR1 Johnnie DixonSr.Rs. Jr.Rs. So. DT77 Michael Hill             67 Robert Landers       Rs. Jr.Fr. RG54 Billy Price78 Demetrius KnoxRs. Jr.Rs. So. The third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes head to Norman, Oklahoma, this week for the pre-conference showdown of the year against the No. 14 Oklahoma Sooners.On Tuesday, OSU released its Week 3 depth chart. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dante Booker sat out last game versus Tulsa, but Meyer said on Monday that he is probable to play.Week 3 offense at Oklahoma MLB5 Raekwon McMillan38 Craig FadaJr.Rs. Sr. WR-X80 Noah BrownOR21 Parris Campbell11 Austin MackRs. So.Rs. So.Fr. LG73 Michael Jordan69 Matthew BurrellFr.Rs. Fr. DT86 Dre’Mont JonesOR53 Davon Hamilton      Rs. Fr.Rs. Fr. DE59 Tyquan Lewis13 Rashod Berry18 Jonathan CooperRs. Jr.Rs. Fr.Fr. SLB35 Chris Worley17 Jerome BakerRs. Jr.Rs. Fr. read more