Global Olympic gold medals per capita are at their lowest point since the first modern Olympics in 1896.There are 306 events at the Olympics this summer, with one gold medal per event.1Though an extra gold or two could result from ties. Also, more than one athlete can share a medal in team and relay events, so the number of athletes earning medals is greater than the number of medals in the country-by-country medal table. There are more than 7.3 billion people worldwide. That’s fewer than 42 events for every billion people, and that ratio has been declining since the 2000 Sydney Games, when the Olympics grew to 300 events, up 11 percent from 1996 and 48 percent higher than in 1980.In 2002, an International Olympic Committee report warned that the games were growing too big. “Today, the Olympic Movement must contend with the reality that more sports want to participate in the Olympic Games, more athletes want to compete in the Olympic Games, more people want to attend the Olympic Games, and more media want to cover the Olympic Games,” the report said. As a result, the cost of hosting the games was increasing and some countries were being left out of the running in bids to serve as host, according to the report.The IOC has heeded the report’s warning and pressed pause on the Summer Olympics’ rapid growth rate.2The number of events in the Winter Olympics hasn’t stopped growing, in part because those games are so much smaller than the Summer Games. Population numbers for the per capita numbers in the text and chart are from the U.S. Census Bureau, which has annual estimates since 1950. For Olympics before 1950, I used United Nations 1999 estimates compiled by the Census Bureau for global population in 1850, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940 and 1950, interpolating for Olympic years for which an estimate wasn’t available by assuming linear growth between estimated years. Though events per capita were much higher in the first half of the 20th century, everything that surrounded those events has grown, including the number of security forces and members of the media. Also, many more athletes today compete per event, from far more countries, than did then. The number of events has not quite doubled since 1920, but the number of participating athletes is roughly four times higher today and the number of participating countries is about seven times higher.3Media reports put the number of athletes this summer at somewhere between 10,500 and more than 11,000, and the number of countries at 206 or 207; the organizing committee’s media office didn’t respond to a request for a count.The decrease in events per capita has meant more athletes are competing for a chance to win roughly the same number of medals. It also has meant that sports not yet in the Olympics have had a hard time breaking into the games, and when they have, it has usually come at the expense of others, such as baseball and softball. That will change in Tokyo, though, as yet another new Olympic philosophy on growth will bring five new sports into the fold. read more

The NCAA women’s tournament bracket is out, and the Connecticut Huskies have a 52 percent chance to capture their 12th national championship and seventh undefeated season under coach Geno Auriemma, according to our March Madness predictions.This would be their fifth championship in a row and their third championship since last losing a game of any sort, on Nov. 17, 2014 — 847 days ago. If they win this tournament, that run will extend to over 1,000 days before they have another chance to lose next fall.Their 107 consecutive wins is already a record for NCAA basketball, and it’s moving up the ranks of the longest streaks in all of college sports. They recently passed North Carolina’s record streak in women’s soccer of 103 consecutive wins from 1986 to 1990, and they are in striking distance of Penn State’s record 109 wins in women’s volleyball from 2007 to 2010. (Though the Huskies are still a long way from the longest win streak in college sports: Trinity College men’s squash team had 252 consecutive wins from 1998 to 2012 that included 13 national championships.)VIDEO: A No. 16 seed will win, but don’t bet on it The Huskies’ chance of winning this year’s tournament is not what it has been in the past, though. It’s well down from the 70 percent chance we gave them at the start of the tournament last year, and the 74 percent chance we gave them the year before — both of which, to be honest, felt a little low.This year, there’s good reason to think they really do have a lower probability of winning. After losing team stars Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck — who were the first, second and third overall picks in the WNBA draft last year — it would have been reasonable to expect their performance to drop a bit. And it has — though the Huskies managed to stay undefeated, they haven’t been quite their dominant selves. They carried a 75-game win streak into this season, having won every game by double digits. But they opened the year with a 2-point victory over Florida State (who’s now a No. 3 in its region) and two other wins this season have come by 6 and 3 points — the latter to unranked Tulane, whom they had beaten in January by 44! Related: Hot Takedown Hot Takedown’s March Madness Special The Huskies are scoring fewer points per possession on offense and allowing more points per possession on defense than they did a year ago — though they are first and second, respectively, in those categories this season anyway.Their biggest obstacle is probably that some of the other contenders are stronger than they have been in the last few years. Baylor (23 percent chance to win, according to FiveThirtyEight’s predictions) is the next strongest team on paper, and the Lady Bears are in UConn’s neighborhood for both offensive and defensive efficiency — although they have looked vulnerable of late (such as when losing to West Virginia last week). The Huskies have played all three other No. 1 seeds (Baylor, South Carolina and Notre Dame) this season and won all three games by 11. Another threat might be No. 3 Maryland, who is in UConn’s region, have had a UConn-class offense this year and have only lost to the Huskies by 6 and 10 in their past two meetings. Two vanilla losses may not look like something to hang your hat on, but against this powerhouse — even in its mildly weakened form — that’s about as good as it gets.Check out our March Madness predictions. read more

Tuesday’s match to watch is Italy vs. Uruguay, essentially a must-win duel (for Uruguay at least) between the 16th- and 10th-best sides in the world according to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI). A surprisingly close second? Costa Rica-England, which features a group leader and an eliminated team with nothing but pride to play for. In between, there’s plenty of action in Group C, where every team is technically alive and fighting to advance to the Round of 16.Costa Rica vs. England: 12 p.m. EDTItaly vs. Uruguay: 12 p.m. EDTGreece vs. Ivory Coast: 4 p.m. EDTJapan vs. Colombia: 4 p.m. EDTIN BRIEFSee our World Cup predictions for the latest probabilities.IN DEPTHIt’s tough to overstate what’s on the line in Tuesday’s match between Uruguay and Italy. Both teams are tied for second place in Group D with three points apiece, although Italy holds the all-important tiebreaker with a superior goal differential.Group D’s leader, Costa Rica, won its first two matches and has guaranteed itself a spot in the next round, so there’s only one unclaimed berth left in the group. Uruguay is the favorite to win the match by SPI, about 41 percent to 30 percent (with a 29 percent probability of a draw), and that’s not because of defense. Neither team has been particularly dominant at that end of the pitch, but Uruguay has allowed four goals in the tournament, including three to a Costa Rican side that’s far from a scoring juggernaut.Instead, the odds are in Uruguay’s favor mostly because — theoretically speaking — it has the better offense, led by the sublime forward Luis Suarez. After not appearing at all in Uruguay’s opening loss against Costa Rica, Suarez returned from a knee injury Thursday to score a pair of goals and help sink England’s World Cup hopes. He’ll continue to get support from the passing of Edinson Cavani, Cristian Rodríguez and Nicolás Lodeiro. But Suarez aside, La Celeste has had some difficulty generating consistent scoring chances in the tournament so far, and Uruguay will have a hard time winning if it continues to muster only 8.5 shots per game.Meanwhile, Italy was expected to be in the middle of the pack offensively before the tournament, and it’s played largely to form. Mario Balotelli has been his customarily uneven self; he picked up a goal and caused all manner of havoc against England, then promptly had a terrible game (three offsides, one yellow card and only one shot on target) against Costa Rica. Andrea Pirlo’s passing remains superb, and the Italian offense plays with an efficient style — forgoing crosses in favor of passes through the middle of the pitch — but it’s also had a lot of trouble sustaining attacks in the opponent’s third.Uruguay might not be the best opponent for the pass-heavy Italian style; it’s been one of the best defenses at intercepting passes so far in the World Cup. Watch for the stark contrast between Italy’s ball control-centric offensive game and the more direct Uruguayan style, which sacrifices possession in favor of the long ball, and attempts to win by attacking from the wings and winning balls in the air. Each approach represents one side of a fierce philosophical divide in soccer, and which one prevails will go a long way toward determining who advances out of Group D.It’s worth noting that our World Cup odds list Italy as the favorites to advance despite Uruguay being favored in this specific match. That’s because in the event of a draw, Italy would claim second place in the group on goal differential. An Uruguayan win is the single most likely outcome of the game, but there’s also a 59 percent chance that Uruguay doesn’t win the match and fails to advance. Confused yet?The second-best game of the day (at least according to our method of taking the harmonic mean of the two competitors’ SPI scores) is Costa Rica vs. England. It’s a fine matchup, but the stakes are as low as it gets for both teams. Costa Rica has clinched a berth in the knockout round (and has an 89 percent chance of winning Group D), and England has been mathematically eliminated.The remaining games have some implications for the next round, though Colombia has already punched its ticket into the Round of 16 and Japan’s odds are slim. Greece vs. Ivory Coast offers a bit more to play for: Greece has a better than 19 percent chance of making it to the knockout stage, but SPI also predicts the match to be a dreary, low-scoring affair.YESTERDAYThe Netherlands avoided a matchup with Brazil in the Round of 16 by defeating Chile 2-0 in their Group B finale Monday. The Netherlands’ chance of advancing to the quarterfinals is now 69 percent, while Chile must face Brazil on Sunday with odds of 26 percent. The Dutch would have been an underdog against Brazil, advancing 23 percent of the time.For the first 75 minutes Monday, the Netherlands struggled to get opportunities, completing two of 16 passes into the attacking penalty area and creating four total chances. Then in the final 15 minutes plus stoppage time, the Dutch completed two of four passes into the attacking penalty area, creating two chances and scoring on both. Substitute Leroy Fer gave the Netherlands the lead less than two minutes after entering the match with just his second touch of the game.The Netherlands struggled not only on passes into the box; Dutch players completed 63.9 percent of passes overall, their worst rate in a World Cup match in at least 50 years. In their first two wins, the Dutch completed 78.9 percent of their passes.Chile had the majority of possession, with 657 touches to the Netherlands’ 395, but couldn’t get anything going in the Netherlands’ penalty area. Chile managed seven shots, one of which was on target, and had less than 2 percent of its overall touches (13) in the attacking penalty area.Part of the trouble could have been that Chile was fouled 26 times, the most in a match in this year’s World Cup. Forward Alexis Sanchez was fouled nine times, two more than anyone else this tournament.Later, Mexico and Croatia were scoreless through 70 minutes, and Mexico was poised to become the first team under the current tournament format to advance to the knockout round scoring exactly one goal. But then El Tri scored three times in 11 minutes to propel Mexico to the knockout round and a matchup with the Netherlands.Two of Mexico’s three goals came from headers — a rarity, as El Tri scored two headed goals in its past two World Cup appearances combined. Mexico’s third goal came from Javier Hernandez, who’s come off the bench in each of Mexico’s three matches and ended his career-long scoreless streak for his country Monday. His goal was one of 21 scored by substitutes this tournament, the most ever in a group stage (substitutes were first allowed in 1970). —  Jacob Nitzberg, senior stats analyst, ESPNOFF THE PITCHBelieve it or not, Italian food just wouldn’t be the same without its relationship with Uruguay. Although the country is known for its carb-heavy offerings, the roles of meat and fish in the Italian diet can’t be discounted. According to 2012 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 45 percent of Uruguay’s exports to Italy were bovine meat, followed by frozen fish fillets, at 16 percent. Follow the trade route in the opposite direction, and Italian exports to Uruguay run the gamut. They’re mostly concentrated in machinery — sewing machinery, tractors, furnaces, etc. But perfumery, cosmetics,and eyewear play a noticeable role as well. And, of course, it wouldn’t be Italian trade if it didn’t include pasta, of which Italy sent a healthy $2.4 million worth to Uruguay. — Hayley MunguiaFURTHER READINGAdvancement Scenarios For Groups C And DWatching the USMNT on Copacabana Beach in RioWorld Cup Pass & Move: I Can’t Believe That We Did Draw! read more

12/17/1986ClemsonArmstrongREG112-39+65 DATEWINNEROPPONENTGAME TYPESCOREELO-ADJUSTED POINT MARGIN 12/23/1998MarylandNorth TexasREG132-57+63 Best men’s basketball wins relative to average expectation 12/11/1954DaytonBowling GreenREG109-39+69 Because Elo measures the difference in relative quality between teams going into a game, it can be used (in conjunction with information about the location of the game) to create a predictive point spread. It can also be used to generate a hypothetical point spread that would have been expected from an average Division I team1With an Elo rating of exactly 1500. against the same opponent in a given game. So against Oklahoma on a neutral court Saturday, for instance, Villanova was expected to win by about 2.5 points; an average team would have been expected to lose by 21. That Villanova won by 44 implies that the Wildcats outperformed their own expectations by 41.5 points and those of an “average” team by about 65 points.Suffice it to say that 65 points is an extraordinarily wide margin for a team to beat the D-I average by in a single game. The record since 1949-50 in any game between two D-I schools is 73, set by North Carolina when it trounced Manhattan College by 84 points in 1985. (Elo estimates that an average team, playing at home, would have beaten the 1200-rated Jaspers by about 11 points.) But that also took place in a forgettable non-conference game two days after Christmas.To find an NCAA Tournament win more impressive than Villanova’s romp, you’d have to go back to 1963, when Loyola of Chicago exceeded average by 70 points with a 111-42 opening-round triumph over Tennessee Tech. And before the Wildcats’ win Saturday, no team had beaten average by 60 or more points in an NCAA Tournament game since 1971, when a previous incarnation of Villanova beat Penn 90-47. 2/27/1994MinnesotaIndianaREG106-56+65 12/17/1995TulsaPrairie ViewREG141-50+72 12/9/1955UtahArizonaREG119-45+64 Source: Sports Reference 12/29/1972New MexicoDartmouthREG107-36+65 4/2/2016VillanovaOklahomaNCAA95-51+65 3/3/2008KansasTexas TechREG109-51+67 3/11/1963Loyola (IL)Tennessee TechNCAA111-42+70 1/12/1952Holy CrossBrownREG100-31+64 3/12/1993KentuckyTennesseeCTOURN101-40+66 12/18/1971IndianaNotre DameREG94-29+64 1/27/1993OklahomaFlorida A&MREG146-65+63 2/27/1956KentuckyGeorgiaREG143-66+65 11/25/1989DukeHarvardREG130-54+63 12/27/1985North CarolinaManhattanREG129-45+73 1/5/1974UCLAWashingtonREG100-48+64 12/10/1994Southern UtahSouth AlabamaREG140-72+71 Ahead of Saturday’s Final Four matchup between Villanova and Oklahoma, our prediction model had the Wildcats only slightly favored, with a 54 percent chance of winning, and nearly a quarter of the game was as tight as that probability suggests. When Oklahoma led 17-16 after eight minutes, our in-game win probabilities listed the odds as essentially the same as they’d been before tipoff. Fans across the country settled in for an exciting game, perhaps like the one Villanova had played against Kansas in the South Regional final.But from that point on, things were anything but close. ’Nova rattled off a 12-0 run, touching off an eight-minute sequence in which it outscored Oklahoma 21 to 4. By halftime, the Wildcats led by 14 — but they weren’t done yet. After the Sooners briefly cut Villanova’s lead to single-digits with 16 minutes left in the game, the Wildcats scored 49 of the game’s next 63 points, including a 25-0 run that lasted approximately five and a half minutes on the scoreboard (but must have felt like an eternity to Sooner fans).The result was a 44-point landslide win for Villanova, the most lopsided victory in Final Four history. That is a matter of historical fact. But using our Elo ratings (which estimate a team’s strength at a given moment), we can also say that it was probably the most impressive NCAA Tournament win in more than 53 years — and the 10th-most-impressive D-I basketball victory, period, since the 1949-50 season: 11/17/2009TennesseeUNC-AshevilleREG124-49+64 read more

A week ago, I wrote about how both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros are in rare historical company this season. According to FiveThirtyEight’s Elo power ratings — which measure a team’s strength at any moment — each is playing roughly as well as the fabled 1927 Yankees played. But this season’s top-heaviness extends well beyond just the Astros and Dodgers. Each member of MLB’s ruling class this season is unusually strong, which suggests that, come October, we may be watching the the most stacked playoff fields in memory. That’s great news for fans — but it’s also really bad news for the wannabes and would-be Cinderellas that are currently chasing the front-runners.One easy way to visualize the power balance of a league is to look at how its teams at any given ranking slot measure up to those from other seasons in the past. For example, the Dodgers have the best Elo rating (1602) of any top-ranked team through July 20 of a season in the expansion era (since 1961). Likewise, the Astros are by far the best second-ranked Elo team of the expansion era.Go down the line, and each of Elo’s top six teams carries one of the strongest ratings in modern history for its slot. The third ranked Washington Nationals, for instance, are more like the top team in an average season than a mere third wheel. The Boston Red Sox would be running a strong third most seasons; this year, they’re a distant fourth. The Indians and Cubs can both tell similar stories. As we approach the July 31 trade deadline, this is more than just an academic curiosity. A team’s willingness to pony up prospects for a better shot at the World Series is directly tied to how much good it thinks a trade will do. In a wide-open season, even teams outside the top tier of contenders could be convinced to roll the dice on an upgrade — particularly with the expanded wild-card format. But the stronger the top teams are, the less incentive teams on the periphery have to make a championship push. According to Elo, we haven’t seen a stronger crop of elite teams in the expansion era than this season’s top six.1The top six teams of 2017 carry an average Elo rating of 1562.5, which beats out 1998 (1557.9) for the highest average for the top six teams through July 20 of a season since 1961.As recently as a few years ago, you could have lamented the lack of dominant teams at the top of the major leagues. At this same time in 2015, for instance, the leading Elo teams were among the weakest at their slots in the expansion era. But baseball’s era of parity seems to be officially over, with the game moving back toward imbalance. While a top-heavy MLB might never look like its basketball equivalent,2Even this season, the Dodgers’ winning percentage works out to a mere 57-win pace in the NBA — which would have only bought them the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. it’s still going to be tougher than usual for aspiring contenders to break through — a fact you can bet every GM is keenly aware of in the lead-up to the deadline. read more

200281.1Y. Ming7’6″N. Tskitishvili7’0″Nene6’11” 2018′s top 10 was calculated using ESPN.com’s latest mock draft.Sources: ESPN, Basketball-Reference.com Last season, 21 of the league’s 50 most valuable players by VORP stood 6-foot-10 or taller, another high for the league since the ABA merger in 1976. So in that sense, towering talents such as Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ben Simmons are doing just fine in the modern NBA, thank you very much.But at the same time, it’s difficult to conclude that this is a true heyday for taller players when you consider how little difference any of them made during the playoffs.1Granted, NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant is listed as 6-foot-9, but he is certainly taller than that. The percentage of total postseason minutes logged by players 6-foot-10 or taller has fallen from 29 percent in 2009 (the year 6-foot-11 Dwight Howard led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals) to 22 percent this year. At the same time, the share of playoff VORP belonging to big men has fallen from 34 percent to 26 percent. Only two players 6-foot-10 or taller — Kevin Love and JaVale McGee — played any significant minutes in the NBA Finals.2The series’ other players who stand 6-foot-10 or taller — Zaza Pachulia and Ante Zizic — were on the court for a grand total of 11 minutes over the series’ four games. In recent postseasons, the switch-heavy defensive schemes that top teams play have often made it a tactical liability to rely heavily on traditional big-man types, to say nothing of the negative effects of playing a nonshooter like most bigs have been throughout NBA history.Even among those who have survived these shifting conditions and remained relevant as NBA big men, the core responsibilities of the role have changed substantially over time. The floor-spacing element alone has not only put added pressure on bigs to develop greater range as shooters — 7-footers now take more than double the number of threes they did just five seasons ago, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group — but it also requires them to be able to move fluidly in larger areas of defensive space, as well as taking a more active role in ballhandling and passing duties.You can see these changes playing out statistically as today’s big men are diversifying their contributions. Relative to the league average, the typical player who stands 6-foot-10 or taller in the 2010s gets significantly more assists and steals than in previous decades; he also is a much more frequent and efficient scorer and rebounder, but he blocks fewer shots. These changes have been about survival, and several of this draft’s elite post prospects have things they’ll need to prove in order to avoid becoming the next Jahlil Okafor, who entered the NBA with one of the best low-post arsenals in decades but couldn’t move his feet well enough to justify consistent playing time (let alone the No. 3 overall pick).The physically gifted Ayton, who spent much of this past season at power forward, logged very low steal and block rates when compared with other recent top-level post prospects, leading some to question his defensive instincts. Marvin Bagley III, who played zone during his one year at Duke, struggled at times defending the pick and roll, a vital trait in a league where that play can be used every time down the floor. And while Texas’s Mohamed Bamba will enter the NBA with a shot-blocking reputation — he has a ridiculous 7-foot-10 wingspan and erased almost four shots a game in college — it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to make an impact on defense when teams seek to pull him out with a stretch-big who doesn’t need to be tethered to the paint.If we learned anything during these NBA playoffs — between Houston finding ways to torch and neutralize likely defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert and Golden State making mincemeat out of Cleveland’s switch-everything defense in the NBA Finals — it’s that the best offenses generally have counterpunches against highly predictable defensive sets and players. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a shock to see someone like Michigan State’s 6-foot-11 Jaren Jackson Jr. get drafted a few spots earlier than expected, given the defensive versatility he possesses.To be clear, it’s not just the big men who find themselves adapting to a changing game. Players at other positions will also come with a handful of question marks Thursday night for similar reasons. For all his game-changing offensive talents, Oklahoma guard Trae Young’s lack of size (he checks in at 6-foot-2 and just under 180 pounds, with only a 6-foot-4 wingspan) figures to give teams pause after an NBA postseason whose earlier rounds saw smaller guards targeted and exposed consistently on the defensive end. Among perimeter players — rookie and veteran alike — Young isn’t alone in that weakness.On a larger scale, though, the sheer number of elite big-men draft prospects leading the way this year may seem a bit odd, given how the league has seemingly downsized. But just keep in mind the necessary caveat: Big men are still alive and well in the NBA — as long as they can move their feet and possess more than one tangible skill. We’ll see how many of this year’s towering prospects can check off those boxes once they start playing against the pros. Headlined by Arizona 7-footer Deandre Ayton, this crop of big men is poised to have a profound effect on the league’s future. But therein lies a paradox: In the sport that prizes height like no other, the game itself is moving away from the archetype of the plodding big man. How each top prospect handles this seeming contradiction will go a long way toward determining what kind of pro career he’ll end up enjoying.The changing role of tall players in today’s pace-and-space NBA is complicated. As our ESPN colleague Kevin Pelton noted last week, bigs are actually more effective on a per-minute basis than ever, at least according to player-value metrics. Even though their share of leaguewide minutes has stayed relatively constant since the late 1980s, the share of NBA value over replacement player (VORP) accumulated by players 6-foot-10 or taller has been on the rise, hitting a modern high-water mark during the 2017-18 season, when bigs accounted for 39.5 percent of total value: 200681.0A. Bargnani7’0″P. O’Bryant7’0″L. Aldridge6’11” 200080.6J. Przybilla7’1″C. Mihm7’0″K. Martin6’9″ When the NBA drafts its newest class of rookies Thursday, big guys should be the order of the night. According to rankings from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, six of the top seven prospects in this year’s draft stand 6-foot-10 or taller. (The one exception is Real Madrid’s Luca Doncic, a 6-foot-8 point guard.) If things play out according to ESPN’s latest mock draft, this could be the second-tallest collection of top-10 picks in any draft since the lottery era began in 1985: 200781.6S. Hawes7’1″G. Oden7’0″Y. Jianlian7’0″ 198581.5P. Ewing7’0″B. Benjamin7’0″J. Koncak7’0″ 201080.6D. Cousins6’11”G. Monroe6’11”D. Favors6’10” 201881.6D. Ayton7’0″M. Bamba7’0″M. Bagley6’11” 199780.1T. Duncan6’11”T. Battie6’11”K. Van Horn6’10” 199480.2E. Montross7’0″S. Wright6’11”D. Marshall6’9″ 201581.4K. Porzingis7’3″K. Towns7’0″W. C.’Stein7’0″ 2018 is looking like one of the tallest drafts everTallest average height for top 10 picks in an NBA draft, 1985-2018 198681.1B. Daugherty7’0″W. Bedford7’0″B. Sellers7’0″ 201680.6D. Bender7’1″T. Maker7’1″J. Poeltl7’0″ 199280.7S. O’Neal7’1″C. Laettner6’11”A. Mourning6’10” 200182.0T. Chandler7’1″P. Gasol7’0″E. Curry7’0″ YearAvg. HEIGHT (inches)1st2nd3rd 198880.3R. Smits7’4″R. Seikaly6’11”D. Manning6’10” Tallest Players read more

Senior midfielder Yianni Sarris heads the ball during a game against Akron on Sept. 24 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU lost, 3-1.Credit: Ben Jackson / For The LanternWednesday night’s contest did not go as planned for the Ohio State men’s soccer team, but the Buckeyes are now set to try to put it behind them and take on a top-10 foe.The 1-0 loss to Oakland in Rochester, Mich., stalled the momentum of the previous week in which OSU topped two top-25 teams and seemed to be firing on all cylinders.“We know we’re going to need to score some goals and we know we’re going to have to continue to do that if we want to be successful in the Big Ten,” senior midfielder Yianni Sarris said on Monday.The Buckeyes will now have to try to rebound from that loss against No. 10 Indiana (7-1-3, 1-1-1) on Sunday afternoon.The good news for the Buckeyes is that the game is set to be played in Columbus, where they are 2-1-2 this season — including a 3-2 victory against then-No. 17 Michigan State last Saturday.“Playing on familiar turf and in front of your own fans makes the difference,” junior defender Liam Doyle said. “Home comforts.”OSU coach John Bluem said the Buckeyes’ schedule is one of the toughest in the nation.“Our strength of schedule is ridiculously strong,” Bluem said Monday. “With a (then) 4-3-3 record, to be ranked 13th in the RPI, that means your strength of scheduled is stupid.”The Ratings Percentage Index, or RPI, which measures performance in relation to strength of schedule, recognized the tenacity of the Buckeyes’ foes. The RPI ranked the Buckeyes at No. 13, despite only receiving four votes in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll.However, Bluem said he is not concerned with what the coaches’ surveys say, rather only focusing on the computerized RPI.“The polls ultimately don’t mean anything,” Bluem said. “It’s the RPI that matters. The RPI shows you how well you’ve done against better competition, and the NCAA committee, when they select teams for the tournament, they pay attention to the RPI.”Bluem pointed out that there are only two undefeated Division I schools remaining, and OSU has already faced both of them. The Buckeyes drew University of California-Davis (4-0-7), 0-0, in their opening game Aug. 29 and fell to Penn State (10-0-1), 1-0, on Sept. 21.Bluem said he is glad to have the tests throughout the season, but wishes they didn’t all come clumped together.“I wish maybe some of these games coming up were fit in between there and some of these were spread out a little more, but that’s not the way it worked,” Bluem said.That trend is set to continue this weekend against the Hoosiers. Indiana is unbeaten in its last six matches, including wins over then-No. 8 Saint Louis and No. 18 Louisville in its last two.While Bluem and several players have said that the team is trying to focus on taking the season one game at a time, Doyle said he realizes the impact of games played against Big Ten opponents.“We try to take all games the same, but I do think the Big Ten conference does have a little edge to it because we know winning the conference is the main goal of the team,” Doyle said.OSU has lost three straight games against the Hoosiers, with its last win coming on Nov. 7, 2010, in Columbus.This weekend’s game is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. read more

Ohio State junior kicker Sean Nuernberger (96) kicks a field goal in the second quarter in the game against Rutgers on Sep. 30. Ohio State won 56-0. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorLINCOLN, Nebraska — Ohio State redshirt junior kicker Sean Nuernberger drilled an extra point with 5:39 remaining in the first quarter of the Buckeyes’ game against Nebraska Saturday night to become the Big Ten record-holder for most point after attempts converted in a row. This extra point was the 142nd in a row.Nuernberger has not missed an extra point in his career. He has converted seven of nine field goals this season. In his career, Nuernberger has made 23 of 33 field goals.Nuernberger broke kicker Drew Basil’s Ohio State record for most consecutive made extra points last season. read more

Sophomore outside hitter Reese Devilbiss hits the ball over the net during the finalset of No. 3 Ohio State’s match against No. 8 Penn State on Jan. 28, 2018 in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes defeated the Nittany Lions in straight sets (25-19, 25-15, 25-17) to pick up their fifth win of the season. Credit: Aliyyah Jackson | Senior ReporterThe No. 5 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (11-2, 4-0 MIVA) added a fourth conference win  after defeating Quincy (8-6, 0-4 MIVA) in three sets (25-22, 25-15, 25-15).The first set began as a blowout for the Buckeyes, who started the set with a 10 point lead, 12-2. In the next 20 plays, however, the Hawks made a comeback through a series of kills by Quincy senior outside hitter Anthony Winter and sophomore outside hitter Omari Wheeler. The Hawks also capitalized on Ohio State’s errors and pulled within one point, trailing 18-17.“It was a little disappointing the way we came out and got a big lead in set one and then just kind of gave them some runs of points on our errors,” Ohio State head coach Pete Hanson said.The Buckeyes scored seven more points and kept the Hawks at bay to win the set 25-22. Ohio State senior outside hitter Maxime Hervoir hit a .556 and contributed six of the team’s 14 kills in the opening set. Redshirt junior middle blocker Blake Leeson came alive in the second set, helping out the team both in defense and offense with three blocks and two kills. Ohio State hit a .526 and won the second set 25-15.The third set of the match was another struggle for the Hawks, who hit .000 for the second-straight set. Quincy had a total of four kills compared to the Buckeyes’ 15 kills. Dominating the set, Ohio State spread out its offense with consistent attacks across the board, leading to another 25-15 win to seal the match.Hanson said he felt his team did well responding to the rough first set, bouncing back to dominate the final two sets of the match.“It was nice to see that the guys understood that’s not acceptable, and they played a much cleaner game in sets two and three and did what we’re capable of doing,” he said.Throughout the match, Hervoir and ’ sophomore outside hitter Reese Devilbiss stood out offensively. Hervoir led the team with 11 kills and Devilbiss had a team-high 13.5 points. Leeson topped the blocking leaderboard with four total blocks.The Buckeyes have not lost a conference game and Quincy has not won a conference game, so the Buckeyes had to deal with the threat of remaining focused despite the difference in the level of competition. “I knew it would be a team that if we fell asleep, it would be hard,” Hervoir said. “Like you have seen, in the first set, they came back. We were way ahead and they came back slowly just because we fell asleep. Because of that, I was ready to put energy on the court and help everybody to talk, talk, talk, talk.”Despite winning, Hervoir said Ohio State did not play as aggressively as he felt it should. read more

Ohio State redshirt junior guard Sierra Calhoun shoots a free throw during the Buckeyes’ 110-80 exhibition win against Ashland on Oct. 29. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports EditorLast season, the Ohio State women’s basketball team averaged 85 points per game.As it looks ahead to the 2018-19 season, only 6.5 of those points will be returning to the roster.Having lost one of the greatest basketball players ever to don a scarlet and gray uniform in Kelsey Mitchell and three other regular starters for the Buckeyes, Ohio State had already been gutted of enough of its roster. On Tuesday, that escalated further when Rutgers announced that Ohio State redshirt senior guard Sierra Calhoun — the only remaining starter from last season — would be heading east to wear a new kind of scarlet as a graduate transfer.During the 2017-18 season, Calhoun was fourth on the team with an average of 11.6 minutes per game. She also was the team’s second-best 3-point shooter among the starters, having made 77-of-215 shots for a 35.8 percent success rate. She started all 35 games with Mitchell, forward Stephanie Mavunga and guard Linnae Harper. Guard Asia Doss started in 30 games, but forward Alexa Hart filled in for the other five due to an ankle injury to Doss late in the year.Calhoun’s departure leaves Ohio State without much of any experience to turn to from the prior season.Redshirt senior Makayla Waterman is the only returning player to have averaged more than 10 minutes over the course of the season. The 6-foot-2 forward averaged 3.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.The top returning guard and the player with an inside shot at cracking the starting five is former five-star recruit Jensen Caretti, who averaged 8.7 minutes, 2.4 points and 0.6 assists per game in her freshman campaign with Ohio State. This means Ohio State’s lineup, expectedly, will take on a completely different look. The Buckeyes will have unfamiliar players at guard, but the team still has a plethora of other options. Ohio State received five graduate transfers, all of whom were guards for their former schools: Adreana Miller from La Salle, Najah Queenland from Pacific, Carly Santoro from Bowling Green, Ashanti Abshaw from Cleveland State and Carmen Grande from Bowling Green.It also added four-star guard recruit Janai Crooms, who is listed as the No. 62 overall recruit by ESPN.Grande, who has compiled the second-most assists in the country over the past three seasons, could be counted on to become one of the team’s top ball-handlers while Abshaw leaves the Vikings having become the third-fastest player in school history to reach 1,000 points. That guard depth could be tested by an Ohio State team that has traditionally used four starters at guard as opposed to a more traditional three- or two-guard lineup. Last season, head coach Kevin McGuff started four guards in 30 of the team’s 35 total games. That could again be the case in 2018-19 given the team’s lack of forward depth. Outside of Waterman, Ohio State will have only three-star freshman Aaliyah Patty, four-star freshman Dorka Juhasz and former walk-on Savitha Jayaraman at forward. Patty is listed as the No. 17 overall forward in the 2018 class according to ESPN, while Prospects Nation lists Juhasz as the No. 12 overall international prospect coming to the U.S. to play in 2018. This season will be a trial by fire for most of Ohio State’s roster. Now with Calhoun leaving, the Buckeyes face the prospect of putting out a team with little to no existing chemistry, relying on a roster that returns four players in total and sees nine new players entering the fold.Finding another Mitchell will be difficult if not impossible for McGuff in this this new-look roster. But, he will hope to find a group that can at least come close to the 85 points of last season. read more