Month: September 2019

The NBA Excitement Index

20DEN0.3775.80 17ORL0.3045.92 6MIL0.5666.25 4CHI0.6306.29 26UTA0.3585.55 18WAS0.6115.89 28CLE0.6005.46 10BOS0.3926.18 3TOR0.6926.35 I think most fans, if given a choice, would prefer to watch a game with a high Excitement Index (although I imagine Warriors fans are content with their “boring” season). But excitement is a fickle thing, hard to predict and nearly impossible to ensure. There is one metric that reliably correlates with excitement: the Vegas point spread. But that correlation is not particularly strong, and the result should not be too surprising: Games with a low point spread tend to have higher average excitement than games in which one team is heavily favored over the other.Teams aren’t guaranteed to stay exciting as a season progresses. Using data from the past three NBA seasons, I looked at how a team’s average Excitement Index in its games before the All-Star break correlated with the Excitement Index of games played after it. Some correlation did persist, but the results largely showed a regression to the mean.2The correlation coefficient between the two halves of the season was approximately 20 percent. But this correlation may be due to the point spread dynamic already mentioned. Middle-tier teams are more likely to play in games with low point spreads, which, in turn, is correlated with more exciting games.NBA teams can’t avoid boredom for long.CORRECTION (Feb. 18, 11:20 a.m.): In a previous version of the table accompanying this article, several NBA teams were in the incorrect order. 11OKC0.5286.08 7MEM0.7366.23 14MIN0.2085.98 12SAC0.3466.01 15NOP0.5095.95 30GSW0.8205.35 2SAS0.6426.45 1PHX0.5476.75 19DAL0.6555.81 23ATL0.7965.61 TEAMWIN %EXCITEMENT INDEX 9POR0.6736.21 5LAL0.2456.26 22BKN0.4045.69 27PHI0.2265.48 What makes for an exciting game? Sensational plays, sure. Some lead changes, absolutely. But there’s also a feeling you get when watching one — that the unexpected just keeps happening.But this is FiveThirtyEight, and intuitions won’t do! What if we found a way to quantify that feeling of surprise? What if we made the NBA Excitement Index?Having long been a fan of Brian Burke’s win probability model and graphs at Advanced Football Analytics, I built a similar model for the NBA and debuted it on my site, Inpredictable, just over a year ago. The latest version of the model is based on detailed play-by-play data from 13 NBA seasons (from 2000 to 2012). This is not a simulation model; it is based on game results — for example, how often do teams win when trailing by two with 25 seconds left on the clock?1I have to apply some smoothing to even out the noise in the raw data, but otherwise I try to let the data speak for itself.By tracking swings in win probability, I was able to translate those swings into excitement. When visualized, games with a high Excitement Index are easy to spot. Their win probability graphs are choppy and turbulent.Take, for example, the triple overtime thriller between the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs on Dec. 17.The Spurs fell behind early, trailing by as much as 23 in the second quarter before tying the game with just under nine minutes left in regulation. From there, the lead changed hands several times, and with just 15 seconds left in regulation, the Spurs appeared on the verge of completing the comeback. The Spurs’ Boris Diaw rebounded a missed Vince Carter 3-point attempt, giving San Antonio possession with a three-point lead.Most games in that situation fizzle out rather undramatically (a combination of intentional fouls, free throws and time-outs as the trailing team attempts to stave off the inevitable). But this game featured nearly a whole game’s worth of drama squeezed into those final 15 seconds of regulation — a last-second turnover, a Mike Conley game-tying shot with seven seconds left on the clock; what appeared to be a game-winning shot from Danny Green with two seconds left, and a highly improbable Marc Gasol 30-footer to tie the game at the buzzer.That’s not even to mention the three overtimes that followed.The Spurs-Grizzlies win probability graph clearly has its share of dramatic turns, and its Excitement Index of 17.4 is the highest value of any NBA game this season.San Antonio has had one of the most “exciting” seasons in the league thus far; a fact somewhat at odds with its no-nonsense public image. The table below ranks each team by the average excitement index of their games. The Spurs, with an average index of 6.45, trail only the Phoenix Suns for the most exciting season heading into the All-Star break.New York Knicks fans should take note: This may be the only ranking this season in which your team finds itself adjacent to the Golden State Warriors. 8IND0.3896.22 13HOU0.6736.01 24LAC0.6485.61 25MIA0.4315.57 16DET0.3895.94 29NYK0.1925.45 21CHA0.4125.73 read more

The Russian Underdog Strikes First At The World Chess Championship

After a lengthy series of draws and building tension over the past 11 days, the deadlock at the World Chess Championship was finally broken Monday evening. The defending champion and world No. 1, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, was bested and resigned after 52 moves and five hours of play. His challenger, Sergey Karjakin of Russia, a heavy underdog coming into the match, now leads 4.5 to 3.5 in this race to 6.5 points and chess’s ultimate crown.1Wins are worth 1 point, draws are worth half a point for each player, and losses are worth 0 points. If the match is tied after 12 games, four relatively speedy tiebreaker games will be played on Nov. 30. Each player would get 25 minutes for his moves. Karjakin, who began the match ranked No. 9, has inched up to No. 6 in the world.The advantage in Monday’s Game 8, played on a frigid day in lower Manhattan, swung wildly back and forth between the two players. The game featured back-to-back blunders and a last-second move with the clock’s final seconds ticking down, a scenario worthy of a classic NCAA Final Four game. In the end, Carlsen overextended his reach, wandering into endgame territory more dangerous than he’d realized. Karjakin eventually steeled himself, as he’s done in a number of previous games, and found the winning line.In the opening, Carlsen, playing as white, deployed something called the Colle-Zukertort System.2Edgard Colle was a Belgian master in the early 1900s and Johannes Zukertort was a contender for the 1886 world championship, which took place partially in New York. In this opening, “white develops pieces behind its pawns, then takes action on his own terms,” Robert Hess, a grandmaster and chess.com contributor, told me. In other words: White’s position could get quite intricate before the fight begins, as he gets his pieces just where he wants them. “White tries to release tension on his terms so that his pieces can flourish.”By about the 25th move, it was clear that time was going to be a factor in the game, as the players struggled to deal with the insanely complex board they’d created with all those flourishing pieces. (Karjakin later called the position “crazy.”) The players get 100 minutes to start the game, 30 bonus seconds after each move, and 50 minutes when they make their 40th move. On the 32nd move, Carlsen had six minutes remaining on his clock and Karjakin had five. On the 34th move, the time ticking, Carlsen (white) faced this position: The two grandmasters will take their seats for at least two — and up to four — more hours-long games. There could be further shorter games if the match is tied after that. They should both get comfortable in their Staples chairs. Kirill Zangalis, Karjakin’s manager and a spokesman for the Russian chess federation, addressed the press after the game. “Sergey now knows how he can win this match,” he said. “Now, it’s only the beginning.”Tuesday is a rest day, and Game 9 begins Wednesday afternoon. I’ll be covering the rest of the games here — although there will be no dispatch here on Thursday — and on Twitter. He slid his queen over to e6. Karjakin pushed his right-side pawn to h5, heading down toward the white king’s defenses. And thanks to Karjakin’s innocent-looking pawn move, Carlsen had, essentially, run out of useful things to do. The black pawn on a3 was sprinting toward queendom while the black queen and knight were menacing the white king. One move later, Carlsen resigned and the two players shook hands.After his loss, a distraught Carlsen brushed past a would-be postgame interviewer without a word. As Karjakin dutifully did interviews backstage, Carlsen came out onto the stage for the press conference. But the timing was off. There was no moderator, no Karjakin, no questions being asked. It was just Carlsen, sitting alone on the stage in silence, facing a thick phalanx of expectant reporters, photographers and chess fans. You could pierce the awkwardness with the top of a bishop. And he sat and he sat and he sat, for minutes that felt like hours.Eventually, Carlsen had enough. He threw his hands up in disgust, stormed backstage and never returned. He pushed his pawn up to c5, instantly giving Karjakin his biggest edge of the entire match, according to the chess engine Stockfish. After the two traded the rooks at the top of the board and the Russian captured the Norwegian’s pawn on c5 with his knight, the position belonged to Karjakin and his two unimpeded pawns on the board’s left side, itching to become queens. The game was won.But Karjakin had been burning through his time, which ticked down to less than a minute for five moves in a row. (If a player runs out of time he loses.) He relied on the bonus 30 seconds, burned them down, made a move, received 30 seconds in return, and then burned them down again. It was torturous to watch. In chess, thanks to the 30-second increment, you can relive ulcerous final seconds over and over and over again. The crunch got to Karjakin, eventually. He misplaced his queen on the 37th move, ceding back to Carlsen all of the advantage. One blunder cancelled out another, and the game was level again.With seven seconds left on his clock — seven seconds until instant defeat and devastated title chances — Karjakin made his 40th move.Things calmed down for a while after that, both players comfortably pondering the game with their added time. Stockfish saw the endgame as level, or maybe just a touch better for black, until the 51st move. Carlsen (white) had to make a decision here: Chairs have a storied history at the world championship. Bobby Fischer famously demanded that an Eames Time-Life Chair be shipped to Reykjavik for his 1972 championship match against Boris Spassky. He said he thought better while sitting in it. An Icelandic chess official thought it’d be nicer for the cameras if Spassky had a matching chair, so one was driven by limousine to John F. Kennedy Airport and put aboard the first flight to Iceland. The model of chair, now an icon of 20th-Century design, thanks in part to the match that had a rabid viewership in the States, is now sold by Herman Miller for $3,000.And what about this year’s model? After a Zapruder-esque examination of photographs from this year’s match, a lengthy search of office chairs online, and a crowdsource of my social networks, this year’s chair appears to come from Staples, the office-supply chain store. It’s called the Baird Bonded Leather Manager’s Chair and it retails for $270. Both players appear to use the same model. (Multiple messages to FIDE and its partner Agon Limited asking about the chairs were not returned.) Sitting in an Eames chair, Bobby Fischer, right, plays Soviet chess player Tigran Petrosian in Buenos Aires, Argentina, September 1971. Getty Images “Chess is everything: art, science and sport,” the former world champion Anatoly Karpov once said. With the ticking clock and dramatic swings, it had never felt more like a sport to me than it did Monday night. And in sport, the equipment matters. The brilliancies and blunders are born in the minds of the two geniuses vying for this title, but they’re expressed to the world via more mundane physical objects. I wanted to know the tools of these sportsmen’s trade. Consider this your guide if you’re hoping to build a chess arena of your own at home.The official chess clock of the sport’s governing body FIDE — the small plastic box that loomed over Game 8 — is the handsome maroon model DGT 2010. It goes for about $80.The championship uses a souped-up board with sensors in the pieces, so that moves can be instantly related to spectators on monitors in the venue and on the internet. But you can buy an essentially identical version, sans sensors, for $470. It sports a rosewood and maple board and ebonized boxwood pieces, and was designed by the Pentagram architect Daniel Weil. The size of the pieces are, apparently, proportioned to the pitch of the facade of the Parthenon.But, most importantly, in what do the grandmasters sit? Chairs are important to chess players, for obvious reasons. In this year’s match, the two grandmasters have sat — minus the odd bathroom break and so forth — for about 68 total man-hours. Magnus Carlsen testing different chairs before the match. The Staples chair that was chosen is at left. Photograph by Misha Friedman read more

Whats Behind All These Crazy NBA Stat Lines

Aside from a brief spike in the post-handcheck era, when Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Gilbert Arenas — remember how good he was at his peak? — were blowing up the scorebooks in 2005-06, we haven’t seen a spate of stat-padding close to this since 1990-91, when Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and company were putting up ridiculous numbers from Day One of the season. And even that year didn’t see as many performances crack a Game Score of 40 as there have been this season; to find more of those at this stage of a season, you’d have to go back to 1987-88.It probably isn’t too shocking that the number of big Game Score outings in a given season is reasonably correlated with the league’s pace factor.3Since 1984, there’s a correlation coefficient of 0.59 between the league’s pace and the number of individual games breaking a Game Score of 30, for instance. The more possessions per game, the easier it is to produce eye-popping stat lines — and this season has featured the NBA’s fastest pace since the early 1990s. So, given the game’s more up-tempo state, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised by this year’s explosion of big statistical games.But there’s also evidence that we’re in an age of better NBA talent than we’ve seen since the days of MJ and Sir Charles. When I borrowed FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver’s “baseball time machine” technique — which infers the amount of talent present in a given season by comparing the performances of the same players in adjacent seasons — and applied it to basketball to prove millennials weren’t ruining the NBA, I found that the past few seasons contained the NBA’s strongest talent base since the early to mid-1990s. (As measured by Box Plus/Minus, which is pace-adjusted and accounts for both offense and defense.) It was part of a trend in leaguewide quality that’s been on the upswing since the mid-2000s, as the game finally stabilized after adding seven new teams between 1988 and 2004.Lending further credence to the theory that there’s simply a wealth of good players in today’s NBA, 2016-17 has also seen its big stat-stuffing games spread across more players than past seasons have. This season, there have been 89 games with a Game Score of 30 or higher, recorded by 38 different players — an average of 2.3 big games per player. By contrast, the 1990-91 season featured an average of 2.8 big games per player, meaning the performances were more concentrated among players; the same was true in all of the big-game-heavy seasons of the late 1980s and early 1990s. This season has featured a lot of great performances, but they’re not being being hogged as much by the same small group of usual suspects.(Even Russell Westbrook, freed to summon a hellstorm of statistical vengeance in Kevin Durant’s absence, leads the league with “only” nine 30-plus Game Score games. At the same stage of the 1987-88 season, Jordan had twice as many!)Between expansion, rule changes, the advent of superteams and sweeping strategic developments (many of which owe to the increasing influence advanced analytics wields over teams), the league has undergone a lot of upheaval over the past couple of decades. It may be that this season’s jaw-dropping statistical feats are a product of all that evolution — and we could just be witnessing the beginning of a trend toward ever-crazier numbers.Check out our latest NBA predictions. As the calendar approached 2017 Saturday night, Houston’s James Harden decided to provide his own New Year’s Eve fireworks. The triple-double line he dropped on the New York Knicks was nothing short of mind-boggling: 53 points, 17 assists and 16 rebounds — the first 50-15-15 game in NBA history, the finest game of Harden’s career (according to John Hollinger’s Game Score metric, which assigns a rough value to all the good and bad things a player does on the court), and the top performance of the 2016-17 NBA season to that point.But no sooner had Harden finished that outburst than Chicago’s Jimmy Butler responded with his own bit of insane stat-stuffing: 52 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists against the Hornets on Monday night. Since it came with a better shooting percentage, fewer turnovers and more steals and blocks, Butler’s performance unseated Harden’s for the best Game Score of this NBA season so far.And it wouldn’t be surprising if Butler’s own mark fell sooner rather than later. This season has already seen 12 individual performances eclipse a Game Score of 40,1For reference’s sake, this LeBron James game against the Hornets on Dec. 10 — 44 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds — earned a Game Score of exactly 40. the same number as the previous five seasons had through this stage of the season2Specifically, through 38 team games — the same number as the league-leading Clippers, Grizzlies and Lakers had when this story’s research was conducted on Thursday. combined. As my ESPN colleague Zach Lowe wrote Thursday, scoring is up across the league this season, and it’s going hand in hand with some truly prodigious individual performances.Here’s the breakdown of the individual games that eclipsed certain Game Score milestones (30, 35 and 40) during the first 38 team games of each season since 1983-84, the first year for which Basketball-Reference.com has complete game-level box score data: read more

Firstplace Crew helped by section of festive fans

It’s a closer call than one might think.  On any given night in Crew Stadium, it’s difficult to gauge whether there is more energy being expended on the field of play or in the Nordecke, a section in the northeast corner of the stadium where the rowdiest of the Crew fans gather.These black-and-gold-clad super fans are loud and boisterous from whistle to whistle. They sing, cheer and chant for their team in words occasionally not fit for print in a family paper. They could be described as “hooligans lite.”A casual observer might mistake the section for an early Halloween party run amok. It’s not unusual for pirates, skeletons and other such oddities to be interspersed throughout the crowd.    As the Columbus Crew and their zealous fans gear up for another run in the MLS playoffs, the importance of the crowd and the Nordecke in particular isn’t lost on those associated with the team.When asked about the significance of the recent 22-game home unbeaten streak snapped by Seattle last Saturday, Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer’s thoughts turned quickly to the fans.“Mostly for me, I’m really disappointed for the fans because ever since they put together that Nordecke section, we’ve made this place a fortress, and we’ve fought hard for them,” Hesmer said. “It can’t help but be infectious to the guys on the field.”He’s not the only one who appreciates what these energetic fans bring to the table.Seattle Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid, who has been on both ends of the sidelines as the home and visiting coach, has a special perspective.“This is a tough place to play,” the former Crew coach said. “The Nordecke has been great. Their support and the atmosphere, you know you are at a soccer venue.”With a win against the New England Revolution (10-9-8) this Saturday in Gillette Stadium, the Crew (12-5-10) would become the Eastern Conference regular season champions and lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs up to the MLS Cup.A draw, which yields one point, would eliminate the Revolution from catching the Crew in the standings and leave the Chicago Fire six points back with only two matches remaining.  The tiebreaker, a combination of head-to-head matchups and goal totals, would then go to the Crew.Another achievement that is tantalizingly close for the Crew is a second straight Supporters Shield, the honor given to the team with the highest point total in the MLS at the end of the season.Columbus holds a two-point lead on the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo for the Shield, at 46-44.There are only three regular season MLS games remaining on the Crew’s schedule, including home and away contests against New England.With their most dedicated fans in tow, the Crew look to recreate the magical run of last year to the MLS championship. read more

Buckeyes return home for Big Ten matchup

The Ohio State women’s volleyball team will play in front of a home crowd for the first time in a month Friday night, fresh off a 12-game, three-week road trip. The Buckeyes completed almost their entire non-conference schedule on the road, winning nine non-conference road matches during the stretch and losing only to 16th-ranked Kentucky (1-3). They also split in Big Ten play during the trip, defeating Wisconsin (3-2) and dropping all three sets to ninth-ranked Illinois. Going 12 games without a home crowd’s support isn’t easy, but it was an early learning experience for the team. “We had to rely on ourselves to bring energy,” senior middle blocker Allie Schwarzwalder said. “We had to stick together through the good games and the bad games.” The trip may have been a success, but the Buckeyes are eager to get used to the routine of playing in front of a home crowd again. “It’s going to be great to actually sleep in my own bed before the match,” sophomore outside hitter Emily Danks said. There is no better team to return home to play than OSU’s bitter rival to the north. “Michigan is a good way to open the home season,” senior setter Betsy Hone said. “I think it will be a very good crowd.” Although back in the comfort of St. John Arena, the Buckeyes know they have their work cut out for them to navigate the grueling Big Ten schedule. “We have a goal to be Big Ten champs, the Big Ten is wide open this year,” Hone said. “It’s a long season, obviously you want to steal games on the road and protect your house at home.” This is exactly the part of the schedule that the team has been waiting for. “It’s definitely a lot more fun playing the Big Ten schools,” Schwarzwalder said. “The student sections are awesome, bigger turnout for Big Ten games always get you a little nervous.” The Buckeyes know that to compete, they have to improve week-to-week starting with defense. “Defense wins championships so we have been trying to settle down our defense and get into a rhythm,” Hone said. The Buckeyes’ experience will come in handy throughout the rest of the schedule. “This is probably one of the most experienced teams of the four years that I have been here,” Hone said. That experience plus a deep bench puts the Buckeyes in the mix to contend for the Big Ten title. “I think this is the biggest year for potential for us,” Schwarzwalder said. “We just have a lot of depth.” Friday, the Buckeyes will finally get to play in front of a scarlet-and-gray crowd, and would love to see as much of it as possible. The fact that the Buckeyes have learned to play so well on the road will be key as they continue through the season, but may spell trouble for teams welcoming the Buckeyes onto their home court. “I think we are going to do good things,” Hone said. read more

Ohio State rowing travels to Indianapolis for Big Ten Championships

The No. 4 Ohio State rowing team aims to bring home a fourth title this weekend when it heads to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championships Sunday. OSU closed out the regular season April 28, winning 10 out of 16 races against No. 2 Virginia, No. 3 Michigan, No. 14 Harvard and No. 19 Clemson. Coach Andy Teitelbaum said the Buckeyes are focused on keeping the momentum of the regular season going into the competition this weekend, and acknowledges that the competition is high. “Obviously I think it’s everybody’s goal to win a conference championship. I’m sure we’re not alone there,” Teitelbaum said. “We’re positioned quite strongly, so it’s well within our reach. But, being seeded to win a championship and winning a championship are two different things. We’re the defending champions and we’re hoping to see if we can’t go back to back.” Senior Kate Sweeney said the end of the regular season has been a reflection on the team’s hard work and dedication. “As a team, our goal is definitely to repeat what we did last year and come home with the conference title,” Sweeney said. “We feel extremely prepared; the work we’ve put in since September is really showing on the water and everyone’s really anxious and ready to get out there, but we know that the conference is particularly strong this year. There’s a lot of good teams and good boats individually that are looking for titles, so it’s not going to be an easy path, but I think that we definitely can come home with the trophy again.” Senior Emily Walsh said that a win this weekend would be a meeting of high goals the team set earlier in the season. “We started this year with very high goals and aspirations, and all of us have worked hard non-stop this year just keeping those goals in mind, and I think it would mean a lot,” Walsh said. “It would be a good testament to how much work we’ve done and how far we’ve come as a team to win again.” With their last regular season as Buckeyes finished, the seniors reflected upon the memories they have created at OSU, and what they will carry with them after they leave. “This is a really special group this year,” Sweeney said. “From September, we decided that our goal was to win a conference championship and the national championship, and the work that these girls, my teammates and the coaching staff, have put in every single day has been pretty amazing and I think just being a part of that group is a memory that I’m going to take with me when I leave, whether or not we end up winning nationals.” Walsh emphasized the special meaning of this weekend’s competition to the seniors, and shared the place this past season holds in her memory. “This has definitely been my favorite year,” Walsh said. “I think we’ve had some of the strongest crews in recent history and it’s been a great team atmosphere, a lot of seniors on the team who want to make this one count for everyone. I really enjoyed the year working with everyone, I’ll miss them a lot.” Senior Ulrike Denker said she has hopes the team will overcome the competition and perform in a way that reflects their extra work this year. “I think the training we put in this year has been the most we’ve ever put in,” Denker said. “I think it would be great to show that and to be able to perform that way. We’ve had really good memories on the water, like races we will never forget, but also off the water. Everyone put in 110 percent; everyone goes beyond just what they are supposed to do.” The Buckeyes will face Indiana, Iowa, No. 5 Michigan, No. 14 Michigan State, No. 18 Minnesota and No. 9 Wisconsin. The event is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. read more

Commentary Tips to help make the NFLs Pro Bowl more bearable

Football, like the other major American sports, has its annual all-star game, where the finest players from each conference square off against each other. While many of these other all-star games don’t resemble actual games in effort or competitiveness either, there’s something especially excruciating about the NFL’s Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl, which has been around in its current format since 1970, is met with a huge amount of criticism from fans and players every year. The complete and total lack of defense seems to be one of the primary reasons for criticism. While a shootout in football can be a lot of fun to watch, seeing the best defensive players in the NFL jog and make a minimal effort to actually stop the other team is not very thrilling. With final scores in recent years of 59-41, 55-41, and 41-34, watching long completion after long completion gets very stale. The defensive players in this game are consistently more concerned with staying healthy and enjoying a vacation in Hawaii than playing well and winning. Another point of critique is the number of undeserving players. Due to injuries, players opting not to participate, players on Super Bowl-bound teams not being able to play or faulty fan votes, the star power is not always there. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has spoken over the past year about the possibility of the Pro Bowl being eliminated if the quality does not improve. It does not seem likely that the NFL would get rid of this event, however. Even with an 8 percent drop in the ratings in last year’s game, it still drew a 7.9 rating, the highest of any of the all star games, according to USA Today. Here are some suggestions to spice up the Pro Bowl a little and make the entire event a little more bearable to watch. 1. Saturday events – Much like the NBA and MLB do, make a weekend out of the event. The NBA’s All-Star Saturday, which includes the Slam Dunk Contest and 3-Point Shootout is just as popular as the game itself, while the MLB’s Home Run Derby is a classic fixture of the all-star game. The NFL can pursue a similar tradition, showcasing its best talent. Quarterback accuracy and distance competitions, sprint contests, bench press contests and kicking competitions can all be events that are a lot of fun to watch and show off the best talent the NFL has to offer. 2. NFL awards show – The awards, such as MVP, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, etc. come out around that time. Why not make a show out of it? This can also take place on the Saturday before the game, immediately following the All-Star events. 3. Rotating locations – It’s understandable that the NFL holds the Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii as an incentive for the players to attend, but it’s time to take the show on the road. Following the model of the other sports, the Pro Bowl should be in a different city every year. That would give it a fresh spin every year and would be a thrill for fans to see their hometown players, along with the other stars of the NFL. 4. Move it back to after the Super Bowl – In 2009, the NFL decided to move the date of the Pro Bowl from the weekend before the Super Bowl, instead of the weekend after. This idea did make some sense, as many fans are burned out from football after the season ends. However, it’s pretty easy to assume that some of the best players will be in the AFC and NFC championships. Between the Ravens and 49ers, which will be competing in this year’s Super Bowl, there are 13 players on the Pro Bowl roster who will have to miss the game. That’s just too many stars to have to play the game without. 5. Make it a winner-take-all cash format – This is just to give the players some incentive to actually put some effort in. Currently, there is a small difference in the amount of winnings for the winners compared to the consolation for the losers, but this difference is just a fraction of their total salaries. Add the total amount the NFL would be giving to both the winners and losers, and give it all to the winners. It still wouldn’t be a ton of money for these players, but at the very least it would inspire them to try. 6. No more fan vote – This is a complaint seen in the all-star games of every sport, but there really is absolutely no reason why the starters shouldn’t simply be the players that deserve it. Instead of the flashy, big market names that are being voted into the starting lineup every year by the fans, have a true, unbiased coaches vote to decide who will be representing their conference. While the Pro Bowl is at the end of the day an exhibition game that will never resemble an actual NFL game, there is no reason why it needs to keep its same awful format. It is not expected that these players give it their all weeks after their season ended, but it would be nice if the NFL at least gives the fans something to enjoy. As long as there’s an NFL logo on it, people will watch, but the league needs to explore ways to reward their loyal fans a little more. read more

Mens Basketball Ohio State releases contracts of Ryan Pedon Mike Schrage and

Ohio State assistant coach Ryan Pedon speaks to the media on June 15. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Sports EditorOhio State on Friday released the contracts of its three recently hired men’s basketball assistant coaches – Ryan Pedon, Mike Schrage and Terry Johnson.Though coach Chris Holtmann received an eight-year deal, each assistant’s contract will expire after two seasons – on June 30, 2019.Pedon will make $395,000, Schrage will be paid $325,000 and Johnson will earn $300,000 in base salary, from June 14 to Aug. 31, 2018. Each assistant will be eligible to receive raises on Sept. 1, 2018 if approved by the Board of Trustees.Pedon, Schrage and Johnson will be eligible to earn additional compensation if the team performs well in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.If the Buckeyes are Big Ten champions, each assistant will earn an 8.5 percent increase to their base salary. They’ll also receive an 8.5 percent raise if the team advances to the Final Four. If Ohio State wins the national championship, each assistant will earn a 15 percent raise to their base salaries.Each assistant will also be provided eight men’s basketball season tickets and four football season tickets. The trio will individually receive a $600 per month stipend to use to cover automobile costs.Unlike Holtmann, the assistant coaches are not eligible to receive additional compensation based on the academic performance of the student-athletes. read more

Womens Hockey Ohio State outlasts St Cloud State in 22 shootout victory

Ohio State redshirt sophomore goaltender Kassidy Sauve stares down a rolling puck against St. Cloud State on Feb. 4 at the OSU Ice Rink. Credit: Magee Sprague | Lantern reporterThe Ohio State women’s hockey team (11-3-3, 8-2-3 WCHA) defeated the St. Cloud State Huskies (3-12-1, 1-9-1 WCHA) in a shootout 1-0 after tying 2-2 during regulation at the OSU Ice Rink Friday.With 8:03 remaining in the final period, Buckeyes senior forward Julianna Iafallo scored to tie the game at 2-2. The game remained scoreless after that and the Huskies and Buckeyes were headed to overtime.After the overtime period the score was still tied at two, and the game entered a shootout. After a lengthy shootout, Ohio State junior forward Grace Zarzecki scored the game-winning goal.The Buckeyes came out strong in the first period. Less than 10 seconds into the first period, freshman forward Tatum Skaggs had the initial shot on goal that was just wide of the net.“I just kept crashing the net, the goalie left a couple rebounds out,” Skaggs said, describing her early shot attempts.The two teams traded shots throughout the first period with Ohio State tallying 12 shots and St. Cloud State reaching nine shots, but neither team could score.“They played great, they were doing all the little things right, they were moving their feet on passes,” head coach Nadine Muzerall said of her teams play in the opening period.With 10:05 to go in the first period, St. Cloud State struck first when defenseman Abby Thiessen scored on a rifled slap shot that bested Buckeye goalie Kassidy Sauve and gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead.Ohio State had won both previous meetings on Oct. 20 and 21 between the two teams, both by final scores of 4-0.St. Cloud State added to its lead with just under seven minutes to go in the opening period on a power-play goal by forward Kayla Friesen, making it 2-0 Huskies.With 30.2 seconds remaining in the first period, a presumed goal by Ohio State was overturned after replay review.After a slower-paced second period, it took until nearly the end for Ohio State to score its first goal of the game. Forward Tatum Skaggs scored with just over 30 seconds to go in the second period to make it 2-1 St. Cloud State. It was Skaggs’ 12th goal of the year. Later that period, Ohio State tied the game at two, then won the shootout.“To sweep either on the road or at home in this league is very difficult,” Muzarell said, knowing that she will see the familiar foe Huskies again in less than 24 hours.Ohio State hosts St. Cloud State for the season finale Saturday afternoon at 3:07 p.m. at the Ohio State Ice Rink. read more

Football Ohio State moves up to No 6 in the College Football

Urban Meyer prepares to lead the Buckeyes onto the field prior the start of the game against Michigan on Nov. 24. Ohio State won 62-39. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorAfter defeating then-No. 4 Michigan 62-39 on Saturday, Ohio State (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) moved up to No. 6 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday. With Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Georgia filling the top four playoff spots in the latest rankings, Ohio State falls behind Oklahoma at No. 5 after the Sooners defeated then-No. 13 West Virginia 59-56 on Friday. The Buckeyes are one of four teams in the Big Ten to be represented in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, including No. 7 Michigan, No. 12 Penn State and No. 21 Northwestern. This marks the first time Ohio State has held a position in the playoff ranking outside of the No. 10 spot, a spot the team had held for the first four rankings of the 2018 season. No. 6 Ohio State will take on No. 21 Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Indianapolis. Here are the full current rankings. 1. Alabama2. Clemson3. Notre Dame4. Georgia5. Oklahoma6. Ohio State7. Michigan8. UCF9. Florida10. LSU11. Washington12. Penn State13. Washington State14. Texas15. Kentucky16. West Virginia17. Utah18. Mississippi State19. Texas A&M20. Syracuse21. Northwestern22. Boise State23. Iowa State24. Missouri25. Fresno State read more