Check out FiveThirtyEight’s Women’s World Cup predictions.“Dancing Swedes Shock USA” is how FIFA described the last World Cup result between the U.S. and Sweden in 2011. FIFA, the U.S. and the rest of the world were understandably shocked — the U.S. had never lost a group-stage game at the World Cup before. Four years and one head coach swap later, the teams meet again tonight in their second Group D games. Can Sweden shock the world again?According to FiveThirtyEight’s forecast, the chances that Sweden beats the U.S. aren’t great. The USWNT has a 58 percent chance of winning and a 22 percent chance of drawing — pregame odds not dissimilar to the team’s first game against Australia. The U.S. won its World Cup opener 3-1, but the final score doesn’t reflect its early struggle to settle the ball and connect in the final third, two things that will be important against a better Swedish team, and for the rest of the tournament (solo runs by Megan Rapinoe will take the U.S. only so far).On the other side of Group D, Sweden was also favored to win its opening match — 59 percent to Nigeria’s 20 percent — but the Swedes were outpaced and out-hustled by the Super Falcons. In that game, Sweden was shocked, drawing 3-3. Sweden coasted on an early lead, but looked flat in the second half as Asisat Oshoala came flying down the flanks and Ngozi Okobi threaded balls between the seams. Nigeria scored three times in the second half against a shaky Swedish defense. Sweden is still likely to advance from Group D (67 percent), but its mediocre result against Nigeria means it’s far from safe.Tonight’s match is huge for both teams, with Sweden looking to solidify a spot in the knockout rounds and the U.S. women looking for redemption after the last World Cup and against their former coach (who hasn’t hesitated to say how she feels about her former players). There’s a lot at stake in this game, so we’ve made another in-game cheat sheet — a guide to when U.S. fans should start to worry and when it’s safe to relax. (You can read more about the in-game win probability model we made for women’s soccer.)If the game is tied, the USWNT’s chances of defeat hold steady around 20 percent for most of the match. Like we said before, loss probability is largely fixed, so the U.S. is trading win probability for draw probability the longer the game remains tied. If the U.S. hasn’t taken the lead by about 55 minutes, a U.S. win and a draw become about equally likely, and after that a draw becomes the most likely outcome.In the event that the U.S. trails Sweden by one goal, the stress should start to kick in around 73 minutes. With that score, the probability of a U.S. loss is just slightly greater than that of a draw for most of the first half. But at about 73 minutes, the loss probability shoots up above 60 percent. If the Americans are still down by a goal then, they might need another hail-Abby.
Da’Rick Rogers – The Tennessee Volunteers have suspended wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers indefinitely for violation of team rules. He is not expected to rejoin the team this season, said UT coach Derek Dooley said following Thursday’s practice.The penalty was the result of “multiple” violations of the school’s substance abuse policy, according to an ESPN.com report.Rogers did not appear anywhere on the two-deep depth chart Tennessee released Thursday as it gears up for the upcoming Aug. 31 season opener in Atlanta against N.C. State.The All-SEC receiver paced the conference last fall with 67 receptions and finished second with his 1,040 yards. He totaled nine touchdown receptions.The Calhoun, Ga., native was a five-star recruit who has been able to contribute to the team despite off-field problems. Rodgers was arrested in 2010 after a bar brawl in Knoxville and received a two-week ban from offseason activities earlier this spring.After receiving the two-week ban, rumors began to swirl regarding Rodger’s potentially transfer to another university. He eventually returned to the team and enjoyed a solid camp, according to coaches.Earlier this month, Rogers spoke to reporters about how comfortable everyone was within the confines of the offense. “It’s so much more fun because you don’t have to think as much,” he said. “You can just come out and run the plays and really work on getting open and trying to make plays rather than worrying about where you have to be. Everybody is moving fast.”While the addition of 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior college All-American Cordarrelle Patterson and the return of standout Justin Hunter gives the Vols enough firepower to replace Rogers, his dismissal robs them of an opportunity of seeing all three receivers produce on the field together.The Volunteers finished last year 8-5, but entered 2012 as a sleeper pick in the SEC after winning six of their last eight games.
The Brooklyn Nets are expected to request permission to interview Brian Shaw now that Indiana has been eliminated from the playoffs. The Los Angeles Clippers have already contacted Shaw about their coaching vacancy, as well.The Nets have also formally requested permission to interview Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, who has been given permission to speak with other teams, NBA coaching sources said.Hollins said Monday that he doesn’t want to leave the Grizzlies, but will discuss jobs with other teams if he has “no choice.”The Nets also have contacted Jeff Van Gundy about their coaching vacancy, a league source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com.The Nets are in search of a replacement for P.J. Carlesimo, but are in no rush, people familiar with the coaching search told ESPNNewYork.com recently.
On Tuesday, we looked at the relative popularity of Major League Baseball teams as based on Google searches. That resulted in the following chart:The Yankees and Red Sox are popular? Quelle surprise! Nonetheless, sources such as Google and Facebook give us access to new types of data on fandom and provide a little more precision than the conventional wisdom.We’ve also run the numbers for the NBA, NHL, NFL and English Premier League. This data can tell us something not only about which teams are most popular, but also about the structure of sports leagues. The ground rules were the same as for our baseball figures:The data is taken from Google Trends and is based on searches worldwide for each team since 2004. The exceptions are expansion teams or relocated franchises, when the data is run from the team’s first month of operation in its new location.Google organizes individual search strings into topics — for instance, “NY Rangers” and “rangers hockey” should be counted as searches for “New York Rangers.” The process is undoubtedly imperfect, but it works well in most cases (for example, “New Orleans Hornets” seems to transition seamlessly into “New Orleans Pelicans”).All figures are taken relative to the league average; a score of 1.00 represents a team with league-average popularity.Here’s the data for the NBA:It’s not surprising to see the Lakers on top, but the extent to which they lap the field is striking: The Lakers are about as popular as the Knicks and Heat combined. (Keep in mind that this data dates back 10 years. In the past 12 months, during which time the Lakers have stunk, the Heat have been searched far more often.)But overall — despite the NBA’s reputation for being a league of superstar players and dominant franchises — the distribution between the haves and have-nots is not that different than in baseball. In the NBA, the 90th percentile team is searched for 5.3 times more often than the 10th percentile team; in MLB, the ratio is 4.0 instead. This may reflect the fact that the correlation between market size and team success has been extremely low in the NBA. (The Knicks can blow up the Internet when they do well, but they usually don’t do well.) In baseball, by contrast, the most successful teams tend to play in bigger markets, with both factors contributing to their popularity.Next up is the NHL:As FiveThirtyEight has written, Canadian NHL teams (which we’ve highlighted in the chart) are disproportionately popular. The Edmonton television market is only about one-fourth the size of the Dallas market, but the Oilers generate more than twice as much Google activity as the Stars. (Neither team has been much good over the past several seasons, so this would seem to reflect hockey’s intrinsically higher popularity in Canada.) Bring back the Nordiques!The NFL has a reputation for parity because of its strict salary cap, revenue-sharing rules and a short schedule that has teams vaulting up and down the standings every season. This parity is also reflected in its Google data:The Cowboys are the NFL’s most popular team. But they are searched for only 2.4 times as often as the league average — not as disproportionate a ratio as the Canadiens (2.9), Yankees (3.8) or Lakers (4.5) in the other sports. Meanwhile, only one NFL team — the Jaguars — has a popularity rating of 0.4 or below; that compares with six in the NBA and the NHL, and four in baseball.What about a notoriously inequal league: the English Premiership? Since the Premier League was founded in 1992, three clubs — Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea — have won 19 of its 21 championships. Those clubs and a fourth, Liverpool, also account for 70 percent of Google searches. Manchester United alone is as popular as the bottom 14 teams in the Premiership combined.Our data, incidentally, only reflects searches from those seasons in which a team actually played in the Premiership (rather than a lower division); otherwise the gap between the most and least popular teams would be even greater. But there is very little resembling a middle class in English football, with the possible exception of Tottenham Hotspur.One of us (Nate) has said that American sports leagues are socialist and European sports leagues are capitalist. It’s only a modest exaggeration.Economists use something called the Gini coefficient to measure inequality within a country. A maximally equal country (where everyone has exactly the same amount of wealth) would have a Gini coefficient of 0.00. A maximally unequal country (one person has all the money) would have a Gini coefficient of 1.00. In practice, countries range from 0.23 (Sweden) to 0.63 (Lesotho) on this scale, as based on the CIA’s World Factbook.The sports leagues we’ve studied occupy nearly as wide a range. The NFL’s Gini coefficient, based on the distribution of Google searches for each team, is 0.27. That’s similar to Sweden, Finland (0.27), Germany (0.27) and Iceland (0.28), countries with high rates of taxation and government spending.The Premier League’s Gini coefficient is 0.60, much like Lesotho, Sierra Leone (0.63) or Haiti (0.59), whose economies are extremely unequal and verge on being anarchic. The NBA (0.41), NHL (0.38) and baseball (0.36) fall in a middle range, somewhere between the United States (0.45) and Canada (0.32) on the spectrum.
Monday and Tuesday mark the end of group play in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifiers, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the knockout rounds this weekend — all vying for three spots (possibly four) at next summer’s World Cup. After the first two games, we calculated the expected wins and advancement chances for each team in the tournament, but the standings have changed since last week’s opening matches.After a slow start against Trinidad and Tobago, a more organized U.S. team routed Guatemala 5-0 in its second game, with four of its five goals coming late in the second half. The addition of Tobin Heath up top in the 4-3-3 formation proved lucrative, with Heath tallying two goals — including this sweet little flick into the back of the net:Even though the U.S.’s chances of winning the tournament nominally decreased, from 95.5 percent to 95.1 percent, the No.1-ranked FIFA team in the world is still heavily, heavily favored to win. The U.S. is also a heavy favorite against Haiti on Monday night. Haiti, meanwhile, has only an 8 percent chance of making it to the knockout rounds after losing to a 10-player Trinidad team on Friday.The more interesting matchup on Monday night is Trinidad vs. Guatemala. Trinidad, the tournament’s underfunded Cinderella, currently has an 84 percent chance of advancing to the knockout rounds. If Trinidad wins or ties against Guatemala and Haiti loses to the U.S., the Trinidadians will likely face Costa Rica in the semifinals (where even a loss would leave fourth-place Trinidad with a shot at attending its first World Cup).Below are the updated expected group points and win probabilities for every CONCACAF tournament team:Costa Rica’s upset over Mexico last week moves it to the top of Group B, despite Mexico still having a greater chance of winning the tournament — 3.1 percent compared to Costa Rica’s 1.2 percent. This is a function of the FIFA ratings (which we’re using to calculate the expected wins and advancement probabilities, and which have not been updated to reflect Costa Rica’s recent performances). FIFA currently ranks Mexico at No. 25 and Costa Rica at No. 40. Both Costa Rica and Mexico are locks for the knockout round, but Mexico’s higher rating and record against the U.S. (they’ve beaten the U.S. once and tied them once, while Costa Rica has never won against the Americans) are part of why the Mexican team has a marginally better chance of upsetting the U.S. and winning the tournament.Costa Rica will face last-place Martinique and Mexico will play against Jamaica on Tuesday in the final Group B matches. As the tournament currently stands, the most likely knockout scenarios are the U.S. vs. Mexico in one semifinal and Costa Rica vs. Trinidad in the other. The semifinal matches will be played on Friday and the championship on Sunday, and we’ll update the advancement table again before those games.CORRECTION (Oct. 24, 4:37 p.m.): A previous version of this post included a table with an incorrect column header. The table lists the chances of placing third, not reaching the third-place game.
The Ohio State football team wears throwback jerseys for their game against Nebraska on Nov. 5. The Buckeyes won 62-3. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorThe Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1, 8-1) were selected to the College Football Playoff as the No. 3 seed. OSU is the first team in the history of the playoff to make the final four without winning a conference championship. The Buckeyes will take on No. 2 Clemson in the semifinal on Dec. 31 in Phoenix in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.Alabama is ranked No. 1 and will play No. 4 Washington on Dec. 31 in the other semifinal. The winner of each semifinal will meet on Jan. 9, 2017 in Tampa for the national championship game.This is the Scarlet and Gray’s second appearance in the three years that the College Football Playoff has been implemented. In 2014, OSU was the No. 4 seed when it beat No. 1 Alabama in New Orleans, then No. 2 Oregon in Dallas to claim the 2014 National Championship.OSU had the most top 10 wins of any of the four semifinalists, with three.The semifinal game is a rematch of the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl where Clemson beat OSU, 40-35.
Coming off its best offensive performance, the Ohio State men’s hockey team (3-6-1 overall, 2-3-1 CCHA) will host the Western Michigan Broncos (5-2-1, 1-2-1) this weekend.For the first time this season, the Buckeyes will look to win the opening game of a two-game series this Friday.“They have to mature in having the want to win,” said coach John Markell about his team’s inconsistency this season. “[They need to start] bringing that attitude that they have in the third period of a Saturday night into the first period of Friday night.”Markell said he believes his roster can overcome this early obstacle and become more consistent in weekend games.“We just have to adjust to it,” he said. “This is a new team and a new season. A lot has to do with attitude and their adjustments.” The Buckeyes, fourth in the CCHA standings, will try to address these issues against the ninth-place Broncos.Western Michigan hasn’t had much success on the ice in the past decade. The Broncos haven’t finished above sixth place in the CCHA since 2000-2001. After their 14-20-7 regular season and 9-13-6 CCHA records last year, the Broncos were placed at the bottom of the heap of the 2008-2009 CCHA coaches and media polls.The Broncos couldn’t have asked for a better start of their current season as they won five consecutive games to open up their 2009-2010 campaign. Their streak ended when they traveled to Michigan State and lost 2-1.The Broncos are returning a young but experienced roster from last season. They are welcoming back senior goaltender Riley Gill, who is the all-time shutout leader at Western Michigan. The senior has a .920 save percentage and a 2.91 goals allowed average. Other notable returners from last season are junior forward Max Campbell and Junior defenseman Tyler Ludwig.“Hopefully our consistency continues to grow,” Markell said. “We are playing against a team here that is one of the best penalty team kills in the league, and they have a good power play.”Ohio State is currently ranked 11th out of 12 in the CCHA in scoring offense with 2.10 goals per game. Northern Michigan is only slightly above them at 10th with a 2.25 scoring average. The Broncos are near the top of the leaderboard regarding power plays goals, while the Buckeyes are sitting near the bottom in that category.The first matchup of the weekend will be played 7 p.m. Friday and will be followed by an 8:05 p.m. contest Saturday at the Schottenstein Center.
Football coaches at any level of the game — high school, college and beyond — will say that the success of their team is directly tied to the success of the offensive line. First-year Buckeyes coach Luke Fickell made it clear that he too subscribes to that theory at a Sunday press conference during OSU football media day at Ohio Stadium. “I think that’s where the game always starts, is up front,” Fickell said. “If we can be solid up front, that will give us a lot better chance.” Fickell also said that returning offensive linemen, including 2010 All-Big Ten senior center Michael Brewster and three-year letter winner and senior right tackle J.B. Shugarts, will be relied on heavily during OSU’s 2011 campaign. “We’re gonna put a lot of heat on those guys,” Fickell said. “To me, the Michael Brewsters, your J.B. Shugarts — those guys have been in there. They’ve been in the battle. They know what it’s like in front of 106,000 people.” Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Bollman said the linemen have performed well to this point in camp, but know there is more work to be done. “They (the offensive line) know they’re not finished,” Bollman said. “I think a lot of the older guys… they know what it takes to get ready. They know where they have to get to and they’re doing a good job. “They’re not there yet but they’re headed in that direction.” Saturday’s jersey scrimmage at the ‘Shoe saw the offensive line allow five sacks to the four OSU quarterbacks. The offensive line could also only help junior Jordan Hall, sophomore Carlos Hyde and freshman Rod Smith gain 54 yards on the ground on 24 total carries. Freshman lineman Brian Bobek said that yesterday’s performance by the offensive line was disappointing. “We didn’t run the ball as well as we would have liked to,” Bobek said. “Picking up blitzes and stuff like that — it’s something we’re going to work on a lot this week.” Bobek also said the unit has made significant progress since the start of camp and he expects OSU to eventually have the best offensive line in the Big Ten. “We’ll get it fixed,” he said. “We’ll make a lot of progress and we’ll be there.” Senior left tackle Mike Adams, a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2010, will rejoin the offensive line after serving a five-game suspension for exchanging OSU football memorabilia for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. In the interim, Adams says he has taken on the role of a student-teacher and will assist in preparing OSU’s offensive line as the season approaches. “I’m trying to help out,” Adams said. “The (offensive) line is coming along great. This is a chance to be one of the best offensive lines since I’ve been here. “I’m just worried about getting my guys ready for week one.” Week 1 arrives in just 13 days, but Fickell said he believes that the offensive line has already started to come together. “I think we’ve got a group that might be a little thin right now,” he said, “but (they) have a lot of ability.”
Perhaps the most intriguing of the four former Ohio State football players participating in Saturday’s Senior Bowl is wide receiver DeVier Posey, who played just three games during this past season as a result of suspensions for NCAA rules violations. One analyst from ESPN still thinks Posey has time to improve his draft stock, and Posey said that is what he intends to do in the days leading up to Saturday’s showcase of NFL-hopefuls. Posey, along with former Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor, defensive end Solomon Thomas, tackle Mike Adams and Daniel “Boom” Herron, were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling OSU football memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. Posey was then suspended for five additional games after it was revealed that Posey was over-compensated by former OSU football booster Robert DiGeronimo for work he did not complete during a 2011 summer job. Posey was able to make the most of the few opportunities he had during this past season, catching 12 balls for 162 yards and two touchdowns in regular season games against Penn State and Michigan, and the 2012 Gator Bowl against Florida. Given the few opportunities he had to impress during his senior season, Posey said he was surprised to get an invite to the Senior Bowl. “I definitely thought that this was a long shot and that’s why I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to go out and show what I have,” Posey said. “I just want to make the most of my opportunity right now and can’t take it for granted at all. No days off and no plays off.” Posey, along with center Michael Brewster, Adams and Herron, will compete on the Senior Bowl’s North team, which is coached by the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings’ coaching staff. The South team will be under the guidance of the Washington Redskins’ staff. Members of both teams had weight and height measurements taken Monday morning and began practice later in the day. Posey weighed in at 209 pounds and stood at 6-foot-1. In an exclusive interview with The Lantern in November, ESPN college football analyst Todd McShay said the 10 games Posey missed due to suspension won’t be overlooked by NFL scouts. But he also said Posey’s draft stock should continue to rise until the NFL Draft in April. “(The suspensions) hurt him, but he played really well (against Penn State),” McShay said. “There’s enough time between now and April for him. I’m not saying he’s going to completely make up all the ground he’s lost, but I think he’ll work his way back. I had him as a third-round prospect based off of tape from last year. He’s so athletic and he should keep getting better. As long as the off-the-field stuff is not a big concern to scouts. From the scouts I’ve talked to, it doesn’t seem to be (a concern).” Posey, who is on track to graduate from OSU in spring 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in communication, snagged 136 receptions, 1,955 receiving yards and 18 receiving touchdowns during his time at OSU. Posey has also contributed on the biggest stages when OSU competed in the postseason. During his sophomore season, the receiver dove and dragged his feet to haul in a touchdown pass from Pryor during OSU’s 27-16 Rose Bowl victory against Oregon on Jan. 1, 2010. Posey also caught a touchdown pass from Pryor during the Buckeyes’ 31-26 win against Arkansas in the 2011 Sugar Bowl. That game, along with the entire 2010 regular season, was later vacated by the university as part of its self-imposed sanctions for NCAA violations. The opportunity to strap on a piece of Scarlet and Gray equipment one final time means everything to Posey, he said. “Just to have the opportunity to represent my school one more time and put on that helmet, I feel like it’s a true blessing,” Posey said. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do, I’ve been following this game since I’ve been in high school and I always thought that if I were around for four years in college, that I would definitely want the opportunity to represent my school and play against the best of the best.” The opportunity to play against the best for Posey, Brewster, Adams and Herron will arrive Saturday when the Senior Bowl kicks off at 3 p.m. in Mobile at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game will be televised nationally on the NFL Network. Michael Periatt contributed to this story. This story is the first in a four-part profile series about the four former Ohio State football players who will compete in the 2012 Senior Bowl. Read tomorrow’s sports section in The Lantern for the second installment in the series.
Ohio State has put together the top recruiting class in the nation, but it missed out on one of its biggest targets.Five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman, the top recruit in the state of Ohio from 247Sports Composite Rankings, will sign his letter of intent and submit it to Clemson, he announced Wednesday. Carman is graded as the ninth-best recruit in the nation by 247Sports Composite Rankings, four spots higher than Ohio State’s highest recruit defensive tackle Taron Vincent, who sits at No. 13. The Fairfield, Ohio, native is also the top recruit in his home state and the top player at his position.Ohio State currently has three of the top five Ohio recruits signed with five-star running back Jaelen Gill (No. 2), as well as four-stars athlete L’Christian Smith (No. 4) and outside linebacker Dallas Gant (No. 5). Four-star weakside defensive end Tyreke Smith has not committed yet, but 247Sports has given Ohio State a 96 percent chance of landing the recruit.