YEARTEAMOPPONENTROUNDGAMEQTRODDS Win probability calculated at the end of each quarter or overtime, based on FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratingsSource: basketball-reference.com 41994RocketsSuns2312.4 32000LakersTrail Blazers3732.0 51995RocketsSuns2513.5 As the Oklahoma City Thunder learned Monday night, it’s really tough to eliminate a defending NBA champion. After opening up a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference finals, the Thunder were poised to knock the Golden State Warriors out for good — they led for almost the entirety of Game 6 before collapsing down the stretch, and they took a 6-point lead into the second half of Game 7. None of that mattered; the finishing blow was always just outside of OKC’s reach.But, man, did the Thunder come close. In fact, according to our quarter-by-quarter analysis of seven-game playoff series since 1984,1The year the NBA playoffs expanded to 16 teams. the Thunder — with a peak win probability of 95.8 percent going into the fourth quarter of Game 6 — came the seventh-closest to a series victory of any modern team that went on to lose. And in the conference finals, only the Portland Trail Blazers’ infamous collapse against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000 was more unlikely.(The least likely comeback overall? Last year’s Houston Rockets, who went down three games to one against the Clippers before storming back to win three straight games — just like this year’s Warriors team.) 82001BucksHornets2624.7 LOWEST WIN PROBABILITY MOMENT But the Dubs pulled out a dramatic win in Game 6. Their reward: a Game 7 at home that had them as 66 percent favorites to win the series.2It’s worth noting that the betting markets (as measured by Inpredictable’s in-game odds) were never quite as bullish on OKC’s upset chances as the statistical models were. Perhaps the markets were factoring in the invisible aura of Golden State’s championship experience?The rest is history. The defending champions are returning to the Finals, in a rematch against LeBron and the Cavs.Check out our NBA Finals predictions. 102005MavericksRockets1337.5 Greatest best-of-seven NBA playoff series comebacks 91997HeatKnicks2616.6 12015RocketsClippers2630.3% 72016WarriorsThunder3634.2 Here’s how we crunched those numbers: First, we gathered quarter-by-quarter line score data for every NBA playoff game since ’84 and used Wayne Winston’s method of converting point margins to win probabilities to generate a win expectancy number for each team after every quarter. (Given the data we were working with, we couldn’t go deeper to, say, the play-by-play level to find the most dire circumstances within a quarter.) We then plugged those game-level probabilities into the formulae for winning a series, which allowed us to incorporate both the results of games already played and the expected outcomes of future games based on Elo.In terms of series win probability, the Warriors rode a wild roller coaster against the Thunder. At the start, our Elo-based projections gave them a 70 percent chance to win the series. However, by the end of Game 4, that had dropped to just 17.5 percent. A solid Game 5 win helped their odds, but by Game 6 the Thunder had them on the ropes. Entering the fourth quarter of that game, the Warriors stood only a 4.3 percent chance of winning the series. 22000KnicksHeat2621.8 62013HeatSpurs4634.2 read more

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Oh, and don’t forgetThe Detroit’s Silverdome did not implode this past weekend, a state it has had a lot of practice of doing but this was the weekend that they really wanted it to implode. We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆  Join the squad. Subscribe College Football See more NFL predictions See more NBA predictions NBA All newsletters Things That Caught My EyeChapecoense make a return!Five days after the one-year anniversary of the crash that killed 71 people and nearly destroyed the Chapecoense soccer team, the rebuilt Brazilian club clinched a return to the 2018 Copa Libertadores, the very tournament that the 2016 squad was traveling to compete in the final against Atletico Nacional. The 2-1 victory over Coritba meant Chapecoense will finish eight and qualify for the group stages of the South American club competition. [Goal]Tiger Woods? Now there’s name I haven’t heard in a few days.Tiger Woods, golfer, competed in the Hero World Challenge last week mounting another return to professional golf. Despite being the 1,199th ranked golfer in the world, Tiger has been claiming headlines despite not winning a tournament since 2013. Indeed, he gets more ink than all the people who have at times held the No. 1 world ranking since 2014. Tiger Woods has been the most written about player in golf for 24 of the past 47 months. On one hand, that’s nuts, on the other hand, the whole objective of golf is to play the least amount of golf, right, so from that point of view the golfer not playing all that much golf may very well be the best, right? Right? [FiveThirtyEight]Ohio sports receives newest chip for amply chipped shoulderThe College Football Playoff selection committee was presented with a difficult decision on whether to award Big Ten champion Ohio State with the fourth playoff berth or whether to give America another Alabama-Clemson game. Going into the day, we estimated there was a 40 percent change Ohio State would get the ticket, 28 percent chance it’d go to Alabama, and a 20 percent chance it’d go to USC. Only one other time in playoff history did a team that wasn’t a conference champion get into the playoff Clemson will face Alabama and Oklahoma will play Georgia in the first games of the playoff. [FiveThirtyEight]How fortunate for RussiaRussia, the hosts of the 2018 World Cup, got into what appears to be one of the weakest groups in modern World Cup history, with Group A — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia and Uruguay — having an average Elo rating 97.8 points lower than cup average. That’s the lowest since 1986. As a result, Russia has a 74 percent chance of advancing out of the group stage. [FiveThirtyEight]Try out our fun new interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?Ingram & Kamara remain ridiculousThe tandem running backs of the New Orleans Saints have been running all over the league this season, and Sunday’s win over NFC South rivals the Carolina Panthers involved both racking up more than 100 yards from scrimmage, the fourth game this season they’ve both pulled that off. No running back duo has pulled off such a feat since Roger Craig and Wendell Tyler for the 49ers in 1985. [ESPN]Niners win and give Cleveland a path to the top pickA San Francisco 49ers win over Chicago means that Cleveland is two games ahead of San Francisco and New York Giants in pursuit of the the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL draft. By day end Sunday they had in the ballpark of a 90 percent chance of claiming the top pick. [ESPN]Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions? game!Big Number6 winsKansas City, Los Angeles Chargers, and Oakland are each 6-6, and any of them could plausibly win the AFC West. Right now Kansas City has the inside track, with a 59 percent chance, Los Angeles has a 26 percent chance and Oakland has a 15 percent chance. For each team, winning the division the only conceivable path to the postseason: They’d each be fighting the 7-5 Ravens and 8-4 Jaguars or Titans for those wildcard spots. [FiveThirtyEight]Leaks from Slack: Sunday, noonishneil:Bama!andrea:What do we think of this? I was biased in favor of Ohio despite my Michigan background but thought they’d choose AlabamaThat said all the stuff about Alabama’s consistency was surprising to me because good teams playing less good teams are going to consistently look better than good teams playing good teamsDoes that make sense?neil:Yeah, definitely. Although to Bama’s credit, they played a number of teams roughly as good as Iowa (Miss State, LSU, etc) and handled them instead of losing by 31. (Then again, they also didn’t have any signature wins like OSU had over Penn St. and Wisc…)In that sense, the committee probably did hold Ohio State’s low point against them, and downplayed their high pointsPredictions NFL See more college football predictions read more

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Embed Code FiveThirtyEight More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (Nov. 8 , 2016), we chat about Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and wonder if the numbers can tell us anything about whether the Cowboys should start Tony Romo when he is healthy again. Then we preview FiveThirtyEight’s college football predictions and Neil Paine explains why working out the selection committee’s rankings makes forecasting the playoff a little harder than usual. Finally, new FiveThirtyEight sports writer Chris Herring joins to chat about bad teams in the NBA and whether the process is finally beginning to pay off for the Philadelphia 76ers. Plus, a special Election Day quiz on the best presidents in American history.Links to what we discussed:Neil Paine says Dak Prescott is already playing as well as Tony Romo ever has.ESPN Stats & Info explains why Dak Prescott was the best quarterback in the NFL last weekend.Neil Paine explains how FiveThirtyEight is predicting this year’s College Football Playoff.You can find the site’s predictions here.Tom Ziller at SB Nation says the New Orleans Pelicans and Anthony Davis are probably destined for a sad future.If you want to check out the historical rankings of U.S. presidents that we discussed at the end of the show, you can find them here.And Julia Azari wrote about how scholarly rankings of presidents are correlated with the presidents’ years of experience. read more

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OSU junior forward Shayla Cooper (32) and Purdue sophomore center Bree Horrocks jostle for position in a game on Jan. 17 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 90-70. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Asst. Sports EditorSnow was a concern in Piscataway, New Jersey, along with the rest of the East Coast, but the Big Ten matchup between No. 7 Ohio State (14-4, 6-1) and Rutgers (12-7, 3-4) women’s basketball played on regardless.The Buckeyes and Scarlet Knights battled throughout the entire 40 minutes of play. With preparation being essential in the midst of the conference schedule, the Scarlet and Gray exhibited that they were the primed team, winning 67-58.Coming into the matchup, the Scarlet Knights led the Big Ten in scoring defense while the Buckeyes led in scoring offense, making it an intriguing battle on paper and, initially, in reality.It took a couple possessions for the Buckeyes to warm up to the Louis Brown Athletic Center environment, but once they got in a groove, they began to get back to their exemplary scoring ways.Rutgers was right behind the Buckeyes in the first quarter, forcing OSU to earn all of its points, and offensively being patient for high-quality shots. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field in the first, showcasing fantastic efficiency.With the lead changing 10 times, neither team was able to go on a run in the second quarter. The Scarlet Knights limited the Buckeyes from their bread-and-butter high-velocity transition offense, forcing them to slow the ball down and run a halfcourt set. Although OSU’s sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell was able to create her own shots, netting 14 points in the half, the scoring sensation likes to get her team involved on the fast break.Rutgers’ first-half offense was dedicated to running through its set plays and finishing in the paint. Senior forward Kahleah Copper brought in eight points in the first half, shooting 4-of-6 from the field, as well as grabbing nine rebounds. When the Buckeyes were able to protect the paint, the Scarlet Knights found sophomore guard Shrita Parker for open shots at the 3-point line. Parker ended the half with eight points also and converted both of her attempts from behind the arc.The third quarter told a different tale, as OSU picked up its scoring. With Rutgers coming out spotlighting Mitchell, the second half of the Buckeyes’ backcourt scoring duo, senior guard Ameryst Alston, took her turn in putting points on the board. Alston’s seventh point of the game surpassed the 1,900-point mark for her career, an impressive milestone for any collegiate basketball player. With 10 games still to play in the regular season, 2,000 career points is practical in her last crusade wearing scarlet and gray.Going into the closing quarter, OSU led by 17 points and did not have any intentions of letting the Scarlet Knights make their way back into the game.Applying full-court pressure to start the quarter established the Buckeyes presence and momentum, eliminating the Scarlet Knight productivity with their multiple half-court set plays.Once coach Kevin McGuff took off the full-court press, Rutgers immediately took advantage, cutting the lead down to single digits with fewer than five minutes to play in the game.Rather than a shift in momentum, the small run that Rutgers went on was simply a scare, as the Buckeyes were able to put a hold on the Scarlet Knights in the final minutes of play.Mitchell finished the game with 22 points, shooting 8-for-15 from the field in the matinee. Alston and sophomore forward Alexa Hart each accumulated 15 points, with Hart grabbing eight rebounds and Alston dishing out five assists.Rutgers had four players scoring in double digits, being led by Copper with 18 points and 13 rebounds. The sniper from 3-point land, Parker, ended with 13 points getting 12 of those points off of trey balls. Junior guard Tyler Scaife and redshirt senior Briyona Canty each chipped in 11 points.The Buckeyes are next scheduled to travel back home to Columbus looking to continue their winning streak against the Northwestern Wildcats (13-6, 2-5). The last time OSU lost was at Northwestern on Jan. 14. Thursday, the rock is set to be tossed up for tip off in the Schottenstein Center at 7 p.m. read more

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The Columbus Blue Jackets’ (3-1-0) Monday morning practice at the Dispatch Ice Haus was full of smiles, and for good reason.The 2009-10 squad returned to Ohio over the weekend after winning two out of three games in its first West Coast road swing of the season. The Blue Jackets now prepare for a hard-hitting game tonight against the Calgary Flames (4-1-0) in a 7 p.m. faceoff at Nationwide Arena.“We have a great group in this locker room, and guys were having fun out there in practice with good hard work,” said captain Rick Nash, who leads the team with six points, including two goals and four assists. “It’s a good team to be around right now. Everyone gets along together and when you’re winning it makes everything comfortable.”The Blue Jackets are showing the rest of the NHL that the franchise’s first playoff appearance a season ago was not an accident. On the road against opposing-team home openers, Columbus defeated Vancouver, 5-3, on Oct. 5 before shutting out the Phoenix Coyotes, 2-0, last Saturday in Phoenix.“The start has been great and two out of three road wins are huge,” Nash said. “We just want to keep this going and we’ll be fine. [Calgary is] a good team and they made some huge trades in the summer with signings. We are going to have our hands full, but we’ll have our home fans behind us.”One of Calgary’s main offseason additions was defenseman Jay Bouwmeester from the Florida Panthers, who was considered one of the top free-agent signings in summer 2009. Standing at 6 feet 4 inches, the native of Edmonton, Alberta, has claimed 206 points in 476 career NHL games and will look to cause problems for Columbus offensively.“It’s going to be a rough game and they are a big tough team,” forward Derek Dorsett said. “We are just going to have to match it. We have to worry about our game and go after them.”  On the defensive side, the confidence the Blue Jackets have begins with their success at goalie. Starter and 2008-09 Rookie of the Year Steve Mason is 2-1 in front of the net with a .906 save percentage, and veteran backup Mathieu Garon won in his Columbus debut against the Coyotes, claiming a shutout with 36 saves.“Having a goalie back there is like your quarterback,” defenseman Marc Methot said. “Usually the outcomes of the games rely on your goaltender and having that backup you can really trust and not worrying about when he gets in between the pipes is huge. As a defenseman, we can’t ask for more. It makes us more comfortable back there and we don’t play as tentative.”Against the power play, the Blue Jackets have killed 17 of 18 penalties.“We know we can kill penalties and a good penalty-killing team can go real far in season,” said Garon, who signed a two-year contract last July with Columbus. “I think when you can get out of situations like that without getting scored on, it’s a plus for the team and a way we can be successful.”With one of the youngest squads in the league, the Blue Jackets will need to be physical from the start and look for an early lead in tonight’s Western Conference matchup.“It’s big for our confidence,” Methot said. “We can go out there and play with a little bit of swagger and our offense can really get things going. They’re not worried about getting yelled at or making too many mistakes.” read more

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It’s almost over for four seniors on the Ohio State softball team. OSU will play its final home series of the season this weekend against Iowa and senior pitcher Mikayla Endicott, senior shortstop Alicia Herron and senior outfielders Katie Simonton and Vanessa Spears, will play their final games at Buckeye Field in scarlet and gray. The foursome has started a combined 158 games this season and helped the Buckeyes to a 28-20 overall record, including a 10-6 record at home. Herron has been a consistent starter for OSU since she began her career in 2009. The speech and hearing science major has started 206 games in her four years as a Buckeye and is a career .368 hitter with 47 home runs and 173 RBI and plans to join the team at the end of the Buckeyes’ season. She said her experience at OSU has been a great one and feels like her time as a Buckeye went by quickly. She feels lucky to have had such great people surrounding her and said that made it easy for her to succeed. “It’s been a really great four years. It’s gone by very fast,” Herron said. “I’ve made great friends, I’ve met really great people. I’m just really thankful and grateful I got to be a part of an institution like the Ohio State University.” Endicott has been the No. 1 pitcher on the staff for OSU this season in her only year as a Buckeye. The transfer from Oregon has started 25 games and compiled a 16-12 record with 165 strikeouts. Endicott aspires to be a Division I pitching coach some day and will be a part of the OSU team next season as a graduate assistant while she continues working on her degree in sociology. Although she spent three years as a Duck before joining the team this year, Endicott said she feels as if she’s never played anywhere else. “My experience here has been great. I feel like I’ve played here all of my years of college,” Endicott said. “The girls and I have a really good relationship. I’ve enjoyed my short period here in Columbus.” Spears has been a mainstay in left field this season for OSU. She started all 48 games this year, and is hit .309 with a team-high 10 doubles from the second spot in the lineup. Spears said she hasn’t fully considered what it would be like playing at her last game at Buckeye Field. “I really haven’t even thought about it,” Spears said with a smile. “It’s not really real until it actually happens, but I’m obviously gonna be sad that it’s over. It’s a good field to go out on, that’s for sure.” Simonton has made her way back onto the field in 2012 after missing the entire 2011 season with an Achilles tendon injury she suffered during fall practice. The Dublin Scioto graduate has started 39 games in right field for the Buckeyes and hit .295 in her final season. Simonton, like the other seniors, said she has enjoyed her time at OSU and is sad to see it go. She said being around her teammates and being able to get to know about them and their lives is something that she will always cherish. “Getting to know a whole different group of girls every year is something you can’t really do anywhere else,” Simonton said. “Getting to meet a whole bunch of different people from different places who have different life experiences is probably what I’ll miss the most.” Coach Linda Kalafatis said this group of seniors has been through almost everything during their collegiate careers and seen good times and bad. “They’ve seen some of the best years in Ohio State softball history and maybe one of the worst last year,” Kalafatis said. “They’ve run the gamut and they personally certainly have all been through some real tragedies and some real obstacles and injuries. It’s part of the business.” Kalafatis described the exit of the seniors and the addition of the incoming freshmen next year as a “rebirth” of sorts. She acknowledged that losing the seniors is part of being a coach, but that it’s still tough to deal with. “It’s always hard to believe when you get to this point that it will be the last games on these fields for the seniors,” Kalafatis said. “It will be very difficult to see them go.” read more

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Redshirt-junior opposite Andrew Lutz (11) strikes the ball during a match against Grand Canyon Feb. 21 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-0.Credit: Jonathan McAllister / Lantern photographerWill the third time actually be the charm for the Ohio State men’s volleyball team?The Buckeyes are preparing to redeem themselves in what be their third match against Penn State in 2014, after falling to the Nittany Lions in previous matches 3-0 and 3-1.“The past two matches we played them this season we lost, one in Hawaii and one at their place,” redshirt-freshman middle blocker Driss Guessous said. “The last match was very close and could have gone either way. Speaking for me personally, I have been looking forward to getting another shot at them since that last match.”OSU played the Nittany Lions Jan. 11 in Hawaii and Feb. 5 at State College.Coach Pete Hanson said he hopes the team has learned from its previous mistakes made against Penn State, and will improve on them in Friday’s match.“We had a chance to win some of those games and perhaps win the match. We just didn’t make enough of the right types of plays at the end of the games, and again those are lessons that these young guys just have to keep going through and learn over time, and hopefully we have learned some of them and are going to be better,” Hanson said. “It will be a competitive match.”Redshirt-junior setter Peter Heinen said the Buckeyes have a solid understanding of how the Nittany Lions play.“We have seen this team play many times the past couple of years and know their tendencies very well,” Heinen said. “We just need to be able to execute our scouting report and play hard with a lot of energy.”Heinen said the Nittany Lions’ style of play is comparable to OSU’s.“We are both hard-hitting teams,” Heinen said. “So it will be an exciting match to watch as both teams work to outhit each other.”The coaches and players on each team know each other well, which leads to an intense rivalry, Hanson said. Penn State assistant coach Colin McMillan is a former Buckeye player who was coached by Hanson.The players on both teams also have had history competing with or against each other since their early volleyball careers, which makes this rivalry even stronger, Guessous said.“They (Penn State) are able to recruit great players and a lot of guys that we have played with or against in high school,” Guessous said. “That also contributes to the heightened atmosphere whenever we play those guys, because for a lot of us, it’s personal.”The Buckeyes are preparing for another tough match this week, after losing to No. 15 IPFW 3-2 Wednesday. However, OSU will not have a problem playing with high energy and confidence Friday despite the loss, Guessous said.“The match is going to be a grind. It is going to come down to which team has more desire, hustle, and a little bit of luck. This is one of those matches where it is easier to get fired up to play and I think that will be reflected through the effort we show in our plays,” Guessous said.The match is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. at St. John Arena. read more

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Redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) runs the ball during a game against Cincinnati on Sept. 27 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 50-28, behind 409 yards of total offense from Barrett.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorWhen the Ohio State football team took the field to open the season, Urban Meyer didn’t know what to expect from his quarterback.But five weeks and four Big Ten awards later, the OSU coach said he has a better idea of what redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett’s development has been like.“J.T. continues to be a very good distributor, completing a high percentage of his balls, and really we’re giving him more and more responsibility about getting us in the right play, which is a big part of what the quarterback’s expected to do,” Meyer said after OSU’s 50-28 win against Cincinnati on Saturday.On Tuesday, Meyer said his comfort level with Barrett under center is “night and day” from what it was when the Buckeyes took the field against Navy on Aug. 30, but a day earlier, he had made it clear Barrett’s play hasn’t earned him a permanent spot.Senior quarterback Braxton Miller — who is out for the season with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder — is expected to return to the Buckeyes as a fifth-year senior in 2015. And Meyer put any potential talk of a quarterback controversy to rest with one simple phrase: “Braxton is our quarterback.”“To be fair to Braxton, Big Ten Player of the Year,” Meyer said Monday. “Good to know we’ve got both of them.”But Meyer isn’t dismissing Barrett’s work. Moments before saying he is committed to Miller as the Buckeyes’ quarterback, Meyer stressed the confidence he has in Barrett this season.“I love J.T., he’s fun to coach,” Meyer said. “He’s a guy that has a great demeanor on the sideline. He’s a student of the game.”Meyer hasn’t been the only person to praise Barrett’s play.Sophomore H-back Dontre Wilson — who was part of the same recruiting class as Barrett coming out of high school — said the young quarterback is “playing very well” so far this season.Senior quarterback Braxton Miller, who is out for the season with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, arrived at Ohio Stadium for a game against Virginia Tech dressed in a suit before spending the game in the press box and on the sidelines. OSU lost, 35-21.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor“I always knew he had it in him because he’s such a great leader,” Wilson said after the win against the Bearcats. “He works really hard, and now, he’s just perfecting his craft.”On top of receiving a total of three Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards and one Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award, Barrett has reaped praise from teammates and the coaching staff alike, along with some constructive criticism.After that Cincinnati game — in which Barrett gained 409 yards of total offense, good for the second-best output in school history — Meyer said the Wichita Falls, Texas, native still has room for improvement as a field general that was noticeable on the field. The third-year OSU coach said Barrett needs to do a better job communication in order to prevent penatlies from the offensive line.Meyer said the line was having trouble hearing Barrett’s cadence, which led to multiple false starts and therefore lost yardage against Cincinnati.“I kept screaming ‘Peyton Manning’ at him, because when I study or just get to watch games, Peyton Manning’s still as good as I’ve ever seen as far as taking control,” Meyer said after the game. “And (Barrett’s) not there yet, so (he needs to) take control of the offense.”Despite the praise and criticism, as well as Meyer’s stated commitment to Miller, Barrett is still set to have the rest of the season to prove his merit as OSU’s starting quarterback.The Buckeyes’ next game is scheduled for Saturday against Maryland in College Park, Md at Byrd Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon. read more

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Thad Matta (center) instructs his team during a timeout of a game against North Dakota State Dec. 14 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 79-62.Credit: Lantern file photoThad Matta has had rosters led by standout freshmen and teams led by hardened veterans. This season, he’ll have a mix of both.The Ohio State men’s basketball coach is entering his 11th season at the helm in Columbus as the team boasts a roster of four true freshmen, one redshirt-freshman and six seniors.Matta sat down with The Lantern on Wednesday and discussed the task of melding together a team with a strong freshman class and experienced veterans on the same roster.‘Still early to tell’ who leaders will beA year ago, Matta knew exactly who the leaders of his team would be. Then-senior guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. had been key contributors and leaders on the team for multiple seasons and were handpicked go-to guys off the court.This season, the Buckeyes’ roster still boasts seniors who have been contributors — guard Shannon Scott and forward Sam Thompson, for example — but Matta said it’s still too early to say exactly who will step into leadership roles this season.“Just in terms of how the season works and once you get into practice and you hit the tough days, you’re going through a stretch where it’s the fourth practice in four days, you’ve been going hard, at what point, what guy steps forward and says ‘Hey, this is what we’ve got to do, this is how we’ve got to do it’?” Matta said.But the former Xavier University coach said he still has an idea of who exactly could step up this season.“With that said, I think that Shannon and Sam have been guys that have played huge roles in this program,” Matta said. “I would expect all of our seniors to be — in terms of leadership — supplying some (leadership), but obviously we have to grow that as the season continues.”Outside of Scott and Thompson, the other four seniors on the OSU roster include two centers, a transfer playing his first and only season for the Buckeyes and a walk on who Matta said “may come back another year.”Forward Anthony Lee transferred to OSU from Temple during the offseason, but will be eligible to play right away because he has already graduated college. Fellow forward Jake Lorbach is a walk on who has never made an impact for the Buckeyes, and would not be expected to step into a leadership role.The two centers — Amir Williams and Trey McDonald — are set to battle it out for playing time, but Matta said both could still find their ways into leadership roles on the team.“Trey’s personality lends him to be a leader,” Matta said. “I think from Amir, I’m hoping he’ll come to the forefront in terms of saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got to do my part, I’ve got to help these guys and get them to understand how we do things here.’”Thompson and Scott have the most experience for the Buckeyes, having played in 111 and 108 games, respectively, while Williams has donned a scarlet and gray uniform 101 times.Freshmen “have the potential”Even with veterans leading the way on the floor, Matta said his freshmen have a chance to step into roles as leaders.He added most freshmen “lead by example,” and singled out guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Jae’Sean Tate as players setting the standard within their class.“(Russell) likes to take command of his group and get guys where they need to be,” he said. “I think that’s just his winning mentality. I think a guy like Jae’Sean Tate is a guy who’s going to play so hard, he has so much energy, that you hope that permeates throughout the team in terms of, ‘Boy, he’s so productive.’”Apart from Russell and Tate, the freshman class consists of center David Bell, forward Keita Bates-Diop and redshirt-freshman guard Kam Williams.Matta singled out Bates-Diop as a player he hopes could step into a leadership role, but has room for improvement.“He understands leadership. We just need him to be a little more vocal at times,” Matta said.While he said he has some ideas of their leadership qualities, Matta said he goes into seasons without too many specific expectations for his freshman classes. He said he wants to take time to watch this year’s class before making judgments about their on-the-court status.“I go into it with a very broad vision of what I think they’re going to be,” he said. “I want to see their play over the course of time.”Matta said one of the keys will be to watch how the young players respond to both success and adversity in practice.“A guy has a great practice, does he back it up with a really good practice?” he said. “Guy has a bad practice, does he have the toughness to bounce back and have a really good outing the next day?”Even though he’s still in the evaluation process, Matta said each new player on the team has done something to make him take notice.“All the new guys have done things that have caught my eye in terms of what they’re going to be able to bring to this basketball team,” he said. “Now getting it consistently is going to be the key for any freshman.”The Buckeyes’ season is set to begin Nov. 14 when they host the University of Massachusetts-Lowell at the Schottenstein Center. 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Ohio State redshirt senior receivers Parris Campbell (21) and Johnnie Dixon (1) celebrate after Campbell records his second touchdown reception of the day. Ohio State defeated Tulane 49-6. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo EditorFrom the moment Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer took the podium in his Monday press conference, one thing was on his mind. It was not his return to the sideline or Saturday’s 49-6 win against Tulane. It was No. 9 Penn State. Through four games this season, Meyer sees the same quality team even with the Nittany Lions having lost both running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Mike Gesicki to the NFL after last season. “We don’t see much difference at all,” Meyer said. “Scheme’s very similar to what they’ve done in the past and obviously the quarterback’s the guy that makes it go.”Along with preparing for redshirt senior quarterback Trace McSorley, Meyer said Ohio State will have to prepare for the atmosphere when the Buckeyes travel to State College, Pennsylvania, on Saturday. Meyer said the atmosphere at Beaver Stadium is “one of the tops in the country” and the fans are like the ones he sees in Ohio Stadium. “It’s just a difficult place. Certainly one of the top five stadiums to play in, hard to play in,” Meyer said. “Very loud and the fans are into it. And very good environment. Great environment.”Meyer said Ohio State has the leadership with several returning starters to lead the players into what many consider as a hostile road game. “It’s essential,” Meyer said. “You don’t win that game without good leadership.”Nick Bosa injury updateMeyer said Monday that junior defensive end Nick Bosa will not play against Penn State on Saturday. “Nick Bosa is still not ready,” Meyer said. “It’s going to be a few more weeks, but we expect him back.” Meyer said last week that Bosa would miss the Tulane game after undergoing surgery to repair a core muscle injury. The timetable on his return has still not been announced. In Monday’s press conference, the head coach said he has conversations with Bosa’s family about his recovery affecting his future, with many considering him as a top-10 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. “We’ve already had those discussions a little bit. But that’s down the road when he becomes healthy again,” Meyer said. “Those conversations will be had, but absolutely. Not that you treat anybody different than another player. I want to make sure that’s clear. But that’s a real conversation that we’re going to have.” Meyer also said Monday that redshirt junior defensive lineman Robert Landers and redshirt junior running back Mike Weber will play against Penn State on Saturday. read more

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