Of course, we could do even better if we set out to create a Frankenstein-style ultimate leadoff man for the modern game. Build a player with Dustin Pedroia’s supernatural ability to put bat on ball, Santana’s plate patience, Brian Dozier’s 40-homer power stroke and Dee Gordon’s blazing speed, and you’d have a leadoff hitter who’d add nearly 50 runs (or 5 wins) to his team’s ledger at the top of the lineup, relative to average.That player doesn’t really exist yet. (Trout doesn’t lead off for the Angels anymore, but even if he did, he wouldn’t quite be the perfect leadoff guy because he’s also “only” an average contact hitter.) But with the evolving role starting to favor players like Schwarber and Santana, it might only be a matter of time before the perfect combination of skills comes along — and that player has a manager willing to break with convention and pencil him in atop the lineup card.Upset of the week (according to our Elo ratings)Your browser does not support iframes.April 15: Pirates (31 percent) defeat Cubs. With Jake Arrieta (who at the time was ranked by Elo’s pitcher ratings as the 11th-best starter in baseball) leading the top-ranked Cubs at home against the No. 19 Pirates and Tyler Glasnow (the seventh-worst starter in MLB), Chicago appeared to have a big advantage over Pittsburgh. That edge only widened when the Cubs took a 6-2 lead into the sixth inning — FanGraphs gave Chicago a 92 percent chance of winning at the top of the frame. But the Pirates scored 5 seventh-inning runs, including a 3-run homer by Andrew McCutchen, off Brian Duensing and Pedro Strop, then held off the Cubs late to secure the improbable victory.TroutBeatMike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels isn’t merely the best player in baseball — he could very well finish his career on the short list of greatest players ever. He’s so consistently good that sometimes it’s easy to take him for granted. As a result, I’ll be using this column to drop occasional updates reminding us that we might be watching history being made in Anaheim.For our first TroutBeat, The Ringer writer (and my former colleague) Ben Lindbergh points out that last week Trout was already leading the American League in wins above replacement, a distinction he’s held in each of the past five seasons: RKNAMETEAMCONTACTWALKSISO. POWERRUNNINGRUNS PER GAME ADDED 2016 PERCENTILE 10Kyle SchwarberCHC8959369+0.02 Predicted runs per game added based on a regression between leadoff hitters’ percentile ranks in each category and team runs per game from 2002 to 2016.Source: FanGraphs 3Brian DozierMIN53609987+0.14 5Jean SeguraSEA85186693+0.10 8Adam EatonWSN78613983+0.03 6Jose ReyesNYM69526397+0.08 Today’s leadoff men draw more walks and hit for substantially more power than they did in previous generations — which, unsurprisingly, leads to better production (i.e., a higher on-base plus slugging rate) than in the past. But they’ve also changed how they approach each at-bat: Relative to overall trends in the game, leadoff hitters now launch more fly balls and hit to the opposite field less.Even that fabled top-of-the-order speed is on the decline, with leadoff men stealing 21 percent fewer bases per trip to first base (again, after adjusting for league average) than they did just 15 years earlier. Clearly, our mental image of a speedy slap-hitter leading off is as outdated as a 25 cent hot dog.But if our vision of the ideal leadoff hitter needs updating, who are today’s leadoff prototypes? Schwarber is a good guess — he showed a mix of power and patience as a rookie in 2015 (he missed practically all of 2016 with an injury), and speed is no longer as much of a requirement for the role. But he’s not perfect.To find out who is perfect, I ran a regression between a leadoff hitter’s playing attributes2Specifically, his seasonal percentile rank among all MLB hitters in strikeout rate, isolated power, walk rate, speed score and defensive WAR, over a sample that included the 2002 through 2016 campaigns, with more weight applied to recent seasons. and his team’s runs scored per game (adjusted for the stadium they were scored in). According to that, the ideal current leadoff man3Among current 2017 leadoff hitters, based on percentile grades from last season (or 2015 in the cases of Schwarber and A.J. Pollock, both of whom were injured in 2016). is Cleveland’s Carlos Santana. Leading off for the Tribe while splitting time between designated hitter, first base and right field, the 210-pound Santana doesn’t look like the traditional platonic ideal of a leadoff man, and he stole just 5 bases last season. But his peculiar blend of abilities — great contact skills, tons of walks and the power to drill 34 home runs — is associated with about 30 extra runs (or 3 more wins) over a 162-game season, tops of any leadoff man in baseball. 7Ian KinslerDET75297382+0.09 1Carlos SantanaCLE86968946+0.18 2A.J. PollockARI87547096+0.15 Welcome to Full Count, our new(!) weekly baseball column. Have anything you want me to write about? Email or tweet me at [email protected] or @Neil_Paine.Rickey Henderson. Kenny Lofton. Ichiro Suzuki. Kyle Schwarber?Schwarber may not play exactly like those other great leadoff hitters, but he’s been at the front of the Cubs’ lineup in every game he’s played in so far this season, and he currently ranks third in MLB among leadoff hitters in on-base percentage and fourth in OPS. With numbers like those, he’s shaping up to easily replace departed No. 1 hitter Dexter Fowler, who signed a big contract to hit leadoff in St. Louis this past offseason.Schwarber personifies a strange new trend sweeping through lineup cards across baseball: The leadoff guy who bears no resemblance to a prototypical leadoff guy. This modern leadoff man hits for big power, isn’t afraid to strike out and rarely steals bases. He’s essentially a middle-of-the-lineup hitter who happens to hit first — the next rung on the evolutionary ladder of lineup construction.Traditionally, a top-of-the-order hitter was the master of small ball. He needed loads of speed, with a good batting average and maybe a good enough eye to draw some walks. Power was completely extraneous; in 1980, the average team got 46 steals and only 7 home runs from its leadoff slot. But then came Henderson, widely regarded as the greatest leadoff hitter ever. Henderson certainly swiped a lot of bags — he easily holds the all-time record — but he also held the record for walks before Barry Bonds came along, and he even bashed 297 career home runs. Henderson could do it all, and in the process he changed the idea of what a leadoff hitter could be.At the tail end of Henderson’s heyday, early adopters of sabermetrics confirmed that it was great to have walks and power at the top of the lineup. They were less sure about speed, though. Rather than trotting out speedy leadoff hitters who get thrown out stealing, the numbers suggested that teams should instead emphasize on-base percentage at the top of the lineup.In the mid-to-late 1990s, those two philosophies on leadoff hitters drove teams to sometimes ask traditional leadoff men to do more than they would have otherwise. Doug Glanville was one of those players who had speed but lacked power and patience.“I distinctly remember a lot of consistent pressure to be the guy that sees a lot of pitches, gets on base and takes the walk,” Glanville told me. He ended up having MLB’s 13th-most hits from the leadoff slot during the span of his playing career, but it wasn’t easy trying to be the leadoff man his era was starting to demand.“I wasn’t a big on-base [percentage] guy — I was more of a swing-and-contact guy who used my speed,” Glanville said. “I think the conversation during my time was about getting on base. I used to get stopped on the streets of Philadelphia — because Philly fans are no joke,” Glanville said. “They’d be like, ‘Hey, you gotta get on base more, man!’ And talk radio [said the same thing]. It was a constant struggle.”For all of Henderson’s influence, though, teams weren’t yet asking leadoff men to hit for power — if anything, they were discouraging it. “There was an emphasis on the type of swing and your approach,” Glanville told me. “You wanted to go the other way, be able to use the whole field, spray the [ball], hit the ball on the ground … I was a three-hole hitter in college, but early on I [realized] I’ve got to make this adjustment to use my speed, focus a lot more on contact and use the whole field.”But as statheads have proliferated throughout MLB front offices, the leadoff role has shifted even further from its traditional archetype. Teams now realize that it’s important to place their best hitters at the top of the order, giving more plate appearances to players who both get on base and slug the ball. (A team can also grease the wheels of offense slightly more by emphasizing on-base skills at leadoff and power in the No. 4 hole, with the top overall hitter slotting in at No. 2.)Even if we only go back to 2002,1That’s the earliest season of data available in FanGraphs.com’s splits leaderboard tool. we can see how the leadoff philosophy has changed: The best leadoff hitters for the modern game This deserves more research, but I took a quick first pass at it using our MLB Elo ratings, which account for the quality of each team in a given matchup, as well as the pitchers starting each game and other factors such as home-field advantage and travel distance.I collected that data for 4,277 pairs of doubleheader games during the expansion era (1961-present), and fed it into a regression that tried to predict the result of the second game of each double feature. And after controlling for those ordinary factors that go into the outcome of any game (team ratings, starters, etc.), the winner from earlier in the day didn’t have a statistically significant edge in the later game.In other words, although what happens in the daytime half of a doubleheader can affect lineup choices at night, it appears that (for all intents and purposes) the two halves of a twin billing can be treated like two independent games. 4Charlie BlackmonCOL80308683+0.14 9Dexter FowlerSTL36965991+0.02 Reader Mail: Doubleheader hangover?Twitter follower Natalie Troxel asked:
More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS Kobe’s mind can handle the grind, but his body’s done. Hot Takedown Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, our podcast where the hot sports takes of the week meet the numbers that prove them right or tear them down. On this week’s show (Dec. 1, 2015), we say farewell to Kobe Bryant, who’s retiring at the end of the season. With one week of regular-season games to go, we take a look at the ever-shifting scenarios of the College Football Playoff. Plus, we dive into the Major League Soccer playoffs and whether they’re structured in the fairest way. And a Significant Digit on the popularity of the U.S. women’s national soccer team in the video game FIFA 16.Stream the episode by clicking the play button, or subscribe using one of the podcast clients we’ve linked to above. Video, bonus audio and links to what we discussed are here:Kirk Goldsberry on the end of Kobe Bryant.Kobe’s parting ode to basketball.Neil Paine on why Michael Jordan was better than Kobe Bryant.FiveThirtyEight’s college football analysis.An academic study on playing the second leg at home in soccer.Significant Digit: 23. The U.S. women’s national team is the 23rd most popular squad in FIFA 16. If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong.
After a four-game losing streak dropped the inexperienced Ohio State men’s basketball team to 2-4, it is beginning to recover, as the Buckeyes got back to .500 on Tuesday night after dispatching Air Force 74-50 at the Schottenstein Center. It might not have been a flawless performance or come against the nation’s top team, but OSU coach Thad Matta will take whatever his team can get.“Any win is a good win,” he said. “We played tonight like we practiced, and we haven’t always done that.” Leading the way for OSU was junior forward Marc Loving with game highs for both points and rebounds, having 18 and 10, respectively, for his second straight double-double.In all eight games so far in 2015, Loving has scored in the double-digits. “My teammates are finding me in pretty good positions,” Loving said, “and I am just able to take advantage of those opportunities.” Matta had high praise for the way Loving was able to move past a rough jump-shooting night to still find ways to score. “I thought he did a great job playing inside and out,” the coach said. “He can really shoot the ball but he did a great job of playing inside and out tonight.”Complementing Loving for OSU was freshman guard JaQuan Lyle with 12 points and sophomore forward Jae’Sean Tate with 11 points. Lyle tacked on five rebounds, while Tate added four. Turnovers have haunted Lyle throughout the year, but the freshman played well Tuesday, coughing it up just three times, while returning to a double-digit point total after two games under 10.Lyle said for him, the biggest thing he is trying to improve upon is not always trying to make the “home run play.” “(The coaches) try and get me to make what they call ‘singles,’” Lyle said. “I think tonight, all three turnovers were just silly mistakes. Just making the simple play, that’s what I need to do.”For Air Force (6-3), the night was a turbulent one, to say the least. The Falcons struggled mightily on offense, shooting just 33 percent and turning the ball over 18 times. The Falcons were led by sophomore guard Trevor Lyons, who put up 13 points while also hauling in six rebounds. Arguably one of the few positives for the visitors was that freshman Danny Hummer, an Upper Arlington native, checked in during the second half when the game was out of reach. The 6-foot guard connected on a pair of free throws for his first career points. The Buckeyes jumped out of the gates focused early on, connecting on their first four field goals, fueled by efficient ball movement, to go up 9-2. Powered by seven points from Lyons, the Falcons climbed back into it over the next four minutes to trim the deficit to just 13-11. The Buckeyes hit a minor rough patch offensively, due in part to odd shot selection, including a midrange jumper redshirt sophomore center Trevor Thompson, but it proved inconsequential.OSU slowly found itselves pulling away from the Falcons after the visitors roped together a 7:57 stretch without connecting on a field goal. Instead of making shots, Air Force turned the ball over five times to find itself trailing 22-12. A jump shot from junior forward Hayden Graham put an end to the shooting slump — but only for a moment. Lyle hit a 3-pointer to make it 25-14 but the Falcons quickly reverted right back to the horrific shooting and poor ball security, missing eight consecutive field goals and turning the rock over thrice. OSU took advantage of the putrid performance by Air Force, connecting on five of its next eight shots from the field to finish the half on a 15-2 run, capped off by a running 3-pointer from Loving as the halftime buzzer sounded. The Buckeyes trotted into the locker room for halftime leading 37-16, but even so, it wasn’t the flawless effort the score might have indicated. OSU didn’t play all that well, it was just that Air Force was worse. The Scarlet and Gray shot just 47 percent, going 16-of-34 from the field, but the Falcons countered that with a measly 22 percent on 5-of-23 shooting, while also turning it over 11 times. “We had some opportunities to convert and we didn’t convert in transition,” Matta said of the offense not shooting very well. “The looks we got, I thought, were pretty decent shots. We had a couple ill-advised, but we finally found our rhythm a little bit there after the first timeout in the second half.” As Matta noted, the Buckeyes played a much more efficient second half, spreading the ball around nicely, which helped the home team maintain control throughout the final 20 minutes despite a better showing from the Falcons. Air Force more than doubled its offensive output from the first half, scoring 34 points on 12-of-28 shooting. Unfortunately for the upset-seeking Falcons, the hole they dug in the first half was too deep to dig out of. “I think we’ve gotten better each and every game this year,” Lyle said. “And after each game, we’ll build off that. I think we’re a better basketball team.”Ten different Buckeyes saw the floor on Tuesday, including walk-on guard Joey Lane, and each of them scored. One player who did not see action for OSU was center Daniel Giddens. After missing Saturday’s game against Virginia Military Institute with illness, the freshman was expected back in the lineup. However, a hamstring injury kept him out of the lineup mainly for precautionary reasons, Matta said. The Buckeyes will look to improve to a winning record for the first time since they were 2-1 when they square off against Connecticut on Saturday for their first true road game. Tip-off is set for noon in Storrs, Connecticut.“That’s going to be a big test,” Lyle said. “And hopefully we’ll be ready.” Air Force sophomore guard Trevor Lyons (20) attempts a shot during a game against Ohio State on Dec. 8 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won 74-50. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor
GLENDALE, Ariz. – No. 7 Ohio State scored early and often, using a season-high 28-point first half on its way to dispatching No. 8 Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, 44-28, to finish the 2015 season with a 12-1 record.“I’m glad I can leave this great university on that type of note,” junior running back Ezekiel Elliott said.Elliott tied the Fiesta Bowl record with four touchdown runs, finishing with 149 yards on 27 carries in the final game of his collegiate career before enrolling in the NFL draft. Redshirt sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett, making his bowl-game debut, was 19-of-31 for 211 yards, and ran for 96 more.The game could not have started much better for the Buckeyes, who said they were looking for a quick start to the game.Notre Dame (10-3) received the ball first, but a quick three-and-out handed the ball to OSU. Just over three minutes later, OSU took a 7-0 lead.The eight-play, 80-yard drive was highlighted by redshirt senior H-back Braxton Miller, who made an early impact in his final collegiate game with 36 yards in the series. A rush by Elliott got OSU inside the 5-yard line, then the St. Louis native finished the job two plays later with a short score.“That was kind of our challenge,” Meyer said. “I tucked every guy in last night. I just remember looking them all right in the eye and saying, ‘We need a fast start.’”The same pattern then held on the second series of drives. Notre Dame gave up the ball quickly, and OSU found the end zone with nearly the same speed. Barrett completed passes of 27 and 15 yards, with the latter going to redshirt junior receiver Michael Thomas in the end zone for the Buckeyes’ second touchdown.“That’s what we strive to do, is definitely dominate the line of scrimmage,” Barrett said about how the offense was able to move fluidly. “Those guys definitely did that, which opens up our whole offense.”It seemed like the nightmarish start was settling in as the reality for the Fighting Irish, especially after their 2015 Butkus Award winner for the nation’s top linebacker, Jaylon Smith, left the game on the second OSU drive with what Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly called “a significant knee injury.” That was compounded on their next drive when redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer threw an interception into the hands of redshirt junior safety Tyvis Powell at midfield.But that interception was taken away, as OSU junior defensive end Joey Bosa was flagged for targeting on the play after leading the tackle with the crown of his helmet. The call was upheld after a review, ending the three-year college career of Bosa, who has announced his intentions to leave for the NFL.“Oh my goodness, that was a kidney shot,” Meyer said. “I guess it was a proper call. Hit him below (the neck), but it was leading with the crown of the helmet.”While that bit of good fortune proved to be short-lived on that drive with a punt in OSU territory, the Fighting Irish’s next drive, following OSU’s first punt, was the one put them on the board.Notre Dame orchestrated a 13-play drive to march 70 yards down the field and bring the score to 14-7. Kizer was responsible for 50 yards on the drive, which was aided by a 15-yard pass interference call, and freshman running back Josh Adams finished it off with a three-yard score.But the Buckeyes were right there to answer, with Elliott and Barrett combined for 59 rushing yards on a 62-yard drive to grab the 14-point lead back. Elliott finished the drive with his second short rushing touchdown.Then after a Notre Dame three-and-out, the Buckeyes put the finishing touches on the first-half beatdown with a third Elliott goal-line touchdown to bring the score to 28-7. However, with the defense perhaps relaxing, the Golden Domers marched down the field, scoring their second touchdown on a Kizer run just before the end of the half to make it 28-14 at the break.“It happened so quick,” redshirt sophomore linebacker Darron Lee said of the late score. “They were nickel-and-diming us on that drive.”Barrett had 185 yards in the first half, including 127 through the air on 10-of-15 passing. Elliott added 55 yards and his three scores on the ground, and also chipped in a 30-yard reception on the final OSU drive of the half.The Buckeyes outgained Notre Dame 280-181 after 30 minutes, including a 152-59 edge on the ground, and the 28 points scored were their season-high for a first half.But the momentum generated by the late touchdown scored continued past the intermission for Notre Dame, as an opening-drive interception of Barrett led to a seven-play scoring drive the other way for the Fighting Irish. Kizer found senior receiver Chris Brown on a fade route for the score to cut the deficit to just seven points.“We came up with a big turnover, we consequently scored there,” Kelly said. “Made it 28-21. Just loved the resiliency of our group and very, very proud of them.”But with the pressure mounting, Elliott took matters into his own hands, finding a seam up the middle and sprinting 47 yards untouched for his fourth score of the game about two minutes later to make it 35-21.“I’m not the only man out there,” Elliott said. “(The offensive line) made a lot of runs easy for me, and I’m going to miss those guys.”Two drives after Powell picked off Kizer again — with it counting that time — OSU tacked on three more points with a 37-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter by sophomore Sean Nuernberger. That took it back to a three-score at 38-21, with time ticking away on the Notre Dame comeback bid.But it didn’t take much time at all for the Fighting Irish to start that bid, as on the second play of its next drive junior receiver Will Fuller shook off OSU redshirt sophomore cornerback Gareon Conley and ran it 81 yards to cut it to a 10-point game.With a stop crucial for Notre Dame, Meyer opted to keep the offense on the field on a fourth-and-10 play. Barrett lobbed a pass to redshirt sophomore H-back Jalin Marshall, who was unable to pull in the slight overthrow. But a defensive holding call on the play granted OSU the first down rather than the turnover, a dagger into Notre Dame’s comeback hopes.The Fighting Irish were able to prevent the game from becoming out of reach, holding OSU to a 38-yard field goal, but Nuernberger’s conversion brought the score to 41-28.A pair of defensive ends finished off the job, though. Redshirt freshman Sam Hubbard and redshirt sophomore Tyquan Lewis sacked Kizer on consecutive plays, and a 19-yard Marshall punt return allowed OSU to start its drive all the way at the Notre Dame 29-yard line.Shortly after, Nuernberger’s third made field goal of the half officially put the game out of reach at 44-28 with less than three minutes left.“I would say Ezekiel Elliott (was the key for OSU),” Notre Dame junior defensive tackle Sheldon Day said. “He makes it challenging. He’s a physical back. He makes his presence known. He did some special things with his feet today.”The game marked the final time several notable OSU seniors, such as Miller, linebacker Joshua Perry and left tackle Taylor Decker, wore the scarlet and gray, as well as at least three underclassmen who are leaving early: Bosa, Elliott and backup quarterback Cardale Jones.“We have good players leaving,” said OSU offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Ed Warinner. “We’ll have to rebuild our O-line a little bit, we lose three good players out there, a good tailback, lose a good tight end, but we have good guys in our program, and that’s what player development is.”Elliott said looking back on his career, culminating with his big performance, he simply feels humbled to join the ranks of the OSU greats.“All I can say is, I’m just honored to be a part of this history,” he said. “I’m honored to continue the running back pedigree at Ohio State, I’m honored to be thought of as one of the best running backs to come through here.” An OSU helmet sits on the field before the 45th annual BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. OSU won 44-28. Photo Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor
Ohio State women’s basketball returned to its winning form this weekend in a big way. After suffering a loss at North Carolina Wednesday, the Buckeyes rebounded against Evansville on Saturday at the Schottenstein Center, defeating the Purple Aces 78-33. The 45-point victory was the largest of the season for OSU, and every member of the team scored in the game. The Buckeyes also held the visitors to 10 second-half points. OSU senior guard Tayler Hill had 20 points and junior center Ashley Adams accounted for 14 points. “We refocused the last couple of days in practice,” Hill said. “Coming off the loss, there were some things we could have done differently. We focused on those in the game today.” The Buckeyes knew they had to be strong defensively to get another win, and using Hill on defense seemed to be the key. “I wanted Tayler Hill away from the ball more,” said OSU coach Jim Foster. “I like the defensive mentality of our group.” In order to keep Hill off the ball, Foster started freshman guard Ameryst Alston. The move paid off. “(Alston) is very confident, and I like players who go out and get after it,” Foster said. “In this day, there are a lot of players who are anointed starters, and I felt like she earned it.” Alston said she wasn’t overwhelmed in her first start. “We are much more effective when Tayler is able to run and I can get the ball up to her. My job is to get the ball up to the offense,” Alston said. Strong defense seemed to carry this team throughout the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half. Not only did the Buckeyes hold Evansville to only 10 points the entire second half, OSU also posted a 23-0 run for the first 11:46 of the half. Hill said she hopes the defensive strength carries the team forward. “We had excellent energy today, and we didn’t give up a play,” Hill said. With more than a week off to practice for finals before their next game, the Buckeyes have their 27th consecutive home game win to motivate them. Foster hopes this defensive success brings more huge wins in the near future. “Defense is an important dimension to the team,” Foster said. “I like players who are comfortable with their knees bent in the defensive position.” The Buckeyes will continue non-conference regular season play against Lafayette on Sunday at the Schottenstein Center with a scheduled 1 p.m. tip-off.
An experienced Ohio State men’s basketball was simply too much for a highly touted but youthful Michigan team to overcome. The No. 15 Buckeyes sat back early and picked its spots to strike on offense, eventually building a 21-point first half lead as the No. 2-ranked Wolverines ran itself into that hole with an admittedly over-excited, high-pressure defense. UM tied the game late in regulation but the steadying influence of OSU senior forward Evan Ravenel, junior forward Deshaun Thomas and junior guard Aaron Craft fended off the visitor’s comeback attempt as the Buckeyes (13-3, 3-1 Big Ten) won, 56-53, against the Wolverines (16-1, 3-1 Big Ten) Sunday at the Schottenstein Center. Thomas, Ravenel, Craft and junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. combined for the 10 points OSU needed in the final 5:28 of regulation to pull away and clinch the team’s first win against a ranked opponent in four tries this season. “I think we have a good backbone to lean on with me, (Thomas), (Ravenel) and Lenzelle, who have been here for three years and been with some great leaders and seen what it takes to be successful,” Craft said. Ravenel contributed crucial buckets late in regulation before finishing with six points, while Thomas went for a game-high 20 points. Craft added nine points of his own and Smith Jr. finished with four points. There was plenty for the Wolverines to be excited about in the game: A win would have all but guaranteed them ascension to the No. 1 spot in top 25 polls after current No. 1-ranked Duke’s Saturday loss to N.C. State. Victory also meant the possibility of a 17-0 record – a would-have-been program record. But for the midseason rivalry game with so much on the line, four of the nine players that UM coach John Beilein sent on the floor – including two starters – were freshmen that played at least 11 minutes. One additional freshman – UM guard Caris LeVert – played nine minutes for UM. Beilein said the excitement of the moment might have got the best of his young team. “We got very, very excited about this opportunity and we got out and challenged too much away from our base defense,” Beilein said. “There’s a lot of challenges there that we maybe made it tougher on ourselves.” While OSU needed a signature win to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume, Michigan earned its tournament credentials long ago – its 16-0 record to start the season and previous wins against then-No. 18 N.C. State, Pittsburgh, Kansas State and West Virginia all speak to that. UM’s talent showed in Sunday’s game as it fought back to cut its 21-point deficit to 12 by halftime before tying the game late and even taking a shot at a potential game-winning score in the final minute. OSU’s swarming defense, led by Craft, produced 13 turnovers. In typical Craft fashion, the Buckeyes’ third-year guard stymied one of the opponent’s best – this time, it was UM sophomore guard and Columbus-native Trey Burke. Through the opening 20 minutes, Craft limited the Northland High School product to five points on 2-of-5 shooting. “We had too many turnovers in the beginning,” Burke said. “A couple forced shots and they made us pay.” Burke would leave his mark on this game, though, finishing with 15 points while leading the Wolverines’ steady comeback. Trailing by two points with less than 30 seconds to play, Burke also unleashed a close-but-no-cigar 3-pointer that rimmed out. The shot was the Wolverines’ last gasp. Ravenel scored four points in 41 seconds to restore the Buckeyes’ lead, Thomas added two points of his own to give the Buckeyes a six-point cushion at 52-46 and Craft and Smith Jr., who also grabbed 10 rebounds in the game, iced the win from the free-throw stripe after Burke’s 3-pointer swung in and out of the hoop. “We came out with juice (and toughness),” Thomas said. “We learned our scouting report real well.” The win allows OSU to avoid falling two games behind in Big Ten Conference play, and is further suggestion that the team’s 19-point loss at Illinois was an aberration. The Buckeyes’ 74-64 Tuesday win at Purdue add to that sentiment. An 0-3 record in its first three games against ranked opponents could remain cause for concern, and OSU coach Thad Matta said there’s still work to be done for his team. “We beat a great basketball team … We’ve got a long way to go,” Matta said. “I want our guys to enjoy this one, especially going into a bye week, and we’ve gotta get ready to go again (Saturday against) Michigan State.” While OSU continues to stabilize itself, an already-elite Wolverines team could continue its growth with the experience of Sunday’s loss. After the game, Beilein suggested that he was willing to trade the narrow road loss for the maturity gained by playing in a hostile environment. “This is terrific for us … The teams that really prosper (from losing) are the ones that get better,” Beilein said. “There’s a lot that goes (into) a season. It’s a journey. And you have to embrace an important part of it today.” UM could be on a different trajectory than OSU, but, if only for a day and if only by a three-point margin, the veteran Buckeyes gave the fresh-faced Wolverines more than they could handle. “We have a great backbone and those younger guys are coming along tremendously,” Craft said, “so, we’ll just continue to find a way to get better and continue to build off this.” The Buckeyes continue Big Ten play Saturday at Michigan State with a scheduled 6 p.m. tipoff.
Ohio State junior Lilli Piper rounds third base with the intent to score against Wright State on Sep. 24. Credit: Gretchen Rudolph | For The LanternOhio State left Boca Raton, Florida, with five wins in the Florida Atlantic Classic, sweeping the event and winning three games by at least eight runs. Northern IllinoisThe Buckeyes began the weekend with a 9-1 win against Northern Illinois in a six-inning game. The Huskies were first to score in the first inning, but the Buckeyes quickly got back on track in the bottom of the third when junior infielder Lilli Piper and senior infielder Ashley Goodwin combined to drive in four runs in the inning.Junior catcher Emily Clark hit a grand slam, just the second of her career, in the fourth inning to put the game well out of reach at 8-1. The Buckeyes added another run in the sixth.DukeOhio State faced Duke later in the afternoon Friday and managed to pull out a 5-2 win.The Buckeyes opened the scoring in the first inning on a sacrifice fly before Duke pulled ahead on a two-RBI double in the latter half of the inning.Ohio State managed to get back on top when Piper drove a double to right to give her team a 3-2 lead. The Buckeyes added two more runs in the seventh. Florida AtlanticOhio State continued its winning ways into the first game on Saturday with a 10-1 against the Owls.The Buckeyes scored a run in the top of the second, but blew the game open in the fourth inning when three Ohio State batters combined to drive in four runs with two more scoring on an error to bring the game to 7-0. Ohio State and Florida Atlantic each traded runs in the fifth inning, but freshman infielder Niki Carver drove her first career home run out to push Ohio State’s lead to 10-1.Senior pitcher Shelby McCombs finished with a career-high 12 strikeouts, giving up only two hits to hold Florida Atlantic to one run for the entire game. She also added a pair of hits, including an RBI. Northern IllinoisFor the second time this weekend, the Buckeyes took on the Huskies and for the second time, Ohio State came away with a win, beating Northern Illinois 10-2. Junior pitcher Morgan Ray managed a career-high 12 strikeouts, half of which took place in the sixth and seventh innings. The Buckeyes got off to an early 5-0 lead, and although the Huskies responded with two runs in the bottom of the second, it wasn’t enough to spark a comeback. Ohio State eventually added more to the scoreboard, including a home run from Piper to lead off the sixth inning. Boston UniversityOhio State capped off its three-day weekend in Boca Raton with a walk-off single from Piper in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Buckeyes a 3-2 win against Boston University on Sunday.The Terriers got the game started with a run in the first inning and later got out to a 2-1 advantage, but McCombs launched a home run in the bottom of the sixth to send the game into extra innings. Piper later delivered her game-winning hit to give the Buckeyes the series sweep.Ohio State will face North Carolina State in the first game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Friday in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Mice suffered worse infections when picking up the herpes virus in the morning The research suggests that people should be more cautious about catching viruses in the evening “Each cell in the body has a biological clock that allows them to keep track of time and anticipate daily changes in our environment,” Dr Rachel Edgar, the first author, adds:“Our results suggest that the clock in every cell determines how successfully a virus replicates. When we disrupted the body clock in either cells or mice, we found that the timing of infection no longer mattered – viral replication was always high.“This indicates that shift workers, who work some nights and rest some nights and so have a disrupted body clock, will be more susceptible to viral diseases.”If so, then they could be prime candidates for receiving the annual flu vaccines.”The daily fluctuation in the activity of cells appears to be largely driven by the gene Bmal1 which also undergoes seasonal variation, being less active in the winter months and increasing in summer.The researchers speculate that this may help explain why diseases such as influenza are more likely to spread through populations during winter.Last week a study by Manchester University showed that people feel stiff in the morning because a natural anti-inflammatory in the body does not kick in until after waking.The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They found that virus replication in mice who were infected at the very start of the day – equivalent to sunrise, when these nocturnal animals start their resting phase – was ten times greater than in mice infected ten hours into the day, when they are transitioning to their active phase.In humans the reverse would be true, with infections more likely at night as the body is shutting down for the evening and moving towards sleep. “The time of day of infection can have a major influence on how susceptible we are to the disease, or at least on the viral replication, meaning that infection at the wrong time of day could cause a much more severe acute infection,” said Professor Akhilesh Reddy, the study’s senior author.“This is consistent with recent studies which have shown that the time of day that the influenza vaccine is administered can influence how effectively it works.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The time of day of infection can have a major influence on how susceptible we are to the diseaseProfessor Akhilesh Reddy The effect occurs because when a virus enters our body, it hijacks the machinery and resources in our cells to help it replicate and spread throughout the body.However, those resources on offer fluctuate throughout the day, partly in response to our circadian rhythms.The findings may help explain why shift workers, whose body clocks are routinely disrupted, are more prone to health problems, including infections and chronic disease.The researchers also found similar time-of-day variation in virus replication in individual cell cultures in the lab, which had no influence from the immune system. The next time a fellow passenger sneezes near you on the evening commute or the night bus, it might be wise to hold your breath.A new study suggests people could be 10 times more vulnerable to infections after nightfall compared with earlier in the day. According to Cambridge University it is all due with our internal bodyclock which is constantly switching certain functions on or off.Circadian rhythms control everything from sleep patterns to body temperature, hormone release to the immune system.To test whether they influenced susceptibility to infection scientists compared mice infected with the herpes virus at different times of day, measuring the levels of virus infection and spread.
The couple’s former house in DerbyshireCredit:Supplied by Paul Keogh This is yet another example of the judiciary taking an increasingly pragmatic approach towards resolving these types of problemsJohn Hooper, of John Hooper & Co But a Court of Appeal judge on Monday rejected her claims and said the previous living standards of a couple were only a guide when it came to how much an ex-wife or husband deserves.Mr Justice Moylan said he did not agree that “need should be met at a level similar or comparable to the standard of living during the marriage”, as this standard was only one factor.Referring to a previous hearing at a divorce court in Nottingham, where Judge Mark Rogers similarly rejected Mrs MacFarlane’s claims, he added: “The judge was correct when he said the previous standard of living is a guide, but not completely determinative. There is no prospect of the judge’s assessment of housing need being shown to be wrong.”After the hearing, the husband’s solicitor said the decision raises the possibility that spouses who include a compensation argument within their case may find it more difficult to succeed.John Hooper, of John Hooper & Co, said: “This is yet another example of the judiciary taking an increasingly pragmatic approach towards resolving these types of problems.”Mrs MacFarlane was working as an acting headteacher when she met Dr MacFarlane, a semi-retired GP, in 2003.She sold her own home to buy his daughter’s half share of his house in Derbyshire and claimed she gave up her “promising” career while still in her 40s when her new husband promised he would “look after” them both. If she had not given up full-time work, she would now be earning up to £105,000-a-year and would be entitled to a generous final salary pension, it was claimed, but instead she is limited to working as a supply teacher.Her lawyers also said her standard of accommodation was “far removed” from that which she enjoyed during the marriage.Judge Rogers had decided that all she needed to buy a house was £450,000 but she had wanted considerably more, Mr Isaacs told the Court of Appeal.”Her case was, ‘why should I be relegated to a house that’s far inferior to that which I lived in during the marriage and that which I had before the marriage?’” he said.The court heard had been “independent with a good income” before the marriage and lived in a large home of her own, with stables and two acres of grounds, worth over £650,000.”She sought a housing fund of £700,000,” said Mr Isaacs. “It is submitted that, considered against the marital standard of living and subject to funds being available, that was not an unreasonable sum.”Judge Rogers had rejected her claim to compensation for her lost career, citing the fact that it had been a mutual decision between the parties, the barrister said.Rejecting her case, Mr Justice Moylan said Judge Rogers had been right to refuse Mrs MacFarlane compensation for giving up her job. The decision was a joint one and the evidence of what she would be earning now if she had stayed in her job was “unclear”, he said.He added: “I consider the judge was right to confine his attention to determining the wife’s needs and structuring his award so as to meet those needs. Any additional award would have been likely to lead to double counting.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The judge was correct when he said the previous standard of living is a guide, but not completely determinativeMr Justice Moylan They enjoyed a lifestyle “substantially better than that of a comfortable middle class couple” in the five-bed cottage, with formal gardens, adjoining coach house and its own woodland.However, the trouble began when they separated after Dr MacFarlane told her he wanted to split up in 2013.In an initial divorce hearing in 2015, Judge Rogers ruled Mrs MacFarlane should receive half the proceeds of sale of the house, plus a £140,000 lump sum.But at the Court of Appeal on Monday, her barrister Paul Isaacs said it was wrong that Dr MacFarlane would not be compensating her for her years off the career ladder.”Mrs MacFarlane stated that on marriage the husband promised that if she gave up her permanent employment, and consequently her career, he would look after her financially,” Mr Isaacs said. Divorcees do not need to be able to afford the lifestyle they were accustomed to in marriage, a Court of Appeal judge has suggested as he rejected an ex-wife’s bid to increase her settlement.Katriona MacFarlane claimed that she had not been awarded enough to buy a home similar to the £1million country cottage she shared with Dr James MacFarlane, 74. The 58-year-old also claimed she was owed compensation for “abandoning” her teaching career to be “looked after” by the millionaire.