No. 3 Oklahoma (46 percent win probability) vs. No. 7 Michigan StateLocation: SyracuseWhen to watch: At 10:07 p.m. EDT on TBSPower ratings: Oklahoma 88.3, Michigan State 87.9Upset probability: 54 percentPlayer to watch: Isaiah Cousins, OklahomaIn one of the more bizarre stats you’ll see, the FiveThirtyEight model actually favors No. 7 Michigan State over No. 3 Oklahoma. That’s what happens when the committee over and under seeds the field. Michigan State is an above-average 7-seed, while Oklahoma is a below-average 3-seed. While the Sooners have a slightly better SRS1Simple Rating System, or margin of victory adjusted for strength of schedule of 18.9 vs Michigan State’s 17.5, the Spartans generally have more efficient game-level stats. Their net effective field goal percentage was 9 percent, compared to OU’s 6 percent, and a good amount of that comes from Sparty’s better shooting from behind the arc: 39 percent compared to OU’s 35 percent.23-point shooting tends to be less sensitive to opponent strength. But if you’re looking for a more cosmic reason why the Spartans are favored, you need look no further than coach Tom Izzo. His prowess in the NCAA tournament is not only nature defying, but stat-defying – according to my colleague Neil Paine’s research, his teams have run 7 standard deviations above SRS-based expectation in the Big Dance. The first half of the Sweet 16 is in the books, and the favorites answered any early round questions with a vengeance. Each higher seed won, with the biggest favorite doing its best impression of the UConn women’s basketball team: It took just under five minutes for Kentucky to jump out to an 8 point lead, which is virtually unassailable for a garden-variety tournament favorite, much less an undefeated powerhouse. And the Wildcats continued to outscore a powerless West Virginia squad (whom we called Kentucky’s “sternest test” just yesterday) by nearly a point per minute. Kentucky won by 39 in a game that (as the saying goes) wasn’t as close as the final score.Friday’s action promises to be more eventful. Or at least equally eventful. Well, at least it can’t be less eventful. So let’s see what’s going down:No. 1 Duke (66 percent win probability) vs. No. 5 UtahLocation: HoustonWhen to watch: At 9:45 p.m. EDT on CBSPower ratings: Duke 92.8, Utah 88.9Upset probability: 34 percentPlayer to watch: Delon Wright, UtahDuke is doing what Duke does: Being exactly good enough to be a solid contender deep in the NCAA tournament. According to the FiveThirtyEight model, the Blue Devils have about as good a chance of winning this tournament as anyone not named the Kentucky Wildcats. They’ll face off against the Utah Utes, who, having survived the 5-seed jinx, hope to avoid the same kind of Final Destination-style comeuppance suffered by fellow 5-seed West Virginia.Both of these teams have gotten where they are the old-fashioned way: By making regular, old-school buckets. While the NBA has seen a radical shift in its balance of power as a result of the 3-pointer, the hot stat in the NCAA this year is a stalwart: Field goal percentage. Five of the top eight teams in the nation in this stat (including the top three) are still in the tournament: Duke ranks third in the country and Utah ranks sixth (Gonzaga, Notre Dame and Arizona are first, second and eighth, respectively). No. 4 Louisville (55 percent win probability) vs. No. 8 N.C. StateLocation: SyracuseWhen to watch: At 7:37 p.m. EDT on TBSPower ratings: Louisville 85.7, NC State 84.2Upset probability: 45 percentPlayer to watch: Montrezl Harrell, LouisvilleSo far this year, N.C. State is the only team to knock off a No. 1 seed, in a 71-68 victory over presidential-bracket finalist Villanova. Teams that get hot in the tournament do tend to outperform their ratings (even accounting for the win), and the FiveThirtyEight model adjusts accordingly. That may be why this is basically a coin flip despite Louisville being nearly four points better by SRS (18.1 vs 14.2). Protip: If you have trouble wrapping your mind around exactly how much more 55 percent is than 50 percent, but you’ve played a lot of poker, imagine the feeling of being all in pre-flop with pocket jacks against Ace-King offsuit. No. 2 Gonzaga (76 percent win probability) vs. No. 11 UCLALocation: HoustonWhen to watch: At 7:15 p.m. EDT on CBSPower ratings: Gonzaga 91.3, UCLA 83.7Upset probability: 24 percentPlayer to watch: Norman Powell, UCLARemember back when Gonzaga made Adam Morrison look like Cinderella? Well now the shoe is on the other team’s foot. Gonzaga enters the Sweet 16 as a No. 2 seed with only 2 losses and will face No. 11 UCLA – which has 13 losses and made it this far because of a last-minute goaltending call and UAB’s improbable victory over Iowa State. To kill a giant, as the Bruins have to do, it helps when underdogs are used to shooting the 3-pointer. But the Bruins are not. Neither team is: Gonzaga has taken 17.5 attempts per game, UCLA 16.9. The main thing the Bruins have going for them is guard Norman Powell. His 3-point shooting is unremarkable (31.9 percent on 3.4 attempts per game), but he gets a lot of rebounds for his position (5.4 per 40 minutes) and collects the most steals of anyone who’ll be on the floor (2.2 per 40 minutes). In addition to generally being awesome, steals are the kind of high-variance play that UCLA will need to pull this off. Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions.CORRECTION (March 27, 1:52 p.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly named Chris Jones as the player to watch for Louisvlle. He is no longer on the team after being dismissed in February because of rape charges against him.
More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code Hot Takedown responds to a packed week in sports, starting with a flurry of MLB contract extensions. We hear from superstar Mike Trout on the factors he considered before recommitting to the Angels. Did the free-agency journeys of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado serve as cautionary tales? We consider the future of free agency in the league and wonder if another strike is in our future. Plus, Neil breaks down the FiveThirtyEight predictions for the baseball season.Our second segment dives into the NCAA Tournament and standout players Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. On ESPN’s “Get Up!” Jay Williams suggests that Morant’s skills will translate better to the NBA. We break down the data to see if that’s the case.For our Rabbit Hole of the Week, we pay proper respect to Rob Gronkowski, who announced his retirement this weekend. While his career may have been short, his impact on the game was monumental.Here’s what we’re reading this week:Neil and FiveThirtyEight contributor Michael Salfino reflect on Gronk’s place as the most efficient receiver the game has seen.The Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond does a deep dive into “The Death of Free Agency in Baseball.”FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness interactive.And check back on March 27 for FiveThirtyEight’s complete MLB predictions! FiveThirtyEight
Pretty much every team that survives its first two games and advances to the Sweet 16 has the right to be pleased with its performance. But four men’s teams — Duke, Arizona, Michigan State and Gonzaga — should be especially giddy. Their odds of winning the championship have improved the most so far.In the table below, I’ve compared the 16 surviving teams in two ways: First, by the change in their power rating in the FiveThirtyEight forecast since before the tournament began, and second, by the change in their probability of winning the tournament.Teams’ power ratings can change for two reasons. Our model updates the power ratings at the end of each game based on how a team performs relative to its expectations. A team that wins by an especially wide margin, or that wins as an underdog, will see the largest gains. By contrast, a team’s power rating may decline if it wins by a smaller-than-expected margin.We’re also continually updating the model with new data on player injuries. Two injury situations are the most critical so far: North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks’ Sweet 16 status is uncertain after he hurt his knee in the Tar Heels’ Saturday win against Arkansas. And Wisconsin point guard Traevon Jackson has yet to play despite hopes that he might have returned.Apart from the changes in its power rating, a team’s chances of winning the tournament can change because its draw becomes harder or easier. Michigan State’s probability has improved not just because they beat Virginia, for instance, but also because the No. 1 seed in the East region, Villanova, was ousted by North Carolina State.Here’s a quick look at the teams with the largest shift in their probability:Duke’s championship probability has roughly doubled to 11.9 percent from 5.7 percent. The Blue Devils won their first two games easily, and they were helped by losses elsewhere in the bracket, especially to Iowa State, their one-time potential opponent in the Elite Eight.Arizona’s chances have improved to 14.5 percent from 9.5 percent. The Wildcats have also been helped by an upset: Instead of facing No. 3 seed Baylor in their Sweet 16 game, they’ll get Xavier. It helps, too, that Wisconsin, Arizona’s potential Elite Eight opponent, has not looked as strong as the model had them originally.Almost everything has gone Michigan State’s way: The Spartans beat the No. 2 seed in their region, Virginia, and got a lot of credit for it in the model. But the No. 1 seed in the East, Villanova, was eliminated too. The Spartans are now the favorite to reach the Final Four from the East and have some chance to go further than that — they were underseeded to begin with, and will stay reasonably close to home for the rest of the tournament with the remaining games in Syracuse and Indianapolis. (Plus, there’s Tom Izzo’s amazing run of postseason success, although the model doesn’t give them any extra credit for that.)Gonzaga won easily on Sunday against an Iowa team that looked excellent in its opening game. Its path has also gotten easier because of the elimination of Iowa State, a team they could have played in Sweet 16. Instead, they’re 75 percent favorites to win their grudge match against UCLA.By contrast, Wisconsin and North Carolina’s probabilities have declined slightly, partly because of their injury issues and partly because Arizona looms large in the West regional, which will be played in Los Angeles. Wisconsin also played a closer game against Oregon than the model expected.Still, Wisconsin retains the fourth-best overall chance to win the tournament, after Kentucky, Arizona and Duke. And even if the Badgers don’t win the tournament, their chances of winning an NCAA spelling bee are up after they learned all about stenography this weekend. What’s a 10-letter word for “in the hunt?”Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions.
At a Jan. 18 press conference, Ohio State freshman point guard Aaron Craft was asked if he ever had a “Welcome to Ohio State” moment during summer scrimmages with former OSU players. His teammate, freshman forward Jared Sullinger, took the liberty of answering the question for him.“(Former OSU guard) Scoonie Penn calls him ‘Cheese,’ ’cause his last name is Craft,” Sullinger said. “So that was a ‘Welcome to Ohio State’ moment right there. He won’t tell you all, but I will.”As reporters roared with laughter, Craft took the moment to thank Sullinger sarcastically for sharing the formerly private information with the media.“And now that is outside the team.” Craft said. “Thank you, Jared.”Whether they’re joking around in a press conference or connecting on the court, it’s easy to see Craft and Sullinger have had chemistry — both on and off the court — since the moment they met. Sullinger, however, said his and Craft’s friendship was born out of a rivalry that dates to middle school AAU basketball.“What’s funny is, me and Craft was enemies in the eighth grade,” Sullinger said. “I didn’t like Craft ’cause he played for All-Ohio Red and I played for Columbus Jaguars, and they constantly beat our butt until nationals.”The following season, Sullinger left the Jaguars to join Craft’s All-Ohio Red team. Craft said he vividly remembers the moment he found out he would be teaming up with his former rival.“The first AAU practice we had in ninth grade, Jared wasn’t with us at the time, and after practice, our coach told us that he was going to play with us, and I’m not going to lie, I got pretty excited,” Craft said. “I knew who he was; I knew what he could do; and once I finally met him, we definitely kind of just formed a bond.”Alongside OSU freshmen Jordan Sibert and J.D. Weatherspoon, who was ruled academically ineligible for Winter Quarter, Craft and Sullinger continued to play for All-Ohio Red in AAU basketball tournaments during the springs and summers throughout their high-school careers. Sullinger said Craft’s abilities always impressed him, even if opposing teams underestimated Craft.“He played on a team full of black guys. You know how there’s that one guy, they classify him as a shooter? So every time Aaron got into the game they were like, ‘Watch the shooter; watch the shooter.’ And the next thing you know, he blows by you,” Sullinger said. “He’s always been the underdog, and he’s always embraced it, and so being with him for the past four years and just watching how everybody attacks him just because of the way he looks, the way he carries himself, it’s pretty funny.”Opposing teams weren’t underestimating Sullinger. After earning a reputation as one of the top players in his class, Sullinger accepted a scholarship offer from OSU following his freshman season of high school. OSU coach Thad Matta enlisted Sullinger to help to fill out the rest of the 2010 recruiting class.“When I committed to Ohio State, coach Matta said we need to add more people to the class. Not more so, you know, top-ranked basketball players, but solid basketball players,” Sullinger said. “I kept telling him about Aaron. I was like, ‘Coach, get Aaron. You got to get Aaron.’”By the time Matta relented to Sullinger’s plea to offer his AAU teammate a scholarship, it appeared to be too late, as Craft had already committed to play college basketball for coach Bruce Pearl at Tennessee.“When I was first committed, I was definitely just kind of focused and trying to enjoy my high school career,” Craft said. “I was glad to have the decision out of the way, and I was happy with my decision.”To the delight of both Sullinger and Matta, Craft reconsidered his options as his junior year of high school came to a close, and he backed away from his commitment to Tennessee. Less than two weeks after de-committing from the Volunteers, Craft was the newest addition to OSU’s 2010 recruiting class.“Once you started hitting AAU, I mean we had Jared over here and Jordan (Sibert) kind of just plant some things in my ear,” Craft said. “I definitely just had to reevaluate the decision I made in the fall.”Sullinger didn’t deny playing a role in recruiting Craft to join him at OSU.“I threw some text messages once I heard he was reevaluating,” Sullinger said. “Luckily, my buddy here, he came to Ohio State.”Craft said he has enjoyed continuing his friendship with Sullinger at the college level.“I’m just very pleased and happy with how everything has worked out,” Craft said. “It’s definitely just been great to have a person like Jared just beside me the whole way, and just to have that calming hand, and he’s definitely just a great guy to have around at all times.”Sullinger and Craft have played key roles in helping advance OSU to its first 20-0 start since the 1961-62 season. Sullinger said the Buckeyes’ addition of Craft has made his college experience more enjoyable — both on and off the court.“With a player like Aaron Craft, it was the best pickup we got,” Sullinger said. “It’s a real pleasure to have him, one as my friend, and two as a teammate.”
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman should have just kept his mouth shut. The Columbus Dispatch reported Thursday that Coleman sent a two-page letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern in which he stated his interest in attracting an NBA franchise to central Ohio and Nationwide Arena. Coleman presides over a city that already has one professional team – the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets – and it’s a team that is perpetually out-shined by Ohio State athletics. Everyone knows Columbus is a Buckeyes town, so that was a dent in the mayor’s argument before he even smudged the postage stamp on his letter to Stern. Upon peeling Coleman’s correspondence open, a few more dents were likely exposed. Coleman’s argument to the NBA for bringing professional basketball to Columbus included arguments amounting to, “our arena situation is now stable,” and “big businesses exist in this city.” Of course, noting that your arena situation has been stabilized calls into question why it was unstable in the first place. According to the Dispatch report, one of Coleman’s zingers to Stern was something to the affect of, “we have the lowest unemployment rate in the state.” The lowest unemployment rate in a rustbelt state? That might be a fact, but not necessarily a reassurance to Stern. What I’m truly surprised by is that he didn’t include that Columbus appears on all United States maps, and is, in fact, the capital of Ohio. Another reason Coleman should have kept it zipped is because the unintended consequences of his letter stretched to Cleveland and back. Coleman’s letter also elicited a response from Cleveland Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, according to The Dispatch, who said he’d have to weigh whether he’d allow another NBA franchise to move in-state. “I haven’t even studied the demographics of Columbus to know if they could handle two sports teams,” Gilbert told The Dispatch. Then Columbus’ Major League Soccer franchise, the Columbus Crew, took exception to Gilbert’s comments, as any self-respecting professional sports organization would. From the Twitter account, @ColumbusCrew, the MLS team tweeted Thursday afternoon: “Looks like #Crew96 fans should let Dan Gilbert know that there are already two professional sports teams in Columbus.” That tiny spat between organizations could have easily been avoided if Coleman hadn’t sent the letter. Like the rest of us, I’m sure Colelman had fun fantasizing about having an NBA team in town. But that doesn’t mean you go grab the NBA commissioner’s attention over it, or write him a letter for that matter. This isn’t 1920 – email or call Stern, or set up a Skype date with him and your potential investors (if there are any) and conduct some business. It’s going to take more than some City of Columbus letterhead to attract an NBA franchise to this market anyway.
Results collated by The Telegraph showed that some academies, including Queen Elizabeth’s school in Barnet, north London had nearly 90 per cent of pupils achieving two As and a B or above.Ralph Lucas, of the Good Schools Guide, said: “The independent [schools] percentage shows a steady decline from 2011. Perhaps independent schools as a whole are admitting a broader range of children.”Leading private school heads on Friday defended this year’s results as “solid”.Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), said: “ISC schools focus strongly on the ‘facilitating’ subjects which are much prized by top universities. In 2015 our schools had record levels of entry to Russell Group universities and we expect this trend to continue”. In 2010 18.2 per cent of pupils achieved the top grade at private schools, compared with a national average of 8.1 per cent.But this year while the national average remained the same, private schools achieved only 17.9 per cent – their lowest ever score.This year the gap has also narrowed when it comes to A grades, with a national average of 25.8 per cent compared with 48.7 per cent for independent pupils.The gap, 22.9 percentage points, is down from 25 percentage points in 2010.Jonathan Simons, head of education at the Policy Exchange, a think tank established by a group of Tory MPs, said: “Some of the independent schools cannot compete with the state sector and middle-class parents are wondering why they should be paying this much if they can get the same quality or better for free.” 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. Academies are driving up educational standards, campaigners have said, as the latest A-level figures show the gap between pupils gaining the highest grade at state and private schools is at its narrowest yet.When the A* grade was introduced in 2010 there were 203 academies compared with nearly 4,000 now.In that time the proportion of privately-educated pupils gaining a top grade has gone down significantly. Private schools have been hit disproportionately by efforts to cap grade inflation. The figures also showed private schools suffered the lowest ever A* grades as they too are hit by tougher exams with the percentage of top grades dropping from 18.2 per cent in 2010 to 17.9 per cent this year
A man is due to appear in court charged with the murder of a one-year-old boy and the attempted murder of a girl believed to be the child’s twin.Both toddlers were discovered with critical injuries at a flat near Finsbury Park, north London, on Saturday night.They were taken to hospital, where the boy died in the early hours of Sunday morning.The girl, who has been operated on, remains in a critical condition, police said.Bidhya Sagar Das, 33, is due to appear in custody at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.A post-mortem examination in relation to the boy, who has not been formally identified, will take place on Tuesday at a central London hospital.Witnesses heard a woman shouting for help on the street outside at around 11.10pm on Saturday and later saw two children being carried out of the property.Mihai Manea, 29, who lives on the second floor of the white three-storey building, said the children were twins and lived on the top floor with their parents.A woman living opposite the building, who gave her name as Gui Gui, said she opened the window to offer help after hearing a woman shouting: “My kids.”Das was arrested in the Hackney area on Sunday evening following a major search by police. 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. Emergency services were called to Finsbury Park on Saturday night
The fire service said the car was “100% alight”Credit: Stephen Huntley/HVC Pictures of the scene show the vehicle was reduced to a shell by the flames. Firefighters said the fire in Wickford, Essex, was caused by an electrical fault. Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze was accidental. The car had been left to charge outside an office building. In the early hours of Sunday morning the fire service received reports that it was on fire.The fire was put out by 6.25am. A building was also damaged by smokeCredit: Stephen Huntley/HVC In a statement the fire service said: “An electric car which was left on charge outside an office building has been 100% destroyed and caused smoke damage to a building after catching alight.”Crews were called to reports of a car fire this morning (Sunday 9 July) outside an office building.”On arrival firefighters reported that the car was 100% alight and that the building it was parked outside was becoming smoke logged as a result. “By 6.25am firefighters had extinguish the fire, ventilated the building and ensured that the scene was safe.”The cause of the fire has been recorded as accidental, and was due to an electrical fault.” An electric car was left completely burnt out after it set on fire while charging.The vehicle was destroyed and a nearby building was damaged by smoke in the incident. The car had been charging when it went up in flamesCredit: Stephen Huntley/HVC A firefighter surveys the damageCredit: Stephen Huntley/HVC 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.