Brazil, the World Cup host and the clear favorite (in our view), will start off the tournament Thursday with a match against Croatia. Soon after, 30 other countries will take to the pitch with varying prospects of achieving their World Cup dreams. See the FiveThirtyEight World Cup predictions for more on that.But first: a brief tour of World Cup history. We wanted to answer a few basic questions: How often do favorites win? How often do host nations win? Is the spread of soccer talent throughout the world becoming more top-heavy or more even?The 20 charts below provide some answers. They rank each team that entered the World Cup based on its Elo ratings before the tournament.These Elo ratings, which were adopted from a system developed for chess, have relatively little meaning in an absolute sense. We could say, for example, that Italy has an Elo rating of 1879 — but it’s not clear what you’d do with that.The Elo system is set up such that the average team has a rating of 1500. There are more than 200 countries that field national soccer teams, however, so being average (as Cape Verde or Trinidad and Tobago are, according to Elo) won’t normally get a team into the World Cup field, much less win it the trophy.So instead we’ve compared each team’s rating with that of the 32nd-best team in the world, according to Elo (whether or not team No. 32 qualified for the World Cup), at the time the World Cup began.1We only collected Elo ratings data on the teams that qualified for the World Cup. Sometimes, the team ranked No. 32 in the world was not among them. Therefore, we extrapolated the rating for the No. 32 team by looking at others ranked close to that threshold — for example, by taking the average of the Nos. 30 and 34 teams’ Elo ratings if both teams qualified. The 32nd-best team has gotten quite a bit better over the years, having gone from an Elo rating of 1540 in 1930, to one of 1707 this year. (The 32nd-best team in the world is currently Costa Rica, according to Elo.) Of course, the field has also expanded — from 13 teams in 1930 to 32 in World Cups played since 1998.The charts include one other important adjustment: We’ve given a 100-point bonus, in accordance with the Elo system’s recommended value, to the host nation.2This adjustment may be too conservative, especially for the earlier years of the competition.The 1930 World Cup, the first on our tour, was one where the home-nation adjustment makes a difference. Held in Uruguay, it was composed mostly of teams from the Americas; few European nations were willing to make the journey. Argentina and Uruguay were the two best teams in the field by some margin, with Argentina just slightly ahead in the Elo ratings. But Uruguay’s home-nation status was enough to make it the favorite. The two met in the finals in Montevideo, with Uruguay winning 4-2. More surprising: The United States and Yugoslavia won their groups and advanced to the semifinal, ahead of the higher-rated Brazil and Paraguay.Italy played host to the 1934 World Cup. Several South American teams, including Uruguay, declined to participate, as did the countries of the United Kingdom. Overall, however, the field was deeper and had more parity than four years earlier. Italy, Argentina and Austria would essentially have been co-favorites before the tournament began, with Italy slightly ahead on the basis of the home-country effect. Indeed, Italy won.Italy was also the favorite in the 1938 World Cup, which was played in France under the cloud of creeping European fascism. Italy was a clear favorite because Argentina, No. 2 in the Elo ratings at the time and disappointed that Europe had hosted two World Cups in a row, refused to participate. Italy won, keeping the streak alive for Elo favorites.But when the World Cup returned in 1950 after a 12-year hiatus because of World War II and its aftermath, there was a surprise in store. Brazil hosted the tournament and, with its home-country boost, would have been the slight favorite per Elo. But it was a deep field — with England participating for the first time, and strong entrants from Italy, Sweden and several other countries (although Argentina again declined to enter). Uruguay, just the ninth-best team in the field, according to Elo, prevailed in a famous upset.We’ll accelerate our pace a bit now that we’ve gotten the hang of this. The 1954 World Cup, held in Switzerland, featured another famous upset in the final, with West Germany defeating heavily favored Hungary in the so-called Miracle of Bern.The 1958 World Cup featured a deep and competitive field. Hungary or Argentina would probably have been the favorite, but Brazil and England were not far behind them. Brazil won for the first time.This touched off Brazil’s golden era, helmed by its star Pelé. The team entered the 1962 World Cup in Chile as the favorite, and it won — marking the last time a team has won two consecutive World Cups.By 1966, Brazil’s Elo rating had slipped closer to the rest of the world. Among a deep group of contenders, England would have been the Elo favorite because of its host-nation status. And just this once, England won.The 1970 World Cup, held in Mexico, featured one of the deepest fields ever. England was nominally the favorite again, according to Elo, but five other countries were within 100 points of it — including the eventual winner, Brazil.The 1974 World Cup, by contrast, had a relatively clear favorite. West Germany and Brazil were the best teams in the world by some margin, but West Germany, led by Franz Beckenbauer and having built momentum by winning the 1972 European Championships, played host to the tournament and won.The 1978 World Cup, held in and won by Argentina, is one of the least fondly remembered. Argentina was ruled by a military junta, which had come to power in 1976 after the overthrow of Isabel Perón. That World Cup has also long been associated with accusations of match-fixing. Was Argentina’s home-country advantage, for whatever reason, larger than usual? It’s hard to say; Argentina was a good team on its football merits, and the customary 100-point home-country boost would have put it in a group of front-runners that included West Germany, the Netherlands and Brazil.Spain hosted the World Cup in 1982; West Germany and Brazil would have been the favorites, according to Elo. Instead, it was Italy — just the 12th-best team in the field — that won.The 1986 World Cup initiated an era of relative parity. It would have been hard to pick a favorite: 14 teams, including the host, Mexico, were stacked within 140 Elo points of one another, and they weren’t that far ahead of some of the also-rans. Argentina won, not uncontroversially, on Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal.The 1990 World Cup also featured a fairly flat distribution of talent, although the host, Italy, would have been the nominal favorite on the basis of the home-country advantage. West Germany won instead after a low-scoring and poorly played World Cup.The World Cup returned to the Americas in 1994, when it was held in the United States. This was perhaps the first time that the host nation had no real chance of winning; the U.S. was rated as just the 18th-best team, despite its home-country boost. Much like the 1986 tournament, there was a large group of good-but-not-great teams atop the field. The Brazilian team, led by Romário and Bebeto, won in Pasadena, California, after Roberto Baggio’s penalty kick sailed over the crossbar.The 1998 World Cup featured co-favorites, according to Elo: France and Brazil were tied in Elo entering the tournament (after giving France its 100-point home-country bonus). Those two teams met in the final, and France won 3-0.The 2002 World Cup, co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, was one of the oddest tournaments. France was the best team entering the tournament, according to Elo, but it went winless in the group stage. The final featured some customary names — Brazil and Germany, with Brazil winning — but neither the Brazilian or German teams were especially strong by the Elo ratings. Turkey took third place despite being just the 23rd-best team in the field.The 2006 World Cup also featured a great deal of parity, with at least 10 plausible winners, including the host, Germany. It was Italy who prevailed over France on penalties in a final remembered for Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt.The past two World Cups, however, have seen a reversal in the trend of greater equality among footballing nations. Brazil and Spain entered the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as the front-runners, with Brazil just two points ahead of Spain in Elo entering the tournament. In the final, Spain defeated the Netherlands, ranked third in the world per Elo.That brings us back, finally, to this year’s tournament. Here are the Elo ratings, and then a few closing observations.Brazil is the best team in the world, according to Elo, as it is in our Soccer Power Index. There have been several other times when a home country was close enough to the top in Elo that it would have been the favorite after accounting for its home-country bonus. However, this is the first time the No. 1-ranked Elo team also played host.That gives Brazil a significant edge on the rest of the field. In fact, the 506-point gap between Brazil (accounting for its home-country bonus) and the 32nd-best team in the world (Costa Rica) is the largest ever in the World Cup. The 127-point gap between Brazil and the second-best team, Spain, is the second-largest after Italy in 1938.That’s not to say Spain, Argentina and Germany are poor teams. Spain’s Elo rating — 379 points ahead of the No. 32 team — would have made it the favorite in any World Cup played from 1986 through 2010. Argentina and Germany are strong enough that they would have been the favorites in a number of recent World Cups as well. Any of them would be a worthy champion, but they’ll have to get by Brazil.
1995-96✓Magic1647Bulls18271737Bulls It’s practically unheard of for a matchup of this caliber to take place outside the NBA Finals, where both teams’ ratings are necessarily sky-high because they’ve made it through the notorious gauntlet that is the NBA playoffs. For it to happen during the regular season, you’d need two teams flirting with a 70-win pace — and that’s exactly what San Antonio and Golden State are doing this year.It’s fair to ask whether there’s also something bigger going on here: Three of the 10 best combined-Elo games in NBA history1After removing duplicate games from the same playoff series. have taken place in the last 10 months, and two in the last 32 days. Does the NBA suffer from an epic lack of parity these days? Is Elo itself miscalibrated? Those questions are beyond the scope of this post, but know that, by any metric, the Warriors’ and Spurs’ first meeting of the 2015-16 season makes for a titanic matchup.(Yes, we also know that ageless time lord Tim Duncan will be out tonight. Luckily, the Spurs are deep enough to cover for that.)Tonight’s game also poses a more specific question: What happens when historically great offensive and defensive units meet? The short answer is that the Spurs and Warriors are playing at such a high level that we don’t really have a good historical precedent.Here’s what we do know: Defense-oriented teams have a higher probability of winning the NBA title at a given level of (regular-season) performance than their offensive counterparts. This gap only widens as a defense (or correspondingly good offense) becomes more dominant. And great defenses also have a slight edge in head-to-head clashes against great offenses.In preparation for Monday’s tilt, we did some digging into historical battles between the league’s best teams on each side of the ball. It’s a phenomenon that occurred upward of a dozen times per season in the NBA’s first few decades, but it’s getting rarer and rarer in recent years because of expansion, scheduling constraints and a larger playoff field. SEASONPLAYOFFNAMEELONAMEELOAVG. ELOWINNER HOME TEAMROAD TEAM 2015-16Warriors1809Spurs17821796— 1996-97✓Bulls1798Jazz17521775Bulls 1996-97Bulls1792Sonics16781735Bulls 2014-15✓Warriors1802Cavaliers17121757Warriors 2014-15Spurs1702Warriors17881745Spurs The best opportunity we had to witness No. 1s face off in recent years came in 2005-06, when the Dallas Mavericks offense faced the Spurs defense 11 times. Offense prevailed in that case — Dallas won 55 percent of the time, scoring 11.4 more points per game than San Antonio usually gave up that season — but that’s an exception to the general trend since 1951.In 414 meetings over the past 65 NBA seasons,2Today’s Warriors-Spurs matchup will be the first No. 1-versus-No. 1 clash of the 2015-16 season, though it isn’t set in stone that these squads will finish the year No. 1 in their respective categories. the top-ranked defense has beat the top-ranked offense 55.3 percent of the time. In those games, 3Excluding the game in question if it’s a regular-season contest. the No. 1 defense gave up 4.1 more points than their average, but the No. 1 offense scored 5.3 fewer points than their average. Some of that is because the defensive teams have more often been better overall clubs — hello, Bill Russell-era Celtics! — but we can account for this using FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings, which set pregame odds based on the relative qualities of the teams. Elo would have expected the No. 1 defenses to beat the No. 1 offenses 54.9 percent of the time, so the defensive teams are winning slightly more than expected when they face their offensive doppelgängers.That’s the aggregate of matchups between No. 1s since 1951, though. What about since the mid-2000s, when the league finished a nearly decade-long project to overhaul its defensive rules and cut down on hand-checking? The trend is inconclusive: In the relatively small sample of 38 matchups since 2004-05, top offenses are winning less than Elo would predict — yet, they’re also taking more of a bite out of top-ranked defenses than those defenses are doing to them at the opposite end. Those recent rule changes certainly are having the intended effect at a leaguewide level (pace and offensive efficiency are up since the early 2000s); stay tuned to see if it translates to these kinds of strength-on-strength matchups as well.Those are all broader trends, though. What makes Monday’s Spurs-Warriors game historically unique is the sheer quality of each team’s dominant unit. Only four games in NBA history have ever seen an offense 8 points better than the league’s efficiency face a defense 8 points better than that same league standard, and all of those were between the Spurs and Mavericks during the 2003-04 season.4Somewhat under the radar, those Mavs had the best offense — relative to the league average — of all time, although this year’s Warriors might top them. This game will do those one better by pitting a plus-9 offense against a plus-9 defense, an NBA first. 2015-16Warriors1814Cavaliers16601737Warriors 1997-98✓Jazz1742Bulls17811761Bulls Tonight, the unstoppable Golden State Warriors meet the immovable San Antonio Spurs in a showdown between the NBA’s No. 1 offense and its No. 1 defense, two units that aren’t merely at the top of the league, but rank among the best we’ve ever seen. It’s the game of the season — no, check that, it’s the loftiest NBA game ever played according to our in-house Elo ratings. 2011-12✓Thunder1731Spurs17401735Thunder 1995-96✓Bulls1819Sonics17081763Bulls Under such extreme circumstances, it’s tough to say which side of the ball has the advantage — we simply don’t have enough of a sample of comparable matchups. And our other bits of evidence from history are mixed; defenses hold a slight all-time edge, but that may have eroded with recent seasons. (Or not.) Monday’s matchup won’t serve as a referendum in either direction, but it should be a spectacular clash of styles featuring basketball at perhaps the highest level it’s ever been played.
Before any MLB playoff games were played, things were looking so good for Canada’s World Series hopes. (The country’s title drought in hockey gets all the attention, but no baseball champ has hailed from north of the border since 1993, either.) With odds of 19 percent, the Toronto Blue Jays had the best chance of winning the World Series of any team, according to our pre-playoffs MLB Elo ratings.Now? Not so much. The Blue Jays have lost the two first games to the Texas Rangers in their best-of-five American League Division Series. That’s changed their chance of winning it all — as well as everyone else’s.According to the latest Elo simulation of the rest of the playoffs — which includes the Rangers’ victory over Toronto on Friday afternoon but no subsequent results — the Blue Jays’ probability of breaking Canada’s winless streak is now just 5 percent: CHANCE THAT A TEAM WILL … Toronto Blue Jays15641001585 Los Angeles Dodgers1535100522411 New York Yankees15160000 TEAMELOMAKE LDSMAKE LCSMAKE WSWIN WS Kansas City Royals1538100331810 St. Louis Cardinals1549100502814 Texas Rangers1535100%85%43%22% New York Mets1523100482110 Pittsburgh Pirates15540000 Because they’re up 2-0 in their series versus Toronto, the Texas Rangers are now your World Series favorites, though that can and will change depending on what happens the rest of Friday. Houston Astros1528100673115 Chicago Cubs1558100502714
Clemson 9-013667%67%17% Ohio State 9-032544%57%15% Oklahoma St. 9-01441337%23%5% Memphis 8-11331453%<1%<1% TeamCFPEloFPIConf. TitlePlayoffNat. Title College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings as of Nov. 3. But back to football substance. I mentioned before how lots of teams, even if they don’t technically control their own destiny,7No team controls its own destiny, technically, since there are no guaranteed bids in the playoff. are favored to make the playoff if they win the rest of their games. Now that the model is (hopefully) doing a better job of mimicking the emphasis that human voters place on wins and losses, we can be more precise about that. Specifically, the model estimates that 14 teams have a 50 percent or greater likelihood of making the playoff conditional on winning out.The model figures that Michigan State, for instance, has an 86 percent chance of making the playoff if it wins out. Even the lowliest one-loss major conference team, North Carolina, which wasn’t ranked by the committee last week, is about even-money to make the playoff if it wins out. And undefeated Iowa (91 percent) and Oklahoma State (97 percent) are all but assured of making the playoff if they finish the year without a loss, even if the committee doesn’t have them in the top four tonight. Baylor 8-067234%32%12% Notre Dame 8-1569—30%7% Iowa 9-09132927%18%2% Texas A&M 6-3194923<1%<1%<1% And here’s a new summary table showing the playoff picture heading into tonight, when the playoff committee will release its new rankings at 7 p.m. Undefeated Baylor has moved slightly ahead of one-loss Notre Dame in our forecast, but otherwise the top six are unchanged. LSU 7-129814%15%4% Oklahoma 8-11514119%17%7% Last season’s first-ever College Football Playoff might have miscalibrated everyone’s sense of what it takes to make it to the final four. Six power conference champions or co-champions1Thanks to a dubious decision by the Big 12. — Alabama, Baylor, Florida State, Ohio State, Oregon and TCU — were undefeated or had one loss against reasonably good schedules. There’s plenty of room to critique how the committee went about leaving Baylor and TCU out, but there was no one inherently correct way to slot six fairly equally matched teams into four playoff positions.But a field as crowded and qualified as last year’s was atypical. Most of the time there are a couple of teams that are weak links: a three-loss conference champion here, a one-loss team that played an incredibly weak schedule there. A mess like last year’s isn’t impossible, obviously. But usually the knot will untangle itself through conference championships, rivalry games and upsets that knock teams out late in the season.So don’t despair, Michigan State fans. (Of which I’m one.) Yeah, you probably lost on a bad call last weekend. But you’re still highly likely to make the playoff if your team wins all of its remaining games, in which case you’ll have defeated Ohio State and (probably) Iowa in the Big Ten championship. Pretty much every one-loss team from a power conference is more likely than not to make the playoff if it wins out.And an undefeated power conference team like Oklahoma State shouldn’t fret, even if it is currently outside the committee’s top four. Some of the teams ranked in front of it are almost certain to lose — and even if they don’t, there’s a good chance Oklahoma State will leapfrog some one-loss teams if it keeps winning.Our subjective perceptions of the playoff picture aren’t the only thing that may be miscalibrated, though. The same could be said about the FiveThirtyEight College Football Playoff model. At least, that’s the conclusion we came to when we were conducting research for this article. Although the model seems to give basically reasonable answers, a couple of things left us scratching our heads when we examined it more deeply.For instance, it posited a conspicuously large gap between Iowa’s chance of winning the Big Ten championship (27 percent) and making the playoff (8 percent). Iowa is undefeated, and while it’s possible they could win the Big Ten with one loss or more, the internal calculations in the model also implied that they’d have only about a 55 percent chance of making the playoff even if they ran their record to 13-0. One can see why a computer might come to that conclusion — Iowa has played a pretty bad schedule, and its margin of victory hasn’t been impressive — but human beings are going to vote an undefeated Big Ten champion into the playoff unless almost everything else2For instance, incredibly strong contenders from the other power conferences. is working against them.Readers had some questions for us too. Why was USC, which already has three losses, given any realistic chance by the model (granted, it was just 4 percent) of making the playoff? And why was one-loss Alabama’s chance of making the playoff so much higher than its SEC championship chances? There are some good reasons for that one,3In particular, if both Alabama and Mississippi had won out, Alabama would have lost the tiebreaker in the SEC West and missed the SEC championship game. The model inferred, correctly I think, that a one-loss Alabama team probably would still have made the playoff (perhaps along with a second SEC team) under those circumstances. This became a moot point when Mississippi was spectacularly upset by Arkansas. but even accounting for those, the gap seemed to be too wide and the model seemed to be too optimistic about Alabama still making the playoff if it endured a second loss.The theme here is that human beings pay a lot of attention to wins and losses — more than our computer seemed to be doing. An undefeated power conference team is going to get in except under rare circumstances. Two-loss power conference teams have historically finished in the AP top four more often than you might think, but it’s still a hard road. And a three-loss team making the playoff? Almost impossible unless there’s total carnage everywhere else.Since the whole point of our model is to mimic human intuition, reader feedback made us think it had some blind spots. So we re-examined the historical data4Since the playoff selection committee is only one year old, this also includes the behavior of the coaches’ poll since 2002. and concluded that our model should be placing more weight on plain-vanilla wins and losses. Or at least, it should be doing so for power conference teams (and for Notre Dame); minor conference teams historically haven’t been treated that kindly by either poll voters or the committee. Even if the committee currently ranks a one-loss team ahead of an undefeated team, or a two-loss team ahead of a one-loss team, it may re-examine the case in future weeks, and the team with fewer losses will often get the benefit of the doubt. (For a more technical explanation of how this is implemented in the model, see the footnotes.5One change we introduced earlier to the model is that it reverts the projected committee standings each week toward a team’s Elo rating. Elo ratings are a fairly simple method that often correspond pretty well with human judgment in ranking sports teams. But there’s an even simpler method: a rating based solely on a team’s win-loss record and whether it plays in a power conference. The new version of the model reverts a team’s ranking based on a combination of its Elo rating and its win-loss record, instead of its Elo rating alone.)This relatively simple change has little impact for most teams, but it does affect a couple of the cases that had bothered us (and some of our loyal readers). Iowa’s chances of making the playoff are now 18 percent instead of 8 percent. Alabama’s are 42 percent instead of 54 percent. USC’s are 1 percent6USC has a decent chance of winning the Pac-12 championship, but it would take a perfect storm of circumstances to get them into the playoff even if they did. instead of 4 percent. Here’s how everyone’s odds were affected by the change: USC 6-3—19719%1%<1% UCLA 7-22321186%3%<1% RankingProbability of … Utah 8-112112122%12%2% Temple 8-122283943%<1%<1% Mississippi St. 7-22016153%3%<1% Florida State 7-21624170%<1%<1% Navy 7-1—155419%<1%<1% Stanford 8-11151152%26%5% Wisconsin 8-2—17243%<1%<1% TCU 8-1812310%11%4% Florida 8-110101438%19%3% Michigan 7-217201613%6%1% Houston 9-025223633%2%<1% Northwestern 7-2212961<1%<1%<1% Alabama 8-141435%42%12% Toledo 7-12440539%<1%<1% North Carolina 8-1—182030%5%<1% Michigan St. 8-1782212%10%1% Mississippi 7-31826109%<1%<1% So the tough part for teams like Michigan State isn’t sweating the committee’s decision if it wins the Big Ten; it’s getting to that point in the first place. With Ohio State and Iowa still in the way; the Spartans have only an 11 percent chance of running the table.
Stream the episode by clicking the play button, or subscribe using one of the podcast clients we’ve linked to above. Links to what we discussed are here:Neil Paine on what last weekend’s wild-card games really mean.Neil Paine writes about why there is no Super Bowl favorite.FiveThirtyEight’s college football coverage.Neil Paine reports on the quality of goalkeeping in modern hockey.Ben Morris explains why Lionel Messi is impossible. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS 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 (Jan. 12, 2016), we look at whether Alabama’s onside kick won the Tide this year’s college football championship. We try to work out who the heck is going to be crowned Super Bowl champion. Plus, we ask whether Alex Ovechkin is the best hockey player of all time. And we give you a Significant Digit on the awesome Lionel Messi as he secures his fifth Ballon d’Or. Also, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump makes his Hot Takedown debut. Hot Takedown 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.
Ohio State football has become a fixture of central Ohio sports since 1890, when the team played its first game in Columbus. Winning 36 conference titles and seven national titles since their inaugural season, the Buckeyes have led the way in putting Columbus on the map in the sports world. Although the Buckeyes are the face of Columbus sports, the city is home to three professional franchises as well, including the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Yet, entering their 10th season and lacking the steady success of OSU, with just one playoff appearance on their resume, the Jackets play second fiddle in Ohio’s capital city. But even with OSU’s prominence within the city, Blue Jackets’ right wing Jared Boll said he doesn’t feel like the Jackets play in the Bucks’ shadow. “Obviously Ohio State football has been around forever and they’re No. 1, but you know it’s a different sport and we can’t really look at it like that,” Boll said. “We just have to worry about winning games and hopefully that will draw the fans.” Many foreign-born players, such as Jackets’ defenseman Anton Stralman who is from Sweden, don’t even pay attention to OSU sports. “I’m not too much into football or basketball so I don’t really care about Ohio State,” Stralman said. “I don’t really think about it that way. I think hockey fits into this town; it’s a sports town for sure.” Despite averaging only around 85 percent home capacity at Nationwide Arena last season, compared with OSU annually ranking among the top in the nation in attendance, Stralman said that the bright future of the franchise will continue to attract Ohio sports enthusiasts to their games. “As we’re getting better I think the crowds are going to pick up as well,” he said. “It is obviously important that we play good, attractive hockey. That’s what gets the fans here.” And with the Buckeyes consistently proving themselves as a national football powerhouse, Boll said there is no reason the two can’t coexist and even support one another. “The first couple years (with the Blue Jackets) I didn’t really follow them much, but once you live here you kind of grow to like them and you kind of have to like them living in Columbus,” he said. “I enjoy watching the football games, watching them win; they’re a great football team, and it’s always fun to cheer for a winning team.”
CHICAGO–In what was perhaps the most surprising outcome of the first day of the Big Ten tournament, No. 10 seed Nebraska upset the No. 7 seed, Purdue. After beating the Boilermakers, 57-55, Thursday evening, the Huskers will take on No. 2 seed Ohio State Friday at 6:30 p.m. Let’s take a closer look at OSU’s opponent in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten tournament at the United Center in Chicago. Record: 15-17, 5-13 Big Ten Against OSU in the regular season: 0-2 The Buckeyes swept Nebraska in the regular season. OSU, led by junior forward Deshaun Thomas’ 22 points, handled the Cornhuskers, 70-44, on Jan. 2 in Columbus in the first conference game of the year. Junior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. poured in 17 points while sophomore center Amir Williams took care of the paint on the defensive end with four blocks. The Buckeyes’ 26-point margin of victory is tied for the largest of their conference season with a Feb. 20 blowout of Minnesota. The Buckeyes came out of the gates in their second outing against Nebraska of the season on Feb. 2 similarly to the way they had in their first meeting. OSU jumped out to a 11-point lead in Lincoln, Neb.-sparked by the outside shooting of Thomas and sophomore forward LaQuinton Ross-but Nebraska rallied. The Huskers cut the deficit to nine points by halftime and to five with 2:40 remaining in the second half due to a 15-5 run. OSU tightened up its perimeter defense, and escaped the Devaney Center with a 63-56 victory. Matchup to watch: OSU junior guard Aaron Craft vs. Nebraska junior guard Ray Gallegos. In two games against OSU in the regular season, the sharp-shooting Gallegos was bottled up by the Buckeyes’ floor leader. Craft held Gallegos to a combined 8-for-32 from the field, well below his near-37 percent shooting percentage. If Nebraska is going to upset the Buckeyes Friday night, Gallegos will have to be much better than his regular season showing against OSU’s premier defender. Gallegos, who averages 12.8 points on the season, had a cold shooting night in the Huskers win against Purdue, scoring nine points on 11 shots. Nebraska coach Tim Miles on the upcoming game: “Our guys will be ready to go. I think they will be locked in and their hearts are fresher than their legs, but I think that’s going to be all right,” Miles said after the game Thursday. “We’ll just play a low possession game and see what happens.”
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. As students across the country prepare to start university for the first time, analysis of student loan data has revealed that many parents may be feeling the pinch.According to figures obtained from the Student Loans Company (SLC), there has been a “hidden” rise in the amount that parents are expected to contribute towards their child’s education. In some cases, parents are facing a 27 per cent increase on last year, meaning many families could be expected to pay hundreds more a year, following changes to the way student loans are allocated.The research, by consumer help website MoneySavingExpert.com, also revealed that the highest earning parents – those earning upwards of £69,803 a year – are now expected to pay over £5,300 a year towards university costs.The increase follows recent changes in the way in which student loans are allocated.Previously, students from lower income families were eligible for a non-repayable maintenance grant to help with the cost of living. This grant was scrapped by George Osborne, the former Chancellor, to be replaced by an increased maintenance loan, which is means-tested based on parental income.The reduction in this loan starts for families with incomes of £25,000 a year and it can be halved for those whose family income progresses towards £60,000.For new 2016 university starters, this increase in loan size, coupled with a large increase in the portion of the loan that is means-tested, means some parents are expected to pay up to 27 per cent more than parents on the same income last year. According to MoneySavingExpert.com, parental contribution is calculated by taking the maximum maintenance loan available and subtracting the actual amount received after means-testing. For 2015, this was calculated by taking the maximum total award – maintenance loan plus grant – and subtracting the actual amount of loan and grant received after means-testing.Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, criticised “the lack of transparency and clear guidance” on parental contributions, saying it could lead to “unmanageable levels of debt” for students whose families can’t afford to pay.In response, the former head of the Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information, has written an open letter to Jo Johnson, the universities minister, calling for the Government to make parental contributions explicit in information supplied by the SLC.”Almost every 18-year-old school leaver – while able to vote, join the army, marry and apply for a credit card (all the freedoms of adulthood) – still sees their university maintenance loan dictated by a means test of their parents’ residual income,” he said.”The reduction in this living loan starts for those from families with incomes as little as £25,000 a year and loans can be halved for those whose parents earn £60,000.”The implicit premise is that parents will fill the gap, but implicit isn’t good enough – this must be made explicit. The only thing I can find from the Student Loans Company is within its guide to how you’re assessed and paid; it says ‘depending on their income, parents may have to contribute towards the living costs of their student children’.He continued: “The bare minimum requirement must be that parents should be loudly told about it, including exactly how much they are expected to give.”A Department for Education spokesperson said: “There should be no barrier to any child’s ambitions and we are already seeing record numbers of disadvantaged young people going to university. We want to go further and ensure we are building a society that works for everyone.“We have increased maintenance support for students from the lowest income backgrounds by 10 per cent.“As the OECD has recognised, this Government’s approach to student finance is sustainable. Maintenance support is provided as a contribution to students’ costs. Financial assistance is also available through universities.”
The incident occurred on May 12 2015 after a 999 call was made saying the young man was seen slumped in the street. Thom was contacted as he was about to leave work for the day and was sent there on his own to examine the patient.The doctor, who has since attended courses on dealing with aggression, told the hearing: “I’m responsible for what I’ve done and I’ve unfortunately assaulted that patient. I had the choice that day of walking away and I chose wrong completely. “I should have walked away and not assaulted that patient. I want to be working as a GP and helping people I don’t want to be assaulting people and I want to continue doing that.”I do out of hours work, am the child protection officer and I’m a mentor for the diabetic nurse. I feel I provide value to the area. I still think about it every day. What I did that day was totally inappropriate, not what I should do as a doctor or a human being. “All I can do is apologise for my behaviour that day. I still feel embarrassed, I should have walked away.”During his court hearing in November 2015, Sheriff Andrew Miller said he noted testimonials saying Thom had been working “in a challenging environment” and that he was under “significant pressures with heavy workloads”. You accepted that you had exceeded the level of force that was justified to deal with the situation before youpanel chairman Michelle Codd Fraserburgh has just one ambulance available to the public and, if it is called out to take a patient to Aberdeen hospital 40 miles away, it can take up to four hours to be available again. The scenario means the community relies on general practitioners to step in and follow up any other 999 calls.Thom, who had already completed a morning and afternoon shift at the surgery when he was called out, was later convicted of assault at Peterhead Sheriff Court and was fined £360. The identity of the victim is not known.At a hearing of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester, Thom, who lives in Ellon, near Aberdeen, faced being struck off.But he was suspended from practise for two months after he apologised, saying he was under stress due to working “in a challenging environment”.Panel chairman Michelle Codd told him: “Your assault was perpetrated on a man whom you had been called upon to assist in your professional capacity as a doctor. Furthermore this was someone who appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and was therefore vulnerable.”By your admission of guilt, you accepted that you had exceeded the level of force that was justified to deal with the situation before you.” The coastal town of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, has just one ambulance available to the publicBut she said: “It was a mitigating factor that you were required to attend the complainant when you were uncertain about the situation that you would be faced with and whether you would be adequately equipped, although this does not excuse your behaviour.”You have been candid in your acceptance of your wrongdoing, you have apologised and have accepted full responsibility for what occurred. You have not sought to excuse what you did, which you have acknowledged was not how a doctor should behave.”You are highly thought of by professional colleagues and others. It was a recurring theme of your testimonials that this was a one-off incident and was out of character.”You stated that you felt threatened in a situation over which you had no control with no support. You said that the patient approached you and shoved you before punching you three times to your head. You tried to defend yourself. You have no recollection of punching the patient, but you accept that you did so.”You accepted that you should have ensured your own safety by withdrawing, but rather you acted disproportionately and assaulted the patient for which you apologise.”You are held in high regard as a GP in the local area by other professionals as well as by patients, family and friends. A number of the testimonial witnesses stated that they were shocked to learn about what had occurred.” A family doctor assaulted a drunken and aggressive man in the street during a bout of stress after he was sent on his own to treat him at the roadside due to a shortage of ambulances.Dr Martin Thom, 43, had been dispatched to examine the man in the street by a 999 call handler because the only ambulance in town was on an emergency call.But the GP snapped and hit the patient twice in the head and pushed him against a wall when he believed the victim was resisting his attempts to check him over.At the time, Thom – who has worked at Saltoun Surgery, in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, for 11 years – had been on call to deal with medical emergencies in the town, which has a population of 20,000. 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.
“As kids will be, she was very excited about it. But she was told: ‘No, you have not earned that’.”There were times when she was forced to go to tournaments or sessions carrying her kit in a black bin bag.”His behaviour was particularly unpleasant if he felt they had performed badly in tournaments. “When Nephe got to about the same age, he started with her as well.”Over the years, he continued to push these girls in their tennis training and he also involved other professional coaches to help them.”Mr Povall said that, when Monaei turned 11, he took her out of school. She was home-schooled then to give her more time for tennis training, something that happened when Nephe turned 11.”He subjected them to a tough, rigorous and demanding training schedule of stretching, physical exercise and technical tennis training,” he said. “In itself, there is nothing wrong with that. We all know, or have been ourselves, pushy parents, and where there is a child who shows talent then it is not surprising or wrong that their parents should encourage them, discipline them and help them make the very best of that talent.”It is right to say that both girls had some success as junior players. Any of us who are parents, we all do the same: ‘no TV until you do your homework’, for example. The girls were forced to run around tennis courts for hours on end.When Nephe De’Viana, now 19, was given a new tennis bag as part of sponsorship deal, her father said she “had not earned that” and was forced to carry her kit in a black bin bag to “humiliate” her.De’Viana allegedly called the girls, “fat” and “lazy c—s” when they were “as young as nine or 10” if he felt they were not training hard enough.David Povall, prosecuting, said: “It is the Crown’s case that, over a period of years, he made the lives of his two daughters miserable in a variety of different ways, but primarily around his ambition that they should be rich, famous and successful tennis players.”John De’Viana was in a relationship with a lady called Michelle Horne. They had two daughters, the older is Monaei, who was born in July 1995, and the younger daughter is Nephe, who was born in June 1998. John De’Viana leaving Snaresbrook Crown CourtCredit:Central News/Gustavo Valiente It went beyond the mother of the Murray brothers, who was a demanding parent and got them to the very highest level in tennisDavid Povall, prosecuting Monaei De’Viana, now 21, claims her father spat at her as she was driven back from a tennis tournament “because he considered she had not performed as she had ought to” His behaviour was particularly unpleasant if he felt they had performed badly in tournamentsDavid Povall, prosecuting She described one incident in which her father took her off court behind a curtain and punched and kicked her with his hand over her mouth to stop her screaming.When questioned by De’Viana’s defence, Tara Adkin QC, she said she did not think she was exaggerating the abuse and had been forced to play from the age of three.”I told my father frequently that I hated playing tennis,” she said. “One time I did stop, but he manipulated me back into playing tennis.”De’Viana, from Ilford, Essex, denies to two counts of cruelty to a person aged under 16.The trial continues. “However, it is the Crown’s case that John De’Viana’s behaviour went beyond that. It went beyond the mother of the Murray brothers, who was a demanding parent and got them to the very highest level in tennis. 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. “Monaei describes being driven back from a tournament and being spat on as he was driving because he considered she had not performed as she had ought to.”Nephe said he would always be in coach mode. In other words, this was not an occasional blow-up, a loss of temper. Every parent loses his or her temper sometimes.”But, as far as their lives were concerned, this was relentless, from 5.30 in the morning through to going to bed when they finished training and stretching.”Mr Povall said the girls were “being deprived of food at lunch time, not being allowed to eat the packed lunch they were given because they were not trying hard enough”.”One of the girls was dragged off an exercise bike because she was timing her session with her phone rather than a watch,” he added.”His obsession with their success meant that this sort of behaviour, this sort of barracking he gives was constant.”Mr Povall said the abuse ended when De’Viana split up with Ms Horne in 2011, adding that “very shortly after they split, both girls, despite their success, gave up tennis”.Nephe told the court how her father made her run around a court for up to seven hours without a break in a bid to make her a star. “The best examples of the sorts of things they experienced were a daily torrent of verbal abuse, that they would be called ‘motherf—-r’ and ‘c—s’ and ‘fat, lazy c—s’ by their father when he was dissatisfied with the way they were training.”That they would be subjected to physical assault, particularly Nephe: he would take her out of sight if he was unhappy with her and kick and slap her.”That there were occasions when he was serving balls at them in order to punish them for the way they had trained poorly.”That he would do things in order to humiliate them as punishment if he was cross with them.”Nephe, for example, a talented young tennis player, got some sponsorship and got a rather smart tennis bag. A tennis coach assaulted and verbally abused his daughters in his obsessive drive to turn them into Wimbledon champions, a court heard.John De’Viana, 55, took the girls out of school to enforce gruelling all-day training regimes on them, it was said.The girls were made to practise from 5.30am until they went to bed and he would stop them having meals if he thought they were not trying hard enough, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.Monaei De’Viana, now 21, claims her father spat at her as she was driven back from a tennis tournament “because he considered she had not performed as she had ought to”. When Nephe De’Viana, now 19, was given a new tennis bag as part of sponsorship deal, her father said she “had not earned that” and was forced to carry her kit in a black bin bag to “humiliate” her “John De’Viana behaved in a way that went so far as child cruelty as the law defines it, that is, he assaulted or ill-treated his children over time so as that the cumulative effect was likely to cause them unnecessary suffering or injury to health.”He did that, on the Crown’s case, by way of physical assaults and mental abuse of those girls, relentlessly over a period of years.”Each of them suggests that, perhaps with Monaei it was more verbal, causing her suffering by way of a constant stream of abuse, whereas with Nephe, he was more physical.”They both say that, on occasions, they were forced to run round and round the tennis courts. Nephe said that went on for hours at a time. “Mr De’Viana had a background of competing in karate at quite a high level and, as his eldest daughter Monaei got older and got into primary school, he started to train her in tennis and from quite a young age was taking that quite seriously, coaching her himself for some hours of the day.