This was never supposed to be Joel Embiid’s draft. College stars Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins were expected to be the frontrunners for 2014. But as the NCAA season began, Embiid, a center for Kansas, amazed, prompting his coach to compare him to Hakeem Olajuwon. He was ascendant — the kind of guy an NBA team tanks for.Then came the injuries. Embiid sprained his left knee early in the season and suffered a bone contusion, missing only one game. Later, right before the Big 12 tournament, doctors diagnosed him with a spondylolysis, a stress fracture in his lower back. The injury forced him out of the NCAA tournament but not out of the NBA draft. Many draft boards had him going first, convinced that teams would see the potential beyond the injuries.But last week Embiid had surgery to repair a stress fracture in the navicular bone of his foot. He’s reported to be out four to six months, and with the draft on Thursday there’s no telling where he’ll fall. USA Today now projects that Embiid will be the third pick and an NBA.com consensus mock draft projects him at fifth.Teams may be right to show concern about Embiid’s injuries, in part because of his height. Embiid is listed as 7’ tall by ESPN. Examining recent high draft picks reveals that taller players have gone on to miss a larger percentage of games than their shorter peers. Since 2000, 97 players 6’9” and taller have been drafted by teams with lottery selections (the first 13 or 14 picks in the draft, depending on the year). These players missed 17.9 percent of their potential NBA games (regular season and postseason, where appropriate) to injury over the course of their careers, while the 95 players 6’8” or shorter missed just 13.5 percent. The percentage of games missed generally increases as height increases. Players 7’0” or taller have missed nearly 24 percent of their games.That doesn’t factor in Embiid’s specific injuries. The navicular bone injury is the most troubling. The navicular is one of the tarsal bones located in the mid-foot, and an injury to the area is significant. In Embiid’s case, it required surgical intervention.Other players have had navicular fractures (it was the only injury to sideline Michael Jordan for an extended period of time in Chicago), but it’s been fairly uncommon the last few years. I keep a database of every injury in the NBA for any player who’s played since 2009, including each player’s entire injury history, even if the injury took place before 2009. Only seven affected NBA players out of a possible 900+ in my data set had a navicular fracture.Perimeter players including Jordan and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Kevin Martin both fared well following navicular fractures. But unfortunately for Embiid, the precedent set by big men to suffer the injury doesn’t inspire much confidence. In three of the seven navicular cases (including for perimeter and post players), the fracture reoccurred or additional surgery was needed. All three players (Curtis Borchardt, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Yao Ming) stood 7 feet or taller. There’s another seven-footer, too, whose prognosis we’re not sure of yet: Brendan Haywood suffered a navicular fracture in October 2013 and didn’t play a minute this year for Charlotte. We’ll have to wait to see how his foot holds up.Small sample size, of course, but it begins to tell us what teams might be able to expect from Embiid. And there are always outliers. The careers of Kevin McHale (who played too long ago to be included in my database) and Ilgauskas provide some optimism. McHale bounced back following his injury in the 1987 postseason and played seven more seasons, including four at an All-Star level. Ilgauskas also went on to have a productive career.Then again, that only happened after his third foot surgery, a procedure that involved reshaping multiple bones in his foot.
CLEVELAND — We witnessed how quickly everything can change in the finals during Game 1, arguably one of the more bizarre, topsy-turvy finishes in NBA Finals history. And in case you needed a reminder of the swiftness with which a narrative can change, consider this: Two-time league MVP Stephen Curry, who up until Wednesday night was the odds-on favorite to be named the most valuable player of the 2018 NBA Finals, may now be a long shot to win the honor, even though the Warriors are in a great position to sweep the series.With about eight minutes left in the final quarter of a game that would all but determine whether this was truly a competitive series or merely a foregone conclusion, Curry misfired from 26 feet out. The attempt marked his 10th-straight miss — tied for the second-longest shot-making drought of Curry’s career, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group1One shy of the 11 consecutive shots he missed against the Pelicans back on March 20, 2015. — and left him a dismal 1-of-14 on the night.Yet for all of Curry’s struggles, and pedestrian shooting nights from Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on the road, Golden State still had a 92-90 lead on the Cavs at that point. And Kevin Durant — who’d finish with a game-high 43 points, 13 boards and one lost shoe — was the reason. Doing exactly what he was brought in to do, Durant connected on a dagger from 33 feet out to seal Game 3 with just under a minute to play, very likely ending any hope of a Cavs’ title.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Coldblooded.mp400:0000:0000:10Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.“This is the beauty of this team and the luxury we have of having multiple big-time scorers. There’s going to be [bad shooting] nights like this for all of them,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, referring to Curry’s 3-for-16 finish.2Curry hit two shots, including a key triple, in the final minutes. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can score and fill it up, and they lift each other up if one is having a tough night. It’s a pretty nice luxury as a coach, for sure.”That luxury is the one that so many NBA fans feared when Durant shocked the basketball world by signing on to play for the Warriors: that Golden State would have too wide a margin for error by adding Durant onto the core of a team that had already won 73 games the season before.This isn’t to say that the club is unbeatable, necessarily. After all, the Warriors just survived a seven-game series with the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference finals, a round that Houston might have won had it not been for an ill-timed Chris Paul hamstring injury or an epic drought from 3-point range.But Durant is the team’s back-up generator, an elite scoring force that kicks in when Curry, the team’s main power supply, is momentarily disrupted. Even as Curry struggled, Kerr and the Warriors still made good use of him by occasionally having him set a quick screen for Durant, which sometimes prompted LeBron James to switch off. On this play, Durant ends up with an easy shot over Cavaliers guard George Hill instead.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/KDSTEPH.mp400:0000:0000:19Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.“The margin of error is very low. You can’t — I mean, it’s almost like playing the Patriots. You can’t have mistakes. They’re not going to beat themselves,” said James, the Cavs superstar who finished with a “quiet” 33-point, 11-assist, 10-rebound triple-double but walked away with a seventh finals loss in eight tries against Golden State since the Warriors acquired Durant.“When you’re able to force a miscue on them, you have to be able to capitalize and you have to be so in tuned, razor sharp and focused every single possession. You can’t have miscommunication. You can’t have flaws,” continued James, whose team beat Golden State in the NBA Finals in 2016, the season before Durant signed there. “You can’t have ‘my faults’ or ‘my bads’ or things like that, because they’re going to make you pay. When they make you pay, it’s a 3-0, 6-0 or 9-0 run, and it comes in bunches. The room for error, you just can’t have it.”Wednesday night felt reminiscent of Game 3 of last year’s finals — particularly the cold-blooded, game-sealing triple that Durant drilled with nearly the same amount of time remaining in the game, again over the outstretched arm of a helpless Cavaliers defender. Much like last year, Durant’s otherworldly performance was enough to neutralize, if not outdo, Cleveland’s superhuman star on a night when other factors would have threatened Golden State’s grip on the series.Aside from overcoming the lackluster shooting from Curry, the Warriors managed to win despite a productive night from Kevin Love (20 points on just 13 shots) and a legitimately good showing from Rodney Hood, who went from being out of the rotation entirely to scoring more (15 points) off the bench Wednesday than he had logged in a game since early April.Yet while the Cavs were happy to get production out of Hood — and finally bench the slumping Jordan Clarkson, who’d been awful — the Warriors were getting contributions from multiple players. Forward Andre Iguodala was back from injury, and despite looking rusty at times, he chipped in defensively on James and finished the contest a +14, tied for the second-highest plus-minus, just behind Durant’s +15. JaVale McGee, Shaun Livingston and Jordan Bell were all solid in limited roles of 17 minutes or less each and shot a combined 13-of-17 from the field.And to add insult to injury, the Warriors went after JR Smith — whose monumental brain freeze in Game 1 earned him a standing ovation from Golden State fans in Game 2 — incessantly on defense. Smith has always struggled when defending away from the ball, and the Warriors bludgeoned his inability to sink into the paint after passing Curry off to Love after a switch. Golden State found countless open looks as a result of Smith’s on-court confusion defensively.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/SmithOnD.mp400:0000:0002:04Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.In any case, whenever this series ends, in a fifth or six game or even in a sweep on Friday, we’ll hear more about Smith’s blunder in Game 1 and how the events surrounding it might have changed the complexion of the series had they played out differently. Given how good the Warriors are, and all the weapons they possess, it’s difficult to argue otherwise. There simply is little to no room for error against this ballclub, perhaps in a way that we’ve never seen before.Check out our latest NBA predictions.CORRECTION (June 7, 2018, 11:30 a.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly said Cleveland’s Game 3 loss in the 2018 NBA Finals was the eighth finals loss by LeBron James to Golden State in nine tries since the Warriors acquired Kevin Durant in 2016. It was the seventh finals loss in eight tries.
After weeks of golazos, flops and inaccurate estimates of stoppage time, the World Cup is nearly over. We’ve been tracking, and forecasting, each team’s chances as the tournament has unfolded, and we thought it would be fun to look back at how the final between France and Croatia got made. Our final pre-match predictions give France a 59 percent and Croatia a 41 percent of winning it all in Russia — but at the start of the knockout round, their chances of winning the trophy were only 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Here are the paths each team took to the final game.Check out our latest World Cup predictions.
Less than a week ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning were heavy betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup, and for good reason. The Bolts entered the playoffs on the heels of one of the best regular seasons in NHL history. They tied the record for the most regular-season wins1Their 62 wins matched the total of the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96. and finished with the fourth-highest point total in league history. Forward Nikita Kucherov scored 128 points and will almost surely win the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player, and Steven Stamkos had the best season of his already illustrious career.As a team, the Bolts were unparalleled — they paced the league in goals scored, power-play goals scored, shooting percentage and penalty kill percentage. If the team that Steve Yzerman built was ever going to acquire some silverware, this would surely be the year.Unfortunately for the Lightning, their astonishing regular-season form hasn’t carried over to the postseason, and now they find themselves on the precipice of an unprecedented failure: If they lose Tuesday night in Columbus, they’ll be the first Presidents’ Trophy winners to be swept out of the first round of the postseason in history. Even if they aren’t swept but merely lose the series, Tampa’s collapse would be monumental — devastating for any team but especially so for a club that’s been knocking on the door of Stanley Cup glory for several years. How have things gone so wrong for the team from the Gulf Coast?For starters, Tampa’s high-scoring superstars seem to have forgotten what the net looks like. Stamkos hasn’t recorded a point, neither has Brayden Point, and the only thing Kucherov has recorded is a one-game suspension for an extraordinarily dirty hit on Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara. Meanwhile, the opposite is true for the Jackets: Matt Duchene and Artemi Panarin — subjects of a major trade and a major nontrade, respectively — are scoring at will, while Zach Werenski is providing service from the blue line.Things aren’t much different between the pipes. Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has been uncharacteristically abysmal: He has stopped just 86.6 percent of the shots he’s faced so far, which ranks second to last in the postseason among qualifying goalies. This is somewhat stunning, especially given the Russian’s previous postseason form: In 29 postseason appearances between 2014 and 2018, he stopped 91.9 percent of the shots he faced. This spring’s regression couldn’t have come at a worst time.On the other side of the ice, Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been nearly unbeatable, stopping 94 percent of the shots he’s faced — which is good for second-best. None of this bodes well for the Bolts because save percentage is the single most important determinant of a team’s goals-per-game differential in the postseason, and therefore the key to a playoff run.As if circumstances could get any worse, Tampa is unraveling against a team that has never won a playoff series. In fact, Columbus had never won more than two games in a single postseason before this one. It’s one thing to be swept by a franchise that has won four Stanley Cups, as may happen to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the hands of the New York Islanders; it’s an entirely different thing to get bounced by a franchise that’s never advanced to the second round.We wrote last week that anything short of lifting the Stanley Cup in June would feel like a failure for the Bolts and would put them in the same company as the 1995-96 Red Wings, another set of historically great losers. But if the Bolts are dispatched in four games, their failure would have to be considered more embarrassing. After all, that Red Wings team advanced to the conference finals before crashing out of the postseason. This Bolts team might not even win a game.Only four teams have managed to overcome a 3-0 series deficit in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs. If any team is up to the task, it’s this immensely talented Bolts group. But first, they’ll have to remember how to put the puck into the net of their opponent. Otherwise, they will make history for all the wrong reasons.
OSU softball players during a game against Penn State on April 6 at Buckeye Field. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorThe Ohio State softball team has another busy week ahead, beginning with a game against Dayton set for Wednesday at 6 p.m. After the Flyers, the Buckeyes are scheduled for three games against No. 1 Michigan from Friday to Sunday in what could be their toughest matchup of the season.The No. 24 Buckeyes (24-8-1, 9-1-1) have just under a month of regular-season play left before heading to the Big Ten tournament. Last weekend at Rutgers, OSU swept the Scarlet Knights in three games, continuing its five-game win streak.OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said she is eager to head into the second half of the season with a team that is building momentum.“What a fun week for us,” she said of last week’s sweeps of Rutgers and Penn State. “So we’re not really working on anything specific this week.”Scouting DaytonThe Flyers (17-14-1) have won seven of their last eight games, including a 2-1 series win at George Mason last weekend. The team is ranked second in the Atlantic 10 Conference, in which it claimed the No. 1 spot in 2015 with a 39-14 overall record.At the plate, Dayton is led by junior Gabrielle Snyder, who is hitting .412 with 10 extra-base hits. The Flyers’ highest individual RBI total is 11, shared by freshman Lisa Tassi and junior Katie Ryan. Nine Buckeyes best this figure, as they have 215 RBIs to their opponents’ 118. Dayton’s roster has combined for 79 RBIs this season, while OSU redshirt junior Alex Bayne has 43 alone.The Flyers are boasting the Atlantic 10’s reigning pitcher of the week in sophomore Manda Cash. The left-hander pitched two shutouts last week, including a career-high 13 strikeouts in seven innings on Saturday. While Cash’s ERA is 1.51, Snyder’s falls at an impressive 1.29 with a 6-1 record.OSU junior Shelby Hursh continues to lead OSU’s pitching staff with 105 strikeouts and a 12-3 record. Hursh pitched her second career no-hitter in the team’s first game against Penn State on April 6.“I’d still like to cut down on my walks,” Hursh said, noting her 72 walks. “It’s still a testament to my defense though when I walk a lot of hitters and they still can’t put up any runs.”Fellow junior Lena Springer made her mark with a shutout against Rutgers last weekend, which brought her career ERA to 2.73.“It has been a very interesting season with the pitching staff. Each has found their moment to shine, and we have relied on them in so many different situations,” Schoenly said. “I’m hoping for them to continue to shut down batters.”Monitoring MichiganHeading into its rivalry matchup against the Buckeyes, Michigan (29-4, 7-2) has claimed the No. 1 spot in both the USA Today and ESPN polls. Despite this title, the Wolverines, who have had 38 consecutive winning seasons, are ranked third in the Big Ten standings behind Minnesota and OSU.In the conference, Michigan, Schoenly’s alma mater, leads in team batting, pitching and fielding percentages as it ventures into a midweek matchup against Michigan State.The Wolverines’ offense is the crown jewel of the Big Ten, boasting the top three conference hitters: senior Sierra Romero, junior Sierra Lawrence and sophomore Tera Blanco.Romero, who has earned two Big Ten Player of the Week honors so far this season, is hitting .500 with 55 RBIs, 12 home runs and a .989 slugging percentage.The senior infielder, a member of the 2015 United States Women’s National Team, was named Big Ten Player of the Year in 2013 and 2014, along with being a first-team All-American the past two seasons. She also holds program records for all-time runs scored, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, batting average and grand slams. She owns single-season records in runs scored, home runs, RBIs and batting average, too. Michigan is outhitting its opponents .364 to .204, with six players hitting above .350. The team has collected 261 RBIs, while holding its opponents to only 84.In the circle, the Wolverines rely on two pitchers, junior Megan Betsa and redshirt senior Sara Driesenga. The right-handed duo has struck out 218 batters and only given up 69 earned runs in 45 appearances.Driesenga, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection who missed most of last season with an injury, currently holds a perfect 14-0 record on the mound. Blanco, on the other hand, has pitched 25.1 innings with 22 strikeouts in 2016 but spends most of her time at first base.Swinging for the fencesEleven Buckeyes have hit home runs so far this season, led by Bayne with 17. Schoenly said that her hitters are feeling good and expressed her confidence in their continued success at the plate, especially Bayne.OSU junior Alex Bayne (2) is welcomed by her teammates at home plate after hitting a homerun during a game against Penn State on April 6 at Buckeye Field. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor“Bayne is within two home runs of the Ohio State home runs record, and there have been some unbelievable hitters in this program in the past,” Schoenly said. “I’m most proud of her for keeping a consistent approach at the plate.”Bayne was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday, making her the second OSU player after senior Erika Leonard to earn the honor this season. Over the last five games, she hit .579 with a slugging percentage of 1.368.Another player who Schoenly lauded was freshman Emily Clark, who has now taken on a full-time starting role at second base.“I think she really gained her confidence when she started playing every day. She definitely packs power in her swing,” Schoenly said.The second baseman hit .429 last week, and three of her four home runs on the year were recorded in the series against Rutgers. On the season, she has a .606 slugging percentage, which is third highest on the team behind Bayne and senior catcher Cammi Prantl.“(Clark) had those kind of numbers this fall and we had high expectations for her, so we are glad she’s more comfortable,” Schoenly said. “I think it comes down to her being aggressive at the plate.”Coming upAfter the Wolverines, OSU is scheduled to face another nonconference opponent when it heads to Ohio University for a doubleheader on Tuesday, with an expected first pitch at 4 p.m. After the Bobcats, the Buckeyes are set to continue their Big Ten schedule with a home series with Purdue from April 22 to 24.“This time of the year is a grind, and we’re feeling confident right now,” Schoenly said. “We want to ride that wave.”
The Ohio State men’s basketball team’s 15-game home win streak and nine-game conference win streak came to an end Wednesday night after a 60-57 loss to No. 4 Purdue. The story of the game was Purdue’s first-half dominance. In front of the first sell-out crowd of the season at the Schottenstein Center, the Boilermakers jumped out to an early lead and led for all 40 minutes of Wednesday’s game. With just more than seven minutes remaining in the first half, junior Evan Turner converted a three-point play and for the first time all night the capacity crowd erupted. The jubilation was short lived, however, as Purdue’s Keaton Grant immediately responded with a four-point play at the other end. The crowd again rose to its feet when junior Jon Diebler made the team’s first three-point basket with less than a minute ago. But again, the Boilermakers answered, this time with a three-point play. In the first half “they made some shots and some of us didn’t have our heads right,” Turner said. “As a unit we didn’t execute how we were supposed to.”Purdue led by 13 at the break and although the Buckeyes got as close as 48-46 late in the second half, the first half struggles proved to be too much to overcome. OSU had one last chance in the waning moments when Diebler took and missed a potential game-tying three-pointer as time expired. “I got a good look,” Diebler said. “I should have knocked it down. There’s really no excuses.”Unlike in last month’s game at Purdue, the Buckeyes did a much better job of containing junior Robbie Hummel. Hummel torched Ohio State 35 points in the first meeting, but was held to just four Wednesday.However, OSU simply had no answer for junior JaJuan Johnson. After scoring a season-low four points in the first meeting between these two teams, Johnson led the way offensively for the Boilermakers. He scored a team-high 24 points on 11-17 shooting. “He made shots and those were some tough shots,” Diebler said. “That’s a heck of a basketball player right there.”As expected, Turner handled the bulk of the load for the Buckeyes and scored a game-high 29 points. With the loss, OSU dropped to 10-4 in conference play, but the Buckeyes have little time to regroup. They travel to East Lansing, Mich., Sunday to play the Big Ten’s first-place team. “You have to be honest with yourself and say ‘OK what didn’t we do well?’ but we have another tremendous challenge down the pipe,” coach Thad Matta said. “I told the guys after the game, we have to be a better basketball team on Sunday.”
For this group of seniors in the past three seasons, the story remained the same. A bid to the NCAA Championship semifinals and nothing more. In the 2010 semifinals, the Stanford Cardinal overpowered the Ohio State men’s volleyball team in three straight sets (30-25, 30-26, 30-17). What followed was a long flight home. At that time, coach Pete Hanson told his players to write down their goal for the next season. “Each kid said his goal was to win the National Championship,” Hanson said. Now, a little more than a year later, the mission has been accomplished. All-American outside hitter Jeff Menzel jumped up for a kill on Championship point, but a wall of Steven Kehoe, Kevin Heine and Jason Tobkin stopped him in his tracks. Kehoe connected on the block as the Buckeyes defeated the California-Santa Barbara Gauchos, 3-2, for the program’s first national title. “Our coaching staff told us if we blocked him once in the last five points, we would win the match,” Kehoe said. “I think deep down we believed we earned the right to be here,” Hanson said. “It’s really cool how that came to fruition.” The Scarlet and Gray outplayed the Gauchos in about every aspect of the match, but OSU’s 26 service errors kept UCSB, which had just six service errors, in the match. “I definitely came out tense, and I think a lot of the guys did, especially from the service line,” Kehoe said. Hanson agreed. “It was clearly frustrating,” he said. “(OSU) never panicked. It’s like when a pitcher can’t locate his fastball. It will come, and it did.” Hanson said it was key to isolate Menzel and force his supporting cast to win the match. “I think when you hold an All-American to 12 kills on 40 swings and he hits .025, you’ve done a pretty good job,” Hanson said. Junior Shawn Sangrey led OSU with a match-high 32.5 points and 30 kills. His career-high 30 kills are the most by any Buckeye this season. Kehoe added a season-high 65 assists and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “For our seniors, it was their last collegiate volleyball game ever,” Sangrey said. “We wanted to go out on top, and that’s what we did.” Kehoe, Sangrey and John Klanac were named to the All-Tournament team. OSU overcame its serving woes with a strong offensive effort. The Buckeyes outhit UCSB .329 to .198, had a 74-45 advantage in kills and led the match in assists, 70-42. The Buckeyes are the third team outside the West to win the title. Penn State won in 1994 and 2008. OSU holds a 1-2 record in national title games. The Buckeyes lost, 3-1, against USC in 1977 and, 3-0, to UCLA in 2000.
Ohio State redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop (33) embraces head coach Chris Holtmann on senior night prior to the start of the game against Rutgers on Feb. 20. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor
Head coach Chris Holtmann talks to the Buckeyes during a timeout in the second half of the game against Michigan State at the Big Ten tournament on Mar. 14 in Chicago. Ohio State lost 77-70. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorAfter Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament semifinal, head coach Chris Holtmann was confident that his team’s body of work was representative of an NCAA Tournament team. He felt the same the day after, telling Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith he felt the Buckeyes were locked in as an 11 seed, maybe even a 10. Then Sunday rolled around. “As each hour passed today and I studied the numbers, I studied myself into absolute paranoia,” Holtmann said. “I just had to stop. Thank God we had practice.” For the first time in his coaching career, Holtmann experienced what leading a bubble team was really like. And on Sunday, sequestered in a room together as a team, experiencing the pressure of the unknown as a group, the unknown became known. Ohio State was an NCAA Tournament team. “All season long, we have been leaning on each other just throughout the struggles,” senior guard C.J. Jackson said. “Obviously this year has had its ups and downs and just to see our name pop up there is a bit of a sigh of relief.” For redshirt senior guard Keyshawn Woods, Ohio State’s name popping up as an 11 seed set to play Iowa State in Tulsa, Oklahoma was validation that he made the right decision to join Holtmann for his final season. This was what came to mind for the second-year head coach when Ohio State’s future became secure, watching Woods achieve what he has wanted for his collegiate career. “Keyshawn, the reason he came here was to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Holtmann said. “It wasn’t me. He basically came here and said, ‘Hey, I’m putting my faith in you that I can get there.’” Woods echoed that sentiment, saying the NCAA Tournament was always on his mind when selecting a school to spend his last season. “It’s the whole reason why I chose to become a Buckeye,” Woods said. “The belief I had in the guys, C.J., coach Holtmann, the staff, it’s a great feeling, especially to see our name pop up there.” But Holtmann said, at the beginning of the season, what Woods strived for was no guarantee. He said the Buckeyes had to establish a new identity from the very start of the season. Even with that, playing well, finding the right players to mold into his scheme and game plan, Holtmann said a Tournament bid was not exactly expected. “I thought we would have to play well. I did,” Holtmann said. “I thought it was if we played well, I thought it would be very close.” Now that Ohio State has made the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row — Holtmann’s fifth-straight season dating back to his head coaching tenure at Butler — the approach is not one of appreciating the bid. Simply put, the Buckeyes want to show up. “I don’t think that was just our goal: just to make the Tournament. We are not here just to play one game in the Tournament,” Jackson said. “We are here to actually win some games and make a run. Not winning anymore games up to this point is not our approach and not what we are thinking.” Ohio State will begin that run against Iowa State, a team that had just won the Big 12 Championship Saturday against Kansas and had defeated six ranked opponents this season. Holtmann thought the Cyclones might be the No. 1 team of all the six seeds, saying they could have easily been a five seed. No matter Ohio State’s performance against the Cyclones in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Jackson will end his season in the big dance, in March Madness: where he wanted it to end. And as for the future, Jackson said that is not unknown. “I just think that that shows that Ohio State is back and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon.”
Amelia has been the most popular girls’ name in England and Wales since 2011 while Oliver has been in the top spot since 2013.However, this marks the first time Muhammad has been top in two areas, having overtaken Oliver as top name in the West Midlands from 2014.Four names – Jaxon, Roman, Reggie and Carter – broke into the boys’ top 100, taking the places of Owen, Robert, Joey and Finlay from 2014.Of these, Jaxon rose the most, climbing 35 places to number 80 while Kian fell 44 places to 98, the largest decline.There were six new entries in the girls’ top 100, these were Penelope, Mila, Clara, Arabella, Maddison and Aria. These replaced Lydia, Faith, Mollie, Brooke, Isabel and Amy from 2014.Of these, Aria showed the biggest ascent, shooting 70 places to claim the number 100 spot while Katie dropped the furthest – 22 places to number 99, just staying inside the top 100. There were 697,852 live births in England and Wales in 2015, with more than 27,000 different boys’ and 35,000 different girls’ names registered, the ONS said.The top 100 boys’ names accounted for 52% of all boys born in 2015, while the top 100 girls’ names accounted for 43% of all girls born in 2015.Half of the top 10 most popular boys’ names in 2015 had kept their place from a decade earlier in 2005: Oliver, Jack, Harry, William and Thomas. Daniel showed the biggest decline, having dropped 18 places since being in the top 10 a decade ago.Four out of the top 10 girls’ names in 2005 kept their place, these were Olivia, Emily, Ella and Jessica.Isla and Ava shot up 121 and 77 places respectively from their 2005 position to make it in to the 2015 top 10.Ellie has fallen 42 places in the rankings since being in the 2005 top 10 – the largest decrease in popularity for girls. Elizabeth McLaren, a statistician from the ONS, said: “Amelia and Oliver remained the most popular names for baby girls and boys born in 2015, having held the top spot since 2011 and 2013 respectively.”Ella re-entered the top 10 baby girls’ names in 2015 – Ella was last in the top 10 in 2007. Noah entered the top 10 baby boys’ names for the first time on record in 2015, following a gradual increase in popularity.”The statistics are “based on the exact spelling of the name given on the birth certificate; grouping names with similar pronunciation would change the rankings,” the ONS said. Compared with 2005, Oscar and Noah showed the biggest increase in popularity for those in the top 10 – rising 45 and 44 places respectively. Oliver and Amelia remained the most popular baby names in 2015 in all regions of England except London and the West Midlands where Muhammad was the top name. Ella and Mia rose into the top 10 girls’ names, replacing Lily and Sophie from 2014, while Noah replaced James in the top 10 boys’ names, the Office for National Statistics said. 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.