The Penn State scandal very well could have catapulted USC to national champions. For, as expected, former Nittany Lions running back Silas Redd as informed the heavily sanctioned school that he is leaving Happy Valley to join the Trojans.Redd, who gained 1,241 yards last year for Penn State could be the final piece to a powerhouse USC squad that in some circles is a pre-season No. 1 in the country.Here’s the irony: Redd’s transfer could be the decisive piece to a program just getting over its own sanctions from the NCAA.Not only can Nittany Lion players transfer without sitting out a year, they can be aggressively recruited. And USC coach Lane Kiffin was especially forceful with Redd, according to reports. Remember, Kiffin was on the other end of the same rule two years ago after USC was hit with heavy NCAA sanctions stemming from the Reggie Bush scandal.Kiffin wooed Redd with a personal visit in Connecticut. He wowed him with a Power Point presentation on the lifelong benefits of joining the Trojan family and the short-term benefits of playing a season with senior quarterback Matt Barkley.He had backup quarterback Max Wittek, a youth football teammate of Redd, call his old buddy. He brought Redd to campus and walked him through the new 110,000-square-foot, $70 million John McKay Center. He painted a clear picture of national championship aspirations.While some coaches said they would not recruit Penn State players, Kiffin apparently did so with vim and vigor. There are not many who would be surprised that Kiffin would make his play for any player he desires. And he did so within the rules, so there really is no room for anyone to gripe.The Trojans’ offense needed a definitive rusher, and Redd proved he can handle a significant load.
Before the World Cup began, FiveThirtyEight’s projections, which are based on ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI), were higher for teams from South America and lower for teams from Europe than other ratings systems’.So far, that’s looked like a reasonably sharp assessment. And if we extend the analysis from continents to hemispheres — with teams from North America and South America in one group, and those from Europe, Africa and Asia in the other — it looks like we may even have underestimated teams from the Americas.First, let’s look at the results by continental confederation. The table below evaluates each confederation’s results so far and compares them with the FiveThirtyEight/SPI forecast before the tournament. It includes results through Friday afternoon’s game between Costa Rica and Italy, and excludes games (such as the France-Switzerland match that I’m watching now) between teams from the same confederation.Before the tournament, our projections expected South American teams to have compiled 5.7 wins, 2.0 losses and 2.3 draws through this point in the World Cup. In fact, their record is 7-2-1. Not a huge difference, but the South American teams have more than held up their side of the bargain.Teams from Europe, by contrast, are 5-6-2 in games played against other confederations, compared with an expected record of 5.1 wins, 4.6 losses and 3.3 draws. Pretty close, although a pinch worse than expected.It’s teams from North America’s CONCACAF federation, instead, that have produced the largest discrepancy. They’re 4-1-1 so far, much better than their meager expected record of 1.4 wins, 3.1 losses and 1.5 draws. Meanwhile, teams from Asia and Africa, although not expected to be much good, are struggling with a combined record of just 1-8-4 so far.A still more striking result comes when you combine the continents into hemispheres (counting Europe along with Asia and Africa in one hemisphere and the Americas in another). In inter-hemisphere matches so far, the Americas have 10 wins against just two losses. The rest of the world has the opposite record: 2-10-0.What accounts for the differences? The least sexy explanation might be luck: We’re not talking about all that large a sample of matches. We’ll have to see whether the pattern holds through the rest of the tournament.But travel distance could also play a role. The FiveThirtyEight match projections include a very modest adjustment for east-to-west travel distance (north-to-south distance seems to matter much less, perhaps because it doesn’t produce as much jet lag). The adjustment is calibrated based on the results of highly competitive soccer matches since 2006. However, there’s evidence that the home-continent advantage had been higher in the past. No European team has ever won a World Cup played in the Americas.It’s also possible that the effect has something to do with the stadium atmosphere. Teams such as Chile and Colombia have received raucous support in their matches so far; in the game I attended at Estádio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, perhaps 90 percent of the crowd was pulling for the Chileans. Because partisan crowds seem to affect officiating decisions in soccer, that could mean these teams are getting a bit more slack from the officials. Chile, for example, spent much of the second half of its win against Spain lying on the pitch with exaggerated injuries but received no sanction for time-wasting.A final theory might be that teams from the Americas are fresher. The major European leagues just completed play in mid-May after beginning their season last August. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, played in 51 matches for Real Madrid since the start of last summer, including the Champions League final a few weeks ago. The best teams from the Americas, like Brazil and Argentina, also have plenty of stars in the major European leagues. But others, such as Costa Rica and Mexico, are less reliant on such players. That could serve to mitigate the talent advantage that the European teams might have and reward the countries with disciplined and tactical team play.
In case you haven’t been reading this site lately, here’s the latest reminder that the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team, which is seeking its third straight national title Tuesday in Tampa, is really, really good. UConn is way more dominant than Kentucky’s men’s team was even before the Wildcats lost in the national semis. It’s way better than its closest rivals in the women’s game: Notre Dame, its opponent Tuesday. And it’s even way more dominant than its worthiest rivals: other recent UConn teams.Before the tournament began, we tracked how much UConn led by in its games, on average, throughout the 40 minutes of regulation. Not only had UConn crushed its opponents by an average of 42 points per game this year, but it was even more dominant earlier in the game — for instance, it led at halftime by an average of 25 points. And at just about every stage of the average game, the Huskies were ahead by more points than the UConn teams of the previous four years. The big exception was their Elite Eight game against Dayton, in which UConn had a lead of more than 10 points for less than a quarter of the game.What we didn’t know then is whether the comparison would hold up once the NCAA tournament began. UConn would have to face some tough competition — could it continue to dominate?The answer is a qualified yes. UConn’s average halftime margin has been 18.2 points during the tournament, compared to 24.8 points in the regular season and American Athletic Conference tournament — a drop-off of 27 percent. But it has caught up a bit in the second half of games, winning by an average of 37.4 points — just 11 percent lower than its 42.1-point average lead at the end of regulation coming into the tournament. That may mean that UConn peaked at different times in tournament games, or that the 11 percent gap is understating the extent to which UConn has struggled in the tournament, since it spent less time with its foot off the gas pedal in the second half. Of course, struggling is relative for these Huskies: They’ve still won each of their tournament games by at least 21 points.A related question we faced was how much of this team’s apparent edge over its UConn predecessors would drop away once it, like its predecessors, had to play in the tournament. The answer is, not much.This chart isn’t finished yet — Notre Dame will have something to say about it. Our March Madness predictions give the Fighting Irish only a 14 percent chance of winning. They have an even smaller chance of winning by enough to change UConn’s overwhelmingly dominant profile.Correction: An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to a tournament in which UConn played. It was the American Athletic Conference tournament, not the Big East.
Ohio State redshirt junior wrestler Bo Jordan comes into the 2016-2017 NCAA season ranked No. 1 for 174 weight class. Credit: Ohio State Athletics.Most mornings, Bo Jordan is awake bright and early to head to a morning workout or practice.As a student in athletic training, he attends his classes until about 2 p.m. only to return to the weight room for another lift and another practice until around 5 p.m.The wrestler then takes an ice bath, showers and cleans himself up before he returns home for the night. But instead of hanging out with his teammates or heading to a bar, the redshirt junior comes home to dinner and playtime with his wife and 11-month-old daughter.This is not the typical day for most student athletes, let alone average college students. While the 22-year-old holds the responsibilities of being a student at Ohio State and an All-American wrestler on his broad shoulders, he also has the responsibility of being a husband and father in his home life.“Honestly, everyone always asks me, ‘How do you do it?’ Or they will tell me, ‘It seems so hard.’ But it’s easier. It’s honestly easier,” Jordan said. “I’m not out partying or doing anything stupid. I’m in, spending time with my wife and daughter, getting my homework done and I’m living a real clean life, and it’s easy.”Bo isn’t the only Jordan on the Ohio State wrestling team, as his younger brother Micah is a redshirt sophomore. Micah is just one of Bo’s many teammates who wonders how he balances all of his responsibilities in his life.“Sometimes I’m like, ‘How does he do it.’ But he’s really strong and he is really mentally tough,” Micah said. “He still puts time in with his family, with his wife and his daughter, and also he still spends a lot of time in the wrestling room.”For Bo, living with his wife Ashley and their daughter Keira meant he had to change his lifestyle. At first, he said it was different for him because he had to prioritize his motivations and let go of some things he was used to, such as playing video games for several hours a day. But he drifted away from those activities and now is accustomed to life with his family.“Now it’s like I can’t wait to get out of practice and to go home and see my daughter. I can’t wait to get out of practice to just go hang out with my wife and watch some Netflix. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but it’s awesome,” Jordan said. “I love my life and it’s very, very different.”OSU wrestling assistant coach J Jaggers said that Jordan is able to balance being a wrestler, a student, a husband and a father because of his maturity.“One of the adjectives that comes to mind when you think of Bo is that he is a mature kid,” Jaggers said, “He knows what he values, and that is evident in his relationship with his wife, the kind of father he is and the teammate and brother he is.” Head coach Tom Ryan said that Jordan recognizes what it takes to be able to manage and maintain his lifestyle.“He understands what a real man acts like in society, and real men uphold their responsibilities,” Ryan said. “He has done a great job at managing his home life … because he was raised in a way that you take care of your own stuff. We call it flying your own plane. You take a hold of the wheel and you fly, so he has been a great example of that.”When he and his then-girlfriend, now wife, found out that they were going to be parents, it was in the middle of the team’s 2015 national championship run. Jordan waited about two months to say anything to the coaches because he was concerned that they would be upset with him.But Jordan couldn’t have been more wrong.A few days after the team won the national championship, Jordan called Ryan to tell him about the news.“I was kind of tearing up and didn’t know what to say,” Jordan said. “He went, ‘Holy crap. Holy crap.’ He said that three times, and then he started dying laughing, and I didn’t know whether to start laughing or crying because I didn’t know what was going on. But then he goes, ‘Hey man, that’s life. I love ya. What can I do to help.’”Ryan said he knows that Jordan has a great circle of people around him whom he can go to for advice and counseling, but he was happy that Jordan decided to give him a call.“I was excited. I was like, ‘Look, can you imagine how many loving people are going to be in your daughter’s life,’” Ryan said. “It was a good, healthy conversation and it was about faith, God and the meaning of life.”Jordan knew that the coaches didn’t recruit him expecting he would be married and have a child by his junior year, so the support from his coaching staff was everything to him and his wife,” Jordan said.“When you say when you are recruiting somebody that ‘I’ll be there for you through the thick and thin,’ it sounds good, but it’s not so easy to apply sometimes,” Ryan said. “I think he has seen firsthand that we love him not only as a wrestler, but as a human being. Not only as someone that can score points for us and win national titles for us, but as a man and as a person.”The couple was married before Keira was born. Jordan said that, along with getting married, becoming a dad was the proudest moment of his life.“Before that, it was always the wrestling that was the proudest moment. I won four state championships in high school and came in third twice in the national tournament at Ohio State. But now, what means the most to me is just my wife and our little girl,” Jordan said. “That’s crazy because I’ve been wrestling since I was 6 years old, and I have had my daughter for a year. Nothing compares to that.”Not only did the coaches of the wrestling team support Jordan and his wife when they were going through the process of getting married and having their child, but so did his teammates.“When Bo’s daughter was born, a lot of the team went over to the hospital and got to see Bo, his wife and Keira,” Micah Jordan said. “The whole team just embraced Bo’s relationship with his wife and his daughter. It was amazing.”This upcoming season will be his second season as a married man and a father, but it also marks a few more changes for the wrestler.The first change is that the four-time time state champion at St. Paris Graham High School will move up to a higher weight class. In his first two seasons wrestling at OSU, Jordan wrestled at the weight of 165 pounds. He finished twice as the runner-up at the Big Ten championships and third at the NCAA championships. But this season, he will be competing at 174 pounds.“I think he will be better there. I think he will feel better there. He’s got a huge frame, and he is just more of a wrestler of great strength,” Ryan said. “He was ranked No. 1 in the country at 174, so that’s a pretty good indication of what the country thinks of him.”Although Jordan has yet to wrestle competitively at the weight, he said that he feels good in the practice room and is looking forward to competing. He knows there are expectations of him and his teammates, but he feels like the sky’s the limit this season.“As far as attaching an accolade as a goal, you can say it, but it doesn’t need to be said,” Jaggers said. “But if Bo competes his hardest and his hardest gets him fourth place in the country, then we are going to wrap our arms around him and give him a hug and be so proud of him.”The other change in Jordan’s life this season comes away from the mat. He and Ashley are expecting their second child, a girl whom Jordan said is due on November 25.While Jordan’s education and wrestling career are both very important to him, he said that being married and being a father helps him deal with the stress that wrestling and school can bring.“I feel like when I wasn’t married and I didn’t have a kid, it was all business. I really didn’t relax as much, and I didn’t really take my mind off wrestling,” Jordan said. “But now when I go home, I have a little girl that will run up to me and give me hugs and kisses. It’s just a whole different world, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. If I could do it all over again, I would do it the exact same way 10 times.”
When the final buzzer sounded at the end of Ohio State’s win in its regular season finale, Mark Titus’ “playing” career in a Buckeye uniform was over. On his own senior night, Titus shed tears, entered the game, and recorded a “trillion” in his final collegiate game. But is his basketball career over? Despite entering — and promptly being kicked out of — last year’s NBA draft, Titus said he’s ready to give professional basketball another shot. “I’m going to try, yeah,” Titus said. “I’m definitely still a free-agent NBA player, and if anybody wants to pick me up, I’d be happy to lend my services.” His first priority is getting healthy. Titus missed the majority of his senior campaign with a shoulder injury and had a season-ending surgery following the Buckeyes’ completion of the regular season. But NBA executives need not worry. Titus said he has fully healed and is ready to play. “I just got out of the sling, which is really exciting,” he said. “I had to wear a sling for like five weeks or something like that. I’m excited to start playing again if I get drafted somewhere.” Titus is aware, however, that some might question whether a guy who played in just 32 games during his four-year career is good enough to play in the NBA. For the doubters, he created his “Mr. Rainmaker” video earlier this year. Following its release, Titus said he planned to use the video as evidence of his exceptional basketball abilities. “I’m going to send the video to NBA scouts and see what comes back from that,” Titus said. “I already tried to get a hold of Greg Oden to tell him to talk to the [Portland Trail] Blazers for me. “We’ll see what happens, but I’m sure I could raise some hell with this draft, too.”
Normally, the hosts of a popular talk-radio show talk about sports on a quiet set with only a few production assistants in the room. On Thursday, ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” talked sports in front of about 800 spectators in the Archie Griffin ballroom at the Ohio Union. In an Ohio Union Activities Board event, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic appeared at an interactive sports discussion covering everything from the Cleveland sports scene to whether there should be a playoff system in college football. “It was great. I love doing these,” Greenberg said. “There are a lot of different groups we might speak in front of, and my favorite to do is college.” The prominent duo shared the stage with hosts Scott Torgerson, known as “The Torg” from his local sports-talk radio show on 97.1 FM, and former Buckeye quarterback Craig Krenzel. “We are like an old married couple,” Greenberg told the crowd. “We bicker and are rarely intimate.” The two ESPN personalities shared the experiences that lead them to own a prominent morning radio show and gave insight to what it’s like to be paired with someone for 12 years. Greenberg said he started out working during late nights at a local news radio station in Chicago, while Golic had a nine-year career in the NFL as a defensive lineman after starring at Notre Dame. “When I played, I was the guy who all the beat writers would go to for quotes,” Golic said. President E. Gordon Gee attended and provided one of the more awkward moments of the night for the rambunctious radio personalities. In November, Gee said Ohio State’s football team doesn’t play the “little sisters of the poor” in regards to TCU’s football team. Greenberg then criticized Gee’s comment on-air during their radio show. Once Torgerson made Greenberg aware of Gee’s presence in the crowd, Greenberg apologized and mentioned how admirably Gee handled of the situation. Following the show, Torgeson said he was amazed at the level of chemistry the two Mikes share. “It’s fun because they work so well together,” Torgerson said. “When they got on stage it’s like they’ve been doing this for 30 years and have a routine, but I can tell you they don’t have a routine. That’s what’s so great about tonight. They were funny, informative and worked very well with each other.” Following the free-flowing sports discussion on numerous sports topics, Greenberg and Golic took questions from the crowd that focused mainly on the Ohio sports scene. One attendee had asked if any of the Cleveland sports franchises would win a championship during his lifetime. Greenberg and Golic answered with a resounding “No.” “With Ohio State being a school where athletics are so popular, it made perfect sense for the Ohio Union Activities Board to bring Mike and Mike to campus,” said Daniel Walls, OUAB lectures chairman and a third-year in microbiology. OUAB would not disclose the cost of bringing the duo to OSU. “It had been some time since OUAB had brought a sports-related lecture to campus, and after surveying students on various potential speakers; Mike and Mike consistently performed well,” Walls said.
Ohio State and Notre Dame football fans don’t always get along, but when comparing the 2002 Buckeyes and the 2012 Fighting Irish, silver and gold might have more in common than they would like to admit. For starters, defense seems to have been a pillar for both squads’ success. The 2002 Buckeye defense allowed an average of 13 points per game during the run and they held five of their opponents to seven points or less. This years, Notre Dame has given up 10.3 points per game and held five of their opponents to seven points or less. The greatest challenge for OSU’s 2002 team was their final game against the Miami Hurricanes offense that averaged almost 42 points per game during the regular season. Likewise, Notre Dame will try to tackle an Alabama team that has put up 38.5 points per game this season in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7. For the 2002 Buckeyes and 2012 Fighting Irish, their defenses were stout enough to will them through some tight contests. This year, Notre Dame has won five of their games by seven points or less including two games (Stanford on Oct. 13 and Pittsburgh on Nov. 3) which went into overtime. The latter contest, which was the closest to ending the Fighting Irish’s perfect season, ended, 29-26, in triple overtime. Seven of OSU’s 14 games during the 2002 season were decided by seven points or less. Perhaps the most memorable of those games was the 10-6 victory against Purdue when a former OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel completed a 37-yard game-winning touchdown pass to former wide receiver Michael Jenkins with less than two minutes left in the game. In his first full season as a starter, Krenzel did not put up outrageous video game-like numbers. Then a junior, he threw for 2,110 yards passing, 12 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 59.4 completion percentage. Plenty of other quarterbacks around the country put up more impressive stats, but it likely did not matter to Buckeyes fans because of the season he put together. Redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson has shared time under center with junior Tommy Rees in his first season playing for Notre Dame, but he is without question the starting quarterback of his team now after strong performances down the stretch. Much like Krenzel, his stats will not wow any avid sports fan that looks at them a decade from now. In 11 games played, Golson has a 58.9 completion percentage and thrown for 2,135 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. He ranks 79th in the FBS among quarterbacks in passing yards but if he leads the Irish to a win on Jan. 7, Golson might live in the same lore as Krenzel. Coming into the 2002 National Championship Game the Buckeyes were an 11.5-point underdog against the dominant Hurricanes. OSU was taking on the defending national champions, which were riding a 34-game win streak and held a 54-8 record since the beginning of the 1998 season. A similar task awaits the Irish. As of Dec. 3, Notre Dame is listed as a nine-point underdog against the Crimson Tide, this season’s defending national champions, but also have a 60-7 record over the past five seasons. Like the Scarlet and Gray of 2002, the Fighting Irish might need to inspiring football to overcome such odds. But don’t be surprised if Golson and Notre Dame are raising up a crystal football at the conclusion of the national championship game.
Columbus Crew midfielder Ethan Finlay dribbles past Chicago Fire goalie Sean Johnson during a game against the Fire May 24 at Crew Stadium in Columbus. The Crew won, 2-0.Credit: Courtesy of Crew Communications / Kirby HinesThe Major League Soccer regular season is far from done but the Columbus Crew are facing the rapid approach of crunch time, and they know it.The Crew, winless since May 24 and seventh in the Eastern Conference, have to figure out a way to make gritty gameplay translate to valuable standings points if they want to be postseason contenders this year.Crew defender and captain Michael Parkhurst said Wednesday — after a disheartening last-minute 2-1 loss to defending MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City — his team needs to focus now in its pursuit of being in playoff contention come October.“Obviously, it’s down,” Parkhurst said of the team’s confidence following the dramatic defeat to Sporting KC (9-5-5). “You know, it’s been a tough stretch. It’s been a long time since we won an MLS game and it’s taken its toll.”The Crew is slated to face a reeling squad in the Montreal Impact (3-9-5) when the Canadian franchise comes to town this weekend, and Columbus needs its offense to find a spark as the defense continues to work to limit chances.Parkhurst and his backline played well Wednesday despite the loss, repelling eight of first-place Kansas City’s 10 shots.The defensive corps featured Costa Rican natives Waylon Francis and Giancarlo Gonzalez in their first MLS action in more than two months after both were called up for their national team’s FIFA World Cup run to the quarterfinals.The duo had not played alongside Parkhurst since a 1-0 home loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps May 10, but the aggressive presence of Chad Barson at right helped relieve a lot of pressure in the middle in the Costa Ricans’ first game back.Barson made life nightmarish along the left flank for Sporting forward Soony Saad, who was replaced by substitute Kevin Ellis in the 57th minute.Barson allowed neither player much leeway and limited their touches with an up-close style of contesting possession. Francis was then free to nudge inward and help midfielders Tony Tchani and Bernardo Anor cover space along the left side of Kansas City’s attacking half.Sporting forward Dominic Dwyer, the team’s leading goal-scorer, therefore got the full brunt of world-class double coverage by Parkhurst and Gonzalez in the center and was a non-factor in the game because of it.Dwyer was ruled offside three times and took no shots.“I thought they did a good job on Dom Dwyer, he’s a handful,” Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said in a postgame press conference. “The backline I think performed pretty well. They haven’t been playing together in two months. So again, a little bit of rust in their communication, their movements and buildup but it’s fine.“I think they did a good job.”This performance could be a good indication that this Crew defense is for real, since Dwyer scored a goal just four minutes into Sporting’s July 12 match against the same Impact team Columbus is set to take on Saturday.Unfortunately for the Crew, the newly reunited defense getting definitively beaten on just two Kansas City plays in nearly 95 minutes of total match time proved two times too many against the league’s fourth-highest scoring offense.Sporting midfielder Benny Feilhaber notched an assist and his second score of the year, making him the difference in Wednesday’s game. His corner kick led to a headed goal by Sporting forward C.J. Sapong in the 42nd minute and he scored the game-winner from open space in the 93rd minute to break the hearts of Columbus fans.In a match that included the drama of two red cards and an own goal by Kansas City defender Igor de Carvalho Juliao to equalize the game for the Crew, an extraordinary conclusion seemed to fit the occasion.“It’s incredibly frustrating and disappointing, obviously, with the late goal there,” Crew midfielder Ethan Finlay said after the game. “I don’t think we would have been honestly satisfied with a tie tonight, but we definitely didn’t earn the win.”Finlay will need to step up Saturday if the Crew want to come away with three points. He has been a consistent threat in the attacking half for the Black and Gold this season but he can’t do it alone against Montreal.With forward Jairo Arrieta out of the lineup due to a hamstring injury sustained July 12 against the New York Red Bulls, and with starting forward Federico Higuain “not 100 percent fit” in Berhalter’s estimation, the onus looks to fall on utility players like Finlay and Anor to generate offense.It’s also worth noting that talented midfielder Wil Trapp — usually a crucial distributor of the service ball to a streaking Finlay or a healthy Higuain — is out for Saturday’s matchup after his red card Wednesday earned him a one-game suspension.So Finlay, who has played both as a forward and a midfielder this season, now has to use his speed and soft footwork to give the Crew an attacking presence more than ever.If Finlay slots as a right wing midfielder Saturday and is aided by left-side counterpart Anor, any transition opportunities they can create against Montreal figure to be the ticket to glory. The Crew struggled to get anything substantive going in the midfield offensively against Kansas City, but Finlay and Anor have the skill sets to change that Saturday.“He’s able to play outside mid, he’s able to play left back. He’s a strong guy in the air so those are things he was able to bring to tonight’s game,” Finlay said of Anor’s performance Wednesday as a second-half substitute. “(Anor) is very versatile and I think, you know, going forward … I think it’ll be good. He’s a huge part of this team.”Barson also figures to be a vital contributor on both sides of the ball against Montreal.His ability to traverse the pitch from end line to end line will be a boon in Columbus’ favor on Saturday, just as it was Wednesday when his skillful cross in the box resulted in the Sporting own goal that equalized the game.“It’ll be another test. Montreal’s not in great form either,” Parkhurst said. “It’s a team we’re going to battle with for the playoffs, so we need to recharge the tanks and we need to be ready because we need to win that game.”Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Crew Stadium.
Ohio State redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop (33) guards a Hoosier in the first half against Indiana on Jan. 30 in the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorNo. 14 Ohio State (20-5, 11-1 Big Ten) will face No. 3 Purdue (23-2, 12-0 Big Ten) in its biggest road game of the season so far at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night in Mackey Arena.The Boilermakers are currently leading the conference, one spot ahead of Ohio State, with an unblemished 12-0 Big Ten record. A Purdue win would give the Boilermakers a two-game lead over the Buckeyes in the conference, while an Ohio State win would put the Buckeyes in a tie for first with the tie-breaking head-to-head matchup giving Ohio State the leg up. The Boilermakers have won their past 19 games and are coming off a win in which they held off Rutgers for a 78-76 road win. The Buckeyes most recently defeated Illinois at home, 75-67.Projected Starters for PurdueC — Isaac Haas — Senior, 7-foot-2, 290 lbs., 14.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.3 apg F — Vincent Edwards — Senior, 6-foot-8, 225 lbs., 15.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.1 apgG — Dakota Mathias — Senior, 6-foot-4, 200 lbs., 12.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.4 apgG — Carsen Edwards — Sophomore, 6-foot-1, 200 lbs., 16.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.0 apgG — P.J. Thompson — Senior, 5-foot-10, 185 lbs., 8.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.0 apgProjected Starters for Ohio StateF — Kaleb Wesson — Freshman, 6-foot-9, 275 lbs., 11.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 apg F — Keita Bates-Diop — Redshirt junior, 6-foot-7, 235 lbs., 20.2 ppg 8.9 rpg, 1.7 apgF— Andre Wesson — Sophomore, 6-foot-6, 220 lbs., 2.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.0 apgF — Jae’Sean Tate — Senior, 6-foot-4, 230 lbs., 12.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.8 apgG — C.J. Jackson — Junior, 6-foot-1, 175 lbs., 12.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.3 apgPurdue leads the Big Ten in both scoring offense, averaging 84 points per game, and 3-point field goals made, averaging 10 per game. The Buckeyes rank sixth in the league in 3-point defense.Purdue presents a challenge to the Buckeyes defensively because of its size and the combination of both the long-range and interior offensive threats from all five starters.“They have a lot of size down low. They’re a very smart team, veteran team,” senior forward Jae’Sean Tate said. “I like their team composure. I don’t think there’s a lot of teams like that, the way they show how together they are. [Wednesday] we’re going to have to be smart about the shot selection we take and driving in with such length in the post.”But senior center Isaac Haas is one player in particular who will be difficult for the Buckeyes to defend because of his size. In the past four games, the 7-foot-2 Haas averaged 19.3 points and six rebounds per game, while shooting 60 percent from the field. Redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop said it will require a team effort to attempt to defend him.Another challenge for the Buckeyes is the road environment at Purdue. Ohio State is facing a tough Big Ten road environment for one of the first times this season, with a lot at stake.“I’m anxious to see how we perform in a very hostile environment against an elite team,” Holtmann said. “Anxious to see what we can take from that good and bad. There will be a lot of good in stuff and then a lot that we will have to continue to work on.”Holtmann compared the game preparation to the challenge of when the Buckeyes faced then-No. 1 Michigan State in December. There are some key differences, but the Buckeyes are now preparing for a battle as an underdog against a potential national championship contender.“It’s been a while since we were the underdogs and I think that’s a good thing for us. I actually enjoy being the underdog,” Tate said. “It’s been so long and we kind of got used to it. We are motivated and excited for the opportunity.”Kam Williams will not travel with teamOhio State head coach Chris Holtmann said Tuesday redshirt senior guard Kam Williams will not travel with the team to West Lafayette, Indiana, but will have his status re-evaluated Thursday. Sophomore forward Andre Wesson started in place of Williams against Illinois. “[Williams has] got class he needs to attend to tomorrow,” Holtmann said. “So he’ll be here in Columbus, finishing up work. He’s got a project and going to class.”Holtmann added he believes Williams has “accepted responsibility” and that the team expects him return to the starting lineup in “short order.”
Arable farmers are particularly struggling, with crop producers describing the combination of the dry patch with cold weather the “worst of all possible worlds”.Jack Ward, Chief Executive of the British Growers Association, said: “It is getting concerning to have this amount of dry with this amount of cold. The warning came as the Environment Agency revealed four out of five rivers are at “abnormally low” levels for the time of year.Many, including in what is usually the wettest inhabited spot in England, Seathwaite in Cumbria, have been left “bone dry”.“Rivers are at extremely low levels at the moment and that has a big impact for brown trout – they’re not doing well,” said Kathy Hughes, a freshwater specialist at WWF. “Then a drought comes along and it just knocks them out.” A reservoir near Tring on the border Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire on MondayCredit:SOUTH BEDS NEWS AGENCY “Things just don’t grow. The longer seeds sit there in the ground without growing, the greater the chance of something going wrong.He said that without prolonged rain, the success of crops such as fresh peas, which are grown on a large scale making them difficult to irrigate, would be under threat this summer.However, strawberries and other summer fruits, which tend to be grown under polythene tunnels with irrigation systems, are likely to benefit from the dry conditions, according to s spokesman for producers.Guy Smith, Vice President of the National Farmers Union said: “The situation is patchy with farmers, particularly in the South and East, reporting as low as 10% of their expected March and April rainfall.“While decent rains in May and June will put many crops back on track, some crops like spring barley have clearly already lost their full potential.” It has a big impact for brown trout – they’re not doing wellKathy Hughes, a freshwater specialist at WWF Elsewhere, firefighters tackled a blaze at a thatched cottageCredit:Solent News & Photo Agency Britain’s trout population is “on a knife edge” as weeks of dry weather drains rivers to historic low levels, environmentalists have warned.The species was already faring badly due to the poor state of many UK rivers, but the driest winter and early spring in 20 years now threatens to devastate numbers across the country.The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) said parched rivers also pose a danger to other much-loved wildlife, including kingfishers, wading birds and water voles. Data from 2016 showed just 14 per cent of rivers in the UK are considered healthy, and surveys have revealed that trout are currently found in fewer than 40 per cent of the chalk rivers they would be expected to inhabit. The lack of rain has raised fears of a drought.Last week homeowners were warned to cut back on the amount of water they consume by only using their dishwashers and washing machines when fully loaded.Meanwhile firefighters reported battling more than 500 gorse fires in a single week, many of them started deliberately by made harder to control by the dry conditions. 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.