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College Football Playoff Final Thoughts And National Championship Odds

The field for the first-ever college football playoff was announced Sunday, and Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State have made it — leaving out TCU and Baylor.A quick reflection on the teams the committee chose in a moment; first, let’s look forward to the playoff. Here’s how ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) assesses the national championship odds:Oregon is ranked first in FPI, although just barely over Alabama. FPI also thinks the Ducks are helped slightly by getting to play No. 3 seed Florida State in the semifinals; it has Florida State rated below Alabama’s opponent, No. 4 Ohio State.There is no runaway favorite. Oregon has a 35 percent chance of becoming the national champion, according to FPI, with Alabama at 32 percent, Ohio State at 19 percent and Florida State at 14 percent.As for which teams made the field, one of the big things we were going to learn this weekend was how heavily the committee weighed its previous rankings when deciding on its final ones.Because the playoff committee is new, the FiveThirtyEight playoff model was based on a historical assessment of the Coaches Poll instead. In the Coaches Poll — and the AP poll — the rankings are quite “sticky” from week to week. Voters in those polls rarely engage in top-to-bottom reassessments of the field; instead, they’ll demote teams after they lose and sometimes move them up an extra position or two after a big win. Otherwise, they’re left in about the same order.Based on that assumption, Ohio State had a decent shot to make the playoff after its big win against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship. But the model had TCU favored to make the playoff because it had been ranked No. 3 by the committee entering the weekend. The model had No. 4 Florida State as the more vulnerable team instead, simply because it had been ranked lower by the committee to begin with and its win Saturday — it beat Georgia Tech 37-35 for the ACC championship — was the narrowest of anyone in the top six.Instead, Florida State moved up to No. 3. And TCU was overtaken not just by Ohio State and Florida State, but also by Baylor (which missed the playoff but was given the committee’s No. 5 ranking for posterity). What the committee did last week — promoting TCU into the No. 3 position ahead of Florida State — proved to be a head fake.In other words, the committee appears to engage in a more thorough reassessment of the teams with its final rankings. For better or worse, it’s more concerned about getting the “right” answer in the end than in being consistent from week to week. read more

When Did Sports Become So Political

FiveThirtyEight Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (Feb. 28, 2017), we’re joined by New York magazine’s Reeves Wiedeman, who dropped by to discuss his article on recent political activism by athletes. Next, Michael Caley of ESPN FC and “The Double Pivot” podcast helps us break down Claudio Ranieri’s firing from Leicester City — not even a full year after the soccer team’s Premier League title win. Finally, ESPN baseball writer Sam Miller helps us imagine who the best baseball player would be in a world without stats. Plus, a significant digit on women’s basketball.Links to what we discussed this week:Reeves Wiedeman’s article on the rise of athlete activism.Firing Claudio Ranieri won’t fix Leicester City’s problems, writes Tim Wigmore for FiveThirtyEight.Catch more of Michael Caley’s soccer observations over on the “The Double Pivot” podcast.How do you determine baseball’s greatest player in a world without stats? Sam Miller lays out his theories.Significant Digit: 3,397, the number of career points that University of Washington senior Kelsey Plum has scored in her career for the Huskies. She broke the all-time NCAA women’s record on Saturday, with a 57-point game. Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed read more

Tressel Buckeyes know exactly what to expect from Iowa

The No. 9-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes hit the road for the fourth and final time this season on Saturday as they travel to Iowa. Following a slow start to last week’s contest against Penn State, OSU coach Jim Tressel and his players said they look to fix mistakes heading into Iowa. “I think for us it’s just important that we come out ready to go and not flat like Wisconsin or this last weekend,” senior kicker Devin Barclay said. “I think we do our best when we come out ready to play and we set the tone right away.” Tressel said the Buckeyes know exactly what to expect from the Hawkeyes. “They do what they do and they do it so well,” Tressel said. “They’re very, very physical at what they do, and the schemes back that.” Revenge for the Hawkeyes Last year, with a trip to the 2010 Rose Bowl on the line for both squads, the Buckeyes escaped with a 27-24 overtime victory. OSU wide receiver DeVier Posey said he expects Iowa to come out eager for revenge. “I know those guys don’t have amnesia. They remember the last time we went against them,” Posey said. “They probably felt like we slipped away with an easy one, slipped away with a win because Ricky Stanzi got hurt the week before we played them, and the running back got hurt as well, so they … probably feel like they can beat us on their home turf.” New experience This will be the Buckeyes’ first time playing in Iowa since 2006. Although OSU is familiar with this Iowa team from last year’s game, Tressel said his team will face a tough task in Kinnick Stadium. “The veterans know what lies ahead because they have played against Iowa,” Tressel said. “I don’t know if any of our guys have played at Iowa City. I don’t know if any of those fifth-year seniors were playing as true freshmen that particular year, but they’re in for a heck of an experience and a heck of a challenge.” Barclay said he knows little about the atmosphere at Kinnick Stadium, but the game will be challenging, like all road games in the Big Ten. Special teams key to road success The Buckeyes have struggled on the road at times this season, with a 2-1 record away from the Horseshoe. “When you’re on the road, you better play solid in your special teams to give yourselves a chance,” Tressel said. “Now, that doesn’t guarantee anything, but you can almost guarantee that if you play poorly in the special teams that you’re not going to be successful on the road.” The OSU special teams unit has had its share of ups and downs, but Barclay said he believes the unit is moving in the right direction. “The kicks were deeper, higher, better,” Barclay said of last week’s special teams performance against Penn State. Buckeye line vs. Adrian Clayborn OSU will face one of the premier defensive lines in the nation Saturday in the Hawkeyes, including 2009 first team all-Big Ten performer Adrian Clayborn. “They’re just very, very powerful and very consistent. In games where you might have a 7-yard run, against them it’s 3,” Tressel said. Tressel said he has been impressed with his offensive line’s play as of late, but Saturday will be yet another challenge. He said there are two factors for an effective offense Saturday. “One is if you can rush the ball effectively and, two, if you end the day and there aren’t sacks, that’s a big deal,” Tressel said. “And to have both of those things come true on Saturday will be a tremendous challenge because these folks get after the passer and they play the run.” read more

Jalin Marshall moving up the ladder

OSU redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall (17) carries the ball during a game against Navy on Aug. 30 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. OSU won, 34-17.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorDuring spring camp, redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall’s status was largely in question after the Middletown, Ohio, native underwent offseason surgery.Three weeks into the season, those questions are becoming a thing of the past.Marshall has already made his impact on the Ohio State offense, as he scored his first career touchdown last week against the Kent State Golden Flashes in a 66-0 victory.Following his first-ever score wearing the Scarlet and Gray, Marshall said he was happy to put the trials and tribulations of the offseason behind him.“I’ve had some injuries and setbacks, but the journey is worth it,” Marshall said. “This is a great university and crowd to play for. I feel great being able to get in the end zone and help my team every week.”Coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday that Marshall is continuing to improve each week.“He has done a nice job. He didn’t play real well early in the year,” Meyer said. “But the last game, he did a good job.”Meyer said that Marshall’s early issues came from a lack of effort — a problem he is starting to fix.“His whole issue is just the four-to-six mentality that we got, go as hard as you can. When he goes as hard as he can, he is really good,” Meyer said. “I finally saw that last week, where he put his foot in the ground and even on plays that he didn’t get the ball, he was stretching the defense.”Since he arrived in Columbus before the 2012 season, Meyer has preached his philosophy of giving four to six seconds of effort from point A to point B on every play.Despite Marshall only amassing seven total offensive touches thus far on the season, Meyer said he can envision the redshirt-freshman splitting more time with fellow H-back, sophomore Dontre Wilson.“The good thing is he is very knowledgeable about all spots,” Meyer said. “If (Marshall) keeps moving up the ladder, those two (he and Wilson) will be on the field at the same time.”Marshall electrified Ohio Stadium on Saturday when he nearly broke a Kent State punt for a touchdown, but he was cut down by the punter following a 51-yard return.Although the punt return was the longest by a Buckeye this year, Meyer said Saturday he teased Marshall before ultimately praising his and other young players’ efforts.“One guy (Marshall) got caught by a punter, I think, and so we’ll give those guys a hard time,” Meyer said Saturday with a smile. “But I think I’m really excited about our young skill, and I was hoping to try to get Buckeye nation and the stadium to see some of those guys out in open space, and (freshman running back) Curtis Samuel and Dontre and Jalin are — just off the top of my head — guys I’m excited to get out in open space.”Senior wide receiver Evan Spencer said the reason so many young guys have earned playing time is not because of a lack of production from the upperclassmen, but rather the impressive showing from the younger athletes.“Everybody has their own skill sets that everybody specializes in,” Spencer said Wednesday. “We are all great athletes, we are all great receivers and because we all are succeeding in certain areas of our game, that’s why so many guys are getting playing time.”In fact, 23 true and redshirt-freshman saw playing time against the Golden Flashes last week.After a bye week, the Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats on Sept. 27 at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. read more

Chemists devise a way to create a five point knotted molecule

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Tying molecules in knots Explore further Called a pentafoil, the five point knot is the most complex kind of molecule synthesized from other building blocks, other than those found in DNA, and having a means for building them could lead to all sorts of new materials that could be both strong and flexible.To build the molecule, the team started with a negatively charged chloride ion, to serve as a pulling force, or anchor. They then added other parts, such as iron ions with a positive charge, and chains of carbon atoms. They then chemically “programmed” the whole works to assemble itself into the pentafoil, with five chains looped over and under one another and connected to form one single knotted strand, with a single chloride ion sitting squarely in the center holding the whole knot together. The finished product is made up of just 160 atoms and very much resembles a traditional two-dimensional five pointed star.As an interesting side note, the researchers found that if they removed the single chloride ion after the knot was completed, they were left with a molecule that was hungry for that missing ion, which could mean they’ve found a new type of chlorine sensor.In devising a means to create a pentafoil, the researchers have created not just a new type of man-made molecule, but a blueprint for creating other types of knotted molecules which could lead to all sorts of new and exotic materials. Citation: Chemists devise a way to create a five point knotted molecule (2011, December 30) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-12-chemists-molecule.html (PhysOrg.com) — Chemists have for a long time been interested in a type of molecule that is literally tied up into a knot. This is where atoms are bonded together to form strands, which are then twisted around one another in a way that looks very much like a length of rope tied into an everyday knot. Such molecules when used to make whole structures can provide both strength and elasticity. Unfortunately, forcing atoms to bind together in ways that result in knotted molecules has proven to be an especially difficult task; so much so, that until now, no one has been able to make a molecule that has more than three points. Now, researchers at the University of Edinburgh, have figured out a way to create one with five points, as they describe in their paper published in Nature Chemistry, essentially creating what looks like a flat five point star.center_img More information: A synthetic molecular pentafoil knot, Nature Chemistry 4, 15–20 (2012) doi:10.1038/nchem.1193AbstractKnots are being discovered with increasing frequency in both biological and synthetic macromolecules and have been fundamental topological targets for chemical synthesis for the past two decades. Here, we report on the synthesis of the most complex non-DNA molecular knot prepared to date: the self-assembly of five bis-aldehyde and five bis-amine building blocks about five metal cations and one chloride anion to form a 160-atom-loop molecular pentafoil knot (five crossing points). The structure and topology of the knot is established by NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and X-ray crystallography, revealing a symmetrical closed-loop double helicate with the chloride anion held at the centre of the pentafoil knot by ten CH···Cl– hydrogen bonds. The one-pot self-assembly reaction features an exceptional number of different design elements—some well precedented and others less well known within the context of directing the formation of (supra)molecular species. We anticipate that the strategies and tactics used here can be applied to the rational synthesis of other higher-order interlocked molecular architectures. © 2011 PhysOrg.com Journal information: Nature Chemistry X-ray crystal structure of molecular pentafoil knot [6]Cl(PF6)9. Image: Nature, doi:10.1038/nchem.1193last_img read more

Bank of England chief slams cryptocurrencies urges action

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has launched a withering attack on cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin Friday and urged regulators around the world to monitor them in the same way as other financial assets. In a speech to the Scottish Economics conference in Edinburgh, Carney laid into the “global speculative mania” that has fueled the ascent of cryptocurrencies and said they should be held to the “same standards” as the rest of the financial system.”Being part of the financial system brings enormous privileges, but with them great responsibilities,” Carney said.Bitcoin, whose birth nearly a decade ago is clouded in mystery, is the world’s most popular virtual currency. Like others, it can be converted to cash when deposited into accounts at prices set in online trading.It also has been hugely volatile, posting some dizzying intra-day rises and falls over the past year or so. The price of a single bitcoin rocketed to nearly $20,000 late last year and then plunged early this year. On Friday, after Carney’s comments, it was trading just below the $11,000 mark.Digital currencies are not tied to any bank or government and, like cash, allow users to spend and receive money anonymously, or mostly so.Supporters say they can be more trustworthy than traditional money, which can be vulnerable to the whims of those in power. Cryptocurrencies are popular in countries with weak institutions and unstable currencies, such as Zimbabwe.However, financial market participants are becoming increasingly vexed by virtual currencies and their potential to promote illicit activities and their potential to introduce a layer of uncertainty.Some market participants even think that the volatility around bitcoin contributed to the turmoil that gripped financial markets in February.For Carney, they are “failing,” not least because they are proving to be poor stores of value.”The prices of many cryptocurrencies have exhibited the classic hallmarks of bubbles, including new paradigm justifications, broadening retail enthusiasm and extrapolative price expectations, reliant in part on finding the greater fool,” Carney said.He listed a series of concerns, including money laundering, terrorism financing and tax evasion.The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee, which monitors risks in financial markets, is currently carrying out a study into the risks posed to U.K. financial stability by cryptocurrencies.On the international front, the Financial Stability Board will be reporting to the Group of 20 leading industrial and developing nations in Argentina this month on the financial stability implications of crypto-assets.For now, Carney said that in his view “crypto-assets do not appear to pose material risks to financial stability.”Carney’s comments follow a warning this week from Agustin Carstens, the general manager of the Bank for International Settlements—an international organization for central banks—that bitcoin “has become a combination of a bubble, a Ponzi scheme and an environmental disaster.” © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who had to cancel his attendance at the Scottish Economics Conference due to the severe weather conditions, delivers his speech via a live feed from Bloomberg HQ in central London, Friday March 2, 2018. (Peter Nicholls/PA via AP) Explore further Citation: Bank of England chief slams cryptocurrencies; urges action (2018, March 2) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-03-bank-england-chief-slams-cryptocurrencies.html Central banker takes stab at bitcoin ‘bubble’ This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more