The Worst College Football Game In The Worst College Football Town

Alabama vs. Auburn, Florida vs. Florida State, Michigan vs. Ohio State. Those are the types of college football rivalries from which sports legends are made. This weekend on the northern tip of Manhattan in New York City (known for having the lowest percentage of college football fans in the nation), a different type of history will be produced. The 0-8 Cornell Big Red will visit the 0-8 Columbia Lions. It’s a game sure to be memorable not because the two teams are so good, but because both of them are so bad.I’m a Columbia Lions football fan. I listen to their games on WKCR-FM. I’m attending Saturday’s game against Cornell. I went to every home game from 1994 to 2000, and I treasure an autographed photo with then-Lions and later NFL star Marcellus Wiley.But Columbia enters the game with statistics that resemble those of a peewee football team dropped into the NFL. Columbia has scored more than seven points in only one game this season. Last week against Harvard, the Lions suffered the ultimate embarrassment: getting shut out 45-0.The away team hasn’t been much better. Only against Princeton has Cornell put up more than 16 points in a game, and the Big Red still managed to score fewer points in that game, 27, than Columbia’s highest point total this year (28). Last week, Cornell went down 42-7 against Dartmouth, and that wasn’t even their worst defeat of the season so far.Not surprisingly, of the 121 teams in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, formerly known as Division I-AA) for which the NCAA provides statistics, Columbia is dead last in offensive points per game at 8.6. Cornell is not far behind, at No. 113, scoring only 12.9 points per game. In point differential (points scored minus points allowed), Columbia ranks No. 118 with -31.2. Cornell is ranked No. 114 with -21.5.The wretchedness goes beyond the scoreboard, though. In each facet of the game, these two teams have been exceptionally awful.The Lions rank last in the FCS with 51.3 rushing yards per game (YPG). Cornell comes in at No. 117 with 88 YPG.When it comes to passing, Columbia and Cornell are deceptively bad. Columbia has passed for 221.6 YPG (good for a rank of No. 52), while Cornell has passed for 179.3 YPG (good for No. 88). Of course, both teams have almost always been behind, so they have to pass in an effort to catch up. Passer efficiency, which takes into account pass attempts, completions, interceptions, touchdowns and yards, places Columbia No. 120 out of 121 and Cornell just slightly better at No. 103.The defenses aren’t much better. Columbia has given up 273.8 YPG on the ground (No. 120). Cornell has done better, at 189.1 YPG, but that still ranks only 84th. In passing defense, Columbia ranks No. 100 with 246.9 YPG, and Cornell lags at No. 106 with 262 YPG. In passer efficiency defense, Columbia comes in at No. 100 and Cornell at No. 118.Finally, there’s special teams. Both teams have made only two field goals all year, and both of those came in the same game for each team. Columbia and Cornell rank No. 111 and No. 112, respectively, with just 16.96 and 16.91 yards per kickoff return. In yards per punt return, Columbia ranks No. 75 with 6.80, and Cornell ranks a pathetic No. 118 with just 2.29.All hope is not lost, however. The two teams excel in one notable category: punting. Columbia has punted an amazingly high 7.25 times per game, and Cornell has done so 6.63 times per game. Those are good enough to rank No. 6 and No. 16, respectively! And perhaps because they have gotten so much practice, Columbia has averaged 34.83 yards per punt, and Cornell 36.34. Those averages rank in the top half of the FCS, at Nos. 60 and 25.So, if you live in the New York metro area, are a big fan of punting and want to see two teams that cannot score or stop anyone else from scoring, you’re in luck. It’s sure to be a riveting affair in a city that just doesn’t care. read more

Forget The Suns Goran Dragic Needs Teammates Who Will Give Him The

The Phoenix Suns are in a bit of a bind. The NBA’s trade deadline is 3 p.m. Thursday (Eastern time), so Suns general manager Ryan McDonough must quickly pursue trades that would send 2014 All-NBA guard — and potential free-agent-to-be1Goran Dragic has the option to extend his deal with Phoenix for the 2015-16 season at a price of $7.5 million, but he can also opt out in search of a longer-term contract. — Goran Dragic to a team he’s interested in for the long haul, lest Dragic walk away in the summer without Phoenix receiving any reimbursement. (Dragic reportedly told the Suns on Tuesday that he does not plan to re-sign with the club after the season.)How did things reach this point? Dragic was once looked to as the Suns’ franchise player.People close to the situation told USA Today’s Sam Amick that Dragic has chafed under the three-guard system created when the Suns executed a sign-and-trade deal for Isaiah Thomas last summer. Thomas was brought to Phoenix, in part, as insurance against the departure of Eric Bledsoe, whose restricted free agency hung over the team all summer. But the Suns found themselves with three top-flight (ball-dominant) guards once the Bledsoe drama was resolved in September. Naturally, sacrifices have been required: Dragic’s usage rate this season is the lowest it’s been since 2009-10, his second year in the NBA.The hope would be that, as a player bears less responsibility in his team’s offense, he would be freed up to perform with greater efficiency. This idea of a trade-off between usage rate and efficiency was advanced by Dean Oliver (the current Sacramento Kings director of player personnel and analytics), who called it the “skill curve” effect more than a decade ago. And it has been demonstrated empirically across the entire population of NBA players. However, the devil is always in the details, and those details are why Dragic’s wins above replacement (WAR) tally has fallen; it was 8.8 a season ago but is on pace for 3.72Pro-rated to 82 team games. this year.Although a general trade-off might hold for the average player, changes in a player’s efficiency also depend heavily on his teammates and overall style of play. When Dragic was at his best — he ranked as the NBA’s ninth-best guard by value over replacement player (VORP) between 2011-12 and 2013-14 — he had the ball in his hands a lot, penetrating and dishing. But a full season alongside Bledsoe (the duo only suited up for 38 games together in 2013-14) and the addition of Thomas have taken a toll on Dragic’s stats. His assist percentage is 19.5 percent this season, down from 28.1 percent a season ago and a high of 35.7 percent in 2012-13; his free-throw attempt rate is down to .191 from .381 last year; his true shooting percentage is down to .573 from .604 last season.Using the player-tracking numbers at NBA.com, we see that Dragic’s touches per 36 minutes are down to 67.3 from 80.1 last season, and his drives per 36 minutes are down to 7.8 from 9.8 a year ago. Perhaps most telling, Dragic is only creating 10.3 points per 36 minutes with his passing, down from 15.1 last season. And according to Synergy numbers, isolations and pick-and-roll plays went from composing 49.4 percent of Dragic’s offensive game a year ago to 34.2 percent this season. Although skill curve theory might predict an uptick in efficiency with such a change, the reality is that Dragic’s effectiveness has cratered on the plays that were once his bread-and-butter. In 2013-14, he ranked in Synergy’s 91st percentile on pick-and-rolls and isolations; this season he ranks in the 43rd percentile.In retrospect, there were signs that Dragic would need to adapt his playing style even if Thomas hadn’t joined the fold. Looking at his numbers with and without Bledsoe last season, Dragic’s usage rate, assist percentage, shooting efficiency and fouls drawn per possession were significantly higher when he wasn’t sharing the floor — and the ball — with Bledsoe. It was possible that some degree of regression in Dragic’s numbers was inevitable.(And for what it’s worth, Thomas is still working out his place in the Suns’ puzzle. His offensive box plus/minus and assist percentage are down from a year ago, although he’s retained his shooting efficiency and even improved his foul-drawing numbers.)An overlooked aspect of NBA perimeter play is whether a player can function with the ball in his hands or, conversely, whether he can adapt to contribute without constant touches. Most players’ skills are better suited to one category or the other, and a player will naturally be less effective when asked to play outside that role. Something to watch this week will be whether Dragic’s possible trade destinations would allow him to play on-ball the way the Suns did before this season, when he was at peak production. read more

Gay ExNFL Player Wade Davis Trying To Help Others

Former NFL cornerback Wade Davis played for three teams in his four-year NFL career. He did not make much of an impact on the field, however after coming out as gay, he has been quite productive off the field.Davis’ work with lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender or questioning youth has helped him find an avenue to make a much larger influence than he ever made as a player.“I started to realize that — you know what? —  there’s an opportunity here for me to really make and effect change, not only within myself but in the world.” Davis told SBNation’s Amy Nelson.“I think, subconsciously, I understood that being gay . . . the way I was raised. . . was wrong, and there was no way that my family, at least in my mind, would accept me. And also that my football family would [not] accept me, just because of the perception of being gay meant that you’re less masculine.”Davis, who played for the Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks, said sharing a locker room with heterosexual players was not a treat. “I never even remotely got aroused in the locker room,” he said. “You just want to be one of the guys, and you don’t want to lose that sense of family. Your biggest fear is that you’ll lose that camaraderie and family.”While Davis is comfortable with his sexuality, he still showed some hesitation when asked if a non-star NFL player could ever come out as gay. Davis said, “I’ll be flat-out honest with you, it probably shouldn’t be if he wants to keep his job. If he’s a free agent who’s fighting for his job, maybe he shouldn’t. I don’t want to tell someone to give up their lifelong dream of playing in the NFL.”Davis suddenly changed his mind. “You know what?” he said. “Yes, it should be. Screw it. I don’t want to be in the business of telling anybody they cant live their life authentically.”He works now as a staff member at the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBTQ youth in New York City. “It’s a one-stop shop for not only gay and lesbian youth,  but also non-conforming youth, to find really great services and a sense of family, if they don’t have that,” he said. “I tell people often that I’m living my second dream, because I get to do a job every day that really changes lives.” read more

Lesson Learned Jason Kidd Gets 1st Technical Foul in

“I deserved the T,” Jason Kidd declared, after the former basketball player turned head coach walked onto the court to argue with the referee.Kidd, the new Brooklyn Nets head coach, made a rookie mistake during a Summer League game when he marched out of the coaching box and was punished immediately.“I’ve seen some of these coaches be all the way down on the other end, so I can’t follow their lead in that aspect,” said Kidd,  “I learned real quickly where the box is.”

NCAA Severs Licensing Ties to EA Sports

The NCAA has ended its contract with EA Sports and will no longer allow the gaming company to use its logo and name in their video games. The college sports organization is currently involved in a lawsuit where they’re being accused of owing billions of dollars to former NCAA players for allowing their images and likenesses to be used by the gaming company.“We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games,” the NCAA said in its statement. “But given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interest of the NCAA. The NCAA has never licensed the use of current student-athlete names, images or likenesses to EA. The NCAA has no involvement in licenses between EA and former student-athletes.”NCAA Football 2014 will be the last EA Sports game with the NCAA. The NCAA said their current contract, which expires June 2014, will be the last agreement.“Member colleges and universities license their own trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game,” the NCAA said in a statement. “They will have to independently decide whether to continue those business arrangements in the future.” read more

Breaking Down The Womens NCAA Tournament Bracket

If you thought Kentucky’s chances looked good over in the men’s tournament, it’s time to bet your house on the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team. The nine-time national champions return to the NCAA tournament this year looking for their second three-peat in school history, and our first-ever go at March Madness predictions for the women’s tournament gives the Huskies a really, really good chance of doing just that.Next to Connecticut, things look bleak even for the other No. 1 seeds in the tournament: Maryland has only a 2 percent chance of winning it all, while steering clear of the Albany region gives South Carolina and Notre Dame a 10 percent and 9 percent chance, respectively, of dethroning Connecticut.We’re thrilled to be forecasting the women’s NCAA tournament and look forward to seeing how our model performs given what little data we have to work with. Below, we break down the strengths and weaknesses of each region.AlbanyAlbany has rightfully been labeled the “regional destination of doom” because of the Huskies, who are so dominant this year that their opponents’ odds seem laughable: St. Francis College, their first-round matchup, has about a 1 in 7,000 chance of beating them. Our model all but guarantees that UConn will make an appearance in the Elite Eight — a 98 percent chance — and the likelihood of the team heading to the Final Four isn’t much lower, at 96 percent. With these odds, UConn seems to be a surefire winner, barring something like a teamwide food poisoning epidemic or a player strike against Geno.UConn is led by junior Breanna Stewart, who scored double figures in all but three of the team’s games this season and senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who is the school’s all-time career leader in 3-point field goals, with 341.But the near-perfect Huskies are just that: near perfect. They lost once this season, to Stanford (a No. 4 seed) 88-86 in overtime back in November, and finished the season with a 32-1 record.And even though we give No. 2 seed Kentucky just a 1 percent chance of making it out on top of the Albany region, remember that the Wildcats were eliminated from the tournament by UConn in two of the past three years and may have a thirst for vengeance.Oklahoma CityLast year’s runner-up, Notre Dame, is the No. 1 seed over in the Oklahoma City region, coming off a fresh ACC championship and looking for its fifth consecutive appearance in the Final Four (we think the team has a 58 percent chance). The Irish are led by standout shooting guard and ACC Player of the Year Jewell Loyd, who averaged 20.5 points, 3.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game, and ACC Freshman of the Year Brianna Turner, a forward who averaged 13.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.Notre Dame will have to get past strong teams like No. 2 seed Baylor and No. 4 seed Stanford, two programs that are used to Final Four appearances, and some dark-horse contenders in Minnesota and Oklahoma. The Golden Gophers have stellar sophomore center Amanda Zahui B., who averaged 18.6 points and 12.4 rebounds per game, with an incredible 39-point game thrown in there, too. We give her team a less than 1 percent chance of getting past the Irish, but maybe not if she has anything to say about it.SpokaneThe No.1 seed in the Spokane region is Maryland, which swept through its Big 10 season and tournament undefeated and has only two losses on the season. The team has one of the most potent offenses in the country, but a pedestrian defense. And the Terrapins have a tough road ahead. Our model rates them as the weakest No. 1 seed by far, with only a 37 percent chance of winning their region. While they hope to win the program’s second national championship, after beating Duke in a thrilling overtime game in 2006, we give them only a 2 percent chance of winning this year (not helped by likely facing UConn in the Final Four).But first they must get out of the region. And Maryland might face No. 2 seed Tennessee. The Lady Vols, who haven’t made a Final Four appearance since 2008, have a 33 percent chance of making it out of the Spokane region this year, the most likely No. 2 seed to advance.Even before that, Maryland’s second-round opponent might be the only undefeated team in the tournament: No. 8 seed Princeton, which is 30-0. Some projected the Tigers to get a No. 5 seed, but the committee obviously saw their Ivy League schedule as unimpressive. Still, scrappy Princeton has the third-toughest defense in the country, and our model has it as the fifth most likely team to win the region and the 17th most likely team in the entire bracket to win the championship.Also in the Terrapins way: Oregon State, with its 3-point happy offense, is the most likely No. 3 seed to advance to the Final Four by our model’s estimates. And Duke is also impressive, with a scoring margin of nearly 12 points per game.For an upset sleeper, don’t count out No. 6 seed George Washington, which despite losing to Maryland by 10 points in November has the 15th-highest scoring margin in the country — albeit achieved by tearing through the relatively weak Atlantic 10 conference.GreensboroTo the extent that UConn faces a threat, it comes from the Greensboro region, where South Carolina is the No. 1 seed. By our model, South Carolina has the second-highest probability of winning it all, at 10 percent. If the Gamecocks do face the Huskies, it won’t be the first time — UConn throttled South Carolina by 25 points last month, one of the Gamecocks’ two losses on the season. But the Gamecocks have a stout defense, ranked eighth nationally. Their interior defense is especially impressive, as they block 6.5 shots per game, and overall, the team holds opponents to fewer than 53 points per game.To get to the Final Four, South Carolina must fight through several obstacles. It might encounter No. 5 seed Ohio State in the Sweet 16 and thus have to contain freshman superstar Kelsey Mitchell, who leads the nation in scoring, at 25.0 points per game. North Carolina, the No. 4 seed, knocked off the Gamecocks in the regional semifinals last year and is the third most likely team to get out of the region — ahead of No. 3 seed Arizona State.But most of all, South Carolina must get past No. 2 seed Florida State, which boasts the eighth-highest scoring margin in the country. Our model gives FSU a 17 percent chance of winning the region.Regardless, the main story lines to watch this year are whether mighty UConn can fulfill statistical destiny and storm through the tournament like the dominant program our model expects it to be and whether Princeton takes its insulting seed as motivation and sustains its unbeaten, dream season.Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions.CORRECTION (March 19, 12:00 p.m.): Because of an error in data reported by ESPN, an earlier version of this article gave incorrect team scoring margins for Duke, George Washington and Florida State. We’ve updated those figures with the correct data. read more

The US Women Probably Werent Going To Win The Gold Anyway

The outcome didn’t reflect the run of play: The U.S. outshot Sweden 26 to 3 and completed more than twice as many passes. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo said after the match that the U.S. had played “a bunch of cowards,” a reference to Sweden’s defensive tactics. Swedish coach Pia Sundhage, who used to coach the U.S., responded, “It’s OK to be a coward if you win.”Even if the American women had escaped Friday’s shootout with a win, they’d have had their work cut out for them, with just a 36 percent chance of winning their fourth straight gold medal, according to our Women’s Soccer Power Index projections.U.S. fans spoiled by all the team’s recent success — the 2015 Women’s World Cup title, the 2012 Olympic gold — might have forgotten that past performance is no guarantee of future results. But those wins were hard-earned and never guaranteed. The Americans reached the 2012 gold-medal match after barely avoiding the lottery that is a penalty shootout in their semifinal against Canada, with an Alex Morgan goal at just about the last possible moment. And last summer in Canada, the team went scoreless in the first half of its first three knockout games before getting second-half goals. Just because the U.S. women sometimes made it look easy — like when they romped over Japan in the World Cup final — doesn’t mean it was.In these Olympics, even while the U.S. women were going undefeated in their first three games and winning their group, their chance of winning the gold medal, counterintuitively, was declining, to 31 percent from 38 percent before the tournament. That was partly because the quarterfinal field was so stacked: All of the eight best teams coming into the tournament advanced from the group stage. Also, the U.S. showed some weakness in the group stage, including yielding a 90th-minute goal to Colombia that led to a disappointing 2-2 draw. The team’s rating declined slightly during the group stage from the start of the tournament. Sweden’s did, too, but the Swedes remained a tough opponent, with a 21 percent chance of beating the U.S. before Friday’s match — about the chance the Cleveland Cavaliers had of beating the Golden State Warriors when trailing 3-2 in this year’s NBA Finals. Upsets happen to favorites all the time. On Friday, one happened, finally, to the U.S. women at the Olympics.Additional research by Jay Boice. Tournament favorites usually don’t win — even big ones like the U.S. women’s soccer team. Too many things can go wrong, as they did in the penalty shootout of the USWNT’s quarterfinal loss against Sweden in the Rio Olympics on Friday. A goalkeeper guesses the right way, a usually reliable shooter sends a penalty kick over the crossbar, and suddenly the team is out of the tournament. It was the USWNT’s earliest-ever exit from an Olympics or World Cup. With the Americans eliminated, the draw has opened up for new favorite Germany, which advanced to the semifinals later Friday, and host Brazil, which plays its quarterfinal against Australia on Friday night. (If Brazil wins, it could overtake Germany as the favorite, depending on the scores of its quarterfinal and Friday night’s other match, between Canada and France.) read more

Mens soccer SIUEdwardsville pounces on OSU Buckeyes drop to 37

OSU junior forward Nate Kohl (27) heads the ball in the second half against SIU-Edwardsville at Jesse Owns Memorial Stadium on Sept. 28. Credit: Michelle McDonnell | Lantern PhotographerFor the Ohio State men’s soccer team, home field has provided a much needed advantage.Coming into Wednesday’s game, OSU was riding a three-game home winning streak, averaging 2.67 goals per game while only allowing 0.67 goals per game over that stretch.The home cooking would sizzle out as the Buckeyes lost a back-and-forth contest against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 3-2, the first loss in their last four matches at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.“It was a hard night,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “SIUE is struggling a little bit like we are so they were hungry to get a win. It felt like we were playing against 12 guys tonight.”The momentum was hard to grasp in the first period, as both teams seemed to score at will.Just eight minutes into the match, sophomore midfielder Abdi Mohamed floated a cross from the right side of the net to the left that allowed senior forward Danny Jensen to slide in and bury just past the goalkeeper, giving the Buckeyes an early 1-0 lead.It was the fourth goal of the season for Jensen, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.The teams traded goals right up to the whistle. As the Buckeyes looked to take a 2-1 lead into halftime, the Cougars continued to fight and were rewarded for their efforts.In the last 10 seconds of the period, SIUE senior midfielder Gabe Christianson was able to get a header to fall off a corner kick from senior defender Andrew Kendall-Moullin, tying the game up at two a piece just before the break.  The score would remain at 2-2 for most of the second period, but the Cougars would deal the final blow.With just two minutes remaining, SIUE junior forward Devyn Jambga took a heel-kick pass at the top of the box and launched the ball into the back right corner, handing the Buckeyes their first home loss since Aug. 28.The Cougars brought a couple familiar faces to Columbus.Head coach Mario Sanchez played under Bluem when the two were at Fresno State.“[Sanchez] was one of the best players I have ever had and I have been coaching Division I soccer for a long time,” Bluem said. “When he played for me he was a coach on the field and he is a very good coach now. I have a ton of respect for him.”Along with Sanchez, the Cougars brought to town a transfer from Ohio State, sophomore midfielder Greg Solawa. Solawa made five starts for the Buckeyes a year ago, appearing in 11 games.“It’s always fun coming into the game knowing that you’re going to play against a guy you used to play with,” said Austin Bergstrom, OSU senior defender. “You always want to be the one on top when the last whistle blows. Unfortunately, he got the best of us tonight.”Solawa recorded one assist in the game against OSU.Despite scoring both of their goals in the first period, the Buckeyes were statistically better in the second period, outshooting the Cougars 7-4 after getting outshot 7-3 in the first period.“I was happy that we did create more opportunities in the second half,” Bluem said. “I think we were hurt by some critical mistakes and that has kind of been the story of the season this year. We punish ourselves by making stupid mistakes.”The Buckeyes will have to find a way to fix their mistakes before Sunday, when they take on Big Ten foe Michigan State at home. While just 3-7 overall on the season, the Scarlet and Gray could advance to 3-1 in conference play with a win over the Spartans.“We learn the most from our losses,” Bergstrom said. “I think we just got to come out on Sunday and know that we can’t have any letdowns. We’ve got to go forward having our heads up.” read more

Gallery OSU vs Nebraska

Former OSU quarterback Cardale Jones chats with Cleveland Indians’ outfielder Michael Brantley and pitcher Josh Tomlin before the start of the Buckeyes game against Nebraska on Nov. 5. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor The Ohio State Buckeyes took on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a Big 10 match-up on Nov. 5. The Buckeyes came away with a 62-3 win.

And then there was 1 Buckeyes only undefeated mens basketball team

In 2002, it took Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel 14 games to complete his only undefeated season at the school. OSU basketball coach Thad Matta has kept his team undefeated through its first 22 games this season, and is now finding himself jealous of the length of his football counterpart’s season. “Coach Tressel and I were texting, I don’t know, a week or so ago,” Matta said. “I said, ‘Be thankful you only have 13 of these as opposed to them coming at you like this.’” With their 22-0 record, Matta’s Buckeyes are the only undefeated team remaining in college basketball this season, an accomplishment that was reflected in Monday’s polls — OSU was a unanimous first-place selection in both The Associated Press’ Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Though the Buckeyes still have half of their conference schedule ahead of them, as well as the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, Matta said remaining undefeated at this point in the season is an accomplishment in and of itself. “We’re the only team that’s still undefeated,” Matta said. “It’s such a long season, and I think that’s one of the great challenges.” OSU junior guard William Buford agreed with Matta that remaining unbeaten can be viewed as an achievement, as well as a vindication for preparation both before and during the season. “It’s kind of amazing,” Buford said. “It lets us know that all the hard work has paid off.” Buford said the key to the Buckeyes’ undefeated streak has been ignoring the big picture, and focusing on each task at hand. “We just take one game at a time,” he said. “We try to get better and better, day by day.” Matta said the Buckeyes have remained so focused on each step ahead of them that he doesn’t think they know how many games they’ve won this season. As for the team knowing how many losses they have — that’s a different story. “They do know that; I know that for sure,” Matta said. “I mean, you have six freshmen who have never lost a college game.” One of those freshmen is forward Deshaun Thomas, who said he doesn’t get as excited after a win as he did earlier in the season. “I used to get all hyped ’cause I was a freshman, but now it’s just on to the next one,” Thomas said. “It’s not over; we still got a long season.” The second half of the Big Ten schedule isn’t likely to be any easier than the first was for the Buckeyes. They still have road games against ranked Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as a home game against Illinois, which led OSU by as many as eight points in the second half of their Jan. 22 matchup. Matta said he knows it’s going to take the Buckeyes’ best effort each night for them to remain undefeated. “I think our guys understand now that this is for real,” Matta said. “On any given night, if we don’t play well, we’re not going to like the outcome.” OSU will look to advance to 23-0 on Thursday when it hosts Michigan, which the Buckeyes beat, 68-64, on Jan. 12 in Ann Arbor, Mich. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. read more