Spain Must Beat Chile If It Hopes to Advance in the World

I’ve arrived here in Rio de Janeiro for a few days. I know how lucky I am — especially since the match I’ll see later on Wednesday, between Spain and Chile at the Maracana stadium, might be the most important of the group stage. (For more on Wednesday’s other matches, see our Crib Notes.)ESPN’s Soccer Power Index doesn’t have much in the way of a prediction for this game — it sees a Chilean win and a Spanish win as about equally likely, with a draw also a decent possibility. But of course, the match matters greatly for Spain’s chances of advancing.Let’s follow the format we used for breaking down the United States’ chances and consider the rest of the group stage from Spain’s perspective. The nine scenarios I’ll cover detail the possible results of the two games Wednesday in Group B — before Spain kicks off with Chile, the Netherlands and Australia will have completed their match in Porto Alegre (the Netherlands is heavily favored). I’ll list what the group standings will look like at the end of the day after each result — assuming that Spain remains behind on any goal differential tiebreaker because it lost by four goals to the Netherlands earlier in the group stage. (That goal differential tiebreaker makes Spain’s path much more difficult than it otherwise would be and is a big part of why our simulations give the La Furia Roja only about a 25 percent chance of advancing.) I’ll then consider how the final two matches (between Spain and Australia, and between the Netherlands and Chile) might play out.Netherlands wins, Spain wins: Netherlands 6 points, Chile 3, Spain 3, Australia 0. Obviously, this is one result Spain would be happy with. A follow-up win against Australia would probably get Spain to the knockout stage — and there are some cases in which a draw against Australia could, too. Even two wins wouldn’t leave Spain 100 percent safe, however. If Spain beats Australia but Chile beats the Netherlands, three teams would be tied atop the group with six points, and Spain would probably have the worst goal differential.Netherlands draws, Spain wins: Netherlands 4 points, Chile 3, Spain 3, Australia 1. This is more promising for Spain as there’d then be some chance it could leapfrog the Netherlands. Spain would control its own destiny without having to worry about goal differential: Win against Australia by any margin and Spain would make it to the knockout stage. Spanish fans should be rooting for the Socceroos to grab at least one point today.Netherlands loses, Spain wins: Netherlands 3 points, Chile 3, Australia 3, Spain 3. A heck of a mess in the short run as all teams would be tied at three points. However, Spain would still control its own destiny and a win against Australia by any margin would put Spain in the knockout stage.Netherlands wins, Spain draws: Netherlands 6 points, Chile 4, Spain 1, Australia 0. Spain is very probably out. The only exception is if it beats Australia and the Netherlands beats Chile — and the margins are wide enough to swing the goal differential back in Spain’s favor.Netherlands draws, Spain draws: Netherlands 4 points, Chile 4, Australia 1, Spain 1. This scenario is extremely problematic for Spain and probably means its elimination. The best Spain could hope after these results is a tie for second, which it would probably lose on goal differential. Another problem is that even if Spain were to beat Australia, the Netherlands and Chile could guarantee their entry into the knockout stage by drawing with each other. FIFA and fans hate it, but soccer teams have a way of playing for the draw when such incentives are in place.Netherlands loses, Spain draws: Chile 4 points, Netherlands 3, Australia 3, Spain 1. Only marginally better. In this case, Spain can finish in sole possession of second place if it then beats Australia and Chile beats the Netherlands. If Spain beats Australia but the Netherlands draws or beats Chile, Spain finishes in a tie for second and is likely out based on goal differential.Netherlands wins, Spain loses: Netherlands 6 points, Chile 6, Australia 0, Spain 0. Spain is mathematically eliminated.Netherlands draws, Spain loses: Chile 6 points, Netherlands 4, Australia 1, Spain 0. Spain is mathematically eliminated.Netherlands loses, Spain loses: Chile 6 points, Netherlands 3, Australia 3, Spain 0. Spain is eliminated for all intents and purposes. It would have to beat Australia, have Chile beat the Netherlands, and then beat both the Netherlands and Australia on goal differential — not very likely.The short version: Lose to Chile on Wednesday and Spain is almost certainly out of the tournament. A draw and La Furia Roja is in grave trouble: Spain would need a win against Australia by an overwhelming margin and very probably some help on top of that. A win keeps Spain alive, but it remains vulnerable, especially if the Netherlands beats Australia (a 74 percent chance, according to our model).CORRECTION (June 18, 11:56 a.m.): A previous version of this post incorrectly listed Australia as having three points if the Netherlands beats Australia and Spain loses to Chile. In that scenario, Australia would have zero points. read more

US Open Forecast Serena Williams Has a 55 Percent Chance To Win

We’re forecasting every match of the 2016 men’s and women’s U.S. Open tournaments. See our predictions here » Less is at stake in the men’s draw, because of a series of near misses.Had Novak Djokovic won at Wimbledon, he’d be going for his sixth straight major title and trying to become the first man to sweep all four in one year since Rod Laver did it in 1969. But American Sam Querrey upset Djokovic in the third round.If Querrey’s win had sparked a great run, Americans might hope to see the first win at the U.S. Open — or any major — by an American man since Andy Roddick in 2003. But Querrey has lost more matches than he has won since that upset, and we don’t give him or any other American man even a 1 percent chance of reaching the final.If Andy Murray had won in Cincinnati a week ago, he’d be entering the Open on a 23-match winning streak, with the potential to make it 30 by winning his second major in a row. But he lost in the final to Marin Cilic.And if Roger Federer were playing the Open, we’d give him a decent shot at winning a record 18th major title and the first major title by a man 35 or older since Ken Rosewall won the Australian Open in 1972; our rating system thinks Federer is better than every active male player besides Djokovic and Murray. But Federer isn’t playing any more this year; he’s rehabbing a knee injury.1Though Federer came to New York last week to promote a new tennis event with Laver; Federer promises to play doubles with Rafael Nadal next year at the competition.There are still plenty of open questions to answer at the Open. Can Rafael Nadal win his first big event on hard courts in three years and pass Pete Sampras to rank second in career major titles? (We give him a 6 percent chance of doing so.) Will Djokovic overcome the wrist injury that caused him to skip Cincinnati and win his 13th major title, resuming his dominance of the tour? (57 percent) Will Murray win his fourth major title, tying Rosewall, Jim Courier and Guillermo Vilas on the Open-era list and giving him two in the same season for the first time? (17 percent) Can Stan Wawrinka win his third after an inconsistent start to the year? (2 percent) Can Milos Raonic become the first Canadian man to win a major in singles, or can Kei Nishikori become the first man representing an Asian country to do so? (3 percent and 7 percent) If either one does, it’d be the first big title won by a man born in 1989 or later and the first real sign of a crack in the dominance of the old guard of men’s tennis. It could happen, but our model suggests a triumph by Djokovic or Murray is almost three times more likely than a victory by anyone else.Check out our U.S. Open predictions. It took Serena Williams a year to get her 22nd major title, the one she needed to tie Steffi Graf for the most in the Open era. She got it at Wimbledon last month, after tough losses late in the previous three majors. We think Williams has a 55 percent chance to get her 23rd title much faster, at the U.S. Open in New York two months after her Wimbledon triumph.For the first time, FiveThirtyEight is forecasting a tennis tournament. (Read more about our methodology.) And it’s potentially a historic one: Williams is the favorite to win her seventh U.S. Open, which would complete her remarkable run at Graf’s record after turning 30. Williams has younger rivals, including two who beat her in Grand Slam finals this year, but we aren’t giving any of them better than a 9 percent chance at the title. Also looming: Roberta Vinci, the Italian who upset Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals last year but who has beaten only one top 10 player since then. Williams could face Vinci in the final — a round that we think Vinci has a 1 percent chance of reaching.Aiding Williams’s chances is the absence of the two women who have been the most consistent among her rivals over the past five years: Maria Sharapova, the five-time major champion who is serving a suspension for using a banned substance, and Victoria Azarenka, the two-time major champ who announced last month that she is pregnant and will resume playing after her baby is born. Sure, neither woman has beaten Williams at a major in the past 12 years, but you have to stretch to find a big threat to the dominant No. 1. Her toughest competition at this event might be her older sister, Venus, who is the No. 6 seed at age 36 and took a set off her younger sister in a quarterfinal meeting at last year’s Open. Or it could be her tricky first-round match against Ekaterina Makarova, who ousted Serena Williams from the 2012 Australian Open and has beaten top 10 players eight times at majors; we give Makarova a 6 percent chance to win the match. Williams’s other obstacle might be her right shoulder. Inflammation caused her to skip a pre-Open tournament in Cincinnati (our forecast doesn’t directly account for injuries). read more

Reid Considering Benching Vick In Hopes Of Sparking Eagles

Firing his defensive coordinator didn’t work all that well, so Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid is considering a change at quarterback in hopes of saving his team’s floundering season and his own job.The Star-Ledger is reporting that the embattled coach is “leaning towards” benching star quarterback Michael Vick in favor of rookie Nick Foles in the hopes to getting something going for the underachieving Eagles, who fell to 3-4 following a listless 30-17 decision at the hands of visiting Atlanta on Sunday.“Whatever decision Coach makes, I’ll support it,” Vick said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.Reid, who was informed by team owner Jeffrie Lurie prior to the season that he needed to go 8-8 to save his job, seems desperate to try anything at this point to salvage what was supposed to have been a promising season.His abrupt mid-season dismissal of Juan Castillo in favor of Todd Bowles didn’t do much against the Falcons to help a Philly “D” that has been plagued all season with costly mental mistakes, as well as schematic ones.Vick is clearly not exclusively the problem, although the four-time Pro Bowler and 11-year veteran has not played well this season. His propensity to turn the ball over and inconsistency in making the proper pre-snap reads have made Vick the most obvious target for frustrated fans.Reid was measured when asked about a quarterback change in his post-game comments on Sunday.“I’ll go back and look at everything,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and make decisions right now. I’m going to go back and look at it and analyze it.”But Reid’s suspect play-calling and a shaky offensive line are equally as culpable in the team’s current three-game losing skid. Changing quarterbacks is always the easiest would-be solution.The talk of a possible quarterback change has dominated the headlines in the City of Brotherly Love and nationally as well.Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King argued in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column that that the Eagles ought to give Vick one more week, but his SI colleague Don Banks pointed out how resigned Vick seemed to a benching following Sunday’s loss.Vick has continued to deal with turnover problems this season, though he’s taken care of the ball well in his last two outings. But that has not led to positive results.Foles, a third-round pick out of Arizona, was impressive during the preseason, but is yet to throw a regular season NFL pass.Philadelphia plays at New Orleans this Sunday.Vick sounded resigned to the fact that a change could be imminent.“Obviously, he’s thinking about making a change at the quarterback position,” he said. “The thing I do know is that I’m giving us every opportunity to win. I’m trying my hardest. Some things don’t go right when I want them to. Some things do. So if that’s the decision that (Reid) wants to make, then I support it.” read more

The 53 Best Franchise Players In The NBA

35. Greg Monroe (24.4)Monroe, the newly signed Buck, is “an offensive-minded center who can average a double-double [and] score inside and from the perimeter,” as Ohm Youngmisuk wrote. His skilled footwork in the post makes the Al Jefferson comp perfect. Still, Monroe didn’t improve his productivity between his age-22 season in 2012-13 to his age-24 season last year. He could be a WYSIWYG player: someone whose current skill set provides plenty of value to an NBA lineup, but who isn’t a great bet to develop further. 24. Eric Bledsoe (30.4)Bledsoe is a long way from being “mini LeBron,” but he has a lot going for him: strength like Kyle Lowry’s alongside the speed of Ty Lawson. What he lacks is a consistent outside shot: His .324 3-point percentage last year ranked just 69th out of 76 players who took at least 250 3-point shots. He turns 26 this season and has passed the point where he can necessarily expect rapid improvement; he might be better off mothballing his 3-pointer and concentrating on the rest of his otherwise well-rounded game. 52. Cody Zeller (20.0)CARMELO’s best guess is that Zeller will produce like a solid starter over the next handful of seasons. But remember, that’s just the mean forecast. The variance is wide because Zeller’s closest historical comparables are all over the place. Maybe he’ll develop into a star, like No. 1 comp Jack Sikma,3Yes, Jack Sikma! Check the numbers if you don’t remember how good he was. Al Horford (No. 3) or Rasheed Wallace (No. 9). Then again, maybe not — Zeller’s comp list is also littered with names like Kwame Brown, Tyrus Thomas and Stromile Swift. 16. Draymond Green (36.4)Arguably the breakout star of last season, Draymond Green is a defense-first bulldog with versatile offensive skills. A Dan Majerle comp beside a Robert Horry one? Yeah, it’s a strange pairing — but Green is an unusual player. The only caveat was that Green improved so much last year that he could be due for a pinch of reversion to the mean. Even so, CARMELO projects that he’ll produce $130 million worth of value to the Warriors over the next five seasons, a great return on his $85 million contract. 25. D’Angelo Russell (29.6)CARMELO would have taken D’Angelo Russell ahead of Towns for the No. 1 pick, however. With good size and strength to round out a nice shot and excellent passing, Russell draws comparisons to other scoring point guards/combo guards such as Derrick Rose and James Harden. Don’t expect much efficiency this year: As Baxter Holmes wrote, the rookie “will probably pile up some head-shaking turnovers” for a Lakers team with miserable discipline. But Russell has superstar upside. 39. Marc Gasol (23.3)The big Spaniard (and Conley’s fellow Grizzly) was once again one of the league’s best centers last year, and he’s definitely inherited comp Vlade Divac’s gene for great post passing. But at 31 years old, Gasol has only so many years left. Big men tend not to age as well as wings and point guards, and the Grizz should worry about a decline to Brad Miller levels of production. 44. Nikola Mirotic (21.2)Mirotic finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, behind Wiggins, and is now a huge building block for the Bulls. The Detlef Schrempf comp is just too perfect: a tall, international forward with an excellent 3-point shot. Now all that’s left is for Mirotic to guest star on the 2040 equivalent of “Parks and Recreation.” 30. Ricky Rubio (26.5)Can Rubio, an exceptionally gifted passer and ball thief, ever develop a jump shot like comparable Jason Kidd did in his later years? CARMELO, seeing how Rubio is just 25, is optimistic, projecting him to improve his offensive efficiency to career-high levels. But if not, the shadow of his Brevin Knight comp looms over him. 13. Marcus Smart (38.2)Given how much CARMELO likes Payton, it’s not surprising that it likes Smart also. He fits a broadly similar profile: His shooting just isn’t there yet, but most of his other skills were already league-average or above last season, when he was just 20. The thing about players like these is that they can be superstars if their scoring develops (Smart’s No. 1 comp is James Harden, for instance) but reasonably valuable all-around players even if it doesn’t. 51. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (20.1)Kidd-Gilchrist, like Embiid, will miss the 2015-16 season. The injury could preclude the Hornets from what might otherwise have been a breakout season. It will also preclude Kidd-Gilchrist from gaining a year of experience he needs to round out his offensive game. So far, he has neither been adept at creating good looks for himself nor shooting the ball well when he has. Nonetheless, Kidd-Gilchrist has precocious defensive abilities and will be just 23 when he returns to competition next season. Health willing, he could develop into a Matrix-like player. 27. Jusuf Nurkic (27.2)The big Bosnian defies every outmoded stereotype of “soft” European players. Instead he has a mean streak as a bruising defender and talented young rebounder. Aside from Shawn Kemp, the top comps may not wow you, but if Nurkic’s shooting efficiency improves, the Nuggets have landed their franchise center. 43. Jared Sullinger (21.2)With a bevy of crafty post moves, the undersized Sullinger has made an old-school playing style work for him. Although he sometimes struggles to score around the basket, the development of his outside shot keeps the Celtics happy and is one of several reasons CARMELO expects the Celts to have a breakout season. The throwback comp to Lonnie Shelton is dead on, though Sullinger has to do some work to move past where Shelton was at the same age. 42. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (21.2)Caldwell-Pope is young and athletic and has a silky-smooth jumper. The problem is that these skills offset weaknesses elsewhere: His shot selection, playmaking and rebounding all need work. As we wrote in our Pistons preview: A “second coming of Ray Allen (Caldwell-Pope’s sixth-closest comp) would be a bonanza, but don’t bank on it.” Still, players as young as Caldwell-Pope have lots of opportunities to defy the odds. 34. Serge Ibaka (25.0)As Royce Young observed: “Ibaka isn’t quite ‘big’ enough to help form a Thunder big three, but he’s without question integral to the team’s success.” But is there any chance Ibaka could develop into more than that: an All-Star talent alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook? Just maybe. Kevin McHale, Ibaka’s No. 1 comp, is a favorable precedent: He had his best seasons in his late 20s and early 30s as he developed more of an outside shooting stroke. Ibaka, likewise, has improved his outside shooting almost every season and shot .376 from 3-point range last year. 40. Mike Conley (22.5)The Isiah Thomas comp provides a vision of Conley at his best: a gritty, undersized point guard with a great passing instinct and solid jumper. But as Carl Bialik notes, “his defense has dropped off in recent years,” so there is reason to worry he’ll be a worse-shooting Jason Terry in his later career. 31. Klay Thompson (26.2)Thompson’s No. 31 slot on CARMELO’s list might seem disappointing; by contrast, he slots in at No. 16 in #NBARank. His scoring is superlative, of course; Thompson is not only one of the best shooters in the game but also has the size and quickness to get to the rim. However, his defense and rebounding are below average. You can be an All-Star on the basis of scoring alone, but probably not a superstar. 41. Chandler Parsons (21.8)Parsons is a lanky wing defender with an efficient outside shot. He’s a blend of Tayshaun Prince on defense and Rashard Lewis on offense — and his skill set could become even more diverse if, as Tim MacMahon writes, the Mavs have him play more point-forward. The question is whether, at age 27 this season, Parsons can develop a signature skill that transforms him from a well-rounded, above-average player into a star. 15. Blake Griffin (36.5)Griffin would have ranked higher on this list a year ago. There are a few mildly troubling signs in his stats, particularly a decline in his rebound rate last season. Furthermore, a number of his comparables (such as Terry Cummings and Derrick Coleman) had fairly early career peaks. But let’s not get carried away. Although his fame may stem from his ferocious dunks, Griffin has evolved into a great all-around player whom every NBA team would love to have. He’s increasingly stretching opposing defenses with his outside shot, and he’s an underrated passer and defender. 36. Danny Green (24.3)Green already has overshot low expectations since he was chosen with the 46th pick in 2009. Green is a 3-point threat — comps to Brent Barry and Dan Majerle show that. But he’s also a great wing defender, like Bryon Russell. The only catch is that players who overachieve as much as Green don’t necessarily have much room to get better as they enter their late 20s. CARMELO gives Green only about a 15 percent chance of bettering his career-high 9.2 WAR from last season. 4. LeBron James (59.9)LeBron is a multipositional freak of nature, as his Larry Bird-Magic Johnson-Charles Barkley comps demonstrate. (What about Michael Jordan? He’d rank high on LeBron’s list too if he hadn’t spent his age-30 season playing minor league baseball.) Even on the downward slope of his career, the King is still the King and projects to have several good years left. We know that some of you will object to any list that doesn’t have LeBron at No. 1, but consider the following: The only other 31-or-older player to make our long-term value list is Marc Gasol, and LeBron projects to have almost as much career value remaining as three Gasols put together. 48. Jahlil Okafor (20.7)Okafor is a great prospect, though possibly also a guy who will look better in the box score than on the court. His lack of elite athleticism and sketchy defensive potential could make him something like Kevin Love without the outside shooting (hence the comp to bust Derrick Williams). But he’s also a great rebounder with nifty post moves, a classic combination for any aspiring big man. And if he does develop like top comp Derrick Favors on defense, the sky could be the limit. 11. Kyrie Irving (40.6)The upside is obvious: Irving has the killer first step and tight handle of Stephon Marbury. And while he’s not an all-time great passer like Isiah Thomas, he’s every bit as good a shooter. Plus, he’s just 23 years old this season. Advanced stats still don’t like his defense, however, and while Irving became a much more efficient offensive player last season, there’s some question about how much of that can be attributed to playing with LeBron and Love. Still, we have to give Kyrie the benefit of our doubt. More than a year ago, back in our unenlightened, pre-CARMELO days, we wrote that Irving probably wasn’t worth his $90 million extension. Now it looks like a good deal for the Cavs. 50. Victor Oladipo (20.3)Although CARMELO loves the other young Magic point guard (Elfrid Payton) even more, Oladipo’s projection isn’t too shabby. But of course, there’s still some uncertainty about what Oladipo can become: “His first two seasons have been so hard to get a bead on that you can peg him for just about any future you want,” we wrote. Whether Oladipo turns into Ray Allen or Ben Gordon will depend largely on whether he can develop a more consistent shooting stroke. 21. Kevin Love (31.3)If everyone was a bit too optimistic about what the addition of Love might mean for the Cavs last season, he may be underrated now. Sure, Love had trouble integrating into Cleveland’s system last year and experienced a major decline in the number of shots he generated near the rim, which also had some knock-off effects on his other statistics (for instance, he drew fewer fouls and grabbed fewer offensive rebounds). But as was the case for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, he may be better in his second year playing with LeBron, and he still projects to be a valuable rebounding hawk/stretch power forward. 14. Elfrid Payton (38.0)So we have bona fide stars like Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Blake Griffin … and then we have Elfrid Payton?!? Is this CARMELO’s version of PECOTA’s infamous Wily Mo Pena projection? Time will tell, but Payton logged almost 2,500 minutes as a 20-year-old rookie last year while flashing excellent passing and defensive skills. He can’t shoot at all yet, but one thing we’ve learned from CARMELO is that shooting skills sometimes take a few years to develop. If Payton develops some shooting touch, he could be the next Isiah Thomas; if he doesn’t, then for better or worse, he could be Ricky Rubio or Rajon Rondo. 17. Jimmy Butler (35.4)Bulls fans won’t be happy with the omission of Derrick Rose from our list (Rose ranks just 165th after three injury-filled seasons). But that’s OK: The Bulls have a new star in Jimmy Butler, an athletic wing defender with a growing arsenal of offensive moves. If Butler’s comps seem a little underwhelming, that’s partly because, consistent with the Bulls’ team-oriented philosophy, some of his contributions are subtle and unselfish. He’s outstanding at drawing fouls and avoiding turnovers, for example. 7. Kevin Durant (48.9)The 2014 MVP winner was out with injuries most of last season. But even with the typical reduction in long-term value for a player who suffers a severe injury, Durant still ranks seventh on our list. At age 27, he remains a scoring monster — a lankier Bernard King, with Ray Allen’s shot. Royce Young said it best: “Not only does he want to re-establish his rightful place among the game’s most elite, but also this could possibly, maybe, potentially be his last chance at a title in Oklahoma City.” 3. James Harden (64.8)Harden’s stats were nearly as ridiculous as Westbrook’s last season. Compared with Westbrook, however, it’s not as clear how Harden can improve. He’s already an incredibly efficient offensive player. He can’t stay much healthier, having led the NBA in minutes played last year. So Harden might have to settle for 2014-15 as his career year unless … he keeps working on his defense, which while better than past seasons still rates as league average. 29. Derrick Favors (26.6)Why are we optimistic about the Utah Jazz? Because Favors ranks among the top 30 long-term NBA players — and yet, he ranks only third on the list among members of the Jazz frontcourt. Coming off his best year yet, Favors is, as Ian Levy writes, “already one of the better defensive bigs in the game,” with an improving offensive skill set. The Jazz hope he blossoms into the next Reignman. 47. Nicolas Batum (20.7)Batum’s shooting regressed last season in Portland, but the newly signed Hornet still provides stellar perimeter defense. Hence the two types of comps: shooters such as Robert Horry and Dorell Wright, and defenders such as Tayshaun Prince. Players who combine both of those elements — i.e., the 3-and-D player — are all the rage in today’s NBA, but unlike many of his peers in that category, Batum also adds a playmaking dimension to his team’s offense. 45. Paul George (21.0)George’s future was in jeopardy after he suffered a catastrophic leg injury in the summer of 2014. So his playing at all last season (he came off the bench in six games late in the year) was a moral victory. There’s some further good news: Seriously injured NBA players like George have a better track record of recovery than their counterparts in other sports. Nonetheless, the Clark Kellogg comp is scary; a fellow Pacer, he started his career with great promise, only to be rendered a shell of his former self after a series of knee injuries. 23. Rudy Gobert (30.7)The second member of the Jazz frontcourt to make the top 30, Gobert went from an afterthought in his rookie season to a guy who leads his draft class in WAR. Ian Levy summed up the Stifle Tower nicely: “an elite rebounder and shot-blocker and an efficient finisher around the rim.” He also lacks much in the way of a jump shot, having shot under 22 percent last season on shots more than 3 feet from the basket. But if Gobert proves to be the next DeAndre Jordan or Tyson Chandler, Jazz fans won’t have much basis to complain. 2. Stephen Curry (65.4)Shocker: The 27-year-old reigning MVP has a bright future. An ultra-efficient shooter and a high-usage passing talent, Curry is a legitimate fusion of Ray Allen and Chris Paul — and is one of the few players to draw Michael Jordan as a top five comparable. But let’s pose the same question that we did for Westbrook and Harden: What might Curry do to become even better? The answer is probably to shoot a bit more. His usage rate is a couple of ticks behind Harden’s and well behind Westbrook’s and Jordan’s. 53. Joel Embiid (Upside WAR projection through 2020-21: 19.9)Embiid sneaks onto our list at No. 53. (Where would he rank if he hadn’t been hurt for the past two seasons? A lot higher — probably about where Karl-Anthony Towns does at No. 26.) CARMELO still harbors dreams about how Embiid’s shot-blocking could make him the next Joakim Noah. But given Embiid’s injury history, the Greg Oden comp looks increasingly scary. 20. Bradley Beal (31.5)Beal, the Wiz’s 22-year-old shooting guard, doesn’t have any stunning comps among his top five. But look down to No. 10 and you’ll find … Kobe Bryant. Guys who log so much playing time at such a young age can sometimes see radical improvements in their shooting efficiency, and if that happens, Beal will be an All-Star-caliber player. Below is a sortable table for all 572 players in our database, as of Oct. 27. 33. Jrue Holiday (25.0)Holiday has loads of talent and even made an All-Star team a few years back, but injuries have plagued his development. They’ve also concealed improvement in Holiday’s efficiency, however. When he played last season, Holiday shot the ball better and turned it over less often than during his All-Star campaign in 2012-13. The Pelicans will limit Holiday’s playing time at the start of the season, perhaps recognizing that all that may stand between Holiday and a breakout is being healthy enough to play in 82 games. 22. Gordon Hayward (31.2)The third jewel in the Jazz’s frontcourt crown, Hayward has come an awfully long way for a guy who — we mean this as a compliment — once came across as a bit of a nerd. The question is not whether he’s a legit NBA player (Hayward was already playing at a borderline All-Star level last season), but which path his future might take. His comparables include a mix of versatile, jack-of-all-trades players such as Andre Iguodala and hard-edged scorers such as Chris Mullin. The Mullin comp is particularly interesting given that Mullin (like Hayward) struggled with 3-point shooting consistency early in his career. 9. DeMarcus Cousins (42.6)Speaking of high upside: Wow. Hakeem, Garnett, Duncan — those are some awfully exciting comps for Cousins. We even have a Shaquille O’Neal sighting on Boogie’s list (Shaq, who rarely appears as a CARMELO comparable because he was such an outlier, is Cousins’s No. 10 comp). But Cousins has never quite gelled into a superstar, as factors ranging from injuries to his frustration with Kings management have gotten in the way of his success. He can’t rest on his laurels because so far he’s just an average finisher around the rim, where he’ll need to improve before the Hakeem and Shaq comparisons bear out. 28. Andre Drummond (26.7)Drummond is a “100th-percentile rebounder and elite rim protector,” as we wrote in our Pistons preview. That’s nice, but it can also be a recipe for being too one-dimensional, and Drummond’s dreadful free-throw shooting limits his value on the offensive end. At age 22, he has reasonable odds of making a leap forward at some point, but he’s an oddball player with comps ranging from Andris Biedrins to Moses Malone. 18. DeAndre Jordan (35.1)You know what you’re getting here. Jordan’s skills are either elite (rebounding, shot-blocking) or cringe-worthy (shooting, passing). But as we wrote in our Clippers preview, “dunk-and-defense” guys like Jordan, Dale Davis and Tyson Chandler can be cogs in championship-caliber teams. 12. Damian Lillard (40.5)Lillard is now the face of the franchise in Portland. Although he has the complete package on offense as a high-volume, efficient scorer and excellent passer, he’s a middling defender. Since high-usage point guards like Lillard want the ball in their hands as much as possible, the question is whether they’re good enough that you can build a championship-caliber roster around them. The results in Lillard’s case are mixed on that question, according to CARMELO. Lillard draws Steph Curry as a comp, but also Steve Francis and Gilbert Arenas. 19. Giannis Antetokounmpo (34.2)The sky’s the limit for the Greek Freak. Antetokounmpo has an unusually well-rounded skill set for someone who’s about to turn 21 years old, including certain skills (he’s already a good defender and excellent at drawing fouls) that are usually associated with more mature players. He’s still working out what sort of player he wants to be on the offensive end — he dramatically cut down on his 3-point shot last year (but, oddly enough, took a lot of long twos). All of this leads to an eclectic set of comparables that includes superstars like Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady — along with busts like Darius Miles and Marvin Williams. 32. Khris Middleton (25.3)Middleton is a Swiss army knife. As Ohm Youngmisuk writes, Middleton’s comps indicate that his game is old-school: “Middleton may not be flashy, but he plays hard, and his throwback game is a nice complement to his flashier and younger teammates.” He has one decidedly new-school skill, however: Middleton is a career .403 shooter from 3-point range. There’s a universe where Middleton develops into Peja Stojakovic (his No. 10 comparable) but with much better defense. 10. John Wall (41.1)We wrote about Wall extensively in our introduction to CARMELO. Coming off his best season ever, and second All-Star nod, he’s entering what should be his peak. But the variance on his projection is high, with outcomes ranging from future MVP to overrated ball-hog. 26. Karl-Anthony Towns (27.4)As we pointed out in our Timberwolves preview, Karl-Anthony Towns has some discouraging comps. If the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft flames out like Anthony Bennett or Greg Oden, that’s a disaster for Minnesota. But CARMELO projections are based on dozens or hundreds of comparables for each player and not just two — and there are plenty of more optimistic names (such as Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins) farther down Towns’s list. 37. Kyle Lowry (24.0)Lowry is a stout and tough point guard, so his comps to Rod Strickland and John Starks are spot on — and both players aged relatively gracefully. But if he can expect a gentle decline, a breakout season is probably not in the cards. “Many of the guards CARMELO sees as most similar to Lowry had already peaked by his age,” Carl Bialik noticed. In other words, at 29 years old, Lowry’s probably not getting any better. NBA player rankings, from ESPN’s #NBARank to Bill Simmons’s annual trade value column, are like the honey butter chips of sportswriting: just way too hard to resist. So — with the regular season starting today — here’s our special recipe, fueled by CARMELO, our new NBA player projection system.What makes our version a little different is that we’re focused on the long term and not just this season. Specifically, we’ve projected the next six seasons of wins above replacement (WAR) for all 572 players in our database. Then we added the cumulative WAR totals over six seasons, with a slight tweak to reflect upside potential.1In calculating this version of our ratings, comparable players who project to have a negative WAR are zeroed out instead. The thinking here is that, while some players are projected to have negative WAR totals, it’s hard for a player like Zach LaVine to have negative long-term value when his teams could always bench him if he’s not playing well. This has little effect on players in the top 53, however. You can check out all the rankings in the sortable table (way, way down) below, but we also wanted to count down the top 50 players — well, make that the top 53 players2Why 53? Because, ya know, it’s in our name. — first.Two things we can’t stress enough: First, these ratings are purely statistical; there’s no manual tweaking involved. And second, focusing on the long term makes a lot of difference. Tim Duncan doesn’t appear in the top 53, but Jusuf Nurkic does.A few more notes: Player ages are as of Feb. 1, 2016. And because we’re trying to forecast what the NBA will look like a few years out, these WAR projections do not account for injuries or minutes limitations — with the exceptions of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Joel Embiid, who are out for the season and whose WAR figures we’ve zeroed for this year. These upside WAR totals will not necessarily match the raw six-year WAR totals in the player cards. 6. Kawhi Leonard (53)We might call Leonard a sleeper — except that the rest of the basketball analysis community has woken up to his talents as the best lock-down wing in the game. Leonard won the Defensive Player of the Year award last season, and ESPN’s #NBARank list places him among the top 10 overall players in the game. Leonard’s offensive game has also developed, and, as Michael Wright notes, he could see fewer double-teams with LaMarcus Aldridge on the Spurs’ roster, leading to even better production. All of this is why Leonard is one of just eight players CARMELO labels as MVP candidates. 5. Russell Westbrook (54.9)What is there to say? Westbrook averaged a triple-double per 100 possessions last season. And yet CARMELO gives him about a 40 percent chance of being even more valuable this year. His path to achieving that is obvious enough: by improving on his wildly entertaining (but often just plain wild) shot selection, which can sometimes overshadow the ridiculous box-score stats. 46. Andrew Wiggins (20.8)Wiggins’s top CARMELO comp is … well, Carmelo (Anthony). As we wrote, the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year could be “very good, but between mediocre defense and average efficiency, not quite as good as his box-score stats suggest.” Wiggins’s upside and versatility are apparent in his comp list, though — witness the presence of Derrick Rose (No. 5) and Chris Bosh (No. 8), two stylistically different players who were bona fide superstars at their peaks. 49. Paul Millsap (20.6)Last year Millsap had a banner season, making his second All-Star team. It came because of all-around excellence: Millsap is a solid defender, like top comp Gerald Wallace, and well-rounded on offense (even if the Julius Erving parallel is a bit much). But as we’ve pointed out, Millsap is projected to regress a lot this season; more often than not, a career-best season at age 29 proves to be a career year. 38. Nerlens Noel (23.9)Noel’s defense was a bright spot among the garbage heap that was the Sixers. As Ian Levy wrote, Noel ranked “among the top 5 percent of all players in steal rate, block rate and overall defensive plus-minus.” That’s awfully impressive for a guy who was just 20 years old. But with no discernable offensive skills — his 49 percent true shooting percentage was abominable for a guy who spends so much time around the rim — he gets stuck with a Stromile Swift comp along with more optimistic options like Nene. 1. Anthony Davis (73.8)The Brow combines Kevin Garnett’s ferociousness in rebounding and on defense with the stretch shooting ability of Chris Bosh. But even those names might understate his upside: There’s never been a player quite like him. (Garnett and Bosh, Davis’s top comparables, have just medium-high similarity scores when compared with him.) In other words, Davis will be terrorizing teams on both ends of the court for the foreseeable future: We’re just not quite sure how. The one thing to watch out for is injuries, which shorten big men’s careers more often than those of guards. 8. Chris Paul (46.3)Paul is one of just two players in his 30s to make the top 10 (you’ll have no trouble guessing the other). The precedents are reasonably favorable here: Point guards tend to age well compared with players at other positions, and well-rounded players like Paul tend to age better than one-dimensional ones. Given his reputation for postseason struggles, however, we couldn’t help but notice that none of Paul’s top five comps (Mark Price, John Stockton, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Terrell Brandon) won an NBA title in his prime.4The “in his prime” qualifier is important. Kidd won a title as a 37-year-old with the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks, and Payton did so at the same age with the 2005-06 Miami Heat. read more

The Panthers Are Alone Atop The NFC South

How will your favorite NFL team do this year? See all of our predictions for the 2016 season » After losing the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos, the Carolina Panthers dropped from first in Elo to third, directly behind the rival Seattle Seahawks (whom Carolina blew out 31-24 — in the most lopsided one-score game of the playoffs — en route to the big game). The Panthers had a mixed offseason, bringing back defensive end Charles Johnson but also losing All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman after rescinding his franchise tag. Even so, Elo considers Carolina to be far and away the most talented team in the NFC South, a mantle the team will likely carry throughout the season. To go with our 2016 NFL predictions, FiveThirtyEight is previewing each division.The NFL is back, and we’re booting up our Elo ratings again in preparation for the 2016 season. For those new to Elo, it’s a power rating that tries to estimate each team’s strength at any given moment, based on who it beats (or loses to) and by how much. The ratings can also be used to simulate the season thousands of times, which allows us to estimate how likely each team is to win its division or the Super Bowl and can give us a sense of which teams play the toughest schedules.One drawback to Elo is that its preseason ratings are simply each team’s number from the end of last season reverted to the mean. So to flag teams whose Elo ratings might need some mental adjustments from last year, we’re also looking at a composite ranking of three well-regarded offseason grades.1Specifically, the grades from ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, ProFootballFocus.com and an ESPN panel of experts.Here, we take a look at the NFC South, home of the defending conference champion Carolina Panthers … and some other teams. In a division that was once infamous for its turnover — no team repeated as champ in the division’s first 12 years of existence — the Panthers have a 66 percent chance of winning the South for a fourth consecutive season. The biggest question for Carolina will be whether a defense that ranked as the NFL’s second-best last season (trailing only the historically great Broncos) can continue to dominate without Norman. But last year’s breakout season from quarterback Cam Newton and the Panther offense makes Carolina a safer division choice than if the team were relying on its defense alone.Behind the Panthers, Elo considers the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints to be near-equals, although both teams are long shots to wrest the division away from Carolina. The Falcons improved to 8-8 last season, but they’ll have to contend with one of the NFL’s toughest schedules this year, with trips to Denver and Seattle among their most daunting non-division matchups. Atlanta posted a below-average Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) in each phase of the game last season; Matt Ryan will probably have to rediscover his Pro Bowl form if the Falcons hope to have their first winning season since 2012.The Saints, meanwhile, have been trending in the wrong direction, with a point differential that has fallen from +110 in 2013 to -23 in 2014 and -68 last season. They still have legendary quarterback Drew Brees (despite our editor-in-chief’s suggestion that the two break up), but even he wasn’t able to overcome what was the NFL’s worst defense and seventh-worst special teams corps last season. The quarterbacks most similar to Brees (Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Warren Moon) had a decent amount of production left in the tank at Brees’s age, but after the Saints spent an offseason shoring up cap space rather than getting better on defense, it’s doubtful things will be very different in the Big Easy this season.Bringing up the rear of the South are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs were one of the youngest teams in the league last season (weighted by the Approximate Value of each player on the roster), and QB Jameis Winston had a solid rookie season from which the franchise may be able to build a foundation. The team’s offseason contained just enough positives to make for an intriguing worst-to-first sleeper pick. But Tampa Bay probably isn’t ready to contend for the division yet, particularly because the Bucs, under new coach Dirk Koetter, are facing the NFL’s fifth-most-difficult schedule.That leaves the Panthers as commanding favorites in this division. They almost certainly won’t repeat last year’s 15-1 record, but Newton and company are at the top of the NFC South class and might use that perch as a springboard for another deep playoff run.VIDEO: How one spurned Rams fan found a new team read more

Clippers game postponed by rain team set to play Mothers Day doubleheader

After the fans were able to watch the live broadcast of the Kentucky Derby on the scoreboard at Huntington Park, Saturday night’s game between the Columbus Clippers and Lehigh Valley IronPigs was unable to get out of the starting gate as thunderstorms moved in. The two teams will play a doubleheader Sunday, consisting of two seven-inning games beginning at 1:05 p.m. The second game will begin 30 minutes after the first concludes.   Saturday’s scheduled starting pitcher, left-hander David Huff (3-0, 3.19 ERA) will pitch the first game and face right-hander Eddie Bonine (2-3, 3.38 ERA).  Columbus has won 14 of its past 15 games, and is currently atop the International League West Division with a record of 22-6. read more

Ohio States Meyer moves in on Fickells dire defense

Ohio State sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier said words couldn’t describe the Buckeyes’ defensive performance against Indiana. The appropriate descriptors came to first-year OSU coach Urban Meyer with apparent ease during his weekly press conference Monday, and he wasn’t happy. Maybe that’s why, at least for the time being, Meyer will have an increased role in the defense – he’s targeted the problem and is already working with the unit to improve its play. In light of nearly blowing an 18-point, late-game lead against the Hoosiers, Meyer, who said he’d be more involved with the defensive unit afterward, said the Buckeyes need to eliminate big plays. To help facilitate the defense’s growth, he’s already upped his involvement with the unit – Meyer said he’s met with both the players and the coaches on the defensive side of the ball. You won’t hear a whine from co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell regarding these matters, though – he said he’s happy to continue collaborating with Meyer. After allowing 481 yards of total offense and 49 points, Meyer described OSU’s problem succinctly, saying it needs to cease allowing big plays. “Pressing issues, eliminate the big play. There were 14 plays in there (against Indiana), and I actually met with the entire defense and the defensive staff in there,” Meyer said. “Instead of just complaining and whining and making noise, we have to put a plan together. That’s eliminate big plays … I’m not happy at all with what’s going on defense. That includes players, coaches and I think we can all get better.” Fickell’s defense is a porous one – OSU has allowed more points through seven games – 172 ­- than in either the past two seasons. Last year, the Buckeyes allowed 114 points to the opposition through seven games and during the team’s 2010 Sugar Bowl-championship campaign, which was later vacated, the defense allowed 112 points through seven games. With concerns about the now No. 7-ranked Buckeyes’ defense bubbling over, Fickell didn’t offer any excuses. Instead, a simple solution – make more plays, he said. “We’ve got to do a lot better job. I think the big thing is you look at – we’ve got to finish,” Fickell said. “To me, the greatest thing is, you say, ‘Hey, let’s see how we learn from this.’” From the outside looking in, it might appear that Fickell, having drawn Meyer’s ire, will now have his toes stepped on by the Buckeyes’ head coach. While it’s true that Meyer will be more involved in the defense, Fickell said, he’s always been present, adding that increased criticism from Meyer should help speed the learning process up. “(Meyer’s) come over more, but I think he’s always been involved. I think his ability to get over there and make sure, you know, motivational things and make things uncomfortable at times, but that’s how you grow,” Fickell said. “Hopefully he continues to spend a little bit more time with us. “(Co-defensive) coach (Everett) Withers and I, (cornerbacks) coach (Kerry) Coombs, (defensive line) coach (Mike) Vrabel – we all do things together, same way we’ve done in the past … It’s a collaborative issue and it’s not about any one person. That’s what we ask our kids to do and that’s what we ask our coaches to be like.” Meyer’s arrival in the defense’s meeting room comes just in time, too. Players, such as Shazier, say they’re distraught about the team’s play. “The defense, we’re really, really mad right now … We discussed how we played (against Indiana) and we had a horrible game,” Shazier said. “I’m not saying anything bad about Indiana, but we shouldn’t have gone out like that. We gave up too many yards, too many points.” The pieces, Meyer said, are already in place to turn the defense’s performance around. “We’ve got good coaches, good players and we’ll move forward and get better,” he said. OSU is scheduled to continue Big Ten play Saturday against Purdue University at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon. read more

Opinion Troubles in Brazil could pose problem for World Cup

Demonstrators participate in a protest against the rising public transportation prices, and the Brazilian government’s lavish spending for the FIFA Confederations Cup and World Cup soccer events June 19 in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.Courtesy of MCTWhile most of the world is invested in the Winter Olympics, there are those of us that are counting down the days until June 12.That day marks the beginning of the greatest single event in sports: the World Cup.Brazil is hosting this year’s tournament, and the excitement has been building for four years since Spain claimed its first World Cup title in 2010.The questions from pundits are wide-ranging, to say the least. Can the Spaniards repeat? Will Brazil claim its record sixth title, this time on home soil? Will it be Argentina’s Lionel Messi or Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo who will solidify their claim at being the world’s best player by leading their team to glory on the sport’s biggest stage?When one pictures a Brazilian World Cup, images of Pelé, Garrincha, Zico and Ronaldinho come to mind. A truly beautiful version of the beautiful game.But while happiness and excitement run rampant, if you peel back the layers,  you will find a much darker scene.As the clock ticks down until Brazil take on Croatia in Sao Paulo June 12, there are still issues in Brazil.Five of the 12 host sites for matches at the World Cup were intended to be finished by the end of 2013 but were still under construction as of last Saturday according to a report by The Guardian.The worst of these was the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, which until Tuesday was under threat of losing its right to host to another city if it did not pass a FIFA inspection.Although the city passed, the idea that this puts on display is a scary one: if Brazil can’t have these stadiums ready by its initial deadline, what faith can we have that it will be ready for the actual tournament?According to the same report by The Guardian, there have also been six worker deaths in the construction and renovation of these stadiums.Protests have also been a big problem in the lead up to the World Cup.Periodically throughout the summer of 2013 and stretching into this year, the youth of Brazil have poured into the streets to protest the money that’s being poured into the World Cup despite a failing economy, which pales in comparison to the violent deaths directly related to Brazilian football that have occurred in the past year.The situation right now seems like a powder keg, and that one little spark could cause the whole thing to blow.Will the tournament go on, even with the chaos in the streets and the questionable safety of the stadiums? Yes. But the likelihood that it will go off without a hitch decreases by the day.For an event so romanticized by soccer faithful — myself included — this is a frightening precedent that is being set. If a country thought to be so ingrained in soccer, particularly on the national level, is struggling like this, what will it be like for those less culturally impassioned by the sport (Qatar 2022 comes to mind).Will I still tune in to every match I can, voraciously cheering on the U.S. Men’s National Team as they attempt to escape their so-called Group of Death and advance? Of course I will.But some part of me will be on the edge of my seat for a different reason. I will be waiting and wondering if and when the next negative thing will happen, and what could happen to the legacy of the greatest sporting event in the world. read more

Ohio States JT Barrett named Big Ten Freshman of the Year

Despite being out for the remainder of the season with a fractured ankle, redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett was named the Big Ten Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year on Tuesday.Barrett picked up the award a day after he was named first team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media, and received the conference’s Quarterback of the Year award.The Wichita Falls, Texas, native started all 12 games during the regular season for OSU and set school records for total touchdowns in a season, passing touchdowns in a season and total yards in a season. He also broke the Big Ten record for total touchdowns, compiling 34 touchdown passes and 11 scores on the ground.Barrett added two single-game program records during the Buckeyes’ win over Minnesota when he had a quarterback record 86-yard touchdown run and a quarterback single-game high 189 rushing yards.The Rider High School product totaled 2,834 passing yards and threw 10 interceptions this season. He added 938 rushing yards to go with his 45 total touchdowns.Barrett also picked up weekly awards regularly throughout the season as he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week a record seven times and the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week three times.In addition to being named the the conference’s quarterback of the season, Barrett was also named the Big Ten’s Hardest Working Player of the Year on Monday.Barrett is the eight Buckeye to be named the Big Ten’s top freshman, and the third OSU quarterback to garner the honor in the past seven years. Senior quarterback Braxton Miller — who Barrett replaced after Miller was lost for the season when he tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder during fall camp — won the award in 2011.With Barrett injured, OSU is expected to turn to redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones for the remainder of the season.The Buckeyes are scheduled to play Wisconsin on Saturday in the Big Ten Championship Game. Kickoff is set for 8:17 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. read more

Ohio State retail jerseys will be limited to a pair of numbers

A rack of OSU jerseys is seen at Barnes & Noble at 1598 N. High St. For the 2015 season, stores such as Barnes and Noble will now only be allowed to sell Nos. 1 and 15 jerseys. Credit: Giustino Bovenzi / Lantern reporterFans looking to purchase new Ohio State football jerseys for the upcoming season will have two jersey options to choose from at Nike apparel-approved retailers: No. 1 and No. 15. Rick Van Brimmer, assistant vice president for Affinity Trademark Management, said that it is merely a coincidence that two team standouts in redshirt senior quarterback/H-back Braxton Miller (1) and junior running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) sport the two number choices that are represented.According to Van Brimmer, the decision to make those two numbers available to fans is because annually No. 1 is the most popular jersey number and No. 15 represents the upcoming 2015 football season.Van Brimmer said the decision came about after an internal meeting from peer institutions.“Given the current climate around use of players’ names and likeness, this seemed to fit philosophically with where we want to be,” Van Brimmer said. “Fans can still get any number they choose through our custom jersey program at the stadium and online at our official team shop, as long as they include their (own) name on the jersey.”Carter Marsch, a second-year in communication, said he approves of the decision to represent the year and the potential national championship awaiting the team at the end of the season, but he also realizes the problem with teams using players’ jersey numbers for profit.“There’s always been problems with representing students and making money off of them, and what the football team can bring in, compared to what the students make,” Marsch said. “I think that this is a good way to kind of cancel that out, almost.”Van Brimmer said some stores may have carryover stock from last year still available for a limited time.Kathy Smith, general manager at the Barnes & Noble in the South Campus Gateway, said her store was already clearing out last year’s inventory before the announcement came out.Smith said her store still has some of last year’s No. 5 jerseys — the number formerly worn by Miller — on clearance right now.“If (customers) are looking for any other numbers besides 1 and 15, then they can come in and look at what we have on clearance,” Smith said.Smith mentioned that a rivalry game jersey will be made available later this year as well, but she could not provide the details on those yet, as they have not been officially released.The new OSU jerseys are available in two styles, game and limited, and range from $90 to $135 on the Nike website. read more