When referee Gene Steratore turned on his microphone at midfield to greet the captains for the pregame coin toss Thursday night in Baltimore, the crowd could hear him say: “Good evening, men. It’s good to be back.”And with that, the fans roared.That act likely will be played out in stadiums across the NFL on Sunday, as the traditional officials retake their positions on the field and the much-maligned replacement officials faded to black.Steratore and his seven-man crew donned their familiar stripes for the first game of Week 4 after three weeks of replacement officials created moments of chaos throughout the league. The new/old officials predictably were serenaded with a hearty round of boos for one call that went against the home team, but there were no headline-making gaffes.“You know we always pride ourselves in being a face without a name,” Steratore, a 10-year league veteran, told The Associated Press about an hour before kickoff. “This will be a little different, but I don’t expect it to last too long. And that’s the goal — is that we can let them get through that portion of this. It’s happy to be back; it’s happy to be appreciated. But then as soon as the game starts, it’s happy to disappear again and let the entertainers entertain.”The final pass of the game sailed out of the end zone, saving the regular refs from the same type of call that brought the replacements to the height of unpopularity just three days earlier.Referee Gene Steratore and his crew didn’t have to decide which player came down with the ball, and fans and players aren’t going to spend Friday going ballistic that their team was robbed. From the pregame cheers to the final whistle, it was overall a good return for the NFL’s veteran men in stripes, who ran a mostly smooth and efficient game Thursday night as the Baltimore Ravens edged the Cleveland Browns, 23-16.“It was great to have those guys back,” Ravens running back Ray Rice said. “It looked like they knew what they were doing.”.The league’s experiment with replacement officials ended on “Monday Night Football” in controversy. A touchdown was awarded even though replays appeared to show it should have been an interception. From then on, the posturing was done. The sides got down to serious negotiating with Thursday night’s return the result.“I thought they handled (the game) great,” Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said. “I had all the confidence in the world that this was going to be officiated in the right way.”The love for the officials was evident all evening. About an hour before kickoff, they walked on the field and heard cheers from the early arrivals. A few minutes later, Steratore was shaking hands with Shurmur near midfield and getting a hug from Ravens face-of-the-franchise Ray Lewis at the 30-yard line.Later, when the crew returned, it received a standing ovation, and the officials doffed their caps to the crowd. One fan held up a sign that read: “Finally! We get to yell at real refs! Welcome back!”
The 2014 World Cup’s host country returns to action Tuesday, but we’ll be watching another game, in search of wunderkinds.Belgium vs. Algeria: 12 p.m. EDTBrazil vs. Mexico: 3 p.m. EDTRussia vs. South Korea: 6 p.m. EDTIN BRIEFSee our World Cup interactive for the latest probabilities.IN DEPTHBefore we get into why Belgium and Algeria is our game to watch, we should note that we cheated a bit in our criteria for Tuesday’s pick. Typically we’ve taken the greatest harmonic mean between competing teams’ SPI scores, which — as of Monday night — would have put the Brazil versus Mexico match atop the list at 82.4. But we’ve already seen both Brazil and Mexico play in this tournament and their matchup is one-sided, with Brazil having an 86 percent chance of winning (Mexico’s is 3 percent). So instead we’ve chosen to watch one of this year’s dark horses, Belgium, in its tournament debut.Belgium currently has the eighth-best chance of winning this year’s tournament (a mere 1 percent chance, but still). It’s the only team in SPI’s top 10 that hasn’t played yet. Its opponent, Algeria, on the other hand, has the lowest SPI of any team in the tournament and likewise a less than 1 percent chance of winning it all. But we think Tuesday’s matchup will be much closer than anticipated — the projected goal differential between the two teams is only 1.2, compared to 2.6 in the Brazil and Mexico match.But what’s most exciting about Belgium (which returns to the World Cup after failing to qualify for the last two tournaments) is its youth: 23-year-old Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard, 21-year-old Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, 22-year-old Wolfsburg midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and 19-year-old Manchester United midfielder Adnan Januzaj all have dazzled in the top leagues in Europe but have yet to play on the World Cup stage. Both Belgium and Algeria feature rosters with 10 players under the age of 25, but Belgium’s youngsters are some of international soccer’s most talented. Hazard averaged 0.4 goals per game with Chelsea this year, and Lukaku averaged 0.45 for Everton.Many analysts discount Belgium’s talent after it breezed through qualifiers against teams like Macedonia and Scotland, so Tuesday’s matchup against Algeria will be the first time we see what these kids are really capable of.YESTERDAYThird time’s a charm. The United States entered Monday’s match against Ghana aiming to avoid becoming the first country to lose to the same opponent in three consecutive World Cups.Punctuated by a quick Clint Dempsey goal, the U.S. had the best of the first 10 minutes, with 66 touches to Ghana’s 52, including a 30-13 advantage in the attacking half. But from the 11th minute onward, not so much. The final score — 2-1 United States — didn’t reflect it, but the U.S. spent most of the game on its heels.Here’s a couple stats:The U.S. ended the match with 88 touches in the defending penalty area, the most by any team thus far in the World Cup. U.S. Goalie Tim Howard ended as the team’s leader in touches with 61, as well as pass attempts with 49. The U.S. recorded 45 clearances as a team. It’s the most by any team in a World Cup match since at least the start of the 1966 World Cup, as far back as ESPN Stats & Info’s data set goes.It was defender John Brooks, making his U.S. men’s national team debut, who scored the winning goal in the 86th minute, becoming the first substitute to score a goal for the U.S. in the World Cup. (At 21 years, 139 days old, Brooks is also the youngest player to score in this year’s tournament.)In the first match of the day, Germany became the first country to play in 100 World Cup matches, and in its 4-0 dismantling of Portugal was the first nation to score at least four goals in four straight openers.Germany had a slight possession advantage over Portugal, amassing 684 touches to Portugal’s 556, but had a big advantage where it counted; Germany had 24 touches in in the attacking penalty area compared to Portugal’s eight. Mario Gotze had more touches (nine) in the attacking penalty area than the entire Portuguese team. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo managed just one touch in the attacking penalty area.The star of the match was Germany’s Thomas Müller, who had his country’s first World Cup hat trick since Miroslav Klose in 2002. Müller made the most of his seven touches in the attacking penalty area, scoring on each of his three shots on target. — Jacob Nitzberg, statistics analyst, ESPNOFF THE PITCHAlgeria versus Belgium is the most mismatched pairing in Group H, with a 65 percent chance of Belgium winning and just a 12 percent chance that Algeria will claim victory. And this imbalance is no less true in the countries’ trade relationship, at least as far as diversity goes. According to OECD data, Belgian exports to Algeria in 2011 totaled $2.06 billion spread over a wide range of categories — the plurality of which were cars and car parts at 22 percent, closely followed by preserved milk at 21 percent. But flip the relationship around, and a whopping 92 percent of Algeria’s $3.45 billion in exports to Belgium consisted of crude petroleum.Mexico and Brazil, on the other hand, have a much more symmetrical trade relationship. On both sides, a majority of the exports was some type of machinery, which made up about 53 percent of Brazil’s exports (a well-spread mix of everything from cars to sewing machinery) and 58 percent of Mexico’s (of which cars made up a 46 percent plurality).Russia and Korea are another evenly matched trade duo, and the sectors even complement each other. Korea’s biggest export to Russia was machinery (mostly cars and car parts) at 55 percent, while Russia’s was — surprise, surprise — oil, at 60 percent. — Hayley MunguiaFURTHER READINGThe U.S. Now Has a Better Shot at the World Cup, But Still Needs a Point Against PortugalWhy Isn’t the U.S. Men’s National Team Better at Soccer?A World Cup Fan’s Guide to Accepting Refereeing Decisions in Your FavorU.S. Soccer Fandom: The Investigation Continues
To the left are the factors I used and the weights I assigned each.Some things don’t matter in my book. I don’t take into account our prematch ratings of each team. A Bayesian would figure that the better teams are more likely to play better soccer, but in a tournament that has seen favorites dominate the later stages, I don’t want to give them any other advantages.Also, while knockout matches get a boost because they’re considered more meaningful than group-stage matches, I also don’t give any extra credit for knockout games that are tied after 90 minutes. Part of the beauty of soccer is that matches take a predictable, and brief, amount of time. So all stats are normalized to a 90-minute match, and penalty kicks don’t factor in. Relatedly, I have no bias for or against draws. Either they come in the group stage and are critical to standings, or they’re in the knockout stage and are settled by penalty kicks.I didn’t merely add together these numbers. A typical match had 725 completed passes per 90 minutes, but just 2.65 goals per 90 minutes. Plus, some of the measures were expressed in percentages. So I used standard scores, aka Z scores: the number of standard deviations each measure was from the mean. Each match’s final score was the weighted sum of Z scores for each measure.And here are the Top 10 and bottom 10 matches, according to my method:Belgium-U.S. did well across the categories. It was meaningful and close for all but the two minutes between the second Belgium goal and the lone U.S. goal. It had lots of one-on-ones, chances and expected assists; and few offsides, bookings and major errors.In other words, it was the mirror image of the dreadful France defeat of Honduras. France led comfortably for nearly all of the second half. The match had few one-on-ones, a relatively low proportion of shots that were on goal, few chances or assists, and an own goal by Noel Valladares, the Honduras goalkeeper.While I’m comfortable with both of these choices, I was surprised to see the two semis in my top 10. Germany’s rout of Brazil wasn’t competitive after the first 20 minutes, but the German attack’s efficiency and pinpoint passing made it look like a classic anyway. (It also had few fouls, bookings and offsides calls.) And it did have a certain car-wreck quality that made it highly watchable. Argentina’s penalty-kick ouster of the Netherlands was highly meaningful and close throughout, with accurate passing. That helped it overcome the lack of goals and, especially, chances — the fewest per 90 minutes of any match so far.The rankings also make me want to watch replays of Nigeria — which had two top-five matches — and they provide a parting insult to Spain, which played two matches in the bottom 10. They also highlight the drama of the Round of 16, which had three of the top nine matches.Just to show how much my preferences matter, I tested a few small changes in the weightings and came up with different results. Weight goals per 90 minutes by four instead of one, and Germany-Brazil is the best match of the World Cup in addition to the most surprising. Or shift the weight on successful tackle percentage to four, and Germany-Algeria takes the prize. (No simple tweak, though, can rescue France-Honduras.)As these examples demonstrate, this ranking, like any other, is arbitrary. The factors I included and the weights I chose were based on what data I had available and my preferences. Let me know in the comments how you’d rank the matches, or rank them yourselves. There are lots of stats available at FIFA.com and Whoscored.com. I thought it’d be fun to try to devise a way to rank the 62 World Cup matches played through Wednesday for sheer entertainment value. After all, most people in the world entered the tournament without their home country to support. And many people who live in one of the 32 nations with a contender have seen their country’s team knocked out and had to choose whether to adopt a new side to support, or to simply cheer for good, exciting soccer — or, in other words, what was absent from France-Honduras, the worst match by my measure.So, what defines good, exciting soccer? What sets Belgium 2-U.S. 1, the best match of the tournament by my ranking, apart from France 3-Honduras 0, the worst? Anyone who thinks about the question probably would answer it a little differently. Here are my answers: A match needs to matter. Knockout matches matter the most, while the third of the three group-stage matches sometimes matter much less, particularly when the two teams have been eliminated from the knockout stage already.A match needs to be close for most of the time. It can end 4-0, so long as it was 1-0 until the final minutes.All else equal, a match with more goals is more fun than one with fewer goals. But not all goals are created equal. Goals caused by opponent errors aren’t the result of good play, so each one is as bad as other goals are good. I prefer assisted goals, so they get a 50 percent boost.Whatever the final score, a match will be more entertaining if it has more chances. And meaningful chances matter more. So a better match will have a greater number of expected goals and assists. Our expectation is based on the location of shots and passes — and a model built by TruMedia to estimate the expected number of goals and assists based on these shots and passes and how they’re coded by Opta’s match analysts (TruMedia supplied the Opta data for this exercise). Good chances are entertaining whether or not they lead to goals: When they don’t, a defender or goalkeeper is probably partially responsible. But missed shots are no fun and a sign of bad play. So the higher the percentage of all those shots that aren’t blocked by the defense that are on target, the better.One-on-one showdowns between an offensive player and a defensive counterpart are exciting. The more of these, the better.The greater the number of completed passes, the more the ball is moving and teammates are collaborating. Incomplete passes could be the result of ambitious passing, of bad touches or of good defense, so I ignore them.Tackles are good, but missed tackles aren’t. So the higher the percentage of attempted tackles that are successful, the better.Flowing play is better than lots of referee whistles. So the fewer fouls, the fewer bookings and the fewer offsides calls, the better.There aren’t many stats that directly measure errors, so I use one of those — misplays on crosses by goalkeepers — along with own goals and goals caused by defensive errors as a proxy for sloppy play in meaningful moments.
2011995Phoenix Suns1673162516121637 3932009Utah Jazz1631158115471586 ELO RATINGRK▲▼YEAR▲▼TEAM▲▼TITLE▲▼PEAK▲▼AVG.▲▼END▲▼BLEND▲▼ ELO RATING 7721980Houston Rockets1542150414871511 3752003Minnesota Timberwolves1627157415681590 5141999Philadelphia 76ers1578154115541558 11011965New York Knicks1454139114501432 1292004Los Angeles Lakers1698162816651664 4191984New Jersey Nets1610154815821580 7932007Orlando Magic1543148514951508 12062014Utah Jazz1466141313291403 12191990Los Angeles Clippers1471139113341399 2632011Denver Nuggets1647158816191618 10101970Boston Celtics1491144714241454 9561981San Diego Clippers1497144914601469 541950Minneapolis Lakers✓1732164917261702 131983Philadelphia 76ers✓1777173117391749 10441973Houston Rockets1483142614251445 6221963St. Louis Hawks1554152615321537 7262013Boston Celtics1563151614781519 4392017Oklahoma City Thunder1629157515231576 8711947Washington Capitols1524146914731489 9532006Seattle SuperSonics1483144514811469 2451998San Antonio Spurs1660156716431623 12941985Golden State Warriors1408133713421363 8132004Utah Jazz1528148714961504 4671997Portland Trail Blazers1597154615641569 13482011New Jersey Nets1374134113011339 5312002Charlotte Hornets1581152715531554 12702001New Jersey Nets1415137513361375 2982003Portland Trail Blazers1631159515981608 6872005Chicago Bulls1557149915231526 5611989Seattle SuperSonics1575153915291547 10882005Portland Trail Blazers1514142713641435 12631992Washington Bullets1422137113391377 6882007New Jersey Nets1555148515381526 3661988Utah Jazz1618154716111592 341971Milwaukee Bucks✓1757168717251723 352002Los Angeles Lakers✓1738168417381720 4911968St. Louis Hawks1607155915271564 5912016Houston Rockets1560153015361542 72016San Antonio Spurs1800176817591776 392007San Antonio Spurs✓1736168717251716 11582013Sacramento Kings1443139314101415 5161965St. Louis Hawks1584153715481557 422010Cleveland Cavaliers1763172716461712 7221953Fort Wayne Pistons1538150015211520 3181953Rochester Royals1642160215661604 452013Oklahoma City Thunder1736170416841708 8212016Memphis Grizzlies1561150814381502 7741973Atlanta Hawks1530148615161510 12851985Indiana Pacers1420137013111367 14022000Chicago Bulls1334129712671299 12621974Cleveland Cavaliers1397135413821378 511981Philadelphia 76ers1742170516681705 521965Boston Celtics✓1750169116711704 3151976Boston Celtics✓1651158615761604 12491969Chicago Bulls1410137613671384 7321979Golden State Warriors1544150615001517 6061995Cleveland Cavaliers1603153714781539 6381998Houston Rockets1601151514881534 10811999Chicago Bulls1526142713551436 592008Los Angeles Lakers1740166217011701 7201977New York Knicks1532149515321520 611982Boston Celtics1724167617031701 9332015Brooklyn Nets1501145914581473 2222009San Antonio Spurs1667162715951630 642002Sacramento Kings1721167317051700 651986Los Angeles Lakers1764168516471699 2892007Cleveland Cavaliers1641157416211612 11601947Chicago Stags1447138814091415 1001981Milwaukee Bucks1687166016811676 5821995Denver Nuggets1564151915471543 The best NBA teams ever (according to Elo) 9891950Washington Capitols1498146114201460 6532004Miami Heat1566147615541532 8382011Milwaukee Bucks1530148014851498 1931951Minneapolis Lakers1678164116001640 791991Portland Trail Blazers1711167716791689 11682013Detroit Pistons1461140713721413 7701984Seattle SuperSonics1533149915011511 3621992Golden State Warriors1605158515861592 4242002New Jersey Nets1601155615801579 14371971Buffalo Braves1293122212111242 10391978Houston Rockets1527143513781447 8891950Indianapolis Olympians1509145614831483 961988Detroit Pistons1706164416881680 2031953Syracuse Nationals1666161416281636 3731982Seattle SuperSonics1643158315461591 7042007Los Angeles Clippers1538150015291522 872004Detroit Pistons✓1715162217151684 10421974Houston Rockets1463142514481446 7831957Minneapolis Lakers1536149614941509 2122017Houston Rockets1676162815981634 6661992Indiana Pacers1550151415271530 3921979Philadelphia 76ers1629155715721586 931990Los Angeles Lakers1704167516621680 12201951Washington Capitols1425139813711398 8041984Atlanta Hawks1527148115091506 2681979Washington Bullets1671162515541616 4592000Minnesota Timberwolves1608153715661571 5751987Houston Rockets1571152215421545 6072011Atlanta Hawks1608152614831539 4121978Seattle SuperSonics1614154915801581 1011982Los Angeles Lakers✓1707162416961676 7731986New Jersey Nets1574150014591511 2701995Chicago Bulls1648157916201616 11242012New Orleans Hornets1440140014361425 4271972Phoenix Suns1601156515671578 9631999Washington Wizards1512146814231468 222010Orlando Magic1782166917441732 3441969Los Angeles Lakers1622156316061597 6092012Utah Jazz1567150815411539 6472008Toronto Raptors1582153614801533 6771985Utah Jazz1557149615311528 11402010Philadelphia 76ers1465141613831422 13261982San Diego Clippers1421135312711348 1042017Cleveland Cavaliers1699162816961674 13971998Los Angeles Clippers1363130712411304 9182017New Orleans Pelicans1516142914821476 10741970Phoenix Suns1476140014381438 12451989Sacramento Kings1402136313991388 12811981New Jersey Nets1421135713301369 2771960Syracuse Nationals1633159916121615 52015Golden State Warriors✓1822174518221796 1222012Chicago Bulls1701167316271667 9841963San Francisco Warriors1482144514581462 5402014Minnesota Timberwolves1588155215161552 9661981Atlanta Hawks1514145914271467 13081997San Antonio Spurs1442134112921358 1271973Los Angeles Lakers1701165616391665 1422010Boston Celtics1697161516651659 9701996Denver Nuggets1539145314041465 2922010Dallas Mavericks1639159915951611 4501978Phoenix Suns1619156815281572 661960Boston Celtics✓1728169116781699 13401991Sacramento Kings1366132213451344 9491986Cleveland Cavaliers1528146114231471 1351994Houston Rockets✓1700162216611661 5261976Cleveland Cavaliers1585154115371554 4971958New York Knicks1586154815541563 131987Lakers153+11.40.712.1 92014Spurs167+184.108.40.206 11671999Golden State Warriors1425140814081414 5541954New York Knicks1594155115021549 7941999Cleveland Cavaliers1552151514561507 1861953New York Knicks1679163616131643 11151964Baltimore Bullets1466141414051428 9801986Sacramento Kings1494144714471463 6371966Cincinnati Royals1578153214931534 14201987Los Angeles Clippers1346128312071279 9852002Washington Wizards1494145214381461 582015Los Angeles Clippers1743166516951701 152014San Antonio Spurs✓1764169617641742 1512006Phoenix Suns1712164216141656 12912001Atlanta Hawks1401136113301364 331972Milwaukee Bucks1741171117181723 8651991New York Knicks1521147114781490 10981998Philadelphia 76ers1450140214451432 12211977New York Nets1520138312901398 1571968Philadelphia 76ers1682164516311653 1582011Oklahoma City Thunder1683161516591652 5242013Chicago Bulls1597154215251555 11881988San Antonio Spurs1458140013661408 3081950Syracuse Nationals1623159415981605 2141975Washington Bullets1659161416281633 7362014New York Knicks1544146115441517 9191986San Antonio Spurs1558148213851475 3061999New York Knicks1632156516201606 3502016Atlanta Hawks1627156615931596 10692000Cleveland Cavaliers1487141814111439 1771989Phoenix Suns1684159916561647 4171963Syracuse Nationals1609157115601580 1702013Los Angeles Clippers1690164216141649 10751960Detroit Pistons1482142114101438 3012009Dallas Mavericks1635157516141608 14232005Atlanta Hawks1337128212091276 8292009Miami Heat1526146915091501 10051978Indiana Pacers1500143514311455 1672007Detroit Pistons1685162216411649 1681993Cleveland Cavaliers1678164116291649 8851977Indiana Pacers1515147614621484 2651980Phoenix Suns1631160116211617 82009Los Angeles Lakers✓1790172617901769 9961980San Diego Clippers1515146213951458 1821974Boston Celtics✓1679160716461644 3402002Minnesota Timberwolves1664159515341597 10511983Golden State Warriors1487142614141442 12832017Philadelphia 76ers1412135413381368 2692013Indiana Pacers1651158816101616 8511974Buffalo Braves1544143814971493 2551969New York Knicks1650158216301621 6541951Syracuse Nationals1546151915311532 1901987Detroit Pistons1661160516581641 6312012Orlando Magic1590154614691535 9161976Los Angeles Lakers1506146014621476 13902010New Jersey Nets1358127813021313 1941956Philadelphia Warriors✓1672161816281639 12781949Boston Celtics1390133913801370 191989Pistons152+220.127.116.11 14272000Los Angeles Clippers1345125812011268 4111997Charlotte Hornets1627155915571581 8641958Detroit Pistons1537145014841490 11692016New York Knicks1454140113841413 14361949Providence Steam Rollers1272122812311244 2021954Minneapolis Lakers✓1654161616391637 11561950Philadelphia Warriors1431139714201416 2391994Indiana Pacers1659157416431625 11181980Chicago Bulls1439141214311428 3322004New Jersey Nets1645157815741599 5831984Phoenix Suns1559152215481543 12751974Portland Trail Blazers1422136513321373 13142002Memphis Grizzlies1387133913371355 2421960Philadelphia Warriors1643160616241625 12501994Philadelphia 76ers1461138113071383 7121987Chicago Bulls1546149415251522 7392001Indiana Pacers1557150114891516 6862000Orlando Magic1554150315221527 6741974Capital Bullets1552151815161529 3941962Philadelphia Warriors1618156915701586 1611992Cleveland Cavaliers1681161116631651 10041972Houston Rockets1472143514591455 4562007Denver Nuggets1611152015821571 7991996Washington Bullets1547147414981506 4941992Detroit Pistons1604155315351564 8971985Phoenix Suns1552147714141481 491980Los Angeles Lakers✓1738164317381706 5761988Milwaukee Bucks1604154114911545 10762004Cleveland Cavaliers1478139914321437 3171969Boston Celtics✓1632157316061604 2272009Portland Trail Blazers1664158616331628 6631955Rochester Royals1560152515071531 7441994Charlotte Hornets1551147915151515 2301981Phoenix Suns1671163515761627 13871971Portland Trail Blazers1342128613141314 8342010Chicago Bulls1535147814861500 7291977Boston Celtics1557149215041518 4762015Toronto Raptors1635156715001567 11191985Los Angeles Clippers1475141013951427 3771996New York Knicks1647155115681589 5101993Utah Jazz1610155115201560 2161990Chicago Bulls1654159916451633 8942007New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets1499144714991482 2402010Denver Nuggets1655162315971625 13441993Washington Bullets1380134412991341 6162007Toronto Raptors1578150415321538 4811981New York Knicks1594154315611566 2291957Boston Celtics✓1642160516351627 14181990Orlando Magic1347128412081280 6712001Orlando Magic1562151915081530 3801988Chicago Bulls1623156615771589 14471947Boston Celtics1245121912181227 572011Miami Heat1727167617021702 14251972Portland Trail Blazers1283125812741272 2511988Atlanta Hawks1667161115871622 13071983Indiana Pacers1404135113211359 4481979Portland Trail Blazers1609152615811572 13412002Golden State Warriors1380133013211343 4782006Sacramento Kings1599152415761567 6202014Brooklyn Nets1580150815231537 7271981Washington Bullets1541149415211519 13001952Milwaukee Hawks1389135813371361 3221985Denver Nuggets1643155516091602 9152000New Jersey Nets1536146714261476 5502011New Orleans Hornets1616153315001550 11331975Philadelphia 76ers1470141513851423 9352006Milwaukee Bucks1493144714771472 11761977Atlanta Hawks1443138414101412 14341947Detroit Falcons1302124511991249 10301979New York Knicks1506145413891449 13912011Minnesota Timberwolves1351131512691312 1362011Los Angeles Lakers1711164716241660 3481993Portland Trail Blazers1650158115561596 4292016Boston Celtics1610156915521577 4791983Seattle SuperSonics1601154715521567 4641973Chicago Bulls1595155615591570 2731991Boston Celtics1677161915501615 2742001Philadelphia 76ers1659160515811615 5801987Philadelphia 76ers1563153615301543 8031976Seattle SuperSonics1539148014991506 3001991Utah Jazz1624159116101608 10771948New York Knicks1465142614181436 14091983Houston Rockets1373128812231294 2801983Phoenix Suns1638159016141614 3821989New York Knicks1633158415481588 9311980New Jersey Nets1496145814651473 6301965Philadelphia 76ers1568151715211535 5872012New York Knicks1572151715381542 9792013Portland Trail Blazers1522146114051463 3472017Toronto Raptors1661158515421596 The best NBA championship runs ever (according to SRS) 5071985Portland Trail Blazers1580153015731561 5581951New York Knicks1576153615321548 2901983San Antonio Spurs1642157516171611 12261969San Diego Rockets1412137913921394 5921956Fort Wayne Pistons1578152915181542 8611959Minneapolis Lakers1514146714911491 13991999Los Angeles Clippers1321129012951302 6251995Los Angeles Lakers1560152315271536 14131989Los Angeles Clippers1330125812781289 6921977Kansas City Kings1562151515001526 CORRECTION (June 13, 2:25 p.m.): A table in a previous version of this story listed every team’s Elo under the team’s current name, leading to some past years’ entries being listed under incorrect names. The table has been updated. 2881996Indiana Pacers1650159715891612 12711967Chicago Bulls1395135413751375 6852004Portland Trail Blazers1547150815241527 12252016Minnesota Timberwolves1413136114111395 972011Chicago Bulls1718164516751679 9681978Kansas City Kings1496145114521466 10351953Indianapolis Olympians1472143114391447 13431989San Antonio Spurs1395133812921341 4961999Phoenix Suns1591154515531563 10822005New York Knicks1477142414071436 3092002Portland Trail Blazers1654157515851605 3101952Syracuse Nationals1631159815861605 9012006Golden State Warriors1530146514471481 1242005Detroit Pistons1695161216891666 8541986Washington Bullets1525148314691492 13242008Minnesota Timberwolves1365132613551349 2721951Rochester Royals✓1638159516141615 5042012Atlanta Hawks1586153915591561 7661952Indianapolis Olympians1541151314811512 7952017Charlotte Hornets1553150714631507 3191972Chicago Bulls1629159715831603 7972006Houston Rockets1571149214571507 6341974Golden State Warriors1576152315051535 1441975Boston Celtics1686164416451658 2491997New York Knicks1651160016141622 8841980Indiana Pacers1508147814661484 622010Los Angeles Lakers✓1724168116951700 11001996Boston Celtics1463140714271432 3272015Oklahoma City Thunder1631159015831601 10641997Los Angeles Clippers1470142414241439 8351951Boston Celtics1530148714821500 3381989Milwaukee Bucks1652159315481598 5991982Denver Nuggets1580151215301541 8471975Houston Rockets1530147814751494 7251999Milwaukee Bucks1536151115101519 11381986Golden State Warriors1445139114291422 14531947Pittsburgh Ironmen1242119211111182 101986Celtics153+10.32.312.7 2441949Minneapolis Lakers✓1645160216251624 8901981Golden State Warriors1519148114481483 10912013New Orleans Hornets1479142214021434 702001San Antonio Spurs1735167716771696 1782008Phoenix Suns1665163516381646 4351977Los Angeles Lakers1607157015511576 3431991Houston Rockets1652157015691597 2521999Miami Heat1662161715861621 3461952Rochester Royals1619159115801596 8162003Orlando Magic1527149414881503 21996Chicago Bulls✓1853177018231815 2432001Portland Trail Blazers1695162915491624 9301985Atlanta Hawks1490146014691473 11461974Phoenix Suns1449140314071420 7162011Utah Jazz1617151014331520 9512011Golden State Warriors1490142914901470 3532012Los Angeles Lakers1618159415731595 2241984Philadelphia 76ers1700161415721629 1192015Cleveland Cavaliers1723159016921669 3561988Portland Trail Blazers1618157915851594 1561982Milwaukee Bucks1683164216341653 1382004Indiana Pacers1692163016581660 12371991Minnesota Timberwolves1408135914081391 8981949Baltimore Bullets1514146814611481 9672008Indiana Pacers1497143914631466 1451998Seattle SuperSonics1719165515991658 11751985New York Knicks1504140413301412 12541996Dallas Mavericks1426137313461382 3721998Charlotte Hornets1627156815761591 10431985Kansas City Kings1472142414391445 13421950Sheboygan Red Skins1393133213001342 1102008San Antonio Spurs1690165016781673 10371953Milwaukee Hawks1467142614491447 7471981Kansas City Kings1542149715051515 12152012Washington Wizards1433133414331400 1142011Boston Celtics1723166216271671 9262003Golden State Warriors1508145814541473 11841965San Francisco Warriors1496138413481410 5521999Charlotte Hornets1561152515611549 13391995Detroit Pistons1378133113251345 11992014Detroit Pistons1469139613511405 91992Chicago Bulls✓1782175917621768 8071970Atlanta Hawks1547146515011504 2611991San Antonio Spurs1669160415841619 3232014Memphis Grizzlies1632157216031602 5302003Phoenix Suns1577153715461554 3832000Charlotte Hornets1628156115751588 1692015Houston Rockets1670162316551649 2081958Boston Celtics1681162016041635 2462001Utah Jazz1656161615981623 531998Los Angeles Lakers1745166117011702 12761986New York Knicks1427137613161373 10841951Baltimore Bullets1463142414211436 5001958Philadelphia Warriors1611153915361562 4052001Houston Rockets1604155215911582 10681999New Jersey Nets1455141714451439 6941997Phoenix Suns1568148815211525 2912017Utah Jazz1633159616051611 5461957Syracuse Nationals1588152215421551 3961952New York Knicks1606155715931585 1061989Los Angeles Lakers1701164316771674 3351985Detroit Pistons1644157815741599 1801970New York Knicks✓1712163215911645 RK▲▼YEAR▲▼TEAM▲▼TITLE▲▼PEAK▲▼AVG.▲▼END▲▼BLEND▲▼ 12741988Sacramento Kings1392136613631373 142013Miami Heat✓1774171517541748 14321981Dallas Mavericks1277122712691257 1391973New York Knicks✓1677162416771660 6692007Los Angeles Lakers1590152714731530 1651994Phoenix Suns1687163116341651 4631967San Francisco Warriors1609154815531570 11592005Utah Jazz1478140413631415 891962Boston Celtics✓1718166516691684 10732003Atlanta Hawks1469140914361438 9972007Indiana Pacers1517145813981457 5791954Fort Wayne Pistons1584155114961543 4131958St. Louis Hawks✓1616156815591581 4381998Cleveland Cavaliers1611155715591576 3211977Philadelphia 76ers1630158815901603 12082011Sacramento Kings1432135314211402 13891992Minnesota Timberwolves1370130312651313 10261986Phoenix Suns1481144614241450 3341998Atlanta Hawks1622158215931599 7621990Dallas Mavericks1536148515151512 2821997Detroit Pistons1640161415871614 4222012Dallas Mavericks1635157815251579 10651997Milwaukee Bucks1487143213991439 1021986Milwaukee Bucks1706166916491675 12221993Philadelphia 76ers1463138413481398 4262006Memphis Grizzlies1607156315641578 11221987Sacramento Kings1442141014251426 9741975Cleveland Cavaliers1501145014411464 12901995Philadelphia 76ers1407134613391364 8801987Golden State Warriors1513146614761485 4311968Los Angeles Lakers1614154715701577 2151991Phoenix Suns1678163915811633 4332013Golden State Warriors1608154015821576 4341957Philadelphia Warriors1605157615481576 4071994Portland Trail Blazers1625156815541582 6681998New Jersey Nets1570151415061530 12131973Cleveland Cavaliers1423137414031400 8451977Seattle SuperSonics1531149514611496 3021999Portland Trail Blazers1626160715911608 4401969Philadelphia 76ers1619158415231575 10851989Indiana Pacers1448141214481436 11951991Washington Bullets1466140013531406 11391981Cleveland Cavaliers1473142713641422 9471980Washington Bullets1487145114741471 5942016Utah Jazz1567151915391541 4462005Memphis Grizzlies1615157215301572 4721965Los Angeles Lakers1618154015471569 10531970Cincinnati Royals1487142914101442 1311963Boston Celtics✓1686164416571663 8021988Indiana Pacers1535149214911506 11112016Milwaukee Bucks1467142913921429 10962017Sacramento Kings1476143013931433 10832007Minnesota Timberwolves1511144713501436 2941979Phoenix Suns1631158016201611 4551995Charlotte Hornets1601156215501571 1302011San Antonio Spurs1704167316121663 13801994Minnesota Timberwolves1375132112561317 5351979Milwaukee Bucks1581151015661552 13751995Los Angeles Clippers1338130413191320 11731997Toronto Raptors1427138614251413 5591991Milwaukee Bucks1606153615011548 232001Los Angeles Lakers✓1779163417791731 8602011Indiana Pacers1537147214641491 11511992Charlotte Hornets1482140113751419 14421996Vancouver Grizzlies1268121612251236 10501974Seattle SuperSonics1478141914301442 14501948Providence Steam Rollers1247121311641208 2411977Portland Trail Blazers✓1649157716491625 442008Boston Celtics✓1731167717221710 3361978San Antonio Spurs1635157315871599 4711977Chicago Bulls1611149615981569 3551968Boston Celtics✓1611156216111594 7781985San Antonio Spurs1530149615041510 13701995Washington Bullets1357131213071326 4751974New York Knicks1623156815111567 12051983Utah Jazz1413139014051403 10141999Boston Celtics1477142714541453 7482002Los Angeles Clippers1550150814861515 2712015Portland Trail Blazers1668162315571616 5281973Golden State Warriors1601155315081554 10002001Detroit Pistons1504142914371457 4821972New York Knicks1592153915671566 2321987Milwaukee Bucks1666159816161627 1481983Los Angeles Lakers1710165416061657 9651982New York Knicks1526147314021467 5362003Indiana Pacers1601155215041552 4871992San Antonio Spurs1620157415021565 11321987Cleveland Cavaliers1433141014271423 3201974Detroit Pistons1648159215691603 7591968New York Knicks1545146715261513 6571998Washington Wizards1573152414981532 7641984Utah Jazz1543150414891512 11281950St. Louis Bombers1464141213961424 9251957Fort Wayne Pistons1522146614331474 4952012Philadelphia 76ers1592154915481563 3841961Syracuse Nationals1627156915681588 6651995Atlanta Hawks1552152015191530 6981985Houston Rockets1543150915211524 981993Phoenix Suns1715166716491677 302016Oklahoma City Thunder1767166617441726 4901972Boston Celtics1605156015291565 10562009Golden State Warriors1470143714171441 13172005New Orleans Hornets1382135613201353 5391988Houston Rockets1595155615051552 13252000Golden State Warriors1405134712941349 12351993Sacramento Kings1449138513431392 6271996Phoenix Suns1569152415151536 6151982New Jersey Nets1572149315491538 14481973Philadelphia 76ers1285121211841227 7422004Milwaukee Bucks1547151414841515 5472002Detroit Pistons1583152515441551 5122011Portland Trail Blazers1585154215491558 7602002Indiana Pacers1531149315131513 101998Chicago Bulls✓1788171917851764 2991980Milwaukee Bucks1644154816331608 13631997Philadelphia 76ers1367132013101333 13191966Detroit Pistons1387135113181352 1261980Boston Celtics1699163216661665 5192009Phoenix Suns1580154815401556 13492008Miami Heat1447131112591339 5212015Washington Wizards1585153415461555 13212012Cleveland Cavaliers1403135512941351 5322010Houston Rockets1610154615041553 2762008Dallas Mavericks1648161415831615 11441985Seattle SuperSonics1501143613241420 732017San Antonio Spurs1732169316541693 5271996Portland Trail Blazers1584151615621554 4802001Minnesota Timberwolves1597154915531566 8701956Rochester Royals1522148214621489 8331984San Antonio Spurs1534149214751500 71950Lakers112+8.54.913.5 1462014Miami Heat1712165716041658 9691996Sacramento Kings1532143414311466 5342000Sacramento Kings1573153915461553 5621955New York Knicks1575152915381547 13691983Cleveland Cavaliers1341129613411326 1992011Orlando Magic1668163716081638 5382000Detroit Pistons1593154215221552 11201976Kansas City Kings1448140014321427 3861988Denver Nuggets1622156115811588 14121982Cleveland Cavaliers1346129412301290 5421983Denver Nuggets1587151815501552 3901996Houston Rockets1679158314971586 7892008Portland Trail Blazers1564149814621508 5451964St. Louis Hawks1570153915451551 4321977Golden State Warriors1591155815801576 5111993Boston Celtics1593154115441559 5842012Phoenix Suns1574151615391543 13382008Seattle SuperSonics1397133413031345 9421993Los Angeles Lakers1513146614361471 6832007Miami Heat1587151614791527 2311992Phoenix Suns1647161216231627 8151967St. Louis Hawks1524148215041503 9031992Houston Rockets1515147114561480 6141981Portland Trail Blazers1563150415481538 6932005Boston Celtics1555150815141526 4831987Portland Trail Blazers1606156815241566 7242016Washington Wizards1537149115301519 6171963Cincinnati Royals1554151715431538 5811955Philadelphia Warriors1565153515301543 9761985Chicago Bulls1489145614461464 3991999Orlando Magic1628157415511584 3511964San Francisco Warriors1622156915961596 6591993Los Angeles Clippers1568151315131531 5652001Seattle SuperSonics1560152115601547 7091976Buffalo Braves1570151514811522 9751992Philadelphia 76ers1513146014191464 5681994New Jersey Nets1570152815421546 5862010Charlotte Bobcats1565153115311542 432015San Antonio Spurs1743166917211711 6801991Philadelphia 76ers1562151715021527 6842006Chicago Bulls1555149815281527 9392010New Orleans Hornets1516147114281472 6211990Atlanta Hawks1577149715381537 11661995Golden State Warriors1481140113591414 1921995Houston Rockets✓1665158916651640 81961Celtics82+11.61.913.5 4881976Washington Bullets1589154615601565 13861991Denver Nuggets1393130412471314 1251997Seattle SuperSonics1693165716461665 7581980San Antonio Spurs1546150214911513 12672010Washington Wizards1414136213511376 1891966Boston Celtics✓1667161116481642 5482001New York Knicks1595154215151551 12561992Sacramento Kings1400135013951382 14041999Denver Nuggets1315129812821298 8631959Philadelphia Warriors1501147414961490 10241972Baltimore Bullets1516143414031451 3671990Philadelphia 76ers1630157715661591 11711987New Jersey Nets1453140413821413 3852005Seattle SuperSonics1624158115591588 292004San Antonio Spurs1764169617191726 1341967Boston Celtics1699165816281662 4491955Fort Wayne Pistons1595155915611572 8791967Los Angeles Lakers1533148214441486 5961998Portland Trail Blazers1585154214971541 5971970Los Angeles Lakers1560151015521541 13371949Indianapolis Jets1382134213121345 2641988Dallas Mavericks1642160116101618 6001950New York Knicks1578152915151541 1051996Utah Jazz1691164416871674 6012006Washington Wizards1564150415541540 13532011Washington Wizards1362132413271338 11811979Boston Celtics1457141413611411 4601951Philadelphia Warriors1598153315791570 9461981Seattle SuperSonics1518147014261471 13922001Golden State Warriors1389132212181310 6082013Los Angeles Lakers1569153515131539 11361997Sacramento Kings1445141014121422 4521992Seattle SuperSonics1600153415801571 2581998Phoenix Suns1649158416251619 6051956Minneapolis Lakers1563150015561540 6131992Los Angeles Clippers1573149015521538 11902010Golden State Warriors1432138214091407 6702012Houston Rockets1568152115001530 6121977San Antonio Spurs1570153715081538 181997Bulls154+5.55.310.8 8821982Chicago Bulls1529146914571485 5881985Dallas Mavericks1572153815171542 2561954Rochester Royals1660159616051620 2131997Atlanta Hawks1658162416191633 4612009New Orleans Hornets1650158314781570 10461980Denver Nuggets1491143714051444 6952004New Orleans Hornets1594149914831525 6112017Memphis Grizzlies1598153414841538 6261982Houston Rockets1570151715231536 7171969Atlanta Hawks1556151214931520 1501980Philadelphia 76ers1685162916551656 3952005Sacramento Kings1626158415461585 3051964Cincinnati Royals1638159415861606 1911976Golden State Warriors1688163815941640 201998Utah Jazz1766169517371733 2871963Los Angeles Lakers1682160115531612 13181964Detroit Pistons1379133113471352 10451984Golden State Warriors1466143214361445 6181980Portland Trail Blazers1615150814901538 8661989Dallas Mavericks1589146514151490 8082017Detroit Pistons1588148414411504 2251997Los Angeles Lakers1653160816241628 2952014Dallas Mavericks1639157116211611 2602001Milwaukee Bucks1647158816231619 10901979New Jersey Nets1481143713861434 9601966Baltimore Bullets1494146314481468 6442013Utah Jazz1562151215271534 7611978Atlanta Hawks1535148315181512 6461971Los Angeles Lakers1574153214941533 722003Dallas Mavericks1726169116661694 1602008New Orleans Hornets1687161316551652 2972016Toronto Raptors1634160115901608 4922010Miami Heat1601153015611564 12091978Buffalo Braves1440140313631402 9482003Washington Wizards1517147114231471 801984Boston Celtics✓1712166316901688 601988Los Angeles Lakers✓1758168216621701 11161975Phoenix Suns1478142913761428 11232007Milwaukee Bucks1529142113261426 4022017Boston Celtics1624158615421584 1721988Boston Celtics1682164516181648 8962009Indiana Pacers1493145814931481 6991983Kansas City Kings1547148615401524 9721952Fort Wayne Pistons1487145114551465 5201986Dallas Mavericks1576153115611556 1171959Boston Celtics✓1686165416661669 6641986Portland Trail Blazers1596152214751531 11521986Chicago Bulls1438140414141419 10602002New York Knicks1488141714161440 13092009Washington Wizards1421134013141358 6731950Anderson Packers1550151115251529 9241975Seattle SuperSonics1504144714711474 6581989Philadelphia 76ers1544152215281531 4082004Memphis Grizzlies1629156115561582 5572002Philadelphia 76ers1583154515171548 3282001Charlotte Hornets1631156816041601 5231975Buffalo Braves1586154315341555 11501947Philadelphia Warriors✓1446136614461419 6411981Indiana Pacers1556153315131534 751995Seattle SuperSonics1717168816671691 11121970Chicago Bulls1468140114181429 7452017Milwaukee Bucks1541149515081515 10861998Boston Celtics1458142014281435 4732002Utah Jazz1595156115481568 6822002Phoenix Suns1600150914721527 1401987Atlanta Hawks1690163616531660 14171989Charlotte Hornets1307127212761285 10122016Orlando Magic1492143114371453 5292014Washington Wizards1588152015541554 5641988Seattle SuperSonics1574152415431547 8491948Baltimore Bullets✓1508146615081494 14382016Philadelphia 76ers1287123712031242 10891995New Jersey Nets1492144213701435 3631980Atlanta Hawks1631158915561592 9291978New Orleans Jazz1498144814721473 2062015Memphis Grizzlies1678161916081635 8181998Orlando Magic1528147015111503 3882000New York Knicks1610157915721587 6962015New Orleans Pelicans1540150815271525 9341975Portland Trail Blazers1494142914941473 6811978Milwaukee Bucks1548149315421527 6431985New Jersey Nets1563151815211534 9781998Milwaukee Bucks1508145714261464 7012000Dallas Mavericks1554146115541523 8742017Minnesota Timberwolves1539145914631487 1412004Sacramento Kings1693165516291659 2811983Milwaukee Bucks1631160816021614 1491996San Antonio Spurs1708164916121656 7061975Milwaukee Bucks1560151814891522 7072002Toronto Raptors1556150615041522 7651998Minnesota Timberwolves1530148615191512 5661978Golden State Warriors1568150915631547 7211970Philadelphia 76ers1563152214741520 7111961Los Angeles Lakers1540149815271522 10521991Cleveland Cavaliers1481140914361442 12771967Detroit Pistons1414136613351372 6761992Los Angeles Lakers1603150814741528 7151991Seattle SuperSonics1534149815301521 3602001Phoenix Suns1629157215751592 6891989Denver Nuggets1598151314681526 7182003Seattle SuperSonics1538149215291520 7192013Atlanta Hawks1567151414781520 7851988Washington Bullets1528148715121509 13331990Sacramento Kings1392134913011347 6492015Phoenix Suns1593153814671532 7231949Washington Capitols1563150514901519 1662000San Antonio Spurs1683164116251650 13471981Detroit Pistons1361129813591339 8782010Toronto Raptors1547147914331486 4202014Toronto Raptors1604156915661580 6501991Atlanta Hawks1576153214881532 13761950Waterloo Hawks1332129813301320 7301950Fort Wayne Pistons1538148715281517 7142008Philadelphia 76ers1565149115061521 8102015Boston Celtics1552143615251504 8281989Golden State Warriors1549148214731501 762000Portland Trail Blazers1719166116911690 7352016Detroit Pistons1544151214941517 3292003Detroit Pistons1650159315591601 7371989Portland Trail Blazers1566151614671516 13052004Orlando Magic1426136012911359 742003Sacramento Kings1722167216841693 13202000Vancouver Grizzlies1397133213261352 7412002Orlando Magic1551152014751515 9871995Boston Celtics1487143314601460 7431966St. Louis Hawks1535149315171515 4681952Boston Celtics1582155115721569 5551983Portland Trail Blazers1572153715371549 9901969Cincinnati Royals1526143314171459 3701955Minneapolis Lakers1621159015611591 13271988Golden State Warriors1406135512841348 9952016Sacramento Kings1501144714251458 7561987Utah Jazz1552151214761513 13511967Baltimore Bullets1369131913261338 14191990New Jersey Nets1342128712091279 8581980Cleveland Cavaliers1507146714991491 2672014Indiana Pacers1697161015421616 7552017Indiana Pacers1536150115021513 2791955Syracuse Nationals✓1637158316231614 7571987Indiana Pacers1533149115141513 1431989Cleveland Cavaliers1692166216231659 11801984San Diego Clippers1421139814131411 9061976Portland Trail Blazers1525146114521479 4651962Syracuse Nationals1603155015561570 61991Bulls152+18.104.22.168 8561975New York Knicks1541146714681492 1732001Sacramento Kings1675163516321648 6322016Dallas Mavericks1577152615031535 12391996Los Angeles Clippers1426138013681391 2352003New Jersey Nets1664159916141626 12591982Dallas Mavericks1407135413781380 1982015Atlanta Hawks1701163315811638 771964Boston Celtics✓1721167316751690 7711977Phoenix Suns1546150014861511 4002010Portland Trail Blazers1612157115691584 5711983Washington Bullets1585149815551546 6391973Baltimore Bullets1570152215101534 11412003Miami Heat1492141413571421 5701956New York Knicks1580152715311546 7771962Cincinnati Royals1536150014941510 12017Golden State Warriors✓1865177218461828 7792017Chicago Bulls1550148614941510 10201997Minnesota Timberwolves1483144114321452 7811972Seattle SuperSonics1555151014621509 7002006Denver Nuggets1572152614731523 10612003Los Angeles Clippers1507141114021440 9131978Detroit Pistons1505146414611476 1202010Phoenix Suns1718159516891668 1752005Houston Rockets1693158516631647 1532009Denver Nuggets1691161216621655 8401985Cleveland Cavaliers1534143415251498 9431966San Francisco Warriors1497145114661471 3681954Boston Celtics1619156415901591 10321966New York Knicks1485143514241448 6521982Atlanta Hawks1565148715441532 13151989New Jersey Nets1396136213031354 5252005Indiana Pacers1586153315441554 3251990Utah Jazz1637158815801602 Of course, Elo is hardly the only number you can use to rank historical teams.1We’re the first to admit that the metric has its share of blind spots. And the Warriors don’t quite make it to No. 1 in a few other statistical categories. For instance, according to Basketball-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System (SRS) metric, which adjusts a team’s point differential for the strength of schedule it faced, Golden State’s entire season — including the playoffs — ranks “only” third all time, trailing the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks in addition to the ’96 Bulls.Part of that is due to the Warriors’ fourth-place ranking in regular-season SRS. But Golden State also blew a chance to move up the list with their playoff run. Had they completed the elusive Fo’, Fo’, Fo’, Fo’ with a Finals sweep, they would have compiled the best single-postseason SRS of any champion ever. But Golden State lost by 21 in Game 4 against Cleveland, so instead they finished with the second-best playoff performance of any NBA champ ever, behind the 2001 L.A. Lakers: 7052003Boston Celtics1584151014741522 13952014Philadelphia 76ers1392127512541307 14072010Minnesota Timberwolves1346129612421295 12112010Detroit Pistons1477137313531401 8011976Philadelphia 76ers1532149614901506 9582008Atlanta Hawks1488144714711469 12331998Sacramento Kings1464141413001392 951974Milwaukee Bucks1714166916551680 12142012Detroit Pistons1413138014061400 13672015New York Knicks1413131512561328 11821983Chicago Bulls1444140813781410 8271993Golden State Warriors1580148614381501 681985Boston Celtics1722168816851698 3912013Houston Rockets1610157515741586 8112012Portland Trail Blazers1574150514331504 1151999Utah Jazz1719166716231670 11101951Tri-Cities Blackhawks1464142413991429 3332000Miami Heat1616158315981599 1762006Miami Heat✓1662161616621647 12401970San Diego Rockets1441138513461391 4692001Toronto Raptors1595153815731569 361993Chicago Bulls✓1755167717261719 11141977Buffalo Braves1484142113801428 8202005Los Angeles Lakers1594150014131502 941993New York Knicks1709165116801680 8221983Detroit Pistons1548148614731502 8232015Indiana Pacers1528147315051502 8241975Kansas City-Omaha Kings1548148814701502 5531997Cleveland Cavaliers1583153815251549 4432004Houston Rockets1623156715331574 52016Cavaliers165+8.65.514.1 4622001Miami Heat1627157315101570 4231989Chicago Bulls1596156215801579 10182007Seattle SuperSonics1491144714191452 8312003Milwaukee Bucks1523148514951501 262016Cleveland Cavaliers✓1759167017591729 6361957St. Louis Hawks1551151815361535 9592004New York Knicks1505146114391468 14331973Buffalo Braves1306125612051256 551981Boston Celtics✓1731168416921702 8951984Washington Bullets1530147614381481 2051997Houston Rockets1660159616511636 8392005Cleveland Cavaliers1537149514621498 13571960Cincinnati Royals1378132712981334 5951949Chicago Stags1565152315361541 4371974Chicago Bulls1611158015361576 2342001Dallas Mavericks1654159816261626 1632000Indiana Pacers1671163016521651 3691999Detroit Pistons1607157515911591 8462014Atlanta Hawks1523147714851495 13032011Cleveland Cavaliers1432132213251360 8482004Golden State Warriors1510147315001494 5561977Cleveland Cavaliers1605153315091549 10412012Minnesota Timberwolves1505145413811446 8252017Atlanta Hawks1538148714801502 372013San Antonio Spurs1751168817131717 8532005Golden State Warriors1527142515271493 3521994Cleveland Cavaliers1635158515661595 12161993Milwaukee Bucks1443139913571400 6021993Indiana Pacers1556152015451540 4451982Washington Bullets1600153815811573 7531993Detroit Pistons1548148415091514 14211996Philadelphia 76ers1311126812561278 9042000Boston Celtics1494145214941480 631987Boston Celtics1743169716591700 7861988New York Knicks1547145615211508 3031959Syracuse Nationals1626158316111607 9981948Chicago Stags1487145614291457 4992011Houston Rockets1587152815711562 4421998New York Knicks1622156515371575 10021976Detroit Pistons1480142414641456 8681992Atlanta Hawks1527148214581489 2001954Syracuse Nationals1666161416331638 162009Cleveland Cavaliers1765170817421738 8731987Denver Nuggets1512146714851488 9451981Denver Nuggets1494143514851471 9932009Toronto Raptors1493144614361458 181997Utah Jazz1764169317481735 841982Philadelphia 76ers1710165916891686 7912016Chicago Bulls1570150014541508 8621957Rochester Royals1528148114631491 1031961Boston Celtics✓1691164116911675 11572014Boston Celtics1502140813361416 5691974Los Angeles Lakers1595151915231546 12681969Seattle SuperSonics1413133513801376 10292013Washington Wizards1488141314481450 10032015Denver Nuggets1504144014221455 4032002Boston Celtics1621153915911584 6901952Philadelphia Warriors1541151415221526 8571988Philadelphia 76ers1539147814571491 8872006Orlando Magic1523141915091483 8051979San Diego Clippers1548145915091505 832009Orlando Magic1722166516731687 7761982Portland Trail Blazers1540150614841510 5331996Atlanta Hawks1579152415561553 13132016Brooklyn Nets1430134512891355 8932000Houston Rockets1503145414891482 382007Dallas Mavericks1773171516601716 13461997Dallas Mavericks1388133512971340 1841952Minneapolis Lakers✓1652163116481643 3071990San Antonio Spurs1639154116361605 6621999Houston Rockets1558152615081531 2621989Atlanta Hawks1645159416171619 11722013Phoenix Suns1474141213521413 12962011Toronto Raptors1432135612991362 171985Los Angeles Lakers✓1764168017641736 14461969Phoenix Suns1284123611671229 12662009Minnesota Timberwolves1438136413261376 9051959Detroit Pistons1535146414411480 12802017Phoenix Suns1409136013401370 3131992New York Knicks1626156916181605 111991Chicago Bulls✓1785169317851755 5441971Chicago Bulls1590153015351551 3761999Atlanta Hawks1620158415641589 9112015Miami Heat1507146714561477 9121980New York Knicks1505146514601477 3372007Houston Rockets1629159415731598 9141968Cincinnati Royals1495144114921476 8061984Dallas Mavericks1519149914971505 11301974Kansas City-Omaha Kings1444138714401423 2231995New York Knicks1643161116341629 8301984Denver Nuggets1520148514991501 8671989Washington Bullets1509145915001489 7101978Chicago Bulls1600152614401522 9212013Milwaukee Bucks1524147314261475 1951981Los Angeles Lakers1701162115951639 9232007Sacramento Kings1527147514211474 4581981Chicago Bulls1611152215791571 851992Portland Trail Blazers1708166716821686 3891960St. Louis Hawks1610157615731586 2501986Houston Rockets1652156616471622 2471979Seattle SuperSonics✓1643158016431622 12991982Utah Jazz1387134413531361 14521993Dallas Mavericks1231115911881193 10572007Charlotte Bobcats1460140914531441 12172007Boston Celtics1462137813601400 12482007Atlanta Hawks1414138213631387 11031971Seattle SuperSonics1447141514311431 8171977Detroit Pistons1540150914601503 9361948Washington Capitols1493146114611472 12001Lakers151+12.85.518.2 9991962Detroit Pistons1493144114371457 13282013Orlando Magic1464133012491348 12731987New York Knicks1425137513231374 13621998Dallas Mavericks1365130713261333 2072010San Antonio Spurs1670161116241635 10922015Sacramento Kings1475140914181434 6402004Denver Nuggets1553150515451534 4041983New Jersey Nets1612158115581584 8141967Cincinnati Royals1540145915121504 11792004Toronto Raptors1454140613731411 7981993Charlotte Hornets1521148415151507 5901981Houston Rockets1580149615491542 8441951Indianapolis Olympians1516147914931496 8191990Denver Nuggets1544149314711503 13022009Memphis Grizzlies1379132413791361 10192017Dallas Mavericks1492144414201452 9541978Boston Celtics1503145014551469 1541997Miami Heat1687164216331654 13522006Atlanta Hawks1352132313401338 11071982Kansas City Kings1468140314191430 1622008Houston Rockets1697161516421651 6601979Houston Rockets1555149815421531 4981975Chicago Bulls1606153715441562 9002006Minnesota Timberwolves1563147514041481 9621976Milwaukee Bucks1503145614461468 8591975Detroit Pistons1551148614361491 3122007Utah Jazz1628158016051605 5741986Detroit Pistons1571152315421545 12602010Los Angeles Clippers1442137613211380 2371995Indiana Pacers1643160816271626 14141998Vancouver Grizzlies1337126912561287 4771971New York Knicks1628156015141567 242003San Antonio Spurs✓1757167417571730 10782001Los Angeles Clippers1464138314621436 1961983Boston Celtics1709164815581638 9732006Boston Celtics1491146514381465 13101968Seattle SuperSonics1401133713291356 7842011New York Knicks1552149914751509 5412017Miami Heat1583150415691552 14441989Miami Heat1248122012281232 10112015Charlotte Hornets1513144814011454 9401973Detroit Pistons1494142714941472 11702004Los Angeles Clippers1474143213341413 9812004Philadelphia 76ers1535145214001462 13011994Washington Bullets1402133713441361 3042014Portland Trail Blazers1632159815891606 782005Phoenix Suns1719165816921690 12881964New York Knicks1394135213471364 3311994Orlando Magic1622157616011599 13781974Philadelphia 76ers1336130513151319 9882013Minnesota Timberwolves1483143614601460 13641992Dallas Mavericks1412131212721332 12721981Utah Jazz1441136513171374 8772005Philadelphia 76ers1502146814911487 7961971Boston Celtics1548148714861507 5981996Cleveland Cavaliers1566153215241541 12042016Phoenix Suns1491136213561403 7491978New York Knicks1540150814951514 8991954Philadelphia Warriors1509145314801481 2861984Milwaukee Bucks1639158016171612 4361995Portland Trail Blazers1614156915441576 3162012Memphis Grizzlies1620158816041604 14311972Buffalo Braves1316124812251263 13731969Milwaukee Bucks1350129313211321 2571959St. Louis Hawks1666162315711620 901995San Antonio Spurs1718166016741684 2182004Dallas Mavericks1651161716261631 10711990Washington Bullets1515141313861438 10061996Golden State Warriors1476144814411455 10722014Cleveland Cavaliers1468139614501438 14112005Charlotte Bobcats1306127612951292 10092012Golden State Warriors1516145313931454 2842013New York Knicks1645159016041613 4471961Philadelphia Warriors1627157915101572 7021989Houston Rockets1539151315161523 7542009Philadelphia 76ers1555150914761513 9071949New York Knicks1508146414621478 13602014Orlando Magic1362132613111333 5432016Indiana Pacers1578153515421552 8861973Phoenix Suns1533147314451484 1072005Miami Heat1699165316681673 9711976New Orleans Jazz1485144114701465 1121994New York Knicks1701165416571671 4511977Washington Bullets1600155515591572 121985Lakers154+10.22.412.5 No. 2 all time isn’t bad, though! And for those who say the Warriors faced an easy road to the title, their strength of schedule — as measured by the average regular-season SRS of the teams they faced in the playoffs, with an adjustment for each game’s location — was the 34th most difficult among the 71 NBA champions since 1947, coming in as slightly tougher than the average title run. It wasn’t the hardest path, but it wasn’t a cakewalk either.Here’s one more area where Golden State is probably the greatest ever: pure talent. Even on paper, before they ever played a game, the newly minted Kevin Durant Warriors seemed to have the greatest roster in NBA history. And unlike other recent “superteams” — such as the 2011 Miami Heat or 2015 Cavs — they basically lived up to their preseason billing. Our back-of-the-envelope calculations (using projected Box Plus/Minus) called for Golden State’s regular-season scoring margin per 100 possessions to be +12.3; they ended the season at +11.6, diminishing marginal returns be damned.That might seem to bolster the argument that the Warriors had it easy. With so much talent, they set themselves up for smooth sailing before they even embarked — just roll out the ball and set ’em loose. But in conjunction with the fact that the NBA’s overall talent pool is the best it’s been in at least two decades, it also supports the argument that Golden State played the game at the highest level it’s ever been played. In an era of great players, the Warriors had more of them than anyone else — and they all played to their potential.The specter of the Michael Jordan-era Bulls will always hang over every GOAT conversation, of course — as well they should. And according to the numbers above, the ’71 Bucks and ’01 Lakers (among others) should be right alongside Chicago in that conversation. But with their closing statement Monday night, the 2017 Warriors finished making their case. From now on, any discussion of the NBA’s best-ever teams has to put Golden State at (or at least near) the top of the list.VIDEO: Are the Warriors the best NBA team ever? 6912000Seattle SuperSonics1555151215111526 8371968San Francisco Warriors1639147613831499 6031959New York Knicks1559153015311540 9912014New Orleans Pelicans1490144514411459 10152009New Jersey Nets1482144014361453 6781990Cleveland Cavaliers1556148015481528 2752000Utah Jazz1655161215781615 9572006New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets1520145914271469 9921949Philadelphia Warriors1483145714341458 251987Los Angeles Lakers✓1750169917401730 10341962St. Louis Hawks1483144314171447 12121987San Antonio Spurs1435138213851401 61986Boston Celtics✓1816173518011784 5011966Los Angeles Lakers1577154915601562 3642010Oklahoma City Thunder1622155915951592 4251994Denver Nuggets1606152816001578 10401968Baltimore Bullets1488139714551447 412012Oklahoma City Thunder1743168617111713 4442000Philadelphia 76ers1602153715821574 14152013Charlotte Bobcats1302125713021287 3412002Seattle SuperSonics1632158015801597 4282007Golden State Warriors1635149416031577 191967Philadelphia 76ers✓1755171517331734 13562015Minnesota Timberwolves1405133512641335 9282005Los Angeles Clippers1488146214691473 13112009Oklahoma City Thunder1378132113671356 8721995Sacramento Kings1516147314761488 8921992New Jersey Nets1510144114951482 7032013Dallas Mavericks1548149215271523 6721950Chicago Stags1569153514831529 4161990Boston Celtics1617155415691580 10552016New Orleans Pelicans1495145613741442 2262017Los Angeles Clippers1667159816191628 8881984Kansas City Kings1517147514571483 10581969San Francisco Warriors1484141614221441 10592004Phoenix Suns1457142914351440 10801979Chicago Bulls1473141114251436 12861947St. Louis Bombers1378135613591364 991991Los Angeles Lakers1705166016621676 4061986Atlanta Hawks1611154715891582 1831995Orlando Magic1690164315981644 10361971Atlanta Hawks1485139914581447 7871990Seattle SuperSonics1545149114891508 12471994Sacramento Kings1410136413861387 2212000Phoenix Suns1663160416221630 4182006Los Angeles Clippers1605154115941580 10941994Boston Celtics1479142014031434 2541949Rochester Royals1657160516001621 672007Phoenix Suns1743167716761698 14161947Providence Steam Rollers1301127812771285 1232005Dallas Mavericks1696163516661666 9081960New York Knicks1513148114401478 10161960Minneapolis Lakers1485141114611452 5081979Kansas City Kings1598155415311561 10951980Golden State Warriors1500140313961433 7082014Denver Nuggets1615148914621522 11292014Sacramento Kings1447141714071423 9412008Chicago Bulls1517146614321471 12932006New York Knicks1424134413211363 13611994Milwaukee Bucks1378133812821333 7821971Baltimore Bullets1556148614851509 4411977Houston Rockets1603154615771575 3711984Detroit Pistons1614156015981591 10871973Kansas City-Omaha Kings1465142514171435 5781986Denver Nuggets1571154315181544 13931998Golden State Warriors1345128412961308 5601997Orlando Magic1581152915331547 1711996Orlando Magic1675162916421649 10382007Philadelphia 76ers1462141614621447 3452011Memphis Grizzlies1630155116101597 10622011Charlotte Bobcats1484143913951440 3262012Denver Nuggets1635156916001601 2591986Philadelphia 76ers1638160116191619 1552009Houston Rockets1683161616641654 10972008New Jersey Nets1467142014131433 10992005Toronto Raptors1460142714111432 3611983New York Knicks1635152916131592 11172000Denver Nuggets1451141614171428 11022000Washington Wizards1461141914131431 14262001Chicago Bulls1299125512591271 7331993Atlanta Hawks1554147615211517 862002San Antonio Spurs1713165816821684 151998Bulls156+7.04.211.2 3811953Boston Celtics1610156615891588 11081992Miami Heat1442142014271430 12981963Chicago Zephyrs1390133313621361 7751983Atlanta Hawks1526150215021510 8361996Charlotte Hornets1528149614751499 12461972Philadelphia 76ers1424138613541388 13451997Denver Nuggets1395134412831341 14291972Cleveland Cavaliers1309125412371267 2172016Los Angeles Clippers1658162816101632 6552009Atlanta Hawks1566152515051532 5031984Portland Trail Blazers1613156415081562 7502012Milwaukee Bucks1544150015001514 10661979Cleveland Cavaliers1484144513891439 9382009Charlotte Bobcats1500145414611472 10212013Philadelphia 76ers1484142814451452 322000Los Angeles Lakers✓1779170316901724 10281995Dallas Mavericks1485141514521450 4302005Minnesota Timberwolves1640153215591577 5181979Denver Nuggets1577153015621556 11262001Cleveland Cavaliers1498140013751424 1812003Los Angeles Lakers1681160116511645 9502003New York Knicks1494145414631470 2282010Utah Jazz1667161715991628 14451998Denver Nuggets1270120412161230 11312007New York Knicks1457142113921423 14351997Vancouver Grizzlies1270122912381246 9091958Cincinnati Royals1506145314741478 1131995Utah Jazz1711166416371671 11352000Atlanta Hawks1521142613211422 1872014Houston Rockets1676162416271642 11372005Milwaukee Bucks1467143113681422 6481964Los Angeles Lakers1590151614911533 10481970Seattle SuperSonics1471139114681443 12361997New Jersey Nets1408136014081392 4091979Los Angeles Lakers1628158015381582 11422017New York Knicks1471141713741421 7311976Phoenix Suns1544148015261517 3571993San Antonio Spurs1661157515451594 11451961Cincinnati Royals1439138314371420 7881985Washington Bullets1546149614821508 11472005Orlando Magic1472142813591420 11481965Detroit Pistons1450140614021419 4842003Utah Jazz1613156515201566 881973Boston Celtics1725166816591684 2201993Houston Rockets1682157716331631 11862007Portland Trail Blazers1438139813921409 1521985Philadelphia 76ers1693164716271656 13292004Chicago Bulls1385134713111348 11552007Memphis Grizzlies1478138813861417 13982014Milwaukee Bucks1358129412551303 9271965Baltimore Bullets1493144214831473 12411958Minneapolis Lakers1426138513591390 7401986Utah Jazz1546149115101516 4571962Los Angeles Lakers1595156115571571 13681991Miami Heat1343131713181326 9642013Toronto Raptors1485144014771467 12511983San Diego Clippers1445136613371383 7511990Houston Rockets1532149315181514 6792006Indiana Pacers1575152014871527 11651975Los Angeles Lakers1465140813691414 7131987Seattle SuperSonics1547150515101521 3972003Philadelphia 76ers1620155415811585 13041994Detroit Pistons1453134912771360 1471978Portland Trail Blazers1743167715511657 10792008Charlotte Bobcats1450141114481436 13162017Brooklyn Nets1386130213721353 6451989Boston Celtics1565153115041533 11742006Toronto Raptors1451141513721413 6611996Detroit Pistons1562150315281531 11061963Detroit Pistons1450140714331430 6511991Golden State Warriors1558150315371532 13772003Denver Nuggets1364132112711319 9021983Dallas Mavericks1516147314531481 5061981San Antonio Spurs1606155615211561 6041982San Antonio Spurs1588153314971540 10221999Toronto Raptors1479143714381452 11831984Houston Rockets1456139913741410 9202006Philadelphia 76ers1509146514521475 11851984Chicago Bulls1475141813351409 1372013Memphis Grizzlies1701162216571660 11872012Toronto Raptors1432137814151408 6282011Phoenix Suns1592152314931536 11342014Los Angeles Lakers1484138913941423 12842004Washington Wizards1417136113241367 3422008Denver Nuggets1626157915861597 11922002Denver Nuggets1448139413791407 13821997Boston Celtics1387131612441315 10541993Denver Nuggets1472140314511442 4861989Utah Jazz1599156615321566 11962011Detroit Pistons1429139313961406 14432012Charlotte Bobcats1303124411521233 11981997Golden State Warriors1440140213731405 11781999Dallas Mavericks1431138114221412 12001976Chicago Bulls1427139413941405 12011991Dallas Mavericks1481139713341404 5771997Indiana Pacers1582153715161545 7281996Miami Heat1559147615201518 7901978Cleveland Cavaliers1532149414991508 4532006New Jersey Nets1621154815451571 12821963New York Knicks1420136713181368 6562017Denver Nuggets1556148815521532 4211975Golden State Warriors✓1602153516021580 12922008Memphis Grizzlies1409135613241363 12522017Los Angeles Lakers1419136113671382 8002014Charlotte Bobcats1549145715131506 13311991New Jersey Nets1384133513241348 11912004Atlanta Hawks1429138914051407 7682007Washington Wizards1590152014251511 9321971San Diego Rockets1497142314971473 11211950Tri-Cities Blackhawks1453140214231426 1971992Utah Jazz1660161516401638 5492008Cleveland Cavaliers1565152215621550 31997Chicago Bulls✓1811179218021801 14062015Philadelphia 76ers1330128412761297 461996Seattle SuperSonics1731168717041707 6351956Boston Celtics1574152515051535 12231995Milwaukee Bucks1408137214081396 12241954Milwaukee Hawks1409136814091395 1211953Minneapolis Lakers✓1697164416611667 6672015Utah Jazz1565147015551530 12271994Los Angeles Clippers1451138913421394 12281950Baltimore Bullets1445137713601394 1092004Minnesota Timberwolves1703165516601673 12301970Detroit Pistons1425138013751393 12311971Cincinnati Royals1429138413661393 12321986Los Angeles Clippers1412136813971393 5721990New York Knicks1620153414821546 2831992Boston Celtics1643156316331613 811994Seattle SuperSonics1717167116771688 5932011Philadelphia 76ers1583152015221541 8552015Milwaukee Bucks1550148314431492 5172016Charlotte Hornets1585152515591557 11621962New York Knicks1442138414181414 3651978Los Angeles Lakers1625156115891592 2931977Denver Nuggets1648161215731611 12422008Los Angeles Clippers1461139013161389 12432003Chicago Bulls1404137113921389 12441996New Jersey Nets1447139313271389 1182008Utah Jazz1699163216761669 13342008Milwaukee Bucks1405135812791347 2041994Chicago Bulls1686161516071636 7521987Washington Bullets1567150514691514 11942002Cleveland Cavaliers1429139114011407 472012Miami Heat✓1729167917121707 11271986Indiana Pacers1454140814101424 11092011Los Angeles Clippers1448140414371430 12531972Cincinnati Royals1408133614021382 3792012Indiana Pacers1619156615811589 12551980Utah Jazz1412137513581382 13851995Minnesota Timberwolves1340130013031314 12571996Milwaukee Bucks1435136713401381 12582003Toronto Raptors1425137313421380 6751982Golden State Warriors1543151815251529 11931950Boston Celtics1456141213521407 3982016Miami Heat1617154015971585 1161998Indiana Pacers1683164816771669 7632004Seattle SuperSonics1536148615151512 YEARTEAMWINSLOSSESPOINT DIFF. PER GAMEAVG. SOSSRS 13581980Detroit Pistons1423133912401334 8751990Indiana Pacers1529147214601487 1591999Indiana Pacers1674163016531652 8811951Fort Wayne Pistons1511147614681485 272005San Antonio Spurs✓1771171916961729 13811992Denver Nuggets1373132912491317 12181961New York Knicks1442140213521399 8261971Philadelphia 76ers1543149414681502 12341970San Francisco Warriors1461138813281392 7692005New Jersey Nets1553145615251511 2091998Miami Heat1686164015781635 281999San Antonio Spurs✓1756167417561728 9372006Utah Jazz1489144314831472 7802000Toronto Raptors1550149714821510 12791952Baltimore Bullets1427135513271370 3871958Syracuse Nationals1612157915701587 11891976Atlanta Hawks1482141213291408 5221978Denver Nuggets1592155015231555 10132015Detroit Pistons1476142414611453 14241968San Diego Rockets1366128411741275 6102000Milwaukee Bucks1574151315291539 822006Detroit Pistons1743169516261688 12871996Minnesota Timberwolves1386135713491364 4891982Phoenix Suns1586155815511565 14491950Denver Nuggets1278122411711224 8321993Orlando Magic1517148614981500 14001998Toronto Raptors1351131012431302 13652006Portland Trail Blazers1395134212561331 8432005Washington Wizards1523148414811496 211972Los Angeles Lakers✓1753171717261732 12951968Chicago Bulls1400135313341363 6232003Houston Rockets1553151715411537 12972013Cleveland Cavaliers1409135313241362 6192002Milwaukee Bucks1628153714481538 2101994San Antonio Spurs1677162516001634 13232008New York Knicks1392134713111350 2191966Philadelphia 76ers1668160816171631 9522008Sacramento Kings1488145714641470 10311986Seattle SuperSonics1481143214341449 5631997Washington Bullets1567151415601547 7382009Chicago Bulls1544147815261516 13061991Charlotte Hornets1374133713661359 11041967New York Knicks1470142913941431 12102017Orlando Magic1458139513521402 2662012Boston Celtics1649158216211617 2361994Utah Jazz1659159316251626 10492016Denver Nuggets1468143414271443 4931956Syracuse Nationals1609155215321564 13302010Sacramento Kings1391134413071348 11771991Orlando Magic1446135414371412 12031949St. Louis Bombers1429138214001404 9611999Sacramento Kings1490143214841468 401990Detroit Pistons✓1745168217161714 921973Milwaukee Bucks1709166216701680 8911982Detroit Pistons1503147414701482 912014Los Angeles Clippers1715166316731684 201993Bulls154+5.84.810.7 13221990Minnesota Timberwolves1383132613411350 5152013Brooklyn Nets1587152215631557 The 2015 NBA season was The Year Of The Golden State Warriors. But then, so was 2016 — up until its final moments. Somehow, though, the 2017 version has managed to overshadow anything its forerunners had accomplished. Closing out a five-game Finals victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night, these Warriors put the finishing touches on a season that ranks among the greatest in basketball history. According to at least one metric, this team made a strong case that it should be considered the greatest of all time — but there’s still room for debate.Going into the Finals, I noted that Golden State was closing in on the 1996 Chicago Bulls’ NBA record for the greatest peak performance ever, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings (which measure a team’s strength over time). The Warriors blew past the Bulls’ old rating this season with their 113-91 romp over the Cavs in Game 1, then set a new high-water mark in each of the next two games. Although the Warriors’ Game 4 loss dropped them back below the Bulls’ maximum Elo, Golden State finished the season with a rating of 1846, 23 points higher than the ’96 Bulls’ final mark. (Like this year’s Warriors, those Bulls also jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the Finals, but Chicago lost both Games 4 and 5 to the Sonics, which dropped their end-of-season Elo below what it was at its peak.)Using our preferred ranking method of blending together a team’s peak Elo, average daily Elo during the season and its final, end-of-season Elo, the 2017 Warriors come in as the greatest team in NBA history: 4542006Los Angeles Lakers1603154115691571 11611949Fort Wayne Pistons1450141113821415 14032016Los Angeles Lakers1332129112751299 1641990Portland Trail Blazers1700161616351651 9822001Boston Celtics1488144014591462 121989Detroit Pistons✓1788167517881750 9861977New Orleans Jazz1524143514241461 13322012New Jersey Nets1371134513271347 4011980Kansas City Kings1622158215471584 4101961St. Louis Hawks1617157915481581 8522001Denver Nuggets1543147914571493 13362015Orlando Magic1396133213121347 1741978Philadelphia 76ers1679163716261647 13551992Orlando Magic1370132413141336 6241972Golden State Warriors1574150315321536 11631988Phoenix Suns1449139913961414 1332013Denver Nuggets1698163716511662 9552010Indiana Pacers1504141614881469 1112008Detroit Pistons1708165716481671 13841973Portland Trail Blazers1327130513111314 9102002Miami Heat1525145514531478 10701968Detroit Pistons1473140914341438 12021979New Orleans Jazz1470139213501404 12891973Seattle SuperSonics1391135513461364 3782005Denver Nuggets1643153015931589 14011947Cleveland Rebels1322129412871301 11641991Los Angeles Clippers1449138414091414 3742017Washington Wizards1620156415861590 10251979Detroit Pistons1480143714341450 13542009Sacramento Kings1403132412851337 10011992Milwaukee Bucks1527146113801456 6971971Phoenix Suns1557150515111525 22017Warriors161+22.214.171.124 10631948St. Louis Bombers1468144514051439 13591972Detroit Pistons1399132112791333 692014Oklahoma City Thunder1749168316581697 2111984Los Angeles Lakers1663159116491634 1851950Rochester Royals1670161616441643 10671977Milwaukee Bucks1458140814521439 41996Bulls153+10.64.214.7 2532007Chicago Bulls1648158216331621 14391999Vancouver Grizzlies1260124712191242 8412010Memphis Grizzlies1548149514501497 12291969Detroit Pistons1429137913731393 111967Sixers114+9.33.312.6 9171982Indiana Pacers1536147514171476 4662014Phoenix Suns1589154115781569 13721953Baltimore Bullets1361131712901323 9941955Milwaukee Hawks1469143814671458 3141984New York Knicks1648159515711604 5371988Cleveland Cavaliers1574151215701552 1881993Seattle SuperSonics1669162916281642 11051994Los Angeles Lakers1475141414041431 2781999Los Angeles Lakers1657160915771614 12691953Philadelphia Warriors1429136513331376 10331971San Francisco Warriors1497143614101448 6421957New York Knicks1554152715221534 5511994Golden State Warriors1576152315481549 13831954Baltimore Bullets1360131612681315 2851987Dallas Mavericks1640161415841613 13501959Cincinnati Royals1378133013081339 10072004Boston Celtics1499145314131455 8122008Washington Wizards1532148914911504 13881948Boston Celtics1340129613051313 141973Knicks125+5.16.511.5 3592016Portland Trail Blazers1619154716111592 1281990Phoenix Suns1701163716541664 14281990Miami Heat1293126312451267 5852017Portland Trail Blazers1573151415401542 2381996Los Angeles Lakers1660158816291626 172009Lakers167+7.23.710.9 13962002Chicago Bulls1337129312871306 9831961Detroit Pistons1500143914481462 11542002Atlanta Hawks1443139014201418 9221964Philadelphia 76ers1511145714551474 1322002Dallas Mavericks1693162616681662 5731993New Jersey Nets1598152415141546 5021969Baltimore Bullets1604156415171562 11252010New York Knicks1474140913911425 2481994Atlanta Hawks1644161816031622 14051993Minnesota Timberwolves1335129412651298 8761976New York Knicks1526146314711487 14081990Charlotte Hornets1318126113051295 12652006Charlotte Bobcats1401134713801376 3541979San Antonio Spurs1639159015551595 13712001Washington Wizards1359132912861325 31971Bucks122+14.50.615.1 10232009Milwaukee Bucks1477144114351451 2962008Orlando Magic1628157916191609 14101996Toronto Raptors1323129612631294 12611978New Jersey Nets1407133213981379 4142012Los Angeles Clippers1606155615801580 10081987Phoenix Suns1478142014651454 5092006Cleveland Cavaliers1577154115641561 562006Dallas Mavericks1727168716921702 5672010Milwaukee Bucks1584150715491547 2332014Golden State Warriors1649161016191626 14221988Los Angeles Clippers1336125712361276 8501976Houston Rockets1509147814931493 5052003New Orleans Hornets1591153915541561 12381984Indiana Pacers1410137313901391 5891970Baltimore Bullets1571152015351542 13741947New York Knicks1351130113111321 11432002Houston Rockets1461142713731421 11971984Cleveland Cavaliers1447139413741405 3302015Chicago Bulls1636157415911600 7921991Indiana Pacers1530148015141508 11531975Atlanta Hawks1460142413721419 13122015Los Angeles Lakers1418136312831355 13942003Cleveland Cavaliers1348129112851308 12642001Vancouver Grizzlies1407136913531376 10271971Detroit Pistons1510145613851450 10931972Atlanta Hawks1461139614451434 8091956St. Louis Hawks1538148914861504 42016Golden State Warriors1839180017561798 14401994Dallas Mavericks1257121112571242 14411947Toronto Huskies1276123112081238 5131994Miami Heat1617154515121558 10171990Golden State Warriors1488145314151452 9771995Miami Heat1489145914431464 10471974Atlanta Hawks1503142014081444 11132003Memphis Grizzlies1468140114181429 12072012Sacramento Kings1425139313881402 13791975New Orleans Jazz1352126413401319 4151970Milwaukee Bucks1615155815681580 4741979Atlanta Hawks1585154115771568 14511971Cleveland Cavaliers1222117511971198 3491978Washington Bullets✓1620154716201596 8831979Indiana Pacers1506145114961484 Based on a blend of a team’s peak rating, its average game-to-game rating and its final, end-of-season rating.Source: ESPN, Basketball-Reference.com 4701965Cincinnati Royals1634157115011569 13351988New Jersey Nets1370133813321347 3582008Golden State Warriors1623159515621593 8421999Minnesota Timberwolves1542148714611497 11492009New York Knicks1451140913991419 712006San Antonio Spurs1726168816751696 8691993Miami Heat1537145414761489 6291998Detroit Pistons1551152015361536 7461990Milwaukee Bucks1561151114721515 9441948Philadelphia Warriors1499143214831471 3112010Atlanta Hawks1635159515841605 6331955Boston Celtics1592152214901535 1081985Milwaukee Bucks1720165616431673 4852014Chicago Bulls1609152715611566 7342009Detroit Pistons1576151114631517 1791980Seattle SuperSonics1683164016141646 3242015Dallas Mavericks1654159515571602 162015Warriors165+126.96.36.199 502011Dallas Mavericks✓1736164417361705 482009Boston Celtics1760170716531707 13662009Los Angeles Clippers1411132412561330 312012San Antonio Spurs1771167117331725 14301962Chicago Packers1286125112531264 Postseason SRS is determined by comparing a team’s per-game playoff scoring margin to the margin that a league-average team would have against the same opponents (based on their regular-season SRS ratings and the location of each game).Source: Basketball-Reference.com 3391991Detroit Pistons1668159015351598 7671999Seattle SuperSonics1555150214771511
9OklahomaKansas St.+1.4-13.92.5 12Notre DameSyracuse-0.8+3.31.3 13LSUTexas A&M+3.7-3.53.6 WKTeamOpponentw/ Winw/ LossWeighted 13Notre DameUSC-0.9+2.41.3 Which games hold the most weight for LSU?Remaining 2018 college football games with the biggest effect on LSU’s playoff chances* 10OklahomaTexas Tech+6.7-12.48.7 11OklahomaOklahoma St.+4.4-13.46.6 8LSUMississippi St.+2.6-3.43.0 A week ago, we kicked off our College Football Playoff prediction model by talking in part about the handful of teams that were in great shape — provided they just kept winning ballgames. Then Saturday came around, and just like that, two of those squads (LSU and Oklahoma) were knocked down more than a few rungs on the championship ladder. So how can the Tigers and Sooners climb their way back toward the top?In each remaining week of the season, we’ll break down what one team — or, in today’s case, two — needs to have happen in order for it to make the College Football Playoff. Primarily, we’ll be looking at how much each remaining game on the team’s schedule (and other teams’ schedules as well) potentially swings its playoff probability.Louisiana StateCurrent playoff chances: 4 percentWhat it can do: Losing to Florida dropped LSU’s playoff chances from 11 percent to 4 percent, giving the Tigers very little margin for error from here on out. The good news in Baton Rouge, though, is that they still basically control their own destiny — one of the fringe benefits of having an impossibly tough SEC schedule. If LSU wins out, our model says it would have a greater than 99 percent chance of making the playoff, making it one of only five schools (joining Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson) whose playoff chances are that high if they go the rest of the season without a loss. Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done: Even after putting the Gators behind it, LSU still has four more ranked opponents left on its regular-season schedule, plus whomever it might play in the SEC title game (if the Tigers get there). At the same time, just one more loss would basically doom LSU, leaving its playoff probability at the end of the season at just 16 percent even if it finishes 10-2. Practically speaking, Ed Orgeron’s team really does have no choice but to keep winning.Who can help it: After allowing LSU to storm back from down 21-10 to beat it in September, Auburn could end up doing its SEC West rivals yet another favor by winning the Iron Bowl over Alabama in late November. LSU’s chances of making the playoff are about 3 percentage points higher in our simulations where Auburn beats Alabama than vice versa. In fact, any Alabama loss would generally help LSU’s chances of making the playoff because it would give the Tigers the edge over the Tide in the division (assuming they beat the Tide themselves in Death Valley on Nov. 3). One other thing is also clear: Alabama and Georgia’s playoff bids are basically incompatible with LSU’s. Conditional on the Tigers making the playoff, there’s only a 23 percent chance that Alabama also makes it and a 14 percent chance for Georgia. Even the SEC can contain only so many playoff contenders. Outside the conference, Texas and Penn State are teams with similar playoff bona fides who would theoretically be competing with LSU for an outside shot at the final playoff slot, so slip-ups by the Longhorns or Nittany Lions also slightly help the Tigers. But even so, most non-LSU games won’t move the Tigers’ needle much, meaning they’ll mostly have to forge a path to the playoff for themselves. 11LSUArkansas+0.7-3.41.2 7LSUGeorgia+7.1-3.04.2 * Relative to team’s current oddsBased on two sets of simulations: one in which the team wins and one in which it loses. Differences are weighted by the likelihood of each outcome happening. Numbers may not add up exactly because of rounding.Source: ESPN Stats & Information group Check out our latest college football predictions. 12TexasIowa St.-1.1+2.91.5 12OklahomaKansas+1.0-13.61.8 Which games hold the most weight for Oklahoma?Remaining 2018 college football games with the biggest effect on Oklahoma’s playoff chances* 11TexasTexas Tech-0.4+0.40.4 13OklahomaW. Virginia+12.2%-14.2%+/-13.1 WKTeamOpponentw/ Winw/ LossWeighted 9TexasOklahoma St.-1.4+1.71.6 OklahomaCurrent playoff chances: 17 percentWhat it can do: After losing the Red River Showdown to Texas on Saturday, the Sooners are less in the driver’s seat than LSU in terms of controlling their own postseason destiny. Even if Oklahoma wins all its remaining games, our model still gives the Sooners only an 85 percent chance of making the playoff. That’s not too terrible, though, given that Kyler Murray and company have a relatively manageable remaining schedule that includes only one ranked opponent. That matchup — a Nov. 23 battle against West Virginia in Morgantown — could swing Oklahoma’s season more than any other game, with our model calling for an average change to the Sooners’ playoff chances of plus or minus 13 percentage points, depending on whether they can beat the Mountaineers. In the universe where OU does win that one, the Sooners make the playoff 29 percent of the time; in the ones where they don’t, that number is 2 percent.Who can help them: Because they’re not quite the locks that some other top teams are, Oklahoma will probably need another big-time contender to falter. And according to our model, that team is most likely Notre Dame. Aside from West Virginia and Texas, whose hopes each rest on outdueling the Sooners for the Big 12 title, the Fighting Irish are the team whose playoff chances drop the most in simulated universes where Oklahoma makes the playoff. Unfortunately for the Sooners, Notre Dame has a 39 percent chance of navigating the rest of its schedule undefeated — tops among any team in the nation — while Oklahoma’s chances of winning out are only 14 percent. (That discrepancy is a big reason for Notre Dame’s 46 percent chance of making the playoff, while Oklahoma sits at 17 percent.) But a Notre Dame loss — most likely to Syracuse, USC or Northwestern — would do the Sooners a big favor in their struggle to regain position in the playoff race. 13AlabamaAuburn-0.5+2.60.8 * Relative to the team’s current oddsBased on two sets of simulations: one in which the team wins and one in which it loses. Differences are weighted by the likelihood of each outcome happening. Numbers may not add up exactly because of rounding.Source: ESPN Stats & Information group DIff. in Oklahoma Playoff Odds 10Penn StateMichigan-0.3+0.40.4 DIff. in LSU Playoff Odds 7AlabamaMissouri-0.3+2.30.5 8OklahomaTCU+5.4-11.87.4 10LSUAlabama+10.6%-3.5%+/-5.3 10FloridaMissouri-0.3+0.70.4
OSU sophomore Colin Zeng is a 5-time Big Ten Diver of the Week for the 2015-16 season. Credit: Courtesy of OSUCoach Justin Sochor took over an Ohio State men’s diving team in 2013 that was laden with juniors and seniors. That meant Sochor had one year of recruiting to revamp the Buckeyes after an exodus of talent.“I wasn’t trying to change an old team,” he said. “I was trying to build a new one.” Sochor said he wanted talented students who would make good teammates to represent the diving team, as well as the university, positively. He found that in sophomore diver Colin Zeng.Zeng, a Fujian, China, native, started to dive after his parents suggested it at a young age. He said he discovered early on that the diving training in China was very strenuous.“I didn’t do a lot of competition,” Zeng said. “It’s very intense. We (train) at least six hours a day, seven days a week.”Then, in 2010, Zeng came to the United States to focus on developing his diving skills even further. “I was at the training camp at Stanford,” Zeng said. “After I got my student visa, I started to focus more on competing.”According to DiveMeets, Zeng finished first in all of the competitions he competed in during high school. The sustained dominance made him a hot target for collegiate programs across the nation. This led him to start looking at colleges in his junior year, he said. OSU proved to be a good fit. Sochor agreed.“A lot of Colin’s traits were what I was looking for,” Sochor said. “He’s got a high skill level, he gets along with his teammates, and he is smart.”Zeng came to OSU looking to succeed in what the coach called one of the most prestigious conferences in the nation.“Physically, diving-wise, experience with his training, he will stack right up with the divers in the Big Ten,” Sochor said. “He is a potential champion, but so are they. There are a lot of potential champions in (the conference), and he’s on the same dance floor as them.”Zeng has proved that this year. A five-time Big Ten Diver of the Week award winner, Zeng has finished first in all but three events in the 2015-16 season. In the trio of events he didn’t win, he was close, claiming second place each time. OSU sophomore Colin Zeng dives during a meet. Credit: Courtesy of OSUHe said he looks to continue his success at the Big Ten Championships, in which he will compete in three events: the 1-meter, 3-meter and the platform. After that, the NCAA Championship in late March is on the docket for Zeng.Like any competitor, he said he wants to win, but rather than setting his sights on those sorts of accolades, his plan is to just become the best diver he can be.“I’m just trying to focus and get more consistent on my dives,” Zeng said.Despite his success athletically, Zeng places a great deal of emphasis on excelling in the classroom too, his coach said. “The majority of his focus is academics,” Sochor said. “Training just happens in the part of the day we can get him. Once he gets into that Big Ten meet, there is no more tutoring and study table hours… It’s all diving.”As the conference championships approach at the end of February, Zeng is fine-tuning his dives to make them as perfect as can be. The biggest thing, he said, is just becoming as comfortable and consistent as possible. Sochor said he thinks that his star diver is ready to go and show the Big Ten what he is all about.“Colin gets pretty mean when he is competing,” Sochor said. “He is not going to be easy to beat.”
Redshirt junior defensive end Tyquan Lewis forces a fumble from Indiana junior quarterback Richard Lagow in the first half. OSU won, 38-17. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorAll week, the Ohio State football team said they were focused on the task that lay before them in Indiana, and not on next week’s matchup against Wisconsin. The Buckeyes appeared to be a little distracted in the first half, but ultimately pulled away in the second half, picking up a 38-17 victory.The first quarter has been slow for OSU this season, and Saturday, things were no different. Both teams’ offenses struggled to find a rhythm early on, resulting in just a field goal apiece. On the opening drive for the Buckeyes, redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber mishandled a pitch, resulting in a recovered fumble by Indiana redshirt junior defensive lineman Patrick Dougherty. The short field allowed the Hoosiers to take a brief 3-0 lead.Junior H-back Curtis Samuel, the early season hero for OSU so far, failed to touch the ball until the second quarter. With under six minutes left in the half, OSU decided to uncage Samuel, resulting in four carries for 46 yards on one drive.A normally stout defense for the Buckeyes was exposed at times in the first half by Indiana, including a 50-yard completion from redshirt junior quarterback Richard Lagow to sophomore wide receiver Nick Westbrook. The drive eventually ended in a Hoosier touchdown, with Lagow finding senior wide receiver Mitchell Paige wide open in the middle of the field for a score.“A lot of their formations, we kind of expected what was going to come,” redshirt sophomore Sam Hubbard said.” What we saw today was not what we saw on film. They kind of totally switched it up on us. We just had to make adjustments as the game went on.”OSU continued its trend of scoring in the final two minutes of the first half, as a long kickoff return by redshirt sophomore Parris Campbell returned the ball to the six yard line of Indiana, which eventually led to a 5-yard touchdown run by J.T. Barrett.After setting the record for most passing touchdowns for a quarterback in OSU history last week, Barrett struggled to connect with his wideouts, going 4-for-9 with just 41 yards. He failed to find a score through the air.“I didn’t play particularly well in the passing game by any means,” Barrett said. “So I just have to do a better job of reading the coverages better and getting the ball to our playmakers.” The second half got off to a bad start for the Buckeyes, as Indiana marched 89 yards down the field, chewing up nearly five minutes before Lagow found redshirt junior tight end Danny Friend in the end zone. Both redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore and redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker bit on the play-fake, giving Friend the opening.The play is a staple of the Hoosier offense, but even a secondary that has been as successful as OSU’s will make a misstep from time to time.“They did the fake tunnel screen,” Lattimore said. “We (were) in man, and I guess Malik thought it (was a screen pass). We made the adjustment though. We knew they was going to try something, but they got us on that one.”OSU answered back with its own long drive, using 13 plays and grinding out 85 yards to find the end zone again. Weber picked up his second score of the day by diving over the pile. After failing to pick up redshirt senior center Pat Elflein against Rutgers, Weber turned and made sure to hoist the anchor of the offensive line as high as he could after crossing the goal line.Back-to-back three-and-outs by both sides gave Indiana the ball back, but another punt inside the 20-yard line kept the Hoosiers on their heels, forcing another three-and-out. Redshirt senior Cameron Johnston had three punts inside the 20, along with four punts over 50 yards. The wide receivers for OSU, who showed promise last week against Rutgers, were nearly a non-factor against Indiana. Redshirt sophomore Noah Brown was the only Buckeye receiver to catch a pass throughout all four quarters. Early in the fourth quarter, a Barrett pass intended for redshirt junior tight end Marcus Baugh was tipped right into the hands of Indiana freshman cornerback A’Shon Riggins. Riggins returned the ball to the OSU 13. After nearly giving up a fumble, Indiana was stuffed on the six yard line on fourth down, turning the ball back over to OSU.“It’s not the sharpest thing in the world, we have our own thing to work on,” co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said. “That relentless mentality to get a fourth down stop on the goal line, huge momentum swings, things like that, they’re doing exactly what the culture of the program is and what we are asking them to do. But there’s a lot of things we can sharpen up as well.”After drives by either side, the Buckeyes dealt the decisive blow on a 37-yard touchdown reception for senior H-back Dontre Wilson. Wilson now has two touchdown receptions this year.Redshirt sophomore Malik Hooker picked off a deep pass from Lagow, giving the ball inside the Hoosier 20. OSU proceeded to run the clock out. Hooker now has four interceptions this season.Meyer said Barrett would be running the ball less this year, but that wasn’t the case Saturday. The Texas native had 21 passes, compared to 26 carries. The inefficiency did not hurt the Buckeyes, but it appears the wide receiver position is one that finishes the game either on fire or stone cold.Although it was a brutal thing to put his signal caller through, Meyer stood by the choice to run Barrett so frequently.“We had to win the damn game,” Meyer said. “And he’s one of our best players.”Weber continued his streak of efficient games, finishing the day with 15 carries for 71 yards. The two touchdowns he scored are the most in one game for Weber this season. Samuel did not register a catch for the first time this season, but was able to pick up 82 yards and a touchdown. The score brings his season total to three touchdowns.The defense for the Buckeyes went through its roughest games this year, allowing 281 yards and two passing touchdowns. Freshman defensive end Nick Bosa, who picked up four tackles and earned considerable playing time this week, said the defense did what they had to to ensure a win.“It started off a little rough, we had some put-backs, but we stood together strong,” Bosa said. “Coach Fick(ell) had a great gameplan and we stuck to it. I think it was 98 yards rushing?”Even with a poor showing compared to other games for the Buckeyes this season, the win improves their record to 5-0, with a perfect 2-0 mark in the Big Ten. Next week, OSU travels to Madison, Wisconsin, to face the Badgers.Wisconsin is ranked No. 11 and coming off a loss to No. 4 Michigan. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Oct. 15.
OSU then-sophomore forward Jae’Sean Tate (1) during a game against VMI on Dec. 5 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Lantern file photoThe Ohio State men’s basketball team entered Charlottesville, Virginia, marching into new territory in two ways. Wednesday night was the first time the Buckeyes had visited Virginia since 1981, and the team went against the No. 6 Cavaliers with confidence from a 6-0 start to the season.OSU sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle attempted a contested, potential game-winning 3-pointer as time expired that came up short, as the Buckeyes hit a roadblock against the Cavaliers, suffering its first defeat of the season, 63-61. OSU led by as much as 16 in the first half.Junior forward Jae’Sean Tate paced the Buckeye offense with 14 points and nine rebounds. Lyle scored 12 points but turned the ball over eight times in the loss.Coach Thad Matta’s team took a 12-point lead into halftime, but that was quickly erased by the defensively opportunistic Cavaliers. Virginia used a 15-2 run through the first four minutes and 15 seconds of the second half to get back into the game. Virginia senior guard London Perrantes buried one of his four 3-pointers to take a 39-38 lead, Virginia’s first of the night.Perentes led the Cavaliers with 19 points. Virginia made its first seven field goals of the second half. OSU sophomore guard C.J. Jackson hit a contested 3 at the other end to put OSU back on top. It was one of his three 3s on the night.For the next 15 minutes of the game, the teams traded blows until Virginia pulled away late in the game.With the game tied at 57, OSU sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle lost the ball on a drive to the hoop. Perrantes then found junior forward Marial Shayok on the other end of the floor for an easy layup and the lead, 59-57.Virginia junior forward Isaiah Wilkins had a breakaway dunk on the next possession and got fouled on the play for a chance to push the lead to five. Wilkins missed the free throw and Lyle was able to convert two free throws on the other end to trim the deficit to 63-61.Shayok was then fouled by OSU redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson, but missed both free throws giving OSU a chance for the tie or the win. After a timeout by Matta with 6.5 seconds left, Lyle couldn’t find an open man as the nation’s No. 1 defense clamped down on the Buckeyes and ended the upset bid.OSU had 20 turnovers and shot 50 percent from the floor.OSU fell to 6-1 as Virginia moved to 7-0. The Buckeyes return to the court on Saturday in Columbus against Fairleigh Dickinson.
Ohio State redshirt senior defensive end Nathan Williams trailed behind the pack of scarlet and gray-clad Buckeyes players as the team rushed onto the field for the opening game of the 2012 season. Williams said he was savoring the cheers of the 105,039 fans in attendance Saturday at Ohio Stadium for the No. 18 Buckeyes’ game against the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks. It was Williams’ first chance to make the dash onto the field since OSU’s Sept. 3, 2011, home opener against the Akron Zips, which he exited with an injury that would eventually require season-ending microfracture surgery to repair his injured knee. In the year that followed the game against Akron, Williams’ life has consisted mostly of rehab and icing his injured left knee. Football, Williams said, was a job he loved to get up in the morning for, and it was taken from him last September. “For so many months, I was down and out,” Williams said, “and on a machine and icing. Countless ice bags I’ve made.” Projected by several OSU coaches to play between eight and 10 snaps in his return against the RedHawks, Williams reclaimed his livelihood in surprising fashion – he started, was on the field for about 30 plays and made two solo tackles in OSU’s 56-10 win. “It means a lot. I’m at a loss for words,” Williams said following his return. “I’m happy that the coaches believe in me and that these players have stuck by my side and Buckeye Nation stuck by my side. I appreciate everyone for that.” First-year OSU coach Urban Meyer was noncommittal about Williams’ status for Saturday’s game until Tuesday when the player passed tests in practice to get into the game. After beating the RedHawks, Meyer said Williams played more than he expected and lauded his performance. “I love Nate. I love the fact that he is a warrior, that he loves Ohio State. That he’s doing the best he can,” Meyer said. “And I like the fact that (Williams’ position coaches) had enough confidence to get him in the game.” It was more of the same from OSU co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell, who said he wanted to ease Williams back into the flow of the game by limiting his time on the field. That plan changed after watching Williams get loose before kickoff, Fickell said, adding he could tell Williams had a chance to really make an impact. That intuition was realized by game’s end. “You see what kind of competitor he is,” Fickell said after the game. “From what I saw, he looked pretty good.” There’s still work to be done – Williams knows that. He failed to convince himself that he was the same player that tallied 92 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 11 sacks prior to the surgery that ended his 2011 season. On Miami’s first drive of the game, Williams missed a chance to sack RedHawks senior quarterback Zac Dysert, a player Meyer said has NFL potential. “If I would have got (Dysert), I would have considered that I’m back,” Williams said. “I’m kind of upset that I didn’t. My glove kind of slipped over top of him. There ain’t gonna be no more of that.” Williams said he saw an opportunity on the play and went for it, but defensive line coach Mike Vrabel disagreed during a Monday interview at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, saying there was no opportunity because Williams didn’t do his job. Perhaps evidence of lingering rust, Williams incorrectly abandoned his assignment to cover a Miami running back on the play, Vrabel said. However, Vrabel’s remarks came across as playful chides at Williams – he and members of the media laughed while delivering his criticisms with a smile. Vrabel said he was among those that were just glad Williams was a productive member of the team again. “Nathan, God love him, he can tell you whatever he wants,” Vrabel said. “I’m happy he was out there. He had some energy. He had some enthusiasm. (He) played with some toughness and, you know, I think it was a big confidence builder for him to be out there. He was pumped. He was excited that he could do it.” Considering the long hours of rehab and bagging ice cubes to tape to his surgically repaired knee, pumped might be an understatement. “Unparalleled” and “a dream come true” were the words Williams used to describe his feelings. “Getting another chance to be in this stadium and play for you guys – I wake up every morning looking forward to go to work just to make you guys happy,” he said, “so I’m not going to take it for granted.” OSU returns to action Saturday at Ohio Stadium with a game against Central Florida scheduled for noon.
The Michigan Wolverines football team takes the field for a game against OSU on Nov. 30 at Michigan Stadium. OSU won, 42-41.Credit: Lantern file photoAnyone who follows college football even a little knows that the Southeastern Conference dominates the landscape.But it wasn’t always that way.As I sat in my living room late Wednesday night after coming home from work, I turned on the TV, and after a few minutes of channel surfing (us men are so good at that, right, ladies?) I came across the 2004 Michigan-Michigan State football matchup and began to watch.In the game itself, No. 12 Michigan defeated unranked Michigan State in what is arguably one of the best games Michigan Stadium has ever seen. The Wolverines won in triple overtime, 45-37, behind 224 yards on the ground from then-freshman running back Mike Hart and 189 receiving yards from then-senior wide receiver Braylon Edwards.While those names might make some Buckeye fans cringe, the fact remains that they were good, if not great, ballplayers and they made Michigan a contender in the Big Ten. Then it hit me — the key to a successful Big Ten is the success of Michigan.Now, is it strictly just on the shoulders of the Wolverines to carry the Big Ten back to the promised land? Of course not.The successes of other traditional Big Ten powers like Ohio State, Penn State and more recently Michigan State are also key, as the Buckeyes and Spartans have carried the conference in recent years.But let’s go back to that 2004 season.Michigan went to the Rose Bowl and lost to Texas, despite being upset in its season finale by the Buckeyes in Columbus as the No. 7 team in the country.The SEC had just one team in the BCS that season, as Auburn won a low-scoring affair against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, 16-13.Not quite so dominating, right?So where did the tables turn on the Big Ten? How was the SEC able to separate itself?Well, let’s start with the next three seasons.A certain coach you might have heard of named Urban Meyer was hired at Florida late in 2004 to take over for a program that had started to reel under Ron Zook. Where did the struggling Zook find work? Illinois, the traditional Big Ten doormat.Just a season later, Meyer’s Gators were putting a beating on the Buckeyes in the 2007 BCS National Championship game, which began a string of seven straight years of SEC dominance in title games.Building on that, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, who was largely responsible for the turnaround of the Wisconsin program in the early ‘90s, retired following the 2005 season, leaving the door open for Bret Bielema.And we all know how that turned out. The Badgers would finish 2-4 in bowl games under Bielema.In 2007, Michigan dropped a game to Appalachian State which, let’s be honest, was the beginning of the end for Wolverine legend Lloyd Carr’s coaching career.So with Carr and Alvarez gone, and Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes dropping back-to-back blowouts in national championship games, the Big Ten took a dive into the deep end it has not yet come up from.The addition of Meyer to the Buckeye staff following the Tattoo-Gate fallout saved the OSU program, but unfortunately for Michigan, it has not had the same success in hiring a coach since Carr’s departure.The Rich Rodriguez experiment was a colossal failure and for a brief moment, it appeared the hiring of proclaimed “Michigan Man” Brady Hoke would resurrect the once proud program.For the 2011 season, it appeared Hoke had done just that as the Wolverines exploded to a 11-2 season which culminated in back-to-back wins over the Buckeyes and the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Sugar Bowl.But the wheels have fallen off quickly for the Wolverines and the Big Ten, as Michigan sits at 3-4 on the season, and is, quite frankly, struggling to make a bowl game. Combine that with the Shane Morris incident in which Hoke played the clearly injured quarterback following a ruthless hit from a Minnesota defender, and we have seen a once-dominant program reduced to a laughing stock.The recent downward spiral of the Michigan program led them to lower their student ticket prices Thursday down to $175 from $280 for seven home games for the 2015 season in an effort to increase attendance.While it might be fun for Buckeye fans to see their rival fall from the graces of college football’s best, it is quite frankly awful for the Big Ten conference.And as the Wolverines get ready to take on the Spartans this weekend, now 10 years later, one cannot help but wonder if the Michigan program, and the Big Ten conference, will ever be able to recover from the ranks of mediocrity.