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Donegal presenter finds herself on a Junior Cert paper!

first_imgTV personality Caitlín Nic Aoidh got a pleasant surprise yesterday when she discovered that she was featured on the Junior Cert Irish paper.The Cloughaneely native is well-known as the TG4 weather presenter and host of other shows, but she couldn’t forecast being a star of the Higher Level Gaeilge exam!Doiligh a chreidiúint nuair a bhí mé féin ag déanamh an teastas sóisearach fada an lá ó shin, go mbéinn fhéin ar an pháipéar lá breá eicint! #JuniorCert @TG4TV @ptccf #LeavingCert2019 pic.twitter.com/bERyQ7fuOe— Caitlín Nic Aoidh (@CaitlinNicAoidh) June 6, 2019 Caitlín was featured in a magazine-style profile on her life and career. Students were asked to read the story and answer questions. The article explored Caitlín’s role promoting the Irish language during Seachtain na Gaeilge 2018 and her new appointment as the Irish language ambassador for Cloich Chionnaola.Sharing her surprise on Instagram, Caitlín wrote: “Doiligh a chreidiúint nuair a bhí mé féin ag déanamh an teastas sóisearach fada an lá ó shin go mbéinn fhéin ar an pháipéar lá breá eicint!”“Hard to believe when I was sitting the Junior Cert many moons ago that I’d be on the paper myself one day. Hope everyone sitting it got 100% in that section.”  Donegal presenter finds herself on a Junior Cert paper! was last modified: June 6th, 2019 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Caitlín Nic Aoidhlast_img read more

Steph Curry defends wife Ayesha after she was made fun of for dancing

first_img[vemba-video id=”us/2019/07/18/ayesha-curry-mocked-for-dancing-milly-rock.cnn”]By AJ Willingham | CNNAyesha Curry, cook, author, restaurateur and wife of NBA star Steph Curry, recently opened her fourth restaurant, International Smoke in Del Mar, California.And when you open your FOURTH restaurant, you’re entitled to to a little dancing. However, video of Curry doing the Milly Rock at her opening brought the internet trolls out of the woodwork, who mocked her mercilessly for her (clearly …last_img read more

Developing SA’s biotech industry

first_img10 March 2003South Africa’s bid to commercialise biotechnology is forging ahead with the setting up of three new regional innovation centres, the first of which was launched this month in Johannesburg.The Biotechnology Partnership for Africa’s Development (Biopad) was initiated earlier this year as a collective response, by a community of biotechnologists and other professionals, to the challenges posed by the varied needs of the region and the continent.According to the Biopad website, the aim of the initiative is to put South Africa among the world leaders in the application of biotechnology, in so doing “stimulating economic development, contributing to job creation, and building world-class skills and technology platforms to sustain and continue development”.Three regional Biopad biotechnology innovation centres are being set up under the auspices of the department of science and technology, in accordance with the department’s national biotechnology strategy.The department has allocated R400-million over the next three years towards the setting up of the three centres, in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.The centres will serve as nuclei for the development of biotechnology platforms, from which a range of businesses offering new products and services can be developed. The centres will promote research and development, entrepreneurial services, technology, intellectual property management and business incubation.Each centre will focus on specific areas of biotechnology that fit with the country’s development imperatives, use local expertise and have commercial potential.The biotechnology innovation centre in Gauteng, which aims to become self-funding after three years, has been given R135-million by the department, and will focus on animal health on the one hand, and industrial, mining and environmental biotechnology, on the other.Both these focus areas are strategically important for South Africa and the region. Animal production comprises around 35% of total agricultural turnover in the country. Projects focusing on this area will include developing vaccines for tick-borne heartwater disease and bovine pneumonia, and combating psittacine beak and feather disease.According to a Business Day report, a further 25 projects are being funded by the Gauteng centre, including initiatives to “produce fine chemicals from aloes, identify microbial enzymes to help extract the flavour and medicinal compounds of Rooibos tea, and produce natural flavours and fragrances from micro-organisms”.The biotechnology innovation centre to be developed in KwaZulu-Natal will focus on human health, industrial bioprocessing and plant biotechnology, while the Western Cape centre will also focus on human health and industrial bioprocessing.Egoli BIO incubatorThe opening of the Gauteng Biopad centre was not the only boost biotechnology in the province has received this year. A separate initiative, the Egoli BIO life sciences incubator, was launched in February.Egoli BIO is a business incubator which aims to help grow small, medium and micro-sized biotechnology enterprises in the country. The company works closely with Biopad to nurture and prepare small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) for commercialisation.According to the website, Egoli BIO seeks to act as a “development conduit for the commercialisation of life sciences research, products, services and technology platforms” in South Africa.“It seeks to attract and nurture the highest quality tenants in this niche area, providing business infrastructure, strategic guidance, financial and legal advice, and to create an environment of learning and sharing in which information, experience and ideas are freely exchanged.”Egoli BIO is a joint initiative between the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Innovation Hub – one of the project’s of the Gauteng government’s Blue IQ initiative – and AfricaBio, South Africa’s biotechnology industry association.Funding for Egoli BIO is being provided through Godisa, a joint initiative between the department of trade and industry, the department of arts, culture, science and technology, and the European Union.SouthAfrica.info reporterlast_img read more

Naspers spreads Russian web

first_imgNaspers operates in 129 countries around the world, with the group’s most significant operations in emerging markets including South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, China, Central and Eastern Europe, India, Brazil, Russia and Thailand. DST, together with its affiliate DST Global, also holds stakes in internet world leaders such as Facebook, Zynga and Groupon. It is a privately held company backed by leading international financial institutions and companies. As part of the deal, Naspers’ Myriad International Holdings subsidiary will take a 28.7% stake in Digital Sky Technologies (DST) in return for a 39.3% stake in Mail.ru, as well as investing US$388-million in cash. After completion of the transaction, DST will own nearly 100% of the Mail.ru portal, which has over 50-million registered email accounts, is a leading social network in Russia and also has a leading market share in multiplayer online gaming in Russian-speaking markets. DST was founded in 2005 and is one of the largest internet companies in the Russian-speaking and Eastern European markets and one of the leading investment groups globally to exclusively focus on internet-related companies. South African media group Naspers is to acquire a stake in Digital Sky Technologies, one of the largest internet companies in the Russian-speaking markets, in return for its stake in Russian internet portal Mail.ru, as well as a cash investment. Leading online brands “This opportunity further expands our exposure to emerging markets and the fast-growing internet sector.”center_img SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material Naspers and DST have worked closely together over the past three years as co-owners of Mail.ru, and the transaction will enable them to further strengthen that relationship. In April this year, DST acquired the ICQ instant messaging service from America’s AOL. “We have known DST and its management for years and we share a similar view and approach,” Naspers’ head of internet operations, Antoine Roux, said in a statement this week. “We are excited to strengthen our partnership. “Naspers’s strategic insight has already proven to be valuable in our partnership, and we welcome the expertise they will bring to DST,” said DST chief executive Yuri Milner. “We are delighted to announce this transaction and look forward to creating further value through our relationship.” 15 July 2010last_img read more

Sibahle builds positive narratives

first_imgSibahle Poster Series – Miriam Makeba (Mama Afrika). (Images and Videos: Redbull Amaphiko)Early in 2015 a campaign to highlight positive African narratives was started and aptly named Sibahle, which means “we are beautiful” in IsiZulu.Established by Ruramai Musekiwa, a Zimbabwe-born visual artist, the project tackles negative stereotypes and promotes the empowerment of women and youth through creative media. It works using creative and interactive awareness campaigns, a magazine, a children’s book series, a poster series, workshops and activations.“We started the Sibahle campaign early in 2015, seeking to celebrate and promote positive African stories via creative concepts, for example, an illustrated digital exhibition series paying homage to phenomenal African women,” Musekiwa told Redbull Amaphiko.“Sibahle, means ‘we are beautiful’ and aims to change the African narrative, too often shrouded in pain and suffering, into a positive story.”FIVE PILLARSThe Sibahle campaign uses five pillars to promote its message:The Sibahle poster seriesA children’s book seriesA work-shopping and activation branchA bi-monthly magazineA pop-up storeAccording to Musekiwa, the five pillars all serve to cultivate positive African narratives across different target groups as well as to drive income through selling cutting edge, commercially viable products.SIBAHLE POSTER SERIESThe Sibahle poster series portrays amazing, strong African women, such as Lira, Thandiswa Mazwai, Miriam Makeba, and many others.Musekiwa said it had been featured on various websites, as well as on social media and blogs, and it had included Lupita Nyong’o, the Academy Award winning actress, who said was honoured to be featured.“Since its inception the brand has grown, thanks to unsolicited generosity such as a lady who sent us a mail saying how much our work inspired her and that she’d love to do our PR for free,” said Musekiwa.Going forward, the organisation wanted to make the series more meaningful by celebrating ordinary women who were at the forefront of change. “To give one example: We want to go into communities to celebrate and highlight mothers in the townships who are turning their households into children’s homes, taking in orphans, for example.”Lupita Nyong’o, Hollywood actress for the Sibahle Poster Series.Have you played your part to make South Africa better for all? Share your story with us.last_img read more

Reduce vulnerability to increase competitiveness

first_img“A country’s competitiveness requires in part the efficient use of human resources – men and women alike,” writes Lynette Ntuli.As borders between countries become more permeable, nations look to strengthening their global competitiveness in order to access global markets for tourism, foreign direct investment, skills and more. But every country doing this must realise that its competitor countries are doing the same.South Africa must be vigilant in growing the equity of its nation brand and safeguarding its reputation as it strengthens its competitive advantages in the global marketplace. In our work to improve our competitiveness, social cohesion and equality are critical.Vulnerability, as a concept, can seem overly broad and abstract. After all, most people and most societies at different levels of development are vulnerable to adverse events and circumstances, not all of which can be anticipated or prevented. But vulnerability as a concept becomes less abstract when broken down into who is vulnerable, what are they vulnerable to and why.Vulnerability, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2014 Human Development Report, reduces the individual’s ability to manage their affairs, which weakens the foundations of society. The report looks at groups of people who are structurally the most vulnerable and the reasons for this vulnerability. Structural vulnerability is rooted in people’s position in society – their gender, ethnicity, race, job type or social status – and evolves and persists over long periods.Gender inequality in South AfricaAccording to the UNDP, South Africa ranks 94th in the world for gender equality, with a total inequality score of 0.461. (The best score, for Switzerland, is 0.021.) Women make up 41% of South Africa’s parliamentary representatives, while 72.7% of women aged 25 years or more have some secondary education, in contrast with 75.9% of men.The labour force participation rate for those aged 15 and older is 44.2% female and 60% male – a significant gap in a democratic society. Children aged up to 14 who live with HIV account for 410 000 of the population, while HIV prevalence amongst youth aged 15 to 24 stands at 13.9% for females and 3.9% for males.A key part of vulnerability is often an inability to influence decisions that affect one’s life. At the heart of true development is the choice to decide about the direction of your own life.This requires, the UNDP suggests, giving the poor and marginalised a greater voice in decision-making and opportunities for recourse when rights are violated or discrimination is encountered. Research suggests that women are more likely than men to suffer from negligence, petty corruption and harassment when they engage with state institutions.How does this relate to competitiveness?A country’s competitiveness requires in part the efficient use of human resources – men and women alike. The National Development Plan and its vision for a transformed South Africa in the year 2030 can only be implemented when women and children are no longer vulnerable to any form of abuse. This will not only impact on the development of our country, but will also increase equality between men and women, ultimately contributing to our reputation as a nation. We must therefore all play our part to stop the spread and acceptance of abuse, one person at a time. Count me in!Brand South Africa Play Your Part ambassador Lynette Ntuli is a founding director and chief executive of the property, asset and infrastructure development and solutions firm Innate Investment Solutions.last_img read more

Mobile RSS Readers: What’s Popular & What Works

first_imgRole of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Related Posts Tags:#mobile#NYT#Series#UX Evolutions#web richard macmanuscenter_img RSS feeds were a big driver of innovation in the Web 2.0 era. RSS Readers like Bloglines, Newsgator and Google Reader became the go-to services for people to subscribe to the latest news and blog posts. Over the past couple of years, mobile phones have become a major content consumption device. Yet RSS Readers have struggled to make the transition. In part this has been due to the increased importance of Twitter and Facebook for circulating news and information. But it’s also because tracking RSS feeds on your smartphone is a user interface challenge – and few, if any, startups have solved it. This is the third post in our series looking at how the user experience (UX) of consuming media has changed with the increasing popularity of devices other than the PC. The first post explored the thriving world of music on smartphones and yesterday we looked at news apps on the iPad. Today we analyze RSS on smartphones.Most Popular Mobile RSS Readers Amongst RWW ReadersTo get a sense of what is currently popular, I polled followers of our @RWW Twitter account – along with followers of my own personal Twitter account @ricmacnz – about their favorite mobile RSS Reader. 5 services stood out as being the most popular among our readers. They were, in alphabetical order: Feedly (iPhone / Android)Google Reader (optimized for mobile in the browser)my6sense (iPhone / Android)Pulse (iPhone / Android)Reeder (iPhone)mobileRSS (iPhone) and Byline (iPhone) were also mentioned multiple times.User Experience of Mobile RSS Readers Of the top 5 services according to RWW readers, the mobile version of Google Reader is the most conventional. It lists out your folders and feeds, then you click on them to scan and view stories. It works fairly well, although the main issue is that it’s not as easy to scan stories as it is on a PC. That’s not the fault of Google Reader. Rather it’s the much smaller screen space on a smartphone, which means you end up spending a lot of time swiping and scrolling. That in a nutshell is why RSS Readers have struggled to get take-up on smartphones. It’s just too much work on a mobile phone to use an RSS Reader as it is intended, to scan hundreds or even thousands of feeds.The other 4 services in our top 5 list have taken more innovative approaches to solve this problem. Although it should be noted that 3 of them use Google Reader as a platform for the actual feeds (Pulse is the only one not to). My6sense filters your feeds and attempts to automatically select the most “relevant” stories to you. It also offers a time-based list of feeds and stories, but its main reason for being is to convert you to the relevance filter. So far this new type of feed reading hasn’t taken off in a big way. It reminds me of Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” option, in that you have to trust that the software will deliver you the results you want. I wonder whether modern Web users have the patience to build up that trust in my6sense.Another app taking an innovative approach to mobile RSS Readers is Feedly, a personal favorite of ReadWriteWeb’s resident RSS expert Marshall Kirkpatrick. Marshall reviewed Feedly in January, noting its “attractive folder-based navigation that’s easy to thumb through horizontally.” Similar to my6sense, Feedly filters your feeds. In Feedly’s case, it uses a popularity metric to pick out key items. For example, in my ‘Internet of Things’ folder from Google Reader, Feedly selected two pages worth of items to show me (9 items, to be exact).Work in ProgressIn conclusion, it’s fair to say that RSS reading on smartphones is not yet a solved problem. There is no efficient way to scan through hundreds of feeds on a mobile phone, so apps like my6sense and Feedly have chosen to take a filtering approach. It’s partly a software issue. Filtering is a mix of art and science; it’s hard to get it right. But also it’s a shift in user experience. RSS Readers never really became mainstream on computers and those who do use them – power users or people who need to track information for their job – haven’t yet become comfortable with RSS Readers filtering their feeds. Web users have become accustomed to letting people filter information via Twitter or Facebook, so perhaps it’s just a matter of time before they let software do filtering too.Let us know in the comments if you use an RSS Reader on your smartphone; and if so what your experience has been like. What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

10 months ago​Boussouma potential excites Brighton boss Hughton

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first_img​Boussouma potential excites Brighton boss Hughtonby Ansser Sadiq10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveBrighton manager Chris Hughton is excited at the potential of Yves Bissouma.The Mali midfielder is already impressing for the Premier League side, scoring a long range goal in the FA Cup against Bournemouth.And Hughton believes that when his English improves, he will be fully integrated into the squad.Hughton told The Argus: “He is still learning. He is a wonderful talent, probably one of the most talented players that we’ve had here.”But it’s just about nurturing that one. He is still young, he is still learning the language and he will get better.”I hope so. The game, particularly in the position he plays, is about a lot of aspects and you have got to do enough of those aspects well.”At the moment he is still developing. I think once he gets a good grasp of the language he’ll improve.” About the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Whats At Stake For Every College Football Playoff Contender

The college football playoff committee didn’t make much news when it released its new rankings Tuesday: The top seven teams remained the same. The biggest shift was for Mississippi, which lost badly last week and fell from No. 8 to No. 19.This was in line with what our college football forecast model expected. Because the model is based mostly on a historic analysis of the Coaches Poll, this means the committee behaved in the same boring way the coaches usually do — keeping the teams in the same order except when one drops a game and loses its place in line. So, our national championship and playoff odds look very much like they did Sunday.Here’s the more comprehensive version of that chart, which includes the entire Top 25 as they might appear when the committee releases its final standings Dec. 7.The lack of movement may also have been because last weekend was a sleepy one on the college football calendar. This upcoming weekend features much higher stakes, with the top teams facing more formidable opponents and entries into the conference title games on the line.I’m going to run through the top 11 teams in the committee’s rankings as the model sees their chances. In each case, we’ll look at how much a win or loss this weekend would affect the team’s playoff odds along with some more complex scenarios: for instance, if the team loses this week but wins its conference championship next week. Some of the more involved scenarios will expose potential blind spots in the model; we hope it’s still a helpful tool for thinking through the various possibilities.No. 1. Alabama Crimson TideOpponent: No. 15 Auburn on Saturday night. Alabama is a 70 percent favorite according to the model; win probabilities are derived from a simplified version of ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI).Overall chance of making playoff: 75 percentChance of making playoff with a win: 87 percentChance with a win but a loss in SEC Championship: 60 percentChance with a loss against Auburn: 48 percentChance with a loss but a win in SEC Championship: 75 percentChance with a loss and Mississippi State win (Alabama misses SEC Championship): 40 percentYou might expect the No. 1 team’s path to be straightforward. But Alabama’s is one of the more complex cases. That’s because there are really five scenarios to analyze. Two are straightforward: If Alabama defeats Auburn and wins the SEC Championship game, it’s in the playoff, very likely as the No. 1 seed. And if it loses twice, it’s probably out — unless there’s a ton of chaos behind it.The other three are trickier. Alabama could win this week then lose in the SEC Championship. It could lose this week and win the championship. Or it could lose this week and fail to make the championship, which will happen if Mississippi State wins.Failing to make the championship at all is the most dangerous for Alabama; their chances of reaching the playoff would be just 40 percent in that scenario. But the ranking of the other two is debatable.It’s hard to imagine Alabama would be left out if it lost to Auburn but made the SEC title game and won it. The model puts their chances at 75 percent in this case. And that seems too conservative — the alternative would probably entail no SEC team making the playoff at all. Sure, it’s technically possible. If Oregon, Florida State, Ohio State and either Baylor or TCU all win out, the committee would have to bump a zero- or one-loss conference champion for two-loss Alabama. That would be a predicament. But anything short of that exact scenario, and SEC fans from Gainesville to College Station would put aside their differences and come at the committee with pitchforks.A more acute danger might be a win against Auburn followed by a loss to Georgia in the SEC Championship. That way, the committee might get an SEC team into the playoff by choosing Georgia. Georgia needs some help to get into this position. The Bulldogs need Missouri to lose this weekend (Missouri probably doesn’t have the resume to make the playoff even if it wins out) and probably to defeat nonconference foe Georgia Tech on Saturday (otherwise, Georgia’s case will be too weak also).A lot of these questions boil down to how much the committee will emphasize conference championships as opposed to everything else. We don’t have much data on that yet, and neither do the folks in Tuscaloosa. Until we learn more, the only totally safe course for Alabama is simply to win twice.No. 2. Oregon DucksOpponent: At Oregon State on Saturday night (Oregon is a 90 percent favorite)Overall chance of making playoff: 76 percentChance with a win: 81 percentChance with a win but a loss in Pac-12 Championship: 42 percentChance with a loss: 32 percentChance with a loss but a win in Pac-12 Championship: 49 percentWe might ask the same question for Oregon: If it must lose again, is a loss this week or in the Pac-12 Championship better? This case is simpler because Oregon is already assured of making its championship game.The model’s answer is that it’s slightly better for Oregon to lose this week — even against unranked Oregon State — and come back to win the Pac-12 title. The danger of losing the Pac-12 Championship is that Oregon’s Pac-12 opponent could possibly get in ahead of them, especially if it’s UCLA.No. 3. Florida State SeminolesOpponent: vs Florida on Saturday afternoon (Florida State is a 74 percent favorite)Overall chance of making playoff: 59 percentChance with a win: 75 percentChance with a win but a loss in ACC Championship: 18 percentChance with a loss: 15 percentChance with a loss but a win in ACC Championship: 22 percentFlorida State isn’t at risk of being overtaken by anyone in its conference. (It’s clinched a spot in the ACC Championship and its opponent in that game, No. 16 Georgia Tech, almost certainly won’t make the playoff even if it wins out.) But the committee seems to be down enough on FSU that it probably can’t afford a loss at all. Some of FSU’s problem is strength of schedule, as it has been all year. Neither Florida nor Georgia Tech is likely to impress the committee as an acceptable loss for the Seminoles, even if it wins the other game.No. 4. Mississippi State BulldogsOpponent: at No. 19 Mississippi on Saturday afternoon (Mississippi State is the underdog; it has a 41 percent chance to win)Overall chance of making playoff: 33 percentChance with a win: 74 percentChance with a win and an Alabama win (Mississippi State misses SEC Championship): 77 percentChance with a win and an Alabama loss (Mississippi State advances to SEC Championship): 65 percentChance with a loss: 4 percentMississippi State has to win this week against Mississippi. FPI has them as underdogs to do so. But the Bulldogs’ chances of making the playoff will more than double to 74 percent if they do.But now we’re going to get a little crazy. Surely, things would be even better for Mississippi State if it won while Alabama lost, which would get them into the SEC Championship game?The model says no: Instead, the Bulldogs should be rooting for Alabama!Here’s why: If Mississippi State wins this week and completes its regular season, that’s probably good enough. It’s already No. 4 and will have notched another big win, on the road, against a ranked rival. Sure, it could eventually be surpassed by a team like TCU, but it could also see a team like Florida State ahead of it lose. It’s a reasonably sound position.But now imagine that Mississippi State wins this week and makes the SEC Championship but loses that game. Instead of a one-loss non-champion, it’s a two-loss non-champion — not so attractive. Furthermore, Alabama would also be a two-loss non-champion in this scenario and one that beat Mississippi State head-to-head late in the regular season. The risk-reward ratio would be poor for the Bulldogs.No. 5. TCU Horned FrogsOpponent: at Texas on Thursday night (TCU is a 65 percent favorite)Overall chance of making playoff: 53 percentChance with a win: 79 percentChance with a win if current top four also win this weekend: 50 percentChance with a loss: 5 percentTCU was helped by the committee this week, which left it at No. 5 even though it was idle. Indeed, the committee’s affection for TCU is a bit bizarre. TCU lost to No. 7 Baylor in October and the more sophisticated computer systems like FPI also have Baylor ranked higher. There’s some thought that Baylor will suddenly jump ahead of TCU if both teams win out. But if the committee has been placing TCU ahead of Baylor for weeks now despite its head-to-head loss, why would it suddenly shift gears?In any event, the model now has TCU’s chances of making the playoff at slightly better than even — and their chances will jump to 79 percent with a win against Texas. However, some of that possibility is contingent on one of the teams ahead of them losing. If the top five teams all win out, TCU’s playoff chances will be stuck at about 50 percent.No. 6. Ohio State BuckeyesOpponent: vs. Michigan on Saturday afternoon (Ohio State is an 89 percent favorite)Overall chance of making playoff: 42 percentChance with a win: 47 percentChance with a win and a win in Big Ten Championship: 73 percentChance with a win and a loss in Big Ten Championship: 6 percentChance with a loss: 2 percentThis is one of the simpler cases. Ohio State isn’t assured much of anything, but the team has about a 3-in-4 chance of making the playoff if it wins out, mostly because there’s likely to be some attrition ahead of it.One question is whether the Buckeyes will be ranked ahead of teams like Alabama, Oregon and Florida State if any of the three do lose this week. Those could be close calls for the committee. Not that it needs extra motivation against the Wolverines, but Ohio State might be helped by turning up with a dominant performance against Michigan instead of just getting by.No. 7. Baylor BearsOpponent: at Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon (Baylor is a 94 percent favorite)Overall chance of making playoff: 29 percentChance with a win: 31 percentChance with a win and a win against Kansas State next week: 40 percentChance with a loss: 1 percentThis is a low-stakes weekend for Baylor as compared with the rest of the top teams. The Bears are huge favorites against Texas Tech, and that probable win is already priced into their playoff odds. They have a bigger game against Kansas State next week.Unlike the six teams ahead of it, however, Baylor would be under 50 percent to make the playoff even if it wins out, according to the model.No. 8. UCLA BruinsOpponent: at Stanford on Friday afternoon (UCLA is a 69 percent favorite)Overall chance of making playoff: 13 percentChance with a win: 18 percentChance with a win and a win in Pac-12 Championship: 47 percentUCLA is about even-money to make the playoff if it wins out and has almost no chance otherwise.No. 9. Georgia BulldogsOpponent: vs. No. 16 Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon (Georgia is an 81 percent favorite)Overall chance of making playoff: 13 percentChance with a win: 16 percentChance with a loss: 1 percentChance with a win and a Missouri loss (Georgia advances to SEC Championship): 22 percentChance with a win and win in SEC Championship: 44 percentOur model thought Georgia might be at some risk of ranking worse than No. 9 in this week’s committee standings; it played a Division I-AA opponent last week, Charleston Southern, while several of the teams ranked just behind them won against (slightly) better competition.The reaffirmation from the committee helps keep Georgia dangerous. The Bulldogs have one more hurdle than UCLA — they need Missouri to lose to make their conference title game while UCLA is in with a win. But if they make the SEC championship and win it, their odds of making the playoff will be close to even.No. 10. Michigan State SpartansOpponent: at Penn State on Saturday afternoon (Michigan State is a 78 percent favorite)Overall chance of making playoff: 1 percentChance with a win: Still about 1 percentChance with a win, if at least 3 teams ranked ahead of it lose this weekend: 3 percentChance with a win, if at least 6 teams ranked ahead of it lose this weekend: 16 percentI list this case to demonstrate that when you’re on the outside looking in, you’d rather take a high-stakes path (like the one Georgia has). As I mentioned last week, Michigan State — locked out of its conference title game and with a middling opponent this week — just can’t do enough to impress the committee to jump into the top four. Even if there’s total and utter chaos ahead of Michigan State, its best-case scenario is probably finishing at No. 5 or No. 6.No. 11. Arizona WildcatsOpponent: vs. No. 13 Arizona State on Friday afternoon (Arizona is a 64 percent favorite)Overall chance of making playoff: 2 percentChance with a win: 3 percentChance with a win and a UCLA loss (Arizona advances to Pac-12 Championship): 7 percentChance with a win and a win in Pac-12 Championship: 24 percentArizona, like Georgia, at least has a specific path to follow: It’ll need to beat Arizona State, hope UCLA loses so it can make the Pac-12 title game, then beat Oregon there, then hope that one or two teams lose ahead of it. It’s not likely. But the committee might want to find a spot for the Pac-12 champion; it seems to like the conference; the committee ranks Oregon, UCLA and Arizona higher than the AP poll has them.There are a few other teams with a snowball’s-chance-in-hell. Arizona State’s case isn’t fundamentally that different than Arizona’s. Kansas State has an outside chance to finish as the Big 12 champion — again, without the benefit or risk of playing in a championship game — and could be more attractive than the likes of Michigan State if the committee is desperate. Wisconsin could also be a two-loss conference champion if it beats both Minnesota and Ohio State. The model says there’s almost no chance Missouri will get in even with an SEC title, but if the SEC goes haywire and the committee is struggling to represent it, who knows.In any event, here is the model’s probabilistic take on how the standings might look a week from now, accounting for both the uncertainty in this weekend’s games and in how the committee will react to them.CORRECTION (Nov. 30, 11:31 a.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly claimed that the Big 12 uses head-to-head records as a tiebreaker to determine its conference champion. It does not. read more

The Pitchers With The Best New Stuff This Season

Montgomery again! He shows up twice on my lists: No. 1 under MLB’s most-improved four-seamers and also among its most-improved curveballs. As was the case with his fastball, Montgomery managed to pick up more than 3 mph on his curve, to go with almost 700 extra rpm; it now breaks just over 50 percent more than it did last season. Those two drastically improved pitches go a long way toward explaining how Montgomery’s ERA has dropped to half of what it was during his lackluster 2015 season.We tend to frame velocity changes in terms of a pitcher’s fastball, but a slower curveball can cause problems, too. The Kansas City Royals’ Yordano Ventura has maintained his four-seam heat just fine, but he’s lost about 2 mph of velocity (plus some spin) on his curveball. All else being equal, slower pitches — of all types — are less effective because they give the batter more time to react and decide whether to swing. Perhaps for that reason, Ventura’s curve has gone from his best pitch to a far more mediocre offering, just as his ERA and fielding independent pitching have ballooned.Change-ups PITCHERCHANGE/100 5Randall Delgado-0.445John Lamb+0.31 3Mike Montgomery-0.543Jordan Lyles+0.34 8Vance Worley-0.108R.A. Dickey+0.09 10Trevor May-0.2910Hector Neris+0.22 3David Phelps-0.363CC Sabathia+0.41 7Hector Santiago-0.277Chris Sale+0.34 Every major league pitcher’s career is built from the raw materials of his pitch repertoire. Whether fastball, cutter or curve, all of a hurler’s offerings have to work together to help him confuse hitters and evade bats. And with a couple of months of 2016 PITCHf/x data in the books, I wanted to find out which players’ individual pitches have improved the most relative to last year.First, I had to quantify “improvement.”1I used PitchInfo data for all the analysis in this piece, since it corrects for park effects and improves on MLB Advanced Media’s raw pitch classifications. For each pitch type I looked at — four-seam fastball, slider, curve and change-up — I built a model to predict how much the pitch’s run value depended on its velocity versus spin rate.2Specifically, I used a mixed model that factored out the effects of the batter, pitcher, catcher and count in order to home in on the value of velocity and break for each pitch type. Then I looked at all the pitchers who had thrown more than 500 pitches each in both 2015 and 2016 and calculated the change in value for each pitch type in a pitcher’s arsenal, based on how its velocity and spin changed.Most pitches stayed close to their 2015 predecessors. For instance, the correlation between 2015 and 2016 for velocity on four-seam fastballs was 0.9, and the average velocity changed by only three-quarters of a mph, so it’s rare for a pitcher to completely reinvent a pitch from year to year. But whether because of injury or even a new grip, some individual pitches did change substantially. Here are the biggest year-over-year improvements — and declines — for each pitch in 2016, starting with fastballs:Fastballs 6Jesse Hahn-0.306Dallas Keuchel+0.36 Negative run values are better — the pitcher is allowing fewer runs.Source: Pitchinfo LARGEST IMPROVEMENTSLARGEST DECLINES Negative run values are better — the pitcher is allowing fewer runs.Source: Pitchinfo 5Dillon Gee-0.355Carlos Torres+0.34 LARGEST IMPROVEMENTSLARGEST DECLINES Biggest changes in four-seam fastballs from 2015 to 2016, by change in runs per 100 pitches 2Mike Wright-0.542Madison Bumgarner+0.36 Change-ups are generally deployed less frequently than the other pitch types I’ve mentioned, but they can be particularly potent weapons against opposite-handed batters. One pitcher who seems to have discovered this is lefty Padres starter Christian Friedrich, who has traditionally struggled to retire righties. With more reliance on a newfound change-up that spins nearly twice as much as last year’s version, Friedrich has managed to lower his weighted on-base average allowed to right-handers from .409 to .274, and his overall results have improved as well (2.12 ERA, 3.36 FIP).But then there’s Kendall Graveman, who shows up on three of the lists: He has the most-improved slider, fourth-most-improved fastball and the ninth-most-improved change-up. In theory, Graveman should be using his array of better pitches to overwhelm hitters; instead, he’s sporting a poor 5.28 ERA, an even worse 5.29 FIP and a depressingly sub-replacement-level WAR. When pitchers modify their repertoires, they tend to trade speed for spin, or vice versa. But in his transition from starter to bullpen ace, Seattle Mariners thrower Mike Montgomery has managed to add both speed and spin to his four-seam fastball this year, rapidly making it one of the most fearsome offerings in MLB. Montgomery’s heater now averages 95 mph, up from 91.3 mph last year, and it spins more than 150 revolutions per minute faster, giving it more “rise” than most fastballs.Montgomery’s trip to the bullpen at age 26 revitalized his fastball, but that makes him an exception: Most pitchers see their stuff decline from year to year. Specifically, pitchers tend to surrender velocity as they age, forcing them to become craftier — or lose their jobs. Take Dallas Keuchel, last year’s American League Cy Young winner, as an example of a pitcher with a deteriorating fastball: He’s lost almost 2 mph off his four-seamer since 2015, along with 290 rpm of rotation. PITCHERCHANGE/100 Biggest changes in change-ups from 2015 to 2016, by change in runs per 100 pitches 3Colin Rea-0.193Kevin Gausman+0.13 PITCHERCHANGE/100 PITCHERCHANGE/100 4Noah Syndergaard-0.374Alexi Ogando+0.40 1Jesse Hahn-0.551Jaime Garcia+0.53 6Nathan Eovaldi-0.346Brandon Maurer+0.34 PITCHERCHANGE/100 2Vance Worley-0.532Brett Oberholtzer+0.57 9Wily Peralta-0.329Chris Hatcher+0.23 4Kendall Graveman-0.314David Price+0.41 9Doug Fister-0.239John Lamb+0.29 Negative run values are better — the pitcher is allowing fewer runs.Source: Pitchinfo 6Mike Montgomery-0.126Adam Conley+0.10 1Kendall Graveman-0.541Aaron Sanchez+0.81 5Archie Bradley-0.175Derek Holland+0.12 Negative run values are better — the pitcher is allowing fewer runs.Source: Pitchinfo PITCHERCHANGE/100 3Robbie Ray-0.383Anibal Sanchez+0.41 9Martin Perez-0.319Johnny Cueto+0.26 8Martin Perez-0.268Jacob deGrom+0.29 LARGEST IMPROVEMENTSLARGEST DECLINES Biggest changes in curveballs from 2015 to 2016, by change in runs per 100 pitches 6Taijuan Walker-0.356Mat Latos+0.29 LARGEST IMPROVEMENTSLARGEST DECLINES PITCHERCHANGE/100 2Cody Anderson-0.422Taylor Jungmann+0.41 10Andrew Cashner-0.3010David Price+0.25 10Jhoulys Chacin-0.2210Marcus Stroman+0.29 7Robbie Ray-0.347Yordano Ventura+0.26 9Kendall Graveman-0.099Madison Bumgarner+0.08 Keuchel’s ERA is up more than 3 runs this year, and although not all of that can be pinned on his sagging fastball,3A loss of 2 mph would lead us to predict that Keuchel would allow only about 0.6 more runs per nine innings, so some element of bad luck is also likely at play. it’s a concerning drop-off for a pitcher whose stuff wasn’t exactly overpowering in the first place.Sliders Biggest changes in sliders from 2015 to 2016, by change in runs per 100 pitches 8Carlos Villanueva-0.328Chad Bettis+0.26 1Christian Friedrich-0.221Justin Miller+0.19 2Alfredo Simon-0.212David Price+0.15 PITCHERCHANGE/100 4Mike Foltynewicz-0.174Colby Lewis+0.13 4Adam Morgan-0.504Jose Quintana+0.34 7Trevor Bauer-0.337Randall Delgado+0.31 7Cody Anderson-0.117John Lamb+0.10 10Scott Feldman-0.0810Shelby Miller+0.08 It doesn’t rank No. 1, but perhaps the most impressive of all slider improvements has come from the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard, given the difficulty of tacking 3.5 mph on to what was already the ninth-hardest slider in the game. Although the man they call Thor has seen his slider slow a bit since his initial April outings — its average velocity has fallen from 93 mph heat to 91 mph — it’s still the fastest in baseball, and the increase has made it borderline unhittable. 5Danny Duffy-0.305John Danks+0.39 1Mike Montgomery-0.501Mike Leake+0.56 8Jose Alvarez-0.338Justin Verlander+0.26 Not bad for a pitch he threw only 2 percent of the time a year ago!Syndergaard gained all of that velocity at the cost of some spin on his slider, giving it slightly less horizontal movement.4Among sliders, the correlation between changes in velocity and spin rate was a statistically significant -0.34. Even more so than with the fastball, the trade-off between a slider’s speed and spin rate is a delicate balance that can make or break its effectiveness.Curveballs A former prospect, Graveman hasn’t converted his stuff into measurably good results, joining the long list of pitchers whose raw ability doesn’t translate into dominance on the mound.That’s why every hurler is more than just the sum of his pitches. Individual offerings play off each other in unexpected — and still inexplicable — ways. A pitcher’s stuff can be fantastic, but without command and control, the results will be poor. Factors such as deception and sequencing still resist most sabermetric analysis, and so a significant part of how pitching works remains unknown. In other words, we can measure what makes a pitch great, but it’s much more difficult to figure out what makes a pitcher excel. read more