Denver’s Ty LawsonWith a chance to show it is of championship mettle Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers, instead, stunk up Denver’s Pepsi Center.The Nuggets played with far more energy and much more effectively, opening a 24-point lead en route to blasting the Lakers 99-84. The win cuts L.A.’s series lead to 2-1 with Game 4 on Sunday in Denver.Telling for the Lakers was that their bench was outscored 39-9, an indictment about Los Angeles’ lack of depth. Denver’s JaVale McGee had 16 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks and rookie starter Kenneth Faried had 12 points and 15 boards to help fend off a Lakers run that moved them within four points in the third quarter.But Kobe Bryant (23 points on 7 of 23 shooting) scored but one basket in the fourth quarter and the Lakers just did not match Denver’s energy or effort. It also hurt that L.A. shot just 37 per cent for the game.Ty Lawson was brilliant with 25 points, seven assists and no turnovers for the Nuggets.
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent quit the NFL on Thursday as he prepared to defend his life in court against a manslaughter charge stemming from the death of a teammate in a drunk driving accident.”I am at a point where my main focus is all about getting the priorities in my life in order,” Brent said in a statement provided by the team. ”Those priorities are more important than football. Doing the right things in life are more important than football. I love the game very much. I love my teammates, but this is the right thing for me to do.”Brent’s has not touched a football since the December 8 crash that killed Jerry Brown, a college teammate and a close friend. If convicted, Brent, who was driving, could face up to 20 years in prison for intoxication manslaughter.Police authorities reported that Brent was driving with a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit on the night of the accident.
A security guard looks out of the the News Corp. headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)CHICAGO (AP) — Muhammad Ali Enterprises is suing the Fox Broadcasting Company for more than $30 million for what it says was Fox’s unauthorized use of the famed boxer’s image in a video that ran just before its broadcast of the 2017 Super Bowl.The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Chicago comes two years after a federal jury awarded $8.9 million to basketball legend Michael Jordan in his suit against the owners of a defunct supermarket chain for using his identity in an advertisement without permission. Last year, soccer great Pele filed a similar $30 million lawsuit against the electronics company Samsung.The suit contends that Fox used Ali’s “name, image and likeness as the centerpiece” of a video for its Super Bowl broadcast.Ali died last year.Fox declined to comment.
More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (April 19, 2016), we talk to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell about the Rams’ trade with the Titans and ask what the best strategy is in the NFL draft. We discuss Kobe Bryant’s final game and debate whether the rise of analytics means he is the last of a dying breed. Then Allison McCann comes into the studio to discuss FiveThirtyEight’s predictions for the NWSL season. Plus, a SigDig on Bryce Harper’s batting average and how he measures up to Mike Trout. Stream the episode by clicking the play button, or subscribe using one of the podcast clients we’ve linked to above. Links to what we discuss are here:Bill Barnwell tells us what the Titans-Rams trade means for the NFL draft.ESPN’s Stats & Info group breaks down why this is a bad trade for the Rams.Barnwell says, to draft well, a team needs a high volume of picks.Here’s the link to Barnwell’s new podcast, The Bill Barnwell Show, in the ESPN radio player. It will be up on iTunes soon.Neil Paine assures us no team can beat the draft.Kobe Bryant’s career was more about the drama than the numbers, says Seth Partnow in Vice.Slate’s Josh Levin thinks Kobe’s last game was the perfect representation of his career.But Neil Paine says Kobe haters are stuck in 2008.Here are FiveThirtyEight’s NWSL predictions for the 2016 season.And here’s ESPN’s Graham Hays on five things you should know about the NWSL.Significant Digit: .341. That’s Bryce Harper’s overall batting average this season, which is much higher than his batting average for balls in play. FiveThirtyEight Embed Code If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong.
For the Dodgers, their National League pennant represents a break with many years spent as preseason darlings but postseason disappointments. At some point in each of the 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 offseasons, Los Angeles was no worse than a co-favorite to win the World Series according to the Vegas odds. (There were also plenty of smart folks arguing that LA should be favored going into this season as well.) But despite their obvious talent — and massive payrolls — the Dodgers perennially found a way to come up short.Until this year, that is. The Dodgers have thoroughly dominated the playoffs thanks to a superstar turn by Justin Turner, an unhittable bullpen (led by goose-egg king Kenley Jansen), the midseason acquisition of Yu Darvish and Yasiel Puig’s redemption, among other storylines. But they’ve also gotten important contributions from unlikely sources. As Jonah Keri noted, Los Angeles’s narrative is as much about unlikely heroes such as Kiké Hernández — the fourth-year outfielder (making barely more than the league’s minimum salary) who launched three homers to help LA eliminate the Cubs — as it is about high-priced big names.Now, Los Angeles finds itself as a World Series favorite once again — but this time in October, not March. “[The Dodgers] led the major leagues in wins for a reason,” Houston pitcher Dallas Keuchel said in the wake of his team’s pennant-clinching victory Saturday night. “They won a lot of games in a row in the middle part of the season.”Keuchel was quick to point out, though, that his Astros are a great team in their own right: “They’re not to be taken lightly, but we’re not to be either.”Houston’s postseason path was a lot more difficult than Los Angeles’s. Instead of cruising through in just a game over the minimum like LA did, the Astros needed four games to eliminate the Red Sox and were taken to seven games by the up-and-coming Yankees. Along the way, plenty of causes for concern emerged, including a rickety bullpen and a worrying five-game stretch against New York in which Houston brought home only 1.8 runs per game.But this is still the same lineup that led the majors in scoring during the regular season. (Even while slumping versus the Yankees, Houston hit the ball hard.) The righty-heavy Astros will also be facing a Dodger pitching staff that’s far more left-handed than the Yankee one that gave them trouble. On the other side of the ball, Houston ace Justin Verlander is just about as sharp as he’s been since his MVP days. And for those wondering about the Dodgers’ edge in rest, it might not be of as much benefit as you’d think: Since 2006, the team that clinched its league championship first has lost 10 of 11 World Series.In other words, this World Series should be close, and it could very well end up going down as an all-timer. Of course, a great matchup on paper doesn’t always translate to a memorable championship duel; conversely, sometimes a weak matchup on paper yields thrilling results. But based on what we know right now, this Astros-Dodgers matchup looks like the best possible way to end a year in which baseball’s elite teams were unusually dominant all season long.Check out our latest MLB predictions. 2014Giants def. Royals111724 *A team’s “true talent” ranking probability is derived from simulations using the team’s winning percentage and the uncertainty around its talent level.Sources: Retrosheet, FanGraphs 2017Dodgers vs. Astros35%10%38%70% When the World Series opens Tuesday between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers, it will be a fitting final act for one of the most stacked postseasons ever. Both LA and Houston posted triple-digit wins during the regular season — just the eighth time two such clubs have ever met in a Fall Classic, and the first since 1970 — and both looked historically dominant at various moments during the season. In a decade filled with World Series matchups that seemed mediocre on paper, this should be one of MLB’s most pedigreed championship clashes in recent memory.One way we can measure this is to look at the odds that the last two teams remaining are actually the two most talented teams in baseball, using a method similar to the one Villanova professor Jesse Frey introduced in 2004.1The difference here is that I simply used each team’s winning percentage and the uncertainty around it, based on Tom Tango’s research. Baseball is a pretty random sport, so even after 162 games — or anything short of 10,000 games, really — we don’t have a great sense of who the most talented teams actually are. Most years, there isn’t much chance that the World Series even contains MLB’s actual best team, much less that it would pit the two best teams against each other.This year, though, is different. More so than any other season this decade, there’s a legitimate chance that the Dodgers-Astros winner is actually baseball’s top team, no matter who ends up prevailing. We should enjoy it while it lasts: As recently as a few years ago, there was only a 24 percent chance that the World Series contained a pair of top-10 teams, much less the best two teams. But with baseball suddenly becoming a meritocracy again these past couple years, we’ve been treated to much stronger matchups in the World Series — and none better than this one. 2010Giants def. Rangers122931 This matchup is (probably?) the cream of the cropProbability that the World Series contains teams with true talent* of a given ranking within Major League Baseball, 2010-17 YEARMATCHUPNO. 1BOTH OF TOP 22 OF TOP 52 OF TOP 10 2015Royals def. Mets1421137 2011Cardinals def. Rangers1421137 PROBABILITY THAT SERIES CONTAINED … 2013Red Sox def. Cardinals2242051 2012Giants def. Tigers111830 2016Cubs def. Indians3272658
The Buckeyes had the winning run on first base with one out in the ninth before designated hitter Ryan Dew grounded into a double play to make the 6-5 defeat official.The Buckeyes fell out of first place in the Big Ten with the loss.Though losing the series hurt, the injury to Wimmers was more devastating.The junior was 9-0 on the season, tied for the best start in team history. If Wimmers misses significant time, the team will have to rely on an inconsistent group of starters who have a combined 14-15 record on the season.Wimmers’ status is currently undecided, according to the team.“He could be out 7 to 10 days or 2 to 3 weeks,” team spokesman Jerry Emig said in an e-mail. “We just don’t know yet.”The junior’s next scheduled start is Friday against Illinois.The Buckeyes step out of conference play this week for a two-game series with Louisville starting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Bill Davis Stadium. Ohio State lost two of three games to rival Michigan over the weekend, and ace pitcher Alex Wimmers could miss playing time with a hamstring injury.The All-American tweaked a hamstring moments before his scheduled start Friday, coach Bob Todd said.The injury forced junior Theron Minium to make the second start of his career and first this season. Minium managed only one inning before normal Sunday starter Dean Wolosiansky was forced to come on in relief.The Buckeyes lost the Friday contest 4-1 and the loss of Wimmers forced the team to shuffle pitchers around for the rest of the weekend.Ohio State bounced back Saturday with a 3-2 win in 10 innings as Drew Rucinski earned the win, striking out nine in a career-high nine innings.The team went with freshman starter Brett McKinney on Sunday. McKinney went three innings.
Receiver DeVier Posey thought he had redeemed himself of a dropped touchdown pass last week against Iowa when he connected with quarterback Terrelle Pryor on third down and ran the ball into the end zone to put the Buckeyes up 24-7 over Michigan just before halftime. He even threw up his hands toward the crowd creating a “Block O” with his gloves that Nike had specially designed for that purpose. “The gloves had a black ‘Block O’ on the inside when you put your hands together and so that’s what (Posey) was trying to do,” receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said. But he didn’t celebrate his redemption for long. The referee gave Posey a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration. The call wasn’t explained until later, when offensive lineman Mike Adams brought his hands together and flashed the stands a “Block O” and received the same penalty, which the referee described as “showing a sign to the crowd.” “They didn’t want any hand gestures to the crowd, just celebrating with your teammates,” Sanzenbacher said. “We should have learned the first time they called us on it, but we didn’t.” During both subsequent kickoffs, the Buckeyes had to kick from their own 15-yard line instead of their 30-yard line. The gloves were a part of the Nike Pro Combat uniforms designed to honor the 1942 national championship Buckeye squad. Nike designed uniforms with a similar concept for several other teams and has used the gloves to send signals before, including when Alabama’s gloves displayed an “A” during last year’s BCS National Championship Game. “I think it’s safe to say that we will never wear gloves with anything on it again,” Sanzenbacher said.
Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee doesn’t take himself seriously. As a result, he’s made comments about football that have placed him under scrutiny — remarks that he’s later regretted. Gee told The Lantern editorial board on Wednesday that he regrets making a statement at a March 8 press conference in which football coach Jim Tressel apologized for withholding information vital to an NCAA investigation. When asked at the press conference if any thought had been given to firing Tressel, Gee replied, with a chuckle, “I hope he doesn’t fire me.” The sarcastic statement overshadowed the meandering speech Tressel offered minutes earlier. “I sometimes need to extricate my foot from my mouth,” Gee told The Lantern editorial board. “I admit that. But I have been that way for 30 years.” It’s not the first time this academic year that Gee has apologized for a football-related comment. On Nov. 24, 2010, Gee told the Associated Press that Boise State and TCU, both undefeated at the time, didn’t deserve to play in the BCS Championship. “Well, I don’t know enough about the X’s and O’s of college football,” Gee told the AP. “I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it’s like murderer’s row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day.” Gee told The Lantern in January that he would try to censor his sports talk. “I’m being more careful about what I say about sports,” Gee said. “University presidents, particularly of large universities, particularly of this institution, lose their First Amendment rights.” Gee said his personality is to blame. “I have fun doing what I’m doing,” he said, “and the minute that I wake up in the morning, if I’m not enjoying myself and having fun, then I’m going to get out of the business. That’s how I’ve survived for 30 years. It’s just a way for me to deal with issues. “I take my work very seriously. I do not take myself very seriously. I never have, never will.” OSU suspended Tressel for the first two games of the 2011 season and fined him $250,000. Tressel later increased his own suspension to five games. Attorney Christopher Cicero emailed Tressel between April and June 2010 with information regarding several OSU football players making contact with the owner of Fine Line Ink tattoo parlor, Eddie Rife, who was under legal investigation for drugs. Tressel kept the information to himself. The NCAA suspended quarterback Terrelle Pryor and five other players on Dec. 23 for selling memorabilia to Rife and receiving discounted tattoos at the parlor. Gee said his opinion of Tressel never wavered, despite the coach’s wrongdoing. “Jim Tressel, I think, is a very fine person, and I have great faith in him as both a coach and an individual,” he said. “That’s the reason that we decided to suspend him and not do anything more.”
Redshirt-junior guard Amy Scullion (25) looks for a shot during a game against Michigan Jan. 5 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 64-49.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorComing off its biggest win of the season against then-No. 17 Purdue at home Thursday, the Ohio State women’s basketball team failed to build on the momentum, falling to Michigan 64-49.As things got underway at the Schottenstein Center, OSU (11-7, 1-1) struggled to shoot the ball, only shooting 6-32 from the field in the first half. The Buckeyes headed into the break trailing 25-13 and were unable to recover in the second half.OSU coach Kevin McGuff said it was tough to lose after the game, especially to rival Michigan, on the heels of a big win.“It’s tough. It’s disappointing because all the things we were so good at on Thursday, all the things we can control we didn’t today,” McGuff said. “And that’s not to give Michigan credit because they played well and they deserved to win the game based on their effort and execution, but I was very disappointed in how we responded to a great win on Thursday.”The 13 points were a season low in a half for OSU, who also shot eight percent from beyond the arc in the game’s first 20 minutes.Despite starting the second half with a bucket on the team’s first possession, things did not improve for OSU as the game progressed.It was tied for the lowest total OSU has put up this season, only scoring 49 three times against Georgia Nov. 17, Connecticut Dec. 1 and Cincinnati Dec. 15.Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said the key to holding OSU’s offense in check was stopping the guards from penetrating the basket.“We spoke all week about trying to slow them down and trying to really zone up and gap and take away their penetration, take away their ability to get to the free throw line … that was something we really focused on,” Arico said. “Make them have to beat us from the outside.”OSU finished the day shooting 20-64, including only hitting six of 25 shots from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes also struggled turning the ball over, giving it away to Michigan 14 times in the game.Arico said she was content with letting the Buckeyes take a lot of 3-pointers as long as they weren’t getting the easy shot.“Their guards off the bounce, we didn’t think we were going to be able to contain them,” Arico said. “So we were going to try to let them score from the outside and see what happened and tonight they didn’t make as many shots.”Sophomore guard Ameryst Alston led the Buckeyes with 15 points, but was one of only two Buckeyes to reach double figures.OSU’s second leading scorer, sophomore guard Cait Craft, came into the night averaging 9.9 points per contest, but only managed two points against the Wolverines.The Wolverines (10-4, 1-0) were paced by freshman guard Siera Thompson and junior guard Shannon Smith, who scored 18 and 17 points, respectively.Thompson said the team executed its game plan well, which allowed them to pull away from OSU.“We just executed the game plan and my teammates found me and I was trying to be aggressive and attack the bigs and get them into foul trouble,” Thompson said. “Our game plan just worked out today.”It was McGuff’s first Big Ten loss as coach of the Buckeyes, and the loss ends a four game win streak for OSU.The Buckeyes will look to bounce back as they head to Bloomington, Ind., to take on the Hoosiers in their first Big Ten road match, scheduled for Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Then-Temple senior forward Anthony Lee (center) looks for an open teammate during a game against Louisville Feb. 14 at the Liacouras Center. Temple lost, 82-58.Courtesy of MCTFor a time early in Thad Matta’s career as the Ohio State men’s basketball coach, his teams were built around the center position.Terence Dials, Greg Oden, Kosta Koufos, B.J. Mullens and Jared Sullinger were all standout post presences that helped carry the Buckeyes under Matta.But over the last two seasons — since Sullinger left for the NBA after two seasons in Columbus — the Buckeyes have had a bit of a crisis in the post.With junior centers Amir Williams and Trey McDonald — who averaged a combined 9.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last season — trading time down low, the Buckeyes have been forced to rely on their guards and forwards to provide the bulk of the offense.Before a game against Illinois Jan. 23, Matta said having Williams playing at his best is something the team desperately needed.“We need Amir to play well,” Matta said. “We need Amir to play consistently on both ends. We gotta get him back to tracking the ball, we gotta get him back to blocking shots more actively around the rim in terms of challenging shots … When he’s played well, we’ve played well. I know that.”But ever since the end of the 2013-14 season came at the hands of Dayton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament March 20, Matta has been on a warpath to help improve his team’s much maligned post players.So far, it has paid off.Two players, Temple’s Anthony Lee and Virginia Tech’s Trevor Thompson, have announced their transfers to OSU since the season ended.It was announced Lee would join the program March 29, a day after forward LaQuinton Ross, the team’s leading scorer, announced his decision to forgo his senior season and make the jump to the NBA.In an interview with Cleveland.com, Lee said he joined the program because of Matta’s presence as coach.“He was talking about how much I could have added,” Lee told Cleveland.com March 30. “That if I were on the team, maybe we’d still be playing (this year).”Lee, who averaged 13.6 points per game last season for Temple, is 6 feet 9 inches tall and is more likely suited for the role as a power forward, but said in the interview he’s open to helping the team in any way possible.“I’m a stretch-four, someone who can help out inside or shoot a three,” Lee told Cleveland.com. “It is about expanding my game and helping the team in more than one area. That is really important to me.”Matta has shown his willingness before to switch to a “small-ball” lineup, playing Ross — and, before he left for the NBA, Deshaun Thomas — in the post instead of a true center like Williams or McDonald when they struggled.Although by NCAA rules a player is usually required to sit out a season after transferring, Lee can play immediately as a graduate transfer, since he is set to graduate from Temple in May.Thompson, on the other hand, will have to sit out for the entirety of the 2014-15 season.Although he didn’t play much during his freshman year at Virginia Tech — only averaging five points and 4.7 rebounds in 16.2 minutes played per game — Thompson is 6 foot 11 inches and, compared to Lee, built more as a center.Thompson announced his decision to transfer to OSU from his personal Twitter account, @TrevBallinTrey2.“Well it’s official I’m a Ohio State Buckeye Show Me Love #BuckEyeNation !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Thompson tweeted at 1:29 p.m. April 13.Matta said in an OSU press release April 18 that he is excited to bring Thompson into the program, even if he won’t be able to play until 2015-16.“Trevor has proven he is capable of competing at our level,” Matta said in the release. “He will be a very athletic big man for us. We are looking forward to having Trevor in our program.”2014 recruit David Bell will also look to factor into the Buckeyes post game, coming in as a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com.But another player could prove to be the wild card in the discussion about centers next season.Myles Turner, senior at Trinity High School in Euless, Texas, is a consensus five-star prospect and one of the top players at his position.Turner has yet to declare to a school yet, but has shortened the list to seven teams, one of which is OSU.In an interview with Jeff Borzello of CBSsports.com, Turner said OSU needs help at center and that he likes what Matta is doing as coach.“They need a big as well. They don’t have a true center at this point,” Turner said in the interview. “Coach Matta, I really like him and his whole coaching staff. I’ve talked to them, they’re one of the schools that I’ve talked to the most.”Turner is set to announce his decision April 30, with the final seven schools being Duke, Kansas, OSU, Oklahoma State, Southern Methodist, Texas and Texas A&M.If Matta does manage to bring in Turner, it would bolster an already highly ranked class that includes guard D’Angelo Russell, forwards Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate and Bell.Matta said back in November that he was happy with the way the class was shaping up.“(I’m) just very, very excited about this class,” Matta said Nov. 13. “I think the biggest thing with this particular class is we got what we wanted.”Whoever it is that does take the reins for OSU at center next year likely will be helping the team attempt to improve on its earliest postseason exit since the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
Junior Kevin Metka returns the ball during a match against North Carolina Feb. 28 at the Varsity Tennis Center. OSU won, 4-1.Credit: Ben Jackson / For The LanternFour match points for the Volunteers proved to be one too many for the Buckeyes.The Ohio State men’s doubles duo of senior Peter Kobelt and redshirt junior Kevin Metka fell in the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Doubles Championship Monday afternoon in Athens, Ga., to Hunter Reese and Mikelis Libietis of the University of Tennessee in three sets, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3), 6-7 (6).The match was a close one, as each set was determined in a tie breaker, with Kobelt and Metka falling just short of the title.After losing the first set, thanks to the match’s first tie breaker, the Buckeyes found themselves in an hole as the Volunteers had multiple opportunities to secure the second set and the National Championship with a single point.OSU fought its way back and forced another tie breaker in the second set, this time earning the win in the tiebreaker and sending the match into the third set.Kobelt and Metka got an early lead in what proved to be a back-and-forth final set, before the Volunteers forced yet another tie breaker – this one to determine the National Champion.In the tiebreaker, Libietis and Reese took a quick 3-0 lead, but the Buckeyes bounced back yet again and staved off another match point to tie things up at 6-6.A Tennessee winner forced the Buckeyes to fend off another match point, but Libietis and Reese proved to be too much as they earned the elusive match point and won the National Championship.Kobelt was a win away from holding the single-season school record of 45 wins, but remains tied for the top-spot with Chase Buchanan, who played for the Buckeyes from 2008 to 2012. Kobelt also holds the OSU record for most career doubles wins with 142 career victories during his four years in Columbus.
Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff and Tommy Bain, chairman of the Stadium Events Organizing Committee speak at a press conference to announce the events surrounding the National Championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Aug. 29.Credit: Courtesy of MCTJust two months ago, the Ohio State football team was ranked in the Associated Press top five with a Heisman trophy candidate at quarterback, and it had been picked by many to appear in the first-ever College Football Playoff.My, how things have changed.Some expected the worst following senior quarterback Braxton Miller’s season-ending shoulder injury while others remained optimistic that the Scarlet and Gray could still make a run at a national title. As of now, neither group is right or wrong.The Buckeyes currently sit at 4-1 (1-0) and are tied atop the East Division of the Big Ten. Outside of a less-than-impressive performance in a 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech, redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett has filled in admirably for OSU, and should his play continue, there is an outside chance that he could still lead his team into a national semifinal game.On the other hand, things could very easily go south for the Buckeyes.Following a homecoming matchup with Rutgers on Oct. 18, OSU is scheduled to play three straight night games, two of which are on the road and in traditionally hostile environments.Trips to State College, Pa., and East Lansing, Mich., loom as the Buckeyes’ biggest regular season tests. And how Barrett handles himself during those games could be the difference between staying in playoff contention, and watching the Big Ten title game from the couch.There is no denying that the Buckeyes seem to be hitting full stride, but once again the poor strength of schedule rears its ugly head. Who have the Buckeyes really played that jump off the page? The only game I can think of is the matchup with the Hokies, and if you ask me, that game could have been a lot uglier for Barrett and company.Think of what we could be talking about had OSU beaten the Hokies. There is a good chance the Buckeyes could be ranked as high as No. 3 in the country, as everyone ranked in front of them prior to the Virginia Tech game aside from Florida State and Auburn has since lost.Think about if the Buckeyes had prepared for the bear defense the Hokies threw at them like they have since. OSU senior wide receiver Devin Smith said following a win against Maryland that he is surprised teams still line up in that defense because of how successful the Buckeyes have been against it since the Virginia Tech game.If you thought you would hear that kind of statement anytime after the way things unfolded in Columbus on Sept. 6, give yourself a pat on the back.So as the Buckeyes sit on the outside looking in for now, don’t count them out just yet, but don’t pencil them in either.Just sit back, (try to) relax and enjoy the remainder of the college football season.
Coach Steve Rohlik addresses members of the OSU men’s hockey team during a game against Michigan on Feb. 20 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 5-3.Credit: Isabelle Beecy / Lantern photographerAs the Ohio State men’s hockey team got set to take on the Michigan Wolverines for the last time in the regular season, the Buckeyes were looking to improve on the ice with improved preparation.“We practiced a lot better this week then we did last week. Preparation is key,” coach Steve Rohlik said. “You win the game Monday through Thursday, and we didn’t do that last week. If we continue to do well in practice, we have a better chance at success.”The Buckeyes had a bit of success as they split the home-and-home series with the Wolverines. On Sunday, the Buckeyes traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., to play in Yost Arena, where they lost to the Wolverines, 5-2. Sunday was the polar opposite of Friday night as the Buckeyes couldn’t rally against an aggressive Wolverine defense. Sophomore goalie Christian Frey was in the net for OSU both nights and recorded 54 saves total over the weekend. “(Frey) has literally given us a chance this second half (of the season). He looks comfortable, confident, he’s made some great saves for us,” Rohlik said. “He’s given us a chance every game he’s been in, and if we can go out there, chip away and score some goals, I like our chances.” The Buckeyes were unable to gain offensive momentum throughout the game and struggled to finish against Michigan junior goaltender Steve Racine. The Buckeyes rallied in the third with goals from senior captain Tanner Fritz and junior forward Tyler Lundey, but it wasn’t enough to make a comeback. OSU and Michigan were fairly even in shots, but Racine held the advantage with 28 saves. With freshman Dylan Larkin and senior Zach Hyman taking the lead, the Wolverines were able to break down the Buckeye defense. Going into Sunday’s matchup, Michigan looked to improve its defensive effort, after OSU was able to bury five goals in Friday’s game. OSU celebrated a 5-3 victory over the No. 15 Wolverines in the series opener at the Schottenstein Center, giving the Buckeyes their first win over Michigan since 2011. Senior forward Matt Johnson proved be an offensive leader for the Buckeyes, scoring two goals in the first period. Fritz also found the back of the net and recorded his 100th point as a Buckeye.Senior forward Darik Angeli also tallied one for the Buckeyes, scoring off a one-timed slap shot to give OSU the 4-2 lead. In the third period, Michigan pulled its goalie, and sophomore forward Nick Shilkey scored his seventh goal of the season on the empty net. “This was the best win for us all year. When you don’t win as many games as you would like to, it could go one of two directions. I think we had some good talks this week as a team and I think we put in the best week of practice,” Rohlik said. The Buckeyes are looking to gain some momentum as they prepare for a matchup against the second-ranked team in the Big Ten, the Penn State Nittany Lions, on Friday in Columbus.Johnson said Friday’s game was a step in the right direction, but added OSU needs to continue to play that well every night. “Once you start playing that way, it’s kind of contagious,” he said.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Travis Lakins (1) delivers a pitch against Illinois on May 2, 2015. OSU lost, 6-5. Credit: Elliot Gilfix / For The LanternAfter a strong regular season concluded with a rocky finish, the Ohio State baseball team is looking to find its way again in time to play deep into the postseason.OSU (35-18, 13-11) lost eight of nine Big Ten games to wrap up the regular season after starting 12-3. Those included sweeps at the hands of Illinois and Indiana, with a lone victory against Maryland sandwiched in between.Senior catcher Aaron Gretz said despite the results of the last three weekends, the team is not far off from where it was when it entered the national rankings in late April.“We played some really good competition,” he said. “I don’t think we got outplayed, we were just a couple runs short, a couple plays here and there, and it’s completely different games.”After concluding the regular season with a double-header sweep at Indiana, Gretz and his co-captain, fellow senior catcher Connor Sabanosh, called a players-only meeting to get things straightened out.“Aaron and I got the guys together and just kinda said ‘Look, we have to take a deep breath and relax. The season’s over now, we’re in position to win the Big Ten tournament, we can hang with any of the eight teams here,’” Sabanosh said.Gretz said the team had been playing with a chip on its shoulder all season after being picked 10th in the Big Ten in the preseason coaches poll, but it lost some of that edge once it began to gain respect. Gretz attributed the loss of that edge as a reason for the recent struggles, and something the Buckeyes need to find again before their season is over.“It’s a team thing,” Gretz said about where the team has been deficient the last three weeks. “We’re not hitting as well as we need to, we’re not pitching as well as we need to, we’re not fielding as well as we need to in order to beat those high caliber teams.”OSU will enter the tournament as the No. 7 seed, with a first-round matchup against second-seeded Iowa (38-14, 19-5), whom OSU did not meet with during the regular season.The double-elimination tournament will then see OSU play either the winner or loser of No. 3 Michigan and No. 6 Indiana, depending on the results of OSU’s game.OSU coach Greg Beals said sophomore right-hander Travis Lakins (4-4, 3.99 ERA) will take the mound against the Hawkeyes, who are scheduled to counter with junior right-hander Tyler Peyton (6-4, 3.32).Lakins is set to be followed by senior left-hander Ryan Riga (5-3, 3.10) in the second game.If OSU avoids elimination in the first two games, however, Beals is not sure who will get the start. He said sophomore left-hander Tanner Tully, who gave up eight runs in each of his final two starts, is dealing with forearm soreness and will be re-evaluated later in the week.If Tully is unable to go, Beals said it will be redshirt freshman right-hander Adam Niemeyer getting the nod.Another injury to OSU’s pitching staff came at Youngstown State on May 12, when freshman Jacob Niggemeyer left the game after just three pitches.Beals said the right-hander suffered a shoulder injury and will not be available in the Big Ten tournament.Despite the flood of injuries and the recent high level of competition, Beals said he believes it is a mental issue more than anything holding the team back in recent weeks.“We haven’t played loose and relaxed these last couple weeks,” Beals said. “I challenged our guys to get the stranglehold off themselves, relax, trust that they’re good players, trust that this is a good team, and this is a great opportunity ahead of them in the tournament and the possibility of NCAA tournament also.”Gretz said the team is feeling less pressure heading into the tournament — and is prepared to take its coach’s challenge.“We’re ready, we know what it takes and we’re going to get it done,” Gretz said.First pitch in OSU’s Big Ten tournament opener against Iowa is set for 2 p.m. on Wednesday at Target Field in Minneapolis.
OSU freshman midfielder Sarah Roberts (10) controls the ball during a game against Bucknell on Sept. 13 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won 2-0. Credit: Carlee Frank / For The LanternThe Ohio State women’s soccer team hit the road for a set of games, collecting a victory at Iowa and a loss at Nebraska. The Buckeyes traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, for a Friday evening matchup, beating the Hawkeyes 3-1. Junior forward Nichelle Prince was responsible for two of the Buckeyes’ three goals.Prince connected on her first strike in the 34th minute after she dribbled past a duo of Hawkeye defenders and launched the ball 25 yards out that slammed into the bottom of the crossbar before getting past Iowa’s goalkeeper.Within the next two minutes, however, the Hawkeyes answered when senior forward Brooke Backes shot one past OSU redshirt junior goalkeeper Jillian McVicker off of an assist from junior defender Rachele Armand. OSU headed into halftime with a 10-5 advantage in total shots, including a 6-1 edge in shots on goal.Sophomore midfielder Nikki Walts was the next to put a point on the board for the Buckeyes when she converted a free kick from 20 yards out.The Scarlet and Gray then put the game away when Walts found Prince in the 84th minute to give the Buckeyes a 3-1 victory.Looking to continue its winning ways, OSU traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska, for a Sunday afternoon tilt, in which the Buckeyes fell to the Cornhuskers 2-0. The Cornhuskers got off to a hot start that was too much for the Buckeyes to recover from.Junior midfielder/forward Courtney Claasen found the back of the net just five minutes into the game, as she slotted one past McVicker from the right side. Two minutes later, Nebraska registered its second and final goal of the game.OSU held a 15-13 advantage in total shots — 8-6 on goal — but was unable to find the back of the net as Nebraska sophomore goalkeeper Erika Johnson kept a clean sheet to preserve the victory.The Scarlet and Gray emerge from the weekend at 6-3-2 on the season and 1-2-1 in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes are next scheduled to travel to Champaign, Illinois, on Friday to play the Illinois Fighting Illini. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh appeals to an official during the third quarter against Ohio State at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. on Nov. 25, 2017. Ohio State won, 31-20. Credit: Courtesy of TNSJim Harbaugh has coached Michigan to this point before. In 2016, Michigan’s head coach guided his Wolverines to Columbus with only one loss and a No. 3 ranking in the College Football Playoff rankings. In his second season at the helm, he exceeded expectations, and Michigan finally looked better than Ohio State.Yet, the Wolverines lost.In 2017, Michigan hosted an Ohio State team that had two losses and again, looked like a vulnerable titan.Still, the Wolverines lost.Now, Harbaugh has guided the team to the brink again. His Wolverines are No. 4 in the nation. They are in a position to win the Big Ten East with a victory Saturday. They are favored against the Buckeyes. “I think this season ends up, kind of, all for not if you don’t win the Big Ten. If you don’t beat Ohio State. If you don’t go to the playoff,” Cody Stavenhagen, The Athletic’s Michigan beat writer, said. “One guy had told me that the trajectory of Michigan football has almost been sisyphean, so to the point where every time you think it’s getting better, you think Michigan is making progress, something happens. It doesn’t quite get there.”In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was punished by being forced to roll a boulder up a hill just for it to roll down at the end of the day, leaving him to repeat the act for the rest of time.Harbaugh has always been able to push that boulder up the hill. He’s led the Wolverines to more success now than they ever found under former head coach Brady Hoke. But every year, that last week of the season, the Buckeyes push that boulder back down the hill, leaving him to start again the next campaign.This Michigan team found the missing piece it has lacked in the past years of the Harbaugh era: a quarterback. Shea Patterson, a former top-rated quarterback recruit, has completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 2,177 yards and 18 touchdown passes. He has only thrown four interceptions. Patterson has also rushed for 255 yards on 60 carries, punching in two touchdowns on the ground.In the past, Michigan has had the defense, the receivers and the running backs. It just didn’t have the signal-caller. Now, it has Patterson.“The defense is still the backbone of this Michigan and Karan Higdon in the running game is really what the offense is centered around,” Stavenhagen said. “But just the knowledge that Michigan has a quarterback with some unique abilities, capable of making plays, capable of making big throws on third down or in the fourth quarter… I think that really changes kind of the whole vibe of this team.”With a defense that ranks among the top in the nation statistically, Michigan has all the pieces needed to come into Columbus and beat a struggling Ohio State team that was humiliated by Purdue and surrendered 51 points to Maryland, a team that scored three against Michigan State.It has been a long time since Michigan entered the matchup truly optimistic to win against Ohio State. Michigan Daily sports editor Max Marcovitch said it’s been rare in the past 15 years that Michigan has been regarded as a better team, and fans know this is the case.“I think Michigan fans are recognizing that if it’s ever going to happen, if the program is ever going to turn the corner and sort of get to that level at the top of the Big Ten, that this kind of has to be the year,” Marcovitch said.A loss, and this season is a wash. It’s another season during which Harbaugh pushed the boulder up the hill, but couldn’t get it over. To Wolverine fans, it is another lost season.“I certainly think you can’t call this a successful season at this point unless Michigan beats Ohio State and wins the Big Ten,” Marcovitch said.A win, and Harbaugh has just one hurdle to push his boulder over, at least for 2018. The winner of Ohio State and Michigan will go on to face Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game. Harbaugh has never made it to that game, having watched Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, Penn State’s James Franklin and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer all hoist that trophy during his tenure.Michigan would be heavily favored to beat Northwestern, a 7-4 Big Ten West champion of the considerably weaker half of the conference. Beat Ohio State. Win the Big Ten. Reach the College Football Playoff. All would be firsts in the Harbaugh era. Everything else after that in 2018 would just be gravy.“A Big Ten championship and a College Football Playoff appearance would be a huge success, especially after the way this season started,” Marcovitch said. “And anything beyond that I think is extra. Now if you ask fans that two weeks from now and Michigan’s playing Alabama, a lot of them will have talked themselves into it.”The boulder is back up the hill. The question remains: Will Harbaugh be able to get it that one step further, or will he watch in dismay as it rolls back down, waiting to be moved again in August 2019?
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Experts say the oil that has escaped so far has been dispersed or evaporated and has not polluted the shoreline.Meanwhile, Don Mackay, of the local community association, said it was “highly regrettable” that representatives of the rig’s owners, the coastguard, the salvage company trying to rescue the structure, and the UK Government official in charge of the operation had not attended the meeting. A coastguard helicopter winches a salvage expert on boardCredit:PA Fishermen are planning to claim compensation after being prevented from entering lobster grounds due to an exclusion zone around a grounded oil rig in the Western Isles.The semi-submersible rig, Transocean Winner, was being towed from Norway to Malta, and then to Turkey to be broken up, when it was blown ashore at Dalmore on the Isle of Lewis during a storm last week.Local residents called at a public meeting on Monday night for the rig to be beached in the area and scrapped locally to provide jobs on the island.There was also a warning from a fishermen’s leader that the grounding was an “accident waiting to happen”. Police and coastguard at a road leading to Dalmore beachCredit:PA He added: “If that had been an oil tanker there would have been further devastation along the whole west coast.”From a marine point of view it was expected to happen sometime. It was bound to happen.”The main fear is that it will be stuck there, that’s the biggest fear we have. There’s no point in towing it away if its going to sink.”Around 12,000 gallons of diesel escape from two tanks that were ruptured on the rig, after a tow rope become detached from a tug during the storm, and Mr MacInnes said he also had concerns about heavy duty oil that may still be on board. From a marine point of view it was expected to happen sometime. It was bound to happenDuncan MacInnes, Western Isles Fishermens’ Association They are expected to attend another public meeting in the same hall on Thursday, when they say they will give an up to date assessment of the situation.Donald MacLeod, a Western Isles councillor, called for the rig to be dismantled at the Arnish fabrication yard near Stornoway.He added: “It should be towed to Arnish and scrapped and create at least 100 jobs over 12 months instead of towing it half way around the world.”Smit Salvage has confirmed that another two diesel oil tanks in the hull are intact and there are plans to transfer the oil to separate tanks above the water line.There is not expected to be any attempt to refloat the rig until near the end of the month. Duncan MacInnes, secretary of the Western Isles Fishermens’ Association, said a 300 metre exclusion zone around the 17,000 tonne rig meant that at least four lobster boats could not currently work the area and would be seeking thousands of pounds in compensation.He added that the rig was using the route west of the islands that was recommended by the UK Government and claimed that “nobody in their right mind would have gone to the west in that weather”.”From the fishing industry point of view, we want them to go through the Minch with compulsory pilotage,” said Mr MacInnes.“There’s cost cutting going on in the oil industry. We have escaped relatively lightly from this. This could happen again if these vessels are allowed to carry on.
Several crew members are missing after a fishing vessel capsized off the Kent coast.The Coastguard is carrying out an extensive search after the boat sank last night with one person found clinging to the hull. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. A spokesman for the service said that a number of crew were unaccounted for.Kaimes Beasley, duty controller for UK Coastguard, said: “One person was found on the upturned hull and rescued but we understand there were other crew on board. We are currently searching for these missing crew with a number of search units.”The Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Lydd, two lifeboats from Ramsgate and the Coastguard Rescue Team from Margate have been scrambled to join the search.A Coastguard spokeswoman said she could not confirm the nationality of the vessel or how many people were missing.She added: “The search is concentrating on an area around where the boat was found – north-east of Ramsgate through to the mid-Channel.” Ongoing search for missing crew of fishing vessel off Kent coast. https://t.co/a6xy576fPp— Maritime&Coastguard (@MCA_media) December 28, 2016
LSE’s interim director, Professor Julia Black, said that the “challenges around TEF and the limits to the measures it employs” were “well documented”. Dr Tim Bradshaw, acting director of the Russell Group, which represents 24 of the best universities in the country, said there was “more work to be done” to improve the system. But Professor John Latham, vice-chancellor of Coventry University, which received a gold ranking, said that the results marked a “new order” for higher education.”It’s a clear message that universities must work harder for a recognised environment of success and that students are looking for more than historic reputation,” he added.Madeleine Atkins, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which published the results, said: “Students currently invest significant amounts of time, and indeed money and incurring debt in their higher education. “They are quite right to expect a high quality academic experience.” Some of Britain’s top universities have slid to the bottom of the pile under new official rankings which place greater weight on student satisfaction. Under the new system universities are rated gold, silver or bronze based on measures including student experience, employment after university and dropout rate. London School of Economics, the 25th best university in the world according to the Times Higher Education university rankings, received a bronze award.University College London, the 15th best university in the world according to the same rankings, received a silver award, the same level as Wrexham Glyndwr and London Metropolitan University, which came second and third from the bottom in this year’s Complete University Guide. More than half of the Russell Group institutions that entered also missed out on the top rating, including Queen Mary University of London, which received a silver award, and Liverpool University, which received bronze status. Liverpool said it was “disappointed” with its award.The Teaching Excellence Framework was introduced by universities minister Jo Johnson in 2015 amid Government concerns that universities were too focused on research at the expense of teaching. This is the first year that results have been published. Of those who entered, 26 per cent gained a gold award, 50 per cent were rated silver and 24 per cent achieved bronze. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Sir Anthony Seldon said the ratings would improve teaching standardsCredit:Rii Schroer Modern universities, many of whom received gold awards, hailed a “new order” in higher education. Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, told the Telegraph that he thought the new ratings would be “the biggest single catalyst to good teaching that the university sector has ever had”. The university said it had come top in the country after receiving the highest possible award in all six categories.The private university, which receives no state funding, has just 2,000 students. But the rankings have been controversial among other university leaders, who have complained that they are not an accurate measure of teaching standards and place too much weight on student opinion, including the National Student Survey. Some have also said that they have been forced to participate because the Government is set to allow only those rated bronze or higher to raise tuition fees in line with inflation from 2018.Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “The Teaching Excellence Framework is opposed by both staff and student organisations and these results will have little credibility within higher education itself. “The fear is that students, beyond the UK in particular, will use these results as the basis for deciding which UK university to attend, which could damage some institutions.”
When Harry and Ms Markle’s choice of wedding venue was announced, the prince’s communications secretary described Windsor as a “very special place” for Harry, and said that the couple had regularly spent time there together during their whirlwind romance. The official range of commemorative china to mark the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan MarkleCredit:Royal Collection Trust “Unbelievably excited” to be entrusted with the job, she was banned from telling anyone, working alone to perfect the invitations.”The worst thing is keeping it from Mum,” she said. “With anything else, she’d be the first person I would call and she’d share in my excitement.”The announcement will fire the starting gun on speculation about royal “snubs”, with the couple expected to focus on family and friends over international dignitaries and statesmen.While Prince William and the then Kate Middleton invited world leaders and diplomatic figures to their Westminster Abbey state wedding, Prince Harry, currently the fifth-in-line, will endure less pressure to be formal.Barack and Michelle Obama have been widely predicted to be invited due to a blossoming friendship with the couple, along with Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, and his wife, while President Trump, whom the former actress has previously criticised, is unlikely to attend. “We are pleased to continue our support of the potteries of Stoke-on-Trent, who have manufactured our previous commemorative wares to celebrate royal birthdays, anniversaries and weddings.”The china can be purchased from royalcollection.org.uk/shop and in Royal Collection Trust shops at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.The big wedding secret I couldn’t tell my mother: The young woman tasked with creating 600 invitationsIt is one of the best-kept secrets in Britain: who will be the lucky few invited to share Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding day from the comfort of a Windsor Castle pew? On Friday, the answer will come, in the form of a thick envelope bearing the mark of the PalaceAs a final guest list was drawn up by the couple and their inner circle, it emerged one young woman has been party to the full guest list, and entrusted with keeping it strictly private.Lottie Small, a 24-year-old former intern at a Royal Warrant-holding printing company, has the duty of creating 600 invitations for the Prince and his bride-to-be. And the hardest part? Not even being allowed to tell her mother.Miss Small, who said she “squealed a little bit” when she was asked to take on the all-important job, only recently finished her apprenticeship with Barnard & Westwood, a printing firm that holds Royal Warrants from the Queen and the Prince of Wales. Miss Small, one of only a handful to know the details before Friday, made 600 die-stamped, embossed invitations for the St George’s Chapel service, which will begin landing on doormats from Friday morning. A few months into the relationship, Harry said he had to have “some pretty frank conversations” with Meghan about how her life may change when she entered the royal family. He added: “But I know that at the end of the day she chooses me, and I choose her, and therefore whatever we have to tackle together or individually we’ll always be us together as a team, so I think she’s capable… she’s capable of anything.” Their day will end with a tour of Titanic Belfast which tells the story of the famous ship, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to the vessel’s maiden voyage and tragic sinking with the loss of 1,500 lives in April 1912.Meghan and Harry have been touring Britain ahead of their May wedding and the prince will introduce his fiance to Ulster during a series of events.Harry and Meghan’s official wedding china goes on saleThe official range of commemorative china celebrating Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding has gone on sale.Cornflower blue with white detailing, the collection features a gold monogram of the couple’s initials side by side, tied together with a white ribbon and surmounted by Harry’s coronet.The decorative border on each piece is inspired by the couple’s wedding venue.It is based on the stylised tree ironwork of the 13th century Gilebertus door of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, where the couple will marry on May 19. The couple are on the latest leg of a tour of the UK that has already taken them to major centres like Edinburgh, Cardiff and Birmingham. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have received a rapturous reception from the young people of Northern Ireland as they began a whirlwind visit.Meghan and Harry’s unannounced trip to Northern Ireland will see them learn the history of the doomed Titanic, when they visit a Belfast visitor attraction telling the passenger ship’s story, and sit down to a lunch in the city’s most iconic pub.The prince and Ms Markle began their day-long visit at the former Maze paramilitary prison outside Lisburn where around 2,500 young people from both sides of the Irish border gathered for a peace-building event.They received a hugely warm welcome from teenagers when they entered an enormous performance arena before watching some of the children deliver their “peace pledges”.The cross-community gathering at the Eikon Centre, which is built on the site of the old Maze prison, saw teenagers share their hopes and dreams of a peaceful and reconciled future on the island. After dining they will go on a walkabout outside the building to meet the people of Belfast. Peter Sheridan, chief executive of event host Cooperation Ireland, welcomed the special visitors and said the youth-led initiative was “integral to the development of a peaceful society in Northern Ireland”.”To have so many young people in one place proactively speaking out in favour of peace and committing to living their lives through peaceful means can only bode well for society, and to have the royal family here to witness it makes it even more powerful,” he said. Its ironwork is in the form of a stylised tree and, unusually for a work of its time, bears a name +GILEBERTVS.The door is one of the few surviving parts of the earliest chapel at Windsor Castle.The official china, which is finished in 22 carat gold, has been hand made in Stoke-on-Trent using 250-year-old methods and techniques.All profits from sales go to The Royal Collection Trust, the registered charity responsible for the care and conservation of the Royal Collection. Meghan Markle clutches flowers as she arrives with Prince Harry in Northern IrelandCredit:Niall Carson /PA ‘All the stars were aligned’: How the couple met St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have their wedding serviceCredit:Dominic Lipinski /PA A decorative miniature coffee mug on sale for £19.95Credit:Royal Collection Trust Lottie Small cuts the crests being used on the Royal wedding invitationsCredit:Victoria Jones /PA At the nearby campus of Northern Ireland’s next generation science park, Catalyst Inc, Ms Markle and Harry will meet some of Ulster’s brightest young entrepreneurs and innovators. Invitations for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding were printed at the workshop of Barnard and Westwood in LondonCredit:Victoria Jones /PA The souvenirs are presented in a cornflower blue gift box with a special card explaining the significance of the design.Nuala McGourty, Royal Collection Trust’s retail director, said: “Royal Collection Trust is delighted to offer the official range of commemorative china to celebrate this happy occasion. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who are getting married in May, in Belfast on FridayCredit:MARK MARLOW /AFP Kensington Palace said: “Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle are visiting Belfast today for their first official joint visit to Northern Ireland.”Throughout the day, Prince Harry and Ms Markle will have the opportunity to meet members of the public, to learn how young people are shaping the future of Northern Ireland, and to visit some of the city’s most loved sites.” From flowers to seating plans, the pair are taking charge of a ceremony designed to incorporate both families, their wide circle of friends, and welcome the public into their lives. Click here for the latest news about plans for their big day. From Friday morning, that inner circle of trusted accomplices will expand to include the postmen and women of Britain, who will deliver the unmistakable envelopes to their recipients. Kensington Palace yesterday confirmed that 600 guests will be invited to the Windsor Castle service on May 19, followed by an afternoon reception in St George’s Hall thrown by the Queen.In the evening, 200 close friends and family will attend Frogmore House for a party thrown by the Prince of Wales. Printed using machinery from the Thirties, the die-cast embossed white card has been issued under the Prince of Wales’s name and bears his heraldic feathers embossed in gold at the top. A to tradition for a couple better known for their modern approach, the invitations are printed in American ink on English paper.Miss Small’s work is likely to meet the approval of the Prince of Wales, with a shared attitude to the preservation of traditional skills and crafts. Originally an intern at the printing company, founded after the First World War by an injured soldier, Miss Small joined the apprentice scheme after gaining a BA Hons in hand embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework. Latest news about plans for Royal weddingHarry, the fifth in line to the throne, and Ms Markle, the US actress, will wed on Saturday, May 19 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. The couple, who announced their engagement in November, are planning their own wedding celebration that “reflects the characters of the bride and groom” Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive for a visit to the Eikon Exhibition CentreCredit:Brian Lawless /PA When the couple first arrived they were greeted by Londonderry students Amber Hamilton, from Foyle College, and Ryan McCallion, from St Joseph’s Boys school, both 17, before meeting a number of dignitaries including Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton.Ms Markle looked stylish in a cream coat and top with a green skirt.Later, the couple will have lunch at the Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast’s atmospheric Victorian gin palace which is filled with a wealth of architectural features and is a major tourist attraction. Harry and his American fiancee will have approved the fine bone china range by the Royal Collection Trust which includes a miniature coffee mug costing £19.95, a standard coffee mug for £25, a pillbox at £35, a tankard for £39 and a plate at £49.The Gilebertus door is rarely used, though hundreds of tourists and visitors to the chapel pass by it every day.The Queen and other members of the royal family use it to enter the chapel when attending some services at St George’s, such as at Easter. A wide circle of friends will make up one of the most extraordinary congregations in St George’s Chapel history, from the Prince’s military friends to Ms Markle’s fellow actors. After announcing their engagement, the couple gave an insight into their 16-month romance in a BBC interview – and described how they met on a blind date set up by a mutual friend.Ms Markle told how she could not wait to say “yes” to the prince when Harry got down on one knee a few weeks ago as they cooked a roast chicken dinner at his home, Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace.Indicating the depths of his feeling for his bride-to-be, Prince Harry said: “The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was sort of confirmation to me that everything, all the stars were aligned, everything was just perfect.”It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life, I fell into her life.” Full interview: Harry and Meghan reveal engagement joy Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.