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Watch Daytona 500 : 61st Annual Race 2019 Live

Daytona 500 : Predictive analytics get better all the time, but every now and then, it’s essential to take a breath and appreciate the uncertainties that remain with us in sports. Competition always involves both skill and luck, and our greatest joys and deepest agonies as fans usually come from watching them collide. In the case of the Daytona 500, coming up on Feb. 17, I mean that literally.

Daytona truly is a place where anyone can win. In 2013, Tim Chartier, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Davidson College, and Brian McGue, then a Davidson student and now a software engineer, studied the order of drivers at various points in a series of NASCAR events. They found that where drivers ranked during Daytona races had essentially no bearing on where they ended up until very late in contests. For instance, the correlation between the standings after 475 miles at the 2011 Daytona 500 and the final results was less than 0.2. “This indicates the position a driver was in with only 10 laps to go had no significance to where he eventually finished the race,” wrote Chartier and McGue.

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Of course, there’s a good reason for this: In 1987, Bobby Allison went airborne, hurtling into a fence and injuring four fans at Talladega. Since then, the circuit has required restrictor plates — which cut the flow of fuel and air into an engine and reduce its horsepower — at its two superspeedways, Daytona and Talladega. With a front straight of 3,800 feet and a back straight of 3,000 feet, Daytona’s oval is long enough that today’s cars could probably break 225 mph if left unimpeded. Instead, restrictor plates keep drivers to a maximum speed of about 195 mph. And when they bunch together, races stay close.

As a result, the level of chaos at Daytona is just extraordinary, inside and outside NASCAR. Consider: MLB teams leading after eight innings have gone 6,296-304 over the past three seasons, for a winning percentage of .954. If you are up by a field goal with five minutes left in an NFL game and you have the ball, first-and-10 at the 50-yard line, your win probability is 84.6 percent, according to Pro Football Reference. In most leagues, the best teams build leads that almost (though not quite) always hold up. But 95 percent of the way through the Daytona 500, you typically can’t tell how the drivers are going to place! As far as I can tell, it’s the most random major sports event in America.

The best strategy for drivers at Daytona might be simply to try not to crash for 480 miles or so and only then start to maneuver. But it’s not clear even that is possible.

Avoiding pileups in plate races might not be a persistent talent. In 2015 and 2016, for example, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano won a combined five races in 16 Cup events at Daytona or Talladega, leading to speculation they had figured out how to work the superspeedways. In 2017 and 2018, however, Keselowski and Logano suffered eight crashes and finished 20th, on average, at the same tracks. Moreover, accidents are swallowing up more vehicles, as drivers have tried to exploit bunching. In the past two years, cars running in the top six at Daytona were caught in nearly half of multicar crashes, up from just 15 percent before 2017, according to David Smith, who runs the Motorsports Analytics website. “As teams became aware of the safe space the front of the field provided, they placed their focus on moving from the middle to the front,” Smith says — and suddenly, that space isn’t as safe as it used to be.

An entire sport couldn’t run with this degree of randomness — even in your weekend softball league, you want some assurance that results reflect talent and performance. But winning laps at Daytona still counts toward the season’s standings, so there’s incentive for drivers to try to do well, even if they are more prone to losing leads or crashing. And beyond Daytona, the correlation between driver position during races and final standings is much stronger at other tracks. Within the overall context of NASCAR, this one crazy race works for old-school and more casual fans alike. Come for the tradition, stay for the unpredictable fun — or vice versa.

The NBA playoffs and NFL draft will be here soon enough — and NASCAR is lifting its restrictor-plate rules in April. So give yourself a valentine: Enjoy this Daytona 500 without worrying a whit about who’ll win. Because the numbers say nobody knows.

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Andrade vs Akavov

Andrade vs Akavov : Andrade (26-0 16KOs) puts his WBO 160lb crown on the line for the first time against the Russian in New York, and the two-weight World ruler is eager to kick off 2019 with a bang having returned to the ring in style in 2018.

The Rhode Island star picked up the WBO crown with a commanding win over Walter Kautondokwa in Boston in October, flooring the undefeated African dangerman four times in the opening four rounds in his first fight in a year and his first title bout at 160lbs.

Andrade steps straight back into action and face-to-face with the ‘Wolverine’ Akavov (19-2 8KOs), who fights for the strap for the second time having ran previous incumbent Billy Joe Saunders close for the belt December 2016 in Glasgow.

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“I’m out there trying to fight the undefeated guys, the champions, that’s what I want,” said Andrade. “I get in there with anyone at 160lbs – and I beat them all. It’s the time for the elite to fight each in 2019, people want to see me fight the big names and I want them.

“It’s going to happen, I am here, I’ve got the World title and I want the best. Akavov is coming to New York to take that title from me so I know that I have to be on my game as he’s a dangerous man, but trust me, when I shine on January 18, we’re going for all the big names next.

“My first fight was meant to be Saunders – an undefeated champion – and then I beat another undefeated fighter to win the title. That’s what I am about and that’s what I want my year to be, champion vs. champion, Demetrius Andrade vs. the best out there.”

One of Matchroom Boxing USA’s rising stars tastes his first action in 2019 on the card as Reshat Mati (2-0 1KO) returns to the scene of his last outing in October where the ‘Albanian Bear’ went the four round distance in his second fight.

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Jennings vs Rivas

Jennings vs Rivas : He’s paired with Philadelphia’s Bryant Jennings, a guy who has taken on Wladimir Klitschko and Luis Ortiz. Both were losing efforts but the former was a game performance. It’s a big jump.

Jennings, like Rivas, wants to press and get behind the jab. He doesn’t mind mixing it up and displays a craft you often see of Philly fighters. “By-By” has long arms (84” reach) for his height (6’3”), too. This, at least on paper, looks as if it may provide enough sustained action to keep a fan’s attention, on top of some adjustments so as not to be a sloppy brawl.

Jennings is coming off of a busy 2018 where he fought three times in the calendar year. In his previous bout, Jennings took on Alexander Dimitrenko in a tougher than expected match. The Philadelphia fighter was knocked down in the fourth round and rallied back scoring three knockdowns en route to a ninth round stoppage victory.

At this time Jennings isn’t considered one of the elite heavyweights in the division who should be up for a title shot. However, his resume is undoubtedly one of the best in the division with victories over Mike Perez and Artur Szpilka.

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In 2015, Jennings took on two of the best heavyweights in the world back to back when he faced Wladimir Klitschko in April of 2015 and ended the year by taking on the perceived most feared heavyweight at the time, Luis Ortiz. Jennings lost to Klitschko via unanimous decision, but had his moments against the future Hall of Famer in a competitive bout.

At age 34, Jennings still has plenty of time in continuing to rebuild his career to earn another world title opportunity. In the heavyweight division, many of the top fighters are in there 30’s giving Jennings more time to perfect his craft rather than keep up with younger opponents.

Jennings does have the height and reach advantage standing at six foot three with an 84-inch reach compared to Rivas standing at six feet with a 76 and a half-inch reach. The goal for Top Rank will be to get Jennings back into contention for a heavyweight title. On Friday night another roadblock will be put in front of Jennings to push down.

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Oklahoma vs Texas Tech

Oklahoma vs Texas Tech

The top four in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll remained unchanged for the third straight week. The rest of the poll, however, underwent major changes after three top-10 teams lost.The Texas Tech Red Raiders climbed to the No. 8 spot on The AP Top 25 Poll for NCAA men’s basketball on Monday.

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Match Info
Oklahoma vs Texas Tech
NCAA Men Basketball
Date : 7 Jan 2019
Start Time : 9:00pm ET
Venue : United Supermarkets Arena
Place : Lubbock, TX
Live/Repeat : Live

They’re a five-man unit,” head coach Lon Kruger said of Tech head coach Chris Beard’s squad. “They’re good individually on the ball. They help each other. They’re very disciplined. Coach Beard does a great job.In the Big 12, the Sooners are second in field-goal percentage defense, allowing an average of 37.5 percent shooting from opponents.

Tech isn’t just first in the Big 12 in that category with 33.4, they were first in the nation through Jan. 1 with 32.8, 2.3 points ahead of second place. The Sooners are just coming off their worst shooting performance this season after they finished 36.2 percent from the field against Oklahoma State.

But a game against the Big 12’s best defense will be a good indicator of how Oklahoma will stack up later on in conference play. After losing a close game at No. 7 Kansas 70-63 a week ago, a win with Oklahoma’s rebounding and better scoring average could go a long way for the rest of the season.

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Purdue vs Michigan State

Purdue vs Michigan State

Conference play is here, which means the upsets are flowing now that teams are being challenged night in and night out.Four of last week’s top 10 teams fell in the past seven days, with all four of those defeats coming on the road, where it’s tough to play no matter who you’re facing. Others, like Michigan State, continue to climb the rankings after using a trip away from home to make a statement.

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Match Info
Purdue vs Michigan State
NCAA Men Basketball
Date : 7 Jan 2019
Start Time : 9:00pm ET
Venue : Jack Breslin Students Events Center
Place : East Lansing, MI
Live/Repeat : Live

The Blue Devils remain the No. 1 team in the land. Now might be an interesting time to mention that Syracuse visits Durham next Monday after playing home games against Clemson and Georgia Tech. The Orange did not receive any votes in this week’s poll; SU likely needs a marquee win against either Duke or Virginia Tech over the next couple weeks to make some AP noise.

Purdue now braces for another tough week on the road, playing at Michigan State on Tuesday and at Wisconsin on Friday. The second half of the season sets up as a quest for such road victories to bolster an NCAA Tournament resume still short on substance away from Mackey Arena.

Prior to the game, a video presentation of Trent’s life and advocacy played on the Mackey Arena scoreboard, prior to a moment of silence. Another from Purdue President Mitch Daniels, played during the first media timeout.