Bears

CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

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CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

By Joe Collins & Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

1 Simeon (2-0)

Results: Defeated Hillcrest Saturday 69-51 and Notre Dame 73-53 on Sunday. Jabari Parker had 26 points in the victory over Hillcrest and 22 against Notre Dame.

This Week: Friday vs. No. 13 Farragut.

2 Warren (5-0)

Results: Darius Pauls 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists helped the Blue Devils take down 16th-ranked New Trier on Saturday, 64-46.

This Week: Tuesday at Stevenson; Friday at Mundelein

3 Whitney Young (1-0)
Results: Defeated Kinston High School (NC) 82-61 Friday. Tommy Hamilton has a torn patella tendon and will miss six weeks. How will that impact the Dolphins?

This Week: No games scheduled. Next game 1214 vs. Orr.

4 Proviso East (5-0)

Results: Defeated Raby 79-53 in Springfield Saturday. The Pirates got 13 points and five assists from Keith Carter in the victory.
This Week: Friday vs. Addison Trail

5 Curie (1-0)

Results: The Condors got a scare from Bowman (IN) HS, but survived in an 81-71 overtime thriller Saturday. Devin Foster led all scorers with 30.

This Week: Tuesday vs. Uplift; Saturday vs. Champaign-Centennial (Shootout At The HallChampaign)

6 Downers Grove South (5-1)

Results: Defeated Hinsdale South 58-46 Friday and Oak Park-River Forest 54-44 Saturday.

This Week: Jerron Wilbut, who did not play in the OPRF victory (coaches decision), should be back for Fridays contest at Morton

7 Bogan (4-0)

Results: No games played.

This Week: No games scheduled. Next game 1214 vs. Chicago Vocational.

8 St. Rita (2-0)

Results: Defeated Lake Forest Academy Tuesday 79-61 and De La Salle 66-64 (OT) Friday. Tony Hicks was unstoppable in a huge win against the Meteors.

This Week: Tuesday vs. Marist; Friday at Gonzaga DC Classic

9 Homewood-Flossmoor (4-1)

Results: Defeated Joliet West 60-53 Friday and No. 15 Morgan Park 57-47 Saturday. Maurius Hill, Tyrone Sherman and Delvon Rencher pace the Vikings.

This Week: Friday at Lockport

10 De La Salle (4-1)

Results: Lost to No. 8 St. Rita 66-64 (OT) Friday. Alvin Ellis tallied a double-double (24 points, 12 rebounds), but could not outlast St. Rita. Tough schedule awaits.

This Week: Tuesday vs. No. 13 Farragut; Friday at No. 12 St. Joseph

11 Crete-Monee (3-1)

Results: Defeated Tinley Park 67-45 Saturday. Michael Orris (19 points) and Laquon Treadwell (14 points, 10 rebounds) guide the Warrior attack.

This Week: Friday vs. Rich East, Saturday vs. Notre Dame (Shootout At The HallChampaign)

12 St. Joseph (3-2)

Results: Defeated Hales 59-42 Wednesday. A.J. Patty and Reggie Johnson contained Hales. Can they do the same against De La Salle?

This Week: Friday vs. No. 10 De La Salle

13 Farragut (2-1)

Results: Lost To Harlan 74-72 Saturday, defeated Thornton 71-45 Sunday. No rest for the Admirals as a top 10 team awaits.

This Week: Tuesday at No. 10 De La Salle; Friday vs. No. 1 Simeon

14 Crane (1-0)

Results: Defeated St. Charles North 52-45 Saturday. Willie Conner tallied 28 points and nine rebounds as the Cougars get their first win of the year.

This Week: Tuesday at Seton Academy, Saturday at Peoria HS (River City Shootout)

15 Morgan Park (1-1)

Results: Lost to No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 57-47 Saturday. Billy Garrett scored a game-high 18, but it was not enough to corral the Vikings.

This Week: Saturday at Soldan International (St. Louis, MO)

16 New Trier (5-1)

Results: Defeated Deerfield 46-31 Tuesday, lost to No. 2 Warren 64-46 Saturday. Dartmouth-bound Connor Boehm scored 10 points in the loss to the Blue Devils.

This Week: Tuesday vs. Niles West, Thursday vs. Glenbrook South

17 Andrew (4-0)

Results: Defeated Thornton 58-56 Friday. Jawad Adekoya netted 18 points in a nice road win for the Thunderbolts.

This Week: Friday vs. Stagg

18 Bloom (5-0)

Results: Defeated Plainfield North 62-44 Saturday. The Blazing Trojans outrebounded the Tigers 38-14.

This Week: Tuesday at Thornwood, Friday vs. Rich Central

19 Evanston (7-0)

Results: Defeated Maine East 77-65 Tuesday and Maine South 36-35 Saturday.

This Week: Friday vs. Waukegan, Saturday at Loyola

20 Morton (4-0)

Results: Defeated Willowbrook 68-38. Rocco Belcaster and Walter Perez help the Mustangs get off to a 4-0 start.

This Week: Friday vs. No. 6 Downers Grove South

Looming and Lurking: Oak Park-River Forest, Hyde Park, Oswego, Waukegan, St. Charles North, Notre Dame, Riverside-Brookfield, Seton, North Chicago, Metea Valley

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?