Blackhawks

CSN's Chuck Garfien Fills Out his NCAA Bracket

132270.jpg

CSN's Chuck Garfien Fills Out his NCAA Bracket

Monday, March 15, 2010
6:43 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

One of the most maddening parts of March Madness (for me anyway) is filling out my tournament bracket.

Why?

For one, Ive always been a sucker for picking upsets.

Sometimes this strategy works perfectly. Like in 1996, when I correctly picked No. 13 Princeton to beat No. 4 UCLA in the first round. The Tigers won 43-41. My co-workers were stunned. They hailed me as a basketball genius!

That was until the next round when I erroneously predicted that No. 9 Virginia Tech would knock off No. 1 Kentucky. Not only did the Wildcats win that game 84-60, they went on to win the whole darn tournament, sending my bracket to the closest shredder. Who won the pool? Why that would be our non-sports fan weather forecaster who picked Kentucky to win it all because she heard that Ashley Judd went to school there.

Maddening.

Well, this year I have tried a groundbreaking new strategy. Actually, I have two of them.

The first is the Peoples Bracket. I have carelessly gathered the opinions of a wide assortment of people ... CSN Bracketologist David Kaplan, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey, random Chicagoans I ran into on the street in five minutes. I also received the professional advice of Nancy Garfien, my mother.

What this produced was a Final Four consisting of Kansas, New Mexico, Xavier, and Villanova, with 'Nova winning it all. Do I like these picks? No, not at all. Do I have a chance of winning? Yes! At least until the tournament begins when I will probably be asking myself, Why did I listen to that guy from Vancouver who knows nothing about college basketball and go with Xavier? He couldnt even pronounce it!

My second idea was a revolutionary approach that takes no time at all. Fill out a bracket as fast as possible. Dont do any research. Dont get any help. And by all means ... don't think ... ABOUT ANYTHING. It will only mess you up.

With a pen in hand, I flew through my bracket in about 45 seconds. When it was over, I found that I had a trembling hand, a developing blister, and three Big East teams in the Final Four with Kansas winning it all.

Much better.

Click here to see the two brackets. Well see which wins out in the end. Go Musketeers (that would be Xavier)!

Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to Senators for Zack Smith

Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to Senators for Zack Smith

The Blackhawks are spending the next week focusing on their prospects at development camp, but GM Stan Bowman took care of some housekeeping items on the big club on Tuesday when he traded forward Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Zack Smith.

Anisimov had two years left on his contract that carries a $4.55 million cap hit, but his modified no-trade clause was removed on July 1, which opened up more trade possibilities. He was also owed a $2 million signing bonus when the new calendar year opened and his actual salary over the next two years dropped to $5 million total, giving a rebuilding team like the Senators a chance to add a depth forward for a lower price.

Couple that with the fact Anisimov's role with the Blackhawks has diminished over the years and you can see why this traded was made from Chicago's point of view.

"First off, Arty was a great Blackhawk," Bowman said on Tuesday. "We wish him well. I think stylistically they play different games. Both veterans, both have played in the league for a long time. I think Zack brings a different skill set to the table, something that we probably need a little bit more of. He certainly plays with a competitive side to him, plays with an edge. He's had some years in the past where he's scored a lot but I think the thing we like about his game is the versatility and you notice him. He's tough to play against out there."

Smith compiled 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) in 70 games for the Senators last season, and served as the alternate captain during the 2017-18 campaign. He's known to be a power forward, can play a heavy game and has experience playing center or wing. He's also expected to play a role on the penalty kill, an area the Blackhawks have been looking to address all summer long.

"It would definitely be one of the [areas] I consider my stronger points of the game," Smith said on a conference call. "I take a lot of pride in it. I enjoy it, playing against top lines and killing penalties. I think I've improved on that, especially over the last couple years. Talking to Stan and Jeremy [Colliton] this morning, they said the same thing, we want to be more responsible defensively and that's why we brought you in. I'm more than happy to accept that role and help them in any way possible."

The 31-year-old Smith has two years left on his contract that carries a cap hit of $3.25 million. With the trade, the Blackhawks opened up $1.3 million in cap space, which gives them some financial breathing room to make transactions throughout the season and potentially re-sign Brendan Perlini, who remains an unsigned restricted free agent.

"I think that was part of the deal as well," Bowman said." A benefit. We do save a little bit on the cap. We still have a little bit of work to do there, but we're looking better now than we were yesterday."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Pro Football Focus: Bears have NFL’s best run defense entering 2019

hicks_thumb.jpg
USA Today

Pro Football Focus: Bears have NFL’s best run defense entering 2019

Pro Football Focus doesn’t seem to expect much regression for the Bears defense, at least when it comes to run defense.

PFF analyst Mike Renner ranked every team’s ability to stop the ground game, heading into 2019, and Chicago remains on top.

The team retained its entire front seven, top-to-bottom, with the exception of Sam Acho, who spent most of last season on injured reserve anyway.

One of the biggest keys, in Renner’s analysis, is Akiem Hicks, who was among Pro Football Focus’ top performers in the running game.

“The former Saint is proving himself one of the best free agent additions in recent memory,” Renner wrote. “His 13.3 run-stop percentage was the second-highest figure of any interior defender in the NFL last season.”

The Bears allowed the fewest rushing yards and rushing touchdowns of any defense last season, and the 3.8 yards per attempt they gave up was fourth best.

With the whole gang back together for 2019, the team is in a great spot to run it back under Chuck Pagano.