Bears

CSN's Chuck Garfien Fills Out his NCAA Bracket

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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)!

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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USA TODAY

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.