Blackhawks

CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

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CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

By Joe Collins and Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com
1 Simeon (28-1)

Results: Defeated Oak Lawn 63-25 and Vocational 54-30

This Week: Tuesday vs. Whitney Young (4A Argo Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: Jabari Parker and Steve Taylor keep the Wolverines rolling. A great rivalry matchup between two Red-West schools is on deck.

2 Proviso East (28-0)

Results: Defeated Hoffman Estates 63-48 and Glenbard North 51-48

This Week: Tuesday vs. Lake Park (4A Schaumburg Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: Good free throw shooting late in the fourth quarter against Glenbard North keeps the Pirates undefeated.

3 Warren (24-3)

Results: Defeated Hersey 65-50 and Stevenson 57-47

This Week: Tuesday vs. Lake Forest (4A Barrington Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: Nathan Boothe and Darius Paul came up big down the stretch against Stevenson. Another North Suburban-Lake foe awaits.

4 Plainfield East (27-1)
Results: Defeated Wheaton Warrenville South 51-42 and Neuqua Valley 47-45

This Week: Tuesday vs. West Aurora (4A East Aurora Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: Brian Bennetts double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) against N-V was one of the keys in helping the Bengals advance.

5 Bogan (26-3)

Results: Defeated Mount Carmel 65-64 and De La Salle 79-63

This Week: Wednesday vs. Marist (4A Argo Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: Devaughn Johnsons 23 points, part of which coming in a key 25-11 run in the first half, helped offset the 42 scored by De La Salles Alvin Ellis.

6 Andrew (24-2)

Results: Defeated Lincoln-Way Central 54-37 and Marian Catholic 28-25

This Week: Wednesday vs. Homewood-Flossmoor (4A Lockport Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: The Thunderbolts overcame M-Cs slow tempo to win the schools first boys basketball regional title since 1990.

7 Elgin (25-3)

Results: Defeated South Elgin 41-21 and St. Charles East 57-52

This Week: Wednesday vs. McHenry (4A Dundee-Crown Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: Back-to-back regional titles for the Maroons, who got a huge game from Kory Brown (24 points, 12 rebounds) against East.

8 Downers Grove South (23-5)

Results: Defeated Oswego East 69-68 and Hinsdale Central 64-51

This Week: Wednesday vs. Metea Valley (4A East Aurora Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: Kevin Honn (20 points) and Jamall Millison (17) help propel the Mustangs into sectional play.

9 Huntley (26-3)

Results: Defeated DeKalb 40-37 and Larkin 46-42

This Week: Tuesday vs. Rockford-Auburn (4A Dundee-Crown Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: A huge challenge is in the cards for the Red Raiders: Auburns point guard and Wichita State recruit-- Fred Van Vleet.

10 Bloom (26-3)

Results: Defeated T.F. North 41-37 and Sandburg 40-37

This Week: Tuesday vs. Thornton (4A Lockport Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: The Blazing Trojans overcame a 12-point deficit against Sandburg and pulled off another close victory. Donald Moore continues to excel.

11 Hillcrest (23-5)

Results: Defeated Evergreen Park 65-53 and Brooks 79-66

This Week: Tuesday vs. Providence (3A Rich East Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: The Hawks cannot overlook the 17-10 Celtics, who defeated a 25-win Lemont team to advance to Tuesdays semifinal.

12 St. Ignatius (23-5)

Results: Defeated Hope 78-64 and South Shore 79-49

This Week: Tuesday vs. DuSable (3A St. Ignatius Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: The Wolfpack cruise past regionals and now get sectionals on their home floor. Life is good for coach Rick Kehoe and company.

13 Marshall (22-7)

Results: Defeated Montini 60-45 and Westinghouse 77-60

This Week: Wednesday vs. St. Joseph (3A Glenbard South Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: Cris Craig, Milton Doyle, Korbin McClain and Tyrone Hilton all reached double-figures for the Commandos against Westinghouse.

14 New Trier (23-5)

Results: Defeated Niles West 39-35 and Foreman 65-41

This Week: Tuesday vs. Evanston (4A Glenbrook South Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: A scare against Niles West, a blowout, and now a change to avenge a regular season upset by their biggest north shore rival.

15 Marist (25-5)

Results: Defeated Brother Rice 76-61 and Curie 63-62

This Week: Wednesday vs. Bogan (4A Argo Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: Lexus Williams three with two seconds left stuns Curie and gives the Redhawks their ninth win in a row.

16 Curie (25-3)

Results: Defeated Reavis 76-42; Lost to Marist 63-62

This Week: Season Over

Hoops Talk: This was the Condors only loss to an opponent not named Simeon. 6-9 Cliff Alexander should have an outstanding junior season in 12-13.

17 Whitney Young (16-9)

Results: Defeated Richards 60-39 and St. Rita 64-56

This Week: Tuesday vs. Simeon (4A Argo Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: Now that the Dolphins are starting to get healthy, can they get revenge on Simeons 62-55 win back on December 22?

18 Seton (27-4)

Results: Defeated Herscher 59-48 and Leo 48-38

This Week: Tuesday vs. Providence-St. Mel (2A Joliet Central Super-Sectional)

Hoops Talk: The Sting won the state championship in 2009. A well-balanced lineup could have them going back to Peoria at weeks end.

19 St. Joseph (20-8)

Results: Defeated Glenbard South 68-65 and Farragut 58-50 OT

This Week: Wednesday vs. Marshall (3A Glenbard South Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: Reggie Johnson (13 points, six steals, five blocks) and the Chargers overcame 26 points and 11 boards from Farraguts Rashaun Stimage.

20 North Chicago (21-6)

Results: Defeated Fenton 87-41 and Elmwood Park 71-54

This Week: Tuesday vs. Grayslake Central (3A Grayslake Central Sectional Semifinal)

Hoops Talk: The Warhawks, paced by Illinois State recruit Aaron Simpson, have had G-Cs number. But how will they fare on the Rams home floor?

Looming & Lurking: Wheaton St. Francis, Thornton, Metea Valley, Mundelein, St. Viator, Oak Park, Grayslake Central, Homewood-Flossmoor, Ridgewood, Niles North, Orr, De La Salle, Thornwood, Farragut, Riverside-Brookfield, North Shore Country Day, Providence-St. Mel, Hope Academy, York, Grant, Yorkville, St. Patrick.

Watch live: Kirby Dach's Blackhawks introductory press conference

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Watch live: Kirby Dach's Blackhawks introductory press conference

The Blackhawks made a franchise-altering move over the weekend, selecting center Kirby Dach third overall in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Monday, the Blackhawks are holding an introductory press conference for Dach, 18, at the United Center. Here's the important information for those looking to tune-in to the big event:

Time: 11 a.m. CT

Television: NBC Sports Chicago (see channel finder)

Stream: NBCSportsChicago.com or the MyTeams app

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.

Cubs still searching for answers with Brad Brach

Cubs still searching for answers with Brad Brach

The Cubs have some interesting roster decisions to make in the near future. 

The big-league pitching staff is potentially going to get very crowded very quickly with Tony Barnette now added into the mix, Craig Kimbrel close to making his debut and Kyle Hendricks and Carl Edwards Jr. nearing returns from their respective injuries. Somehow, the Cubs will need to open up multiple spots on their pitching staff.

Fans on Twitter are quick to solve the problem by saying "DFA Brad Brach," but it's hardly that simple and also probably not the best course of action for the franchise to cut ties with the veteran reliever.

Yes, Brach has not pitched well in his first season with the Cubs, especially lately — he has given up runs in eight of his last 12 outings and now carries a 6.14 ERA and 1.84 WHIP on the season. 

But there's more than meets the eye with his numbers and both he and the Cubs feel like they're on the verge of getting things in order.

"The most frustrating part is I feel like I've had some of the best stuff I've had in the last couple years these last five weeks and have just not gotten the results," Brach said. "Unfortunately this is a results-driven game, especially in the bullpen. If you're not getting the job done, you're not gonna be out there when the game matters and that's when I love being out there. 

"[The Cubs have] been really good about coming up to me — 'your stuff's there, just one little thing here or there.' But at the end of the day, I just gotta execute it and get the outs."

Brach has given up 32 hits this season, but only 8 of those have gone for extra bases and just 1 left the yard. He's given up homers at the same rate as Aroldis Chapman and among MLB pitchers with at least 20 innings this season, only six other guys have a better HR/9 rate than Brach.

Brach also woke up Monday morning with a .397 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) against him, which is roughly 100 points higher than the league average this season and 107 points higher than his career average (.290). His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is right around his norm (3.73 vs. 3.69 for his career) and has the lowest strand rate of his MLB life so there's an element of bad luck here.

On the other hand, he's also giving up more hard contact and less soft contact than ever before.

After walking 15 batters in his first 12.1 innings, Brach has gotten that under control — he's doled out only 1 free pass over his last nine appearances and 7 total in 17 innings since April.

"It's been really frustrating and it's been waves of frustration," Brach said. "Early in the season, I wasn't throwing strikes, walking a ton of guys and wasn't getting hurt. Now, I'm not walking guys and getting hurt by the single in a year when home runs are dominating the game. 

"It's definitely a frustrating thing. The contact's been pretty weak. Mine was just two rocky games. I just kinda have to look at it like those were two really bad outings and move on and hopefully I can get on a roll here."

Brach has a point there — nearly half of the runs he has given up on the season (8 of 20) came in back-to-back outings against the Rockies on June 5 and June 11, where he was tagged for 4 runs each time while getting only three outs combined.

He also has a long track record of success. Since his rookie season, the 33-year-old has never posted a season ERA over 3.78. From 2012-18, Brach had a 2.92 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 33 saves and averaged more than a strikeout an inning while also spending most of that time as a high-leverage reliever pitching in the AL East.

However, Brach did experience an up-and-down 2018 season (4.85 ERA with the Orioles in the first half, 1.52 ERA with the Braves in the second half) and he has been thinking back to that a lot as he tries to get out of his slump with the Cubs.

"If I didn't have last year's experience, who knows where I'd be right now," Brach said. "Last year was pretty bad, too. Just couldn't get any outs. I was getting hit hard — a lot harder than I have been this year, so at least I know it can turn around."

There's still more than half the season remaining and Brach has exactly the kind of stuff, pedigree and experience to be a valuable bullpen piece for the Cubs down the stretch.

"It's kind of baffling to us from the side," manager Joe Maddon said. "We're trying to really dig into it and see if there's a thread there that we can bring to him. Because you watch him pitch from the side and the stuff is outstanding. It really is — the fastball-changeup-slider mix. 

"It's really hard to wrap your head around it. Some of it, I thought was a little bit of bad luck. Some of it has been late-count hits that he's gotta be a little bit better with 0-2, 1-2 counts. I'm trying to decipher all that. But purely from a physical perspective, he's throwing the ball great and he's not getting the results. And I think maybe then the confidence gets nicked a little bit, also. 

"That's where I'm at with him. I think he's throwing the ball wonderfully, but we gotta figure out — outside of a jam-shot, bad-luck knock every once in a while — what we can do to help him. This guy is such a wonderful team player. Everybody's behind him out there. Every one of us. We gotta figure it out because his stuff's that good."