Blackhawks

Which teams were left out of Big Dance?

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Which teams were left out of Big Dance?

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Washington and Seton Hall were hoping to get sent anywhere for the NCAA tournament. Instead, they wound up at home with No. 1 seeds in the NIT. Tennessee and Arizona also received top seeds Sunday night for the 75th NIT, which begins Tuesday and concludes with the March 29 championship game at Madison Square Garden. Drexel, snubbed by the NCAA selection committee, got a No. 3 seed and will host Central Florida in the first round. Other notable teams in the 32-team field are Miami, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Nevada, Northwestern and Oral Roberts. Drexel (27-6) and Oral Roberts (27-6) had the most wins among teams not chosen for the 68-team NCAA tournament. Oral Roberts is seeded fourth in the NIT and will play No. 5 seed Nevada in the first round. Washington finished atop the Pac-12 standings, but became the first team to win a regular-season title in a power conference and miss the NCAA tournament. The Huskies (21-10) lost at UCLA in their regular-season finale and then to Oregon State 86-84 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament. "We had control of the situation and we lost it," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. Arizona reached the Pac-12 title game, but lost to Colorado 53-51. The Wildcats (23-11) will host Bucknell (24-9) in the NIT on Wednesday. "I want to fight and get these guys as far as we can," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "If that's New York City in the Final Four of the NIT, great. But it has everything to do with trying to have a magical season to win as many games and compete for championships. I think we all know our next loss will be our last." Nine teams from the Big East received NCAA bids. Seton Hall, seeded 10th in the conference tournament, was left out. Next up, the Pirates (20-12) host America East regular-season champion Stony Brook (22-9) on Tuesday night. Washington plays at home the same night against Texas-Arlington (24-8), the Southland Conference regular-season champion. Oral Roberts, Nevada and Drexel also were among the 11 teams to qualify automatically for the NIT because they won their regular-season conference crowns. Drexel won 19 games in a row before losing to Virginia Commonwealth in the Colonial Athletic Association title game. But a low RPI (in the 60s) and weak strength of schedule number (220s) kept the Dragons out of the NCAA tournament again -- they haven't made it since 1996. "My big thing has always been here at Drexel, I can't get nobody to play me at home," coach Bruiser Flint said. But that's where the Dragons will be Wednesday night when they face sixth-seeded UCF (22-10). Drexel, in the NIT for the first time since 2007, is a sparkling 13-0 at home. The NIT field includes 24 teams with at least 20 wins and five schools from the Atlantic 10 Conference. One of them is Dayton, the 2010 NIT champion. Washington and Arizona are joined by two other teams from the Pac-12, Oregon and Stanford. Both received a No. 3 seed. Northwestern, still seeking its first NCAA tournament invitation, is headed to its fourth straight NIT. The fourth-seeded Wildcats (18-13) will host No. 5 seed Akron (22-11) in the first round Tuesday night. The Zips entered the Mid-American Conference tournament with the top seed and lost 64-63 to Ohio in a wild final. 'One thing that hasn't happened here, I don't think there's ever been a postseason champion in basketball, and so we're going to play to win a championship," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. Wichita State beat Alabama in last year's NIT championship game.

Adam Boqvist's entry-level contract with Blackhawks officially kicks in

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AP

Adam Boqvist's entry-level contract with Blackhawks officially kicks in

The youth movement is underway in Chicago and it's happening quicker than expected.

Adam Boqvist played in his 10th NHL game of the season on Sunday, officially triggering the first year of his entry-level contract. That means he will become a restricted free agent at end of the 2021-22 season. If he appeared in nine games or fewer, his contract wouldn't have kicked in until next season, which would've bought the Blackhawks an extra year of Boqvist playing at a cap hit of $894,167.

"Maybe that was a discussion very early on but as far as coach perspective, we like him," head coach Jeremy Colliton said on whether he and GM Stan Bowman had conversations about burning Boqvist's first year. "I think he's played well and it's an opportunity with some injuries to give him some ice time. He's handled it well so far."

Boqvist is the second rookie on the Blackhawks this season to burn their first year, joining No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach. Whether the decisions were dictated by circumstances or not, the Blackhawks have seen enough of both of them to feel they can have an impact on the team in the short term without hindering their developments in the long term.

The number to watch now is 40. Like Dach, if Boqvist appears in 40 or more games this season, it will count as a full season and bring him one year closer to unrestricted free agency. Any player that's accrued seven full seasons or is at least 27 years old as of June 30 of that respective year can become an unrestricted free agent.

Boqvist appeared in six games for the Blackhawks during the month of November before getting reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on Nov. 14 when Connor Murphy was ready to return from his groin injury.

But with Calvin de Haan (shoulder) expected to be out long term and Duncan Keith still out with a groin injury, the Blackhawks called up Boqvist for insurance and because they lacked defensemen with offensive upside. It appears he will remain with the big club for the time being and it serves as a chance for their No. 8 overall pick in 2018 to prove he can handle NHL minutes on a consistent basis during a desperate time for the Blackhawks.

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Could the Bears have done more to help their offensive line in loss to the Packers?

Could the Bears have done more to help their offensive line in loss to the Packers?

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Mitch Trubisky finished the Bears’ season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers with his second-highest passing yards total of the season (334). The obvious and obligatory caveat: he reached that total on 53 attempts, good for a meager 6.3 yards per attempt.

That point has been central the popular laments of Trubisky and the Bears offense. When things tighten up and the pocket constricts — as happened early and often against a boisterous Packers pass rush on Sunday — Trubisky is often prone to shoddy footwork, erratic backfoot throws and general checkdownery. 

Those themes pervaded Sunday’s game. Kenny Clark, specifically, feasted, notching two sacks on the afternoon and seemingly disrupting every rush the Bears attempted between the tackles. Trubisky completed 29 of his 53 passes, good for a 54.7 completion percentage. 

“I felt like they were pretty good,” Trubisky said. “They had a really good front.”

But it wasn’t an entirely discouraging outing for Trubisky. Embedded in a 13-point team performance that fell woefully short of keeping the Bears’ season alive were the flashes we’ve come to expect from him — flashes that make you wonder if, in the right situations, Trubisky could be capable of helming a potent NFL offense. 

One sequence stands out in this respect: Late in the second quarter, with the Bears trailing 7-0, Trubisky sold a play-action fake and grooved a 33-yard pass to Anthony Miller in stride, taking the Bears down to the Packers’ 28-yard line. The team rushed to the line, then Trubisky ran a timely RPO keeper, on which a fake to David Montgomery opened enough space for Trubisky to scramble for nine yards and into the red zone. 

To that point in the game, the Bears had not run the ball effectively (after the first quarter, Montgomery and Tarik Cohen had combined for -2 yards on five rush attempts). But they’d done enough establishing the run to open up some inventive actions for Trubisky, actions that allowed him to utilize his most valuable asset: his feet. 

It’s no secret he and the Bears offense are at their best and most unpredictable when he’s free and loose. Two of Trubisky’s other most dazzling throws of the day — one an across-the-body sling to Riley Ridley to convert a 3rd-and-5 early in the second quarter, and a play-action rope down the sideline to Allen Robinson in the third — both featured a moving pocket. 

The protection around Trubisky was inconsistent all day, but on plays like those mentioned, he operated with a clean line-of-sight and space to step up into. According to Trubisky, that’s not a matter of coincidence.

“I felt like our O-line played really well. I thought we could’ve taken more pressure off them moving in the pocket a little more and me getting out,” Trubisky said after the game. “We’ve got to continue to find ways to take pressure off our O-line. With a good rush like that, continue to mix it up, whether it’s with screens, running it, draws — all that kind of stuff helps.

“Could’ve done a lot of stuff, yeah,” Trubisky added, when asked if he thought the team could have done more to help the offensive line.

But he also credited the Packers’ defense for making things difficult on them. Matt Nagy did the same.

“There’s some things they did. We know what some of that is, and that’s just week-to-week how that goes,” Nagy said. “We’ve got to find out how to communicate that. Not every week is going to be like last week running the football. That’s just how it goes.”

Juxtaposing those sentiments seems to illustrate a rift between quarterback and coach, which would explain the stilted, hot-and-cold nature of  the Bears’ 2019 offense. As the team now turns the page towards the final chapter of a largely forgettable season, the interplay between Trubisky and Nagy is worth monitoring — even without potential postseason contention to fixate on. 

After all, regardless of your thoughts on either, the most likely scenario for the Bears’ 2020 season involves each of them again dictating the fates. 

As for today, though, the feeling of wanting more stings.

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