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 (18-1)

Results: Lost to Findlay Prep 75-50; Defeated Urban Prep 83-39, Vocational 63-42 and Southwind TN 73-54

This Week: Wednesday vs. Bogan, Friday at Harlan

Hoops Talk: The Wolverines get back on track after Mondays humbling defeat. Wednesdays game at 81st & Vincennes could have game-of-the-year potential.

2 Proviso East (16-0)

Results: Defeated Downers Grove South 78-70 and Leyden 70-49

This Week: Saturday at Addison Trail

Hoops Talk: The road to the West Suburban Gold title now goes through Maywood, but Paris Lee and the Pirates are thinking much bigger.

3 Curie (17-1)

Results: Defeated North Chicago 88-80 OT, Lindblom 75-35, Dunbar 69-54 and Whitney Young 59-47

This Week: Monday at Kenwood, Tuesday at DuSable, Thursday vs. Harper, Sunday vs. Leo

Hoops Talk: The Condors are playing eight games in two weeks, but Cliff Alexander, Malcolm Hill-Bey and Devin Foster havent hit the brakes yet.
4 Warren (13-2)

Results: Defeated Downers Grove South 64-63 OT

This Week: Tuesday vs. Stevenson, Saturday vs. Mundelein

Hoops Talk: The last of Darius Pauls 26 points against DGS was the most importantthe free throw with no time left in OT. He also grabbed 12 rebounds.
5 Andrew (13-0)

Results: No games played last week

This Week: Tuesday at Tinley Park, Friday at Lincoln-Way West

Hoops Talk: The Thunderbolts showdown at Thornwood was postponed Friday due to the snow. Andrew is one of the three remaining undefeated teams.
6 Elgin (16-1)

Results: Defeated Huntley 58-44

This Week: Thursday vs. St. Charles North

Hoops Talk: The Maroons get another signature win, thanks to senior Kory Brown. He scored a career-high 30 points against Huntley.

7 Bogan (19-1)

Results: Defeated Morgan Park 59-54 and Bradford WI 69-33

This Week: Tuesday vs. Harlan, Wednesday at Simeon

Hoops Talk: The Bengals could be the talk of the town come Wednesday night. Do they have what it takes to take down No. 1 Simeon?

8 Plainfield East (14-1)

Results: Defeated Naperville Central 66-51; Lost to Larkin 70-67

This Week: Tuesday vs. Glenbard South, Friday vs. Oswego, Saturday at Plainfield South

Hoops Talk: East went scoreless for 3.5 minutes in the fourth against Larkin. Dee Brown, Brian Bennett, Jawan Straughter and company look to bounce back.

9 De La Salle (13-2)

Results: No games played last week

This Week: Tuesday vs. St. Joseph, Friday at Loyola

Hoops Talk: Last Fridays St. Ignatius game rescheduled for 222. Tuesdays game will serve as a rematch from December 9th, won by the Meteors (62-52).

10 New Trier (17-2)

Results: Defeated Buffalo Grove 57-33, Niles West 67-43 and Taft 82-51

This Week: Friday at Glenbrook South

Hoops Talk: Future Ivy-Leaguers Connor Boehm (Dartmouth) and Steven Cook (Princeton) keep the Trevians rolling.
11 Downers Grove South (13-4)

Results: Lost to Proviso East 78-70, Warren 64-63 OT

This Week: Friday at Hinsdale South, Saturday vs. Morton

Hoops Talk: Two games, two losses to top 10 opponents. Jerron Wilbut and Kevin Honn played starring roles against Warren, each scoring 20 points.

12 Huntley (15-2)

Results: Defeated Jacobs 50-37; Lost to Elgin 58-44

This Week: Tuesday vs. Cary-Grove, Saturday at Dundee-Crown

Hoops Talk: Justin Frederick and 6-6 sophomore Amanze Egekeze each had 11 points for Huntley against Elgin, but the Red Raiders couldnt contain Kory Brown.

13 St. Ignatius (14-2)

Results: Defeated Brooks 74-44

This Week: Friday vs. Hales

Hoops Talk: The Wolfpack continue to be one of Chicagolands most balanced teamsfive in double figures Sunday against Brooks.

14 Marshall (18-4)

Results: Defeated Whitney Young 79-75 OT and Madison-Milwaukee WI 67-58

This Week: Wednesday at Orr

Hoops Talk: The Commandos, paced by Korbin McClain and Milton Doyle, are red hot. They are all by themselves in first in the Red-West.

15 Metea Valley (16-1)

Results: Defeated Rich Central 96-88 OT

This Week: Tuesday vs. Bartlett, Saturday at South Elgin

Hoops Talk: Senior guard Kenny Obendorf and the Mustangs have been more than impressive in the programs second year of varsity-level play.
16 Hillcrest (15-4)
Results: Defeated Richards 61-48 and Bremen 66-32; Lost to Farragut 59-53

This Week: Tuesday at Crete-Monee, Friday vs. T.F. North

Hoops Talk: Two nice South Suburban wins, but the Hawks ran into a block party on Sunday. Farraguts Rashaun Stimage stuffed Hillcrest 13 times.

17 Whitney Young (8-7)

Results: Lost to Marshall 79-75 OT, Curie 59-47

This Week: Wednesday vs. Collins, Thursday vs. Soldan International Studies (in St. Louis), Sunday vs. Trinity (in Louisville)

Hoops Talk: Like Downers Grove South, the Dolphins lose two hard-fought games to ranked competition. Paul White continues to complement Jahlil Okafor well.

18 Bloom (14-3)

Results: Lost to Sandburg 47-43 OT

This Week: Tuesday at Homewood-Flossmoor, Friday vs. Rich Central

Hoops Talk: Shocking loss to Sandburg-- a game where the Trojans led by 9 with 1:43 to go. It doesnt get any easier, as a talented H-F team is lurking.

19 Crane (13-4)

Results: Defeated Cody MI 2-0 (forfeit), Collins 69-50, T.F. North 66-62 OT, Tremper WI 53-49

This Week: Wednesday vs. Manley, Saturday vs. Paducah Tillman (Louisville KY), Sunday vs. TBA (Louisville KY)

Hoops Talk: Isaiah Hayes, Chris Davis and Willie Conner help lead Chris Heads team back into the CSN Top 20.

20 Hope Academy (16-2)

Results: No games played last week

This Week: Tuesday vs. Lake Forest Academy, Thursday at Chicagoland Jewish, Friday at St. Benedict

Hoops Talk: Hope, which includes senior forward Torrance Johnson, continues to make waves in the Chicago Prep. But will the team win without Jalen James?

Looming & Lurking: Dunbar, Farragut, Naperville North, West Aurora, Foreman, Herscher, St. Viator, Lemont, Homewood-Flossmoor, Seton, St. Rita, North Chicago, Notre Dame, Crete-Monee.
NOTE: This weeks schedule may change, due to the rescheduling of games from Fridays inclement weather

Breaking down the Bears' 2016 draft class on 'Draft Central'

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Breaking down the Bears' 2016 draft class on 'Draft Central'

With the 2016 NFL Draft in the books, the 2016 Bears are coming into focus.

Sunday night, CSN broke down the weekend that was — a busy one for the Bears, featuring not just the draft but also the addition of a backup quarterback and the subtraction of veterans Matt Slauson and Antrel Rolle.

So where do the Bears stand? Click on the links below to hear from Chris Boden, Jim Miller, Dave Wannstedt and Hub Arkush as they recap the draft and the rest of the Bears' offseason.

— Draft Central: Initial impressions of Bears' draft class

— Draft Central: Scouting first-round pick Leonard Floyd

— Draft Central: Bears move around in Round 2

— Draft Central: A look at the Bears' post-draft depth chart

— Draft Central: Bears release Matt Slauson, Antrel Rolle

— Draft Central: Bears add Brian Hoyer as Jay Cutler backup

Five things we learned about the Cubs in the first month of 2016

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Five things we learned about the Cubs in the first month of 2016

Addison Russell strolled out of the Cubs locker room wearing a baggy pinstriped suit with a smile plastered across his face.

He paused for a second and looked back to see Kris Bryant in his American flag suit (complete with American flag shoes) and the rest of his teammates and coaches following suit.

Russell smiled wider and continued the march toward the team bus to the airport.

This was only hours after the sophomore shortstop committed the costly error that led to the worst team in baseball (Atlanta Braves) notching a series split with the best team in the game at Wrigley Field.

Forget the loss. Move on.

Yeah, the Cubs are feeling good about themselves right now.

As they should.

The Cubs ended April with the best record in baseball (17-5), living up to the hype they created after a wild offseason and throughout a wacky spring training.

Things would have been so much difficult if the Cubs had not gotten off to a hot start in a city that watched the Bulls crash and burn and miss the playoffs while the Blackhawks were knocked out in the first round.

Imagine how the city and its sports fans would have responded if the red-hot White Sox was the only baseball team looking like a contender 1/6 of the way through the season.

As the Cubs face their toughest test of the season to date with seven straight games against two of the best teams in the league (Pirates, Nationals), let's look back at the five biggest takeaways from the campaign to date:

1. Jake Arrieta has picked up right where he left off.

Everybody wanted to know what Arrieta would do as an encore to follow up his 2015 Cy Young season in which he put up the best second half the game has ever seen.

How about 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP and a no-hitter? It's crazy to think Arrieta could be better than he was last season, but he's making it true with each outing. 

At the very least, Arrieta has picked up right where he left off and might well be the best pitcher in the game (though Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale would surely have something to say about that).

2. The pitching staff has carried the Cubs.

Even beyond Arrieta, the Cubs pitching staff as a whole has been fantastic. Only the Washington Nationals have a better team ERA entering play Monday. Cubs pitchers also have a batting average against of under .200, tops in the big leagues.

It helps when Arrieta, Jon Lester and Jason Hammel have combined to allow just 13 earned runs in 94 1/3 innings. John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks haven't been bad, either, as the rotation has recorded 18 quality starts in 23 tries.

The back end of the bullpen has been clicking, too, as Hector Rondon allowed his first run of the season Sunday, while Adam Warren still hasn't given up an earned run in eight innings and Pedro Strop is locked in (2.89 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 13 Ks in 9 1/3 innings).

The Cubs pitching staff has also gotten it done at the plate, driving in eight runs on 10 hits.

"This month was the pitcher," Bryant said. "They were unbelievable and they hit pretty good, too, so they kinda picked themselves up at times. ... The pitchers have carried us the whole month."

3. This team is much improved defensively.

Theo Epstein's front office identified the weaknesses of last year's team that ran into the brick wall that was the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series and one of the main issues was defense — particularly outfield defense.

Gold Glover Jason Heyward's defense has been as good as advertised, with the big free agent acquisition gunning down baserunners and diving all over the outfield.

Dexter Fowler has earned positive grades defensively, too, as the Cubs forced him to play a little deeper in center field.

Bryant has looked solid in left field and at third base, and Ben Zobrist's steady glove at second has been a welcome addition in an infield that already boasts elite defenders in Russell and Anthony Rizzo.

"Defensively, we've caught the ball," Joe Maddon said. "We've played catch well. Everybody's talking about the offense, but primarily, it's been pitching and the defense that's set this whole thing up."

4. This team doesn't wilt in the face of adversity.

The Cubs had remarkably good luck on the injury front in 2015, but it took until only the second inning of the third game in 2016 for the first major blow.

Kyle Schwarber is lost for the season, yet the Cubs had just one letdown game after that news before righting the ship and marching forward without "Fast Hulk" in the lineup.

If somebody predicted the Cubs would be 17-5 in the first month of the season without Schwarber even collecting a hit, they would've been laughed off the internet.

Maddon and his coaching staff have seen just about everything there is to see in this game, and they have a stable of veterans like David Ross, Lester, Lackey and Zobrist who know what it takes to rise above adversity and keep everybody pulling on the same rope.

5. The Cubs haven't reached their peak.

Everybody is talking about a Cubs offense that ended the weekend with the second-most runs scored in baseball.

But the reality is, this lineup really hasn't hit its groove yet, scoring most of their runs with timely hitting and an insanely patient approach that keeps the conga line moving on the basepaths.

Yet Zobrist, Rizzo, Russell, Heyward, Miguel Montero and Jorge Soler are all hitting .250 or below, and Schwarber notched just four at-bats before tragedy struck.

Imagine what this offense will do when everything gets clicking and the weather starts to warm up.

"A lot of us are just getting going," Bryant said. "It'll be fun to see when things are clicking when the pitching's going good and the hitting's going good."

That feeling is mutual around the clubhouse.

"We have some work to do in general," Heyward said. "We're not hitting on all cylinders right now. We're not clicking consistently."

So does that mean the Cubs are expecting months where they finish with a better record than April's 17-5?

"I'd love to just keep doing that every month," Maddon said. "I'd be happy with that. We've played pretty well this entire month. It's hard to knock our guys right now.

"Offensively, defensively, pitching — the baserunning's been really good. To be able to sustain all those components would be great. I think you're gonna see guys actually hit better. A lot of our offense has been just based on some really good at-bats, some timely hitting.

"But just to purely go out there and just literally knock the cover off the ball, we haven't done that yet. So I think there's an offensive push that we're capable of.

"You just look at the numbers in general, and there are guys that are capable of more, numerically speaking. You probably will see more come from the offense."

Preview: Cubs, Pirates do battle Monday night on CSN

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Preview: Cubs, Pirates do battle Monday night on CSN

The Cubs take on the Pirates on Monday night, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies live from Pittsburgh for first pitch at 6 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Jason Hammel (3-0, 0.75 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (2-2, 2.78 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you're ready for the action.

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