Pacers' George erupts against vaunted Bulls defense

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Pacers' George erupts against vaunted Bulls defense

When the Bulls played the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs two years ago, a then-rookie Paul George was best known as a defender, as Indiana used his combination of size, length and quickness to harass Derrick Rose.
Fast forward to the present and the 6-foot-8 swingman, with injured Pacers star Danny Granger out of the lineup, has developed into a formidable, if inconsistent, offensive weapon. George scored 34 points against the Bulls on efficient 14-of-25 shooting Tuesday night at the United Center. More significantly, he scored the bulk of those points, almost half of the Pacers 80 points on the evening, with one of the leagues best wing defenders, Luol Denga second-team NBA All-Defensive Team selection last seasondraped all over him. It was a defensive battle on both ends. Both defenses were going, both offenses were struggling. David and George, theyre our money guys lately. Both had off nights, but Paul George picked up the slack, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said afterwards.  The kid cares, the kid works, as evidenced by getting off a red-eye flight and going right to the gym for two hours of shooting. I tried to get him involved early, which I hadnt done well enough in recent games and when a guy makes a couple shots early, sometimes he gets going. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, known as a defensive guru, seemed almost offended that an individual player not named LeBron James could have that kind of night against his team.
Got to make it harder on him. Got to make it harder. He made some tough ones, but weve also got to recognize whats going on in the game. If hes taking contested twos, were defending them well, you tip your hat. That was the case on some of the shots, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said afterwards. We also have to have more awareness. Clock winding down, hes got a hot hand, we cant give him space, cant let him catch the ball. Those are things weve got to take care of. Nate Robinson added: Hes going to be a hell of a player in this league. He can score the ball, thats what he does best. He makes tough shots and he made a lot of tough baskets with hands in the faces, so it was good defense, but better offense.

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

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USA TODAY

Expansion of the College Football Playoff field continues to seem inevitable

There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.

But what if there were more spots?

An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.

And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.

But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.

This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.

With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.

The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.

And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.

That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?

Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.

But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.

Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

Road Ahead: Blackhawks dealing with rash of injuries

CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.

"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.

Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead