Predicting the East and West All-Star rosters

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Predicting the East and West All-Star rosters

In a few hours this will be moot, but with Thursday evening's announcement of the NBA All-Star Game reserves, below are CSNChicago.com's picks.
Keep in mind, these aren't predictions, just this writer's opinion on which players are deserving of the honor.
Eastern Conference reserves
Chris Bosh, Miami: Due to playing alongside East starters LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Bosh often gets overlooked, but is an important piece on the defending-champion Miami, again the conference's top team.
Tyson Chandler, New York: The league's reigning Defensive Player of the Year has helped transform New York into a more defensive-oriented squad, while also contributing as an efficient offensive option.
Luol Deng, Chicago: Deng's recent injury might give coaches an excuse not to select him, but his consistency as a go-to scorer and workhorse is a huge reason Chicago is in the upper echelon of the East's standings.
Paul George, Indiana: The athletic swingman is experiencing a breakout season on both sides of the ball, picking up the slack from the sidelined Danny Granger as Indiana's alpha dog.
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia: Although Philadelphia has struggled as of late, Holiday has emerged as one of the league's top-tier point guards.
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee: Jennings is the best player on a surprisingly successful Milwaukee team, which has thrived under interim head coach Jim Boylan thus far.
Joakim Noah, Chicago: Observers have taken notice of Noah's offensive development, ability to handle a heavier workload and defensive presence, all of which have been integral to Chicago's early-season success.
Alternates
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn: It's tough to keep a Brooklyn player off the initial roster, but although the center has had a solid season, with fans voting in an undeserving Kevin Garnett as a starter, Lopez likely gets the short end of the stick.
Josh Smith, Atlanta: The combination of Atlanta's current slump and the versatile forward's recent one-game suspension could be the tie-breaker in ensuring he's snubbed for yet another year.
Snubs
Carlos Boozer, Chicago: The much-maligned power forward has been dominant in January, but his superb stretch likely occurred too late to send him to Houston next month.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland: The second-year point guard is already an elite player at his position, but in addition to a chunk of games missed due to various injuries, Cleveland's dismal record is too much to ignore.
Western Conference reserves
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland: Portland has cooled off as of late, but the underrated Aldridge has established himself as one of the league's best power forwards.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio: Aside from the flashback season Duncan's having, the future Hall of Famer is showing that he's still one of the premier big men in the league on a nightly basis.
James Harden, Houston: Harden has proven that he's worthy of all the fuss that occurred when he was traded to Houston at the beginning of the regular season, earning the right to represent the host city as one of the game's top scorers.
David Lee, Golden State: The Warriors have had a resurgence that's heavily based on improved defense and while Lee will never be regarded as a great player on that side of the ball, he's come to be viewed as a blue-collar type and the player most responsible for the squad's turnaround.
Tony Parker, San Antonio: Parker continues to quietly be the best player for an aging San Antonio team, as well as one of the league's top-five floor generals.
Zach Randolph, Memphis: Now healthy after missing most of last season due to injury, Randolph's blend of hard-nosed low-post scoring and dominance on the boards symbolizes Memphis' approach.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City: Playing in the shadow of three-time defending scoring champion Kevin Durant, the point guard is almost equally responsible for Oklahoma City maintaining its high standard of play after Harden's departure.
Alternates
Stephen Curry, Golden State: The oft-injured point guard is finally healthy, but as much as the sharpshooter has been praised for his impact on his team's turnaround, it would be hard to put two Warriors on the roster.
Marc Gasol, Memphis: In a similar situation, it would seem that only one of Gasol and Randolph will make the trip to Houston, and while the true center is clearly one of the best at a dying position, Randolph's elite rebounding gives him the edge.
Snubs
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles: The early-season favorite for the league's Sixth Man of the Year is also his team's leading scorer, but his defensive shortcomings and the Clippers' array of weapons takes away from his influence on their success.
Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City: Ibaka's impact on the defensive end has never been questioned, but while his improvement as a scorer has been remarkable, in a conference loaded with excellent big men, it would be hard to justify his selection.

For at least one Badger, loss to Penn State hurts more than 59-0 blowout vs. Buckeyes

For at least one Badger, loss to Penn State hurts more than 59-0 blowout vs. Buckeyes

INDIANAPOLIS — Wisconsin's last two trips to Indy have not gone well.

Back in 2014, the Badgers were favored heading into their Big Ten Championship Game showdown with Ohio State only to get absolutely destroyed, 59-0.

Saturday night, ranked one spot ahead of opposing Penn State, Wisconsin blew a three-touchdown lead and lost the Big Ten title to the Nittany Lions, 38-31.

It's hard to imagine anything being worse than a 59-0 blowout, but for at least one Badger in the immediate aftermath of this latest loss, this time around hurts more.

"I think it hurt me a little bit more because this is it for me," Wisconsin defensive back Sojourn Shelton said after the game Saturday night. "And I know a lot of guys in that locker room, it’s what we’ve been through. We came back after the bowl game (at the end of last season), we accepted the task of everything that we did, the schedule and everything. This one hurt."

They say it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, though the opposite might be true for leads in a football game. Perhaps it is better to never have led at all than to have a three-touchdown advantage cleared away by an unstoppable juggernaut of an offense that was Penn State on Saturday night.

It was the Badgers who were in complete control early. Corey Clement had a 67-yard touchdown run, the defense was forcing turnovers and scored a touchdown, and it looked like Wisconsin would avenge its 59-0 defeat the last time it was here in similar blowout fashion. But then the Lions turned it on, quarterback Trace McSorley and his bevy of pass-catchers made one highlight-reel play after another and cashed in on four straight touchdown drives.

The Wisconsin lead was gone, and the Badgers looked shell-shocked.

"This one’s tough. Especially just the way that we were rolling in the first half," Shelton said. "It’s tough right now. I can’t go back or anything. Time is going to keep moving. Let it hurt, just move on. It’s the only thing you can do."

Much like Penn State, Wisconsin wasn't supposed to make it this far. The Badgers had a seemingly impossible schedule when the season started, opening against LSU and staring down a stretch of games against Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska to open conference play. But Wisconsin survived it, losing just twice to two top-five teams in Ohio State and Michigan and only by a combined 14 points. The Badgers were hands down one of the best defenses in the country, and had they won Saturday night, we might be talking about them as a potential College Football Playoff team.

Instead, it's all what could've been, just like in 2014.

"I think it just hurt so much because I know the work we’ve put in behind the closed doors, the weight room, all the early morning workouts. For us to come up short like this, that’s where it really stings," Shelton said. "I’m not going to say 'bump the Playoff,' but I just think we worked too hard to come up short.

"For the group behind us, let it be a lesson. They’ll be ready."

An awful lot happened after losing to Ohio State two years ago. Head coach Gary Andersen left for Oregon State, athletics director Barry Alvarez coached the team to a big win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl, and Paul Chryst returned as the team's new head coach.

The questions always come after a loss like this about "getting up" for the bowl game. Shelton doesn't think that will be a problem. Why? Because these Badgers have done it before.

"We’ve been here before. Same stadium, worse loss. We’ll bounce back."

Blackhawks recall Johansson, assign Schmaltz

Blackhawks recall Johansson, assign Schmaltz

The Blackhawks will be without their No. 1 goaltender for a few weeks, so the obvious backup call-up came on Sunday morning.

At the same time, the Blackhawks are going to give one of their forwards a little work in the minors.

The Blackhawks recalled goaltender Lars Johansson from the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday morning. They also assigned forward Nick Schmaltz to the IceHogs.

Johansson has a 6-7-1 mark with 2.63 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 16 games. This comes one day after Corey Crawford had an appendectomy in Philadelphia prior to the Blackhawks’ 3-1 loss there. Crawford, according to the team, is expected to be out 2-3 weeks.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Schmaltz has a goal and three assists in 26 games with the Blackhawks this season. Schmaltz is one of several forwards who got a top-line opportunity this season and, much like most of the others, couldn’t stick there. He has struggled to find a consistent game.

The Blackhawks face the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night. Scott Darling is expected to get the start.