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 (26-1)

Results: No games played last week
This Week: Tuesday vs. Oak Lawn or Argo (4A Oak Lawn Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Argo sectional is loaded this year. Teams include Simeon, Bogan, Brother Rice, Curie, De La Salle, Marist, St. Rita and Whitney Young.

2 Proviso East (26-0)

Results: Defeated Oak Park-River Forest 63-48 and Marquette, WI 72-52
This Week: Tuesday vs. Wheaton North or Hoffman Estates (4A Proviso East Regional)
Hoops Talk: If the Pirates are victorious Tuesday, they would play either Glenbard North or Glenbard East in Maywood on Friday.

3 Curie (24-2)
Results: No games played last week
This Week: Tuesday vs. Reavis or Kennedy (4A Marist Regional)
Hoops Talk: Cliff Alexander, Devin Foster and company are thinking state. The Argo Sectional might as well be a state tournament (see above).
4 Warren (22-3)

Results: Defeated North Chicago 84-80
This Week: Wednesday vs. Hersey or Buffalo Grove (4A Stevenson Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Blue Devils soar into the playoffs after Wednesdays North Suburban conference championship. Darius Paul: 28 points, 16 rebounds.

5 Plainfield East (25-1)

Results: Defeated Oswego East 74-46
This Week: Tuesday vs. Wheaton Warrenville South or Plainfield North (4A Neuqua Valley Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Bengals, top seed in the East Aurora Sectional, could make some noise. Senior Brian Bennett (26 points, 15 rebounds vs. OE) is a force.

6 Bogan (24-3)

Results: Defeated Dunbar 76-61
This Week: Tuesday vs. Mt. Carmel or Juarez (4A Mt. Carmel Regional)
Hoops Talk: It could be an entertaining regional final on Friday nightif Bogan and De La Salle win their games this week.

7 Andrew (22-2)

Results: Lost to Thornwood 57-55; Defeated Lincoln-Way West 49-42
This Week: Tuesday vs. Lincoln-Way Central or Eisenhower (4A Andrew Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Thunderbolts will shoot for their first regional championship since the 1989-90 season.

8 Elgin (23-3)

Results: Defeated Geneva 43-30 and Metea Valley 59-50
This Week: Tuesday vs. South Elgin or Streamwood (4A St. Charles North Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Maroons are back-to-back Upstate Valley champs for the first time since 1987, but Kory Brown and company are thinking bigger.

9 Downers Grove South (19-5)

Results: No games played
This Week: Tuesday vs. Oswego East or Romeoville (4A Downers Grove South Regional)
Hoops Talk: If the Mustangs win Tuesday, they would play the Hinsdale Central-Waubonsie Valley winner on Friday night.
10 Huntley (24-3)

Results: Lost to Grayslake Central 52-47
This Week: Tuesday vs. Rockford Jefferson or DeKalb (4A Huntley Regional)
Hoops Talk: The loss to G-C in the Fox Valley title game is a blip on an otherwise impressive season. Auburn and Elgin could be lurking at sectionals.

11 Bloom (24-3)

Results: Defeated Kankakee 70-28
This Week: Tuesday vs. Joliet Central or T.F. North (4A Joliet Central Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Blazing Trojans won the Southland conference on Friday. They could end up facing fellow Southland foe Crete-Monee in sectionals.

12 Lemont (24-2)

Results: Defeated Glenbard South 63-50 and Hillcrest 58-57
This Week: Tuesday vs. Corliss or Bremen (3A Providence Regional)
Hoops Talk: Talk about entering the playoffs on a high note. The win over Hillcrest gave the Indians a share of the conference title (first since 1991).

13 Hillcrest (21-5)

Results: Lost to Lemont 58-57
This Week: Tuesday vs. Evergreen Park or Joliet Catholic (3A Evergreen Park regional)
Hoops Talk: The Hawks couldnt hold a 12-point lead against Lemont. Jayone Troutman and company will still be a tough draw in the playoffs.

14 St. Ignatius (21-5)

Results: Lost to De La Salle 56-48; Defeated Mount Carmel 66-39
This Week: Tuesday vs. Noble Street CharterComer or Hope (3A St. Ignatius Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Wolfpack have a few injuries, but a relatively tame sectional - at least on paper -- could help them out.

15 Orr (19-4)
Results: No games played
This Week: Tuesday vs. Noble Street CharterC. Bulls or Clark (3A Wheaton Academy Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Spartans, along with North Lawndale, Marshall and Farragut are all in the Glenbard South Sectional.

16 Marshall (20-7)

Results: No games played
This Week: Tuesday vs. Montini or Clemente (3A Marshall Regional)
Hoops Talk: Home court advantage should come in handy for the Commandos, who could end up playing rival North Lawndale in the regional final.

17 New Trier (21-5)

Results: Defeated Niles North 93-84 OT
This Week: Tuesday vs. Niles West or Amundsen (4A Niles West Regional)
Hoops Talk: Connor Boehm tallied 32 points and 14 rebounds in a wild victory over Niles North. NT gets the top seed at the Glenbrook South Sectional.

18 De La Salle (16-6)

Results: Defeated St. Ignatius 56-48
This Week: Tuesday vs. Kenwood (4A Mt. Carmel Regional)
Hoops Talk: De La Salle has battled injuries this season, the latest is with Gavin Schilling (ankle sprain). Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster will lead the Meteors.

19 Seton (25-4)

Results: Defeated University 72-64 2-OT and Hales 62-55
This Week: Wednesday vs. Herscher (2A Herscher Sectional)
Hoops Talk: The Sting escape a huge upset in the semis. They respond with a win over the defending state champs and now face a 26-win Herscher team.

20 Thornwood (20-6)

Results: Defeated Andrew 57-55 and Thornton 61-58
This Week: Tuesday vs. T.F. South (4A Homewood-Flossmoor Regional)
Hoops Talk: Huge week for the Thunderbirds, knocking off first place Andrew and then beating rival Thornton to capture the SW Suburban-Red title.

Looming & Lurking: Hope Academy, St. Rita, Whitney Young, Metea Valley, Farragut, Mundelein, North Chicago, Riverside-Brookfield, St. Viator, Oak Park-River Forest, Herscher, York, Marist, St. Joseph, Crete-Monee, Grayslake Central, Yorkville, Homewood-Flossmoor, St. Patrick, Ridgewood, Grant, Niles North

In The Loop: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers

In The Loop: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers

The Blackhawks went 9-1 in February and did so in emphatic fashion.

The Blackhawks outscored their opponents 44-24 in the month and scored four goals or more in each of the nine wins. The only loss came after the team's bye week, a 3-1 loss at home to Edmonton seven days after winning 5-1 in Edmonton.

A big reason for the Blackhawks' recent surge is because of the production of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Toews scored seven goals and had 11 assists in February and was named the league's second star of the week this week. Patrick Kane had nine goals and seven assists.

Scott Darling went 3-0 in his starts and gave up just four goals in those games. Corey Crawford went 6-1 with a 2.71 goals against average.

Despite the Blackhawks' success in February, the Minnesota Wild still lead the division. The Blackhawks beat the Wild twice in February, but the Wild went 7-2 in the rest of February, including tonight's 5-4 overtime win against the LA Kings to sit three points ahead of the Blackhawks and still with two games in hand.

Watch the video above to see Pat Boyle break down these Blackhawks numbers.

Fire putting finishing touches on roster as season nears

Fire putting finishing touches on roster as season nears

The preseason has finished and it's officially a match week for the Chicago Fire.

The Fire, which travel to Columbus on Saturday for the season opener, returned from preseason training in Florida on Sunday and began the team's first full day back in Chicago with the team's annual kickoff luncheon on Monday. The team's players, coaches and staff interact with fans and the media ahead of the upcoming season.

Two players, UNC-Charlotte products Brandt Bronico and Matej Dekovic, were introduced to the audience a couple hours before the club announced the two 2017 draft picks had signed contracts. Bronico, a central midfielder drafted in the third round, and Dekovic, a center back/left back taken in the fourth round, both signed one-year deals with club options for the following three years.

Dekovic could add some much needed depth in central defense, but is a logical candidate to go out on loan to USL affiliate Tulsa. Dekovic, 23, is Croatian and counts as an international player even though he played three years collegiately with the 49ers. The Fire have nine international players on the roster with eight slots for them. The Fire could trade for an international slot, but if Dekovic goes out on loan he won't count against that number. Coach Veljko Paunovic was asked about potential outgoing loans, but didn't give specifics other than to say they have "made some decisions" and "are still working on that."

Bronico and Dekovic don't figure to play major roles this season, but there could still be more moves ahead. The lone trialist in the final week of the Fire's training camp, former Columbus Crew defender Chad Barson, was not retained. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said Ryan Taylor will be the latest right back to join the Fire on trial. Taylor, 32, made 55 English Premier League appearances with Wigan Athletic from 2005-2009 and 61 more with Newcastle United from 2009-2015. This season he has made 12 appearances for Port Vale in England's third tier, the most recent of which on Jan. 20 when he scored a penalty kick.

[RELATED: Fire players downplay importance of undefeated preseason record]

"Ryan Taylor will join us this week," Rodriguez said. "He's a very experienced player, he plays a lot of different positions, which we like. We like that versatility. We love the attitude that he's expressed towards coming on trial, which is not easy for an accomplished player. We'll look at him this week, maybe look at him for two weeks. I don't know how long it will take, but he is an option for us."

The Englishman would also take up an international slot.

A potentially bigger move is the one Rodriguez hinted at regarding a third designated player. Currently, David Accam and Nemanja Nikolic are the Fire's two DPs, meaning one more DP spot is available.

"We have the latitude, we have the cap space, the budget space and the resources within MLS and within our ownership to add another DP," Rodriguez said. "We've looked at a few players. Two of the players that we had on our list, we didn't make offers for so I want to be clear the two players we were tracking, one signed in Mexico with a big club in Mexico and one went to China for big money so they're off our list.

"There are still two players that we're tracking. I think as we get deeper into the start of the season, even though the first window is open, it's tougher. I would say we would likely look at the summer, or, as we did last year, forego the summer and concentrate on January. I still think it's hard to integrate players midseason."