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

IHSA Class 3A Boys Basketball Playoff Preview

IHSA Class 3A Boys Basketball Playoff Preview

The IHSA Class 3A and Class 4A boys basketball state playoffs begin this week. While this Class 3A group of teams doesn't have nearly as much talent as Class 4A with regards to the Chicagoland area, there are still a few ranked teams like Morgan Park, Fenwick and North Lawndale who are all hoping to make a run down to Peoria. 

We'll have plenty of Class 3A playoff updates throughout the state playoffs on High School Lites and CSNChicago.com. Also be sure to follow our Twitter page @CSNPreps for the latest scores and highlights.

Here's a preview of the Chicago-area teams to track in the Class 3A playoffs over the next few weeks.

Antioch Sectional

Favorite: North Chicago (17-8, 13-1) is the No. 1 seed here as they've won 13 of their last 15 games. With a home draw in regional play and a difficult, pressing style to prepare for in a tournament setting, North Chicago is hoping to win a sectional for the first time since winning four straight from 2011 through 2014. 

Other Contenders: Ridgewood (16-10, 7-5) finished third in the Metro Suburban Red as they come in as the No. 2 seed. Senior Zach Rzewnicki is perhaps the best player in the sectional and is a player to watch here. 

Darkhorse: St. Viator (11-16, 6-3) had an underwhelming regular season but they managed to go 6-3 in the loaded East Suburban Catholic Conference -- including wins over Marian Catholic, Benet and St. Patrick. 

(Potential) Matchup to Watch For in Regionals: If No. 2 seed Ridgewood has to face No. 7 Elmwood Park then it could get interesting because these two teams had a six-point game less than a week ago. Ridgewood won the season series 2-0 over Elmwood Park but it is always difficult to beat any team for the third time.

Fenwick Sectional

Favorite: Catholic League champion Fenwick (24-4, 9-0) is hungry after falling short of Peoria last season as they're playing good ball down the stretch. After winning the Catholic League Tournament, the Friars have many options, including seniors Jacob Keller and Jamal Nixon and emerging freshman D.J. Steward. 

Other Contenders: North Lawndale (20-7, 7-3) and Farragut (12-9, 4-6) both went through the very tough Public League Red-West and should be prepared to face against a team as talented Fenwick. The Phoenix have been in the CSN Preps Power Rankings all season while Farragut pulled off a huge road upset at Uplift in the second round of the Public League Playoffs.  

Darkhorse: Westinghouse (10-14, 1-9) has a very talented senior in Coreyoun Rushin and they also played a lot of close games in the Red-West despite that bad conference record. After a solid Public League Playoff win over Hyde Park, Westinghouse could be dangerous.

(Potential) Matchup to Watch For in Regionals: We could see a Red-West clash at Nazareth Academy as No. 4 seed Westinghouse and No. 5 seed Marshall could meet. The only Red-West win for Westinghouse this season came against the Commandos as these two teams split the season series. 

St. Rita Sectional

Favorite: Morgan Park (19-6, 9-1) just missed on winning the Public League Playoffs as the Mustangs could be the favorite to win the whole thing in Class 3A. The Mustangs don't have nearly as tough of competition in the class this season and they also have strong interior play with seniors Melo Burrell and Lenell Henry. Junior Ayo Dosunmu and senior Cam Irvin make for a talented perimeter and Morgan Park has a lot of talent to make a state title run.

Other Contenders: Bogan (17-7, 7-3) has been the toughest competitor for Morgan Park in this sectional the last few years but the Bengals aren't quite the top-25 mainstay like we've come to expect. Still talented, Bogan lost to Morgan Park twice during the season but beat Simeon.  

Darkhorse: St. Rita (16-10, 4-3) is a bit young, and they rely a lot on three-pointers, but the Mustangs are also talented enough to surprise some people and make it to sectional play if the deep ball is working.

(Potential) Matchup to Watch For in Regionals: If the Mustangs play No. 3 seed Hyde Park (14-9, 6-4) then it could get really interesting. St. Rita has won four consecutive games and beaten teams like Marist and Loyola this season while Hyde Park is the home team in this one. The Thunderbirds also own some quality wins, including one over Bloom, but they've been a bit sluggish late in the season. 

Plano Sectional

Favorite: Hillcrest saw its 28-year conference title streak get snapped but the Hawks are still a talented team that was in the preseason CSN Preps Power Rankings. As the No. 1 seed in a weaker sectional. the Hawks have a chance to make a run here. Senior Marcus Garrett is one of the best guards in the Class 3A field. 

Other Contenders: Plano (21-6, 10-1) is the Interstate Eight champion but they piled up a lot of wins against smaller schools during the year and it'll be interesting to see if they can hang with the schools from higher-profile conference. The Reapers did beat No. 2 seed Sandwich last Friday for a solid road win so they are coming in with confidence.

Darkhorse: Streator (16-11, 9-2) came in second place in the Interstate Eight as they've been playing better ball lately than some other higher seeds in this sectional. Winners of four of their last five, Streator is the No. 3 seed in their subregional. 

(Potential) Matchup to Watch For in Regionals: If Sandwich and Streator matchup in Coal City it will be a rematch of when they met on Feb. 17. Streator took that matchup with a 54-43 win. 

Draft pick at No. 3 demands guiding 'concept' of what Bears ultimately want to be

Draft pick at No. 3 demands guiding 'concept' of what Bears ultimately want to be

With the Bears holding the No. 3 pick of the upcoming draft, the obvious and automatic focus settles on Player A, B, D etc. "Best available" is an operating philosophy that routinely rules the moment.
 
But for the Bears and the 2017 draft, another overarching philosophical principle is in play. Specifically, what is the concept (for want of a better word) guiding what GM Ryan Pace is attempting to do?
 
Coach John Fox, as well as Pace, want a team founded on defense, running the football and ball security. They know the franchise need for a quarterback, but a team building on defense could reasonably be expected to weight their draft decisions toward that side of the football.
 
Meaning: A quarterback like Clemson's Deshaun Watson could alter the entire persona of the Bears and the Halas Hall building, but if the far-and-away best option at No. 3 is defense…?
 
What makes this draft and the Bears' operating concept intriguing is that the chances will be there potentially to build a true elite defense. Beginning at No. 3:
 
"I think [Alabama defensive lineman] Jonathan Allen is one of the two or three best players in this draft," said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock via conference call on Monday. "What I like about him is he dominates outside…but I think he's going to make his money on an inside pass rusher. Inside or outside, I think he's a special player."
 
Behind that – and last year's No. 1, Leonard Floyd, addressed the rush-linebacker spot – is the secondary, with both cornerback and safety among the strongest positions in the draft.
 
"This is a great corner class," Mayock said. "If you don't get one in the first round, you can come back in the second or third rounds and really help yourself."
 
The safety group is such that Mayock posited the prospect of two going in the Top 10, maybe Top 5. 
 
Deciding on a "concept"
 
One former NFL personnel executive maintained that the salary cap all but precluded building offense and defense equally, so the need was to define an identity and build to that, within reason. Former Bears GM Jerry Angelo opted a concept that built both offense and defense equally, but with designated positions ticketed for more cap resources: quarterback, running back, one wideout, two O-linemen, one franchise pass rusher, etc. Not all 22 positions are created equal but creating offense and defense simultaneously was doable.
 
"It's really what a team is looking for," said Mayock, speaking both of player preferences but in a way that extended to picking players for a scheme. Or philosophy.
 
Different concepts, like diets, work if you execute them well.

The Bears reached Super Bowl XLI with a Top 5 defense and a mid-teen's offense. The Indianapolis Colts prevailed in that game with a No. 3 offense and a defense ranked in the low 20's in both yardage and points allowed.