Chicago Sports Sunday Wrap-Up 03/30/08

At Least, The Stuff I Care About, and Am Too Lazy to Provide Links, Edition

Blackhawks Still in Playoff Race; Only Excitement in Town

Four points out with 3 games left to play. They have to win every remaining game to have any kind of chance to make the playoffs, and they know it. And the Hawks played like it on the weekend, with two nice efforts, including a road win against the Blues, and a come-from-behind (twice) win against Columbus that went to a shootout, where nineteen year old rookie Patrick Kane scored the only goal. He also broke the team rookie record for assists with 48. Another nineteen year old rookie, Jonathan Toews (pronounced “Taze”) took over the rookie goal scoring lead with one goal and added an assist.

Lost to Columbus 4-0 on the road (Wed.), beat St. Louis 4-3 on the road (Sat.), beat Columbus 5-4 at home (Sun.).

Final week of season: Detroit (Wed. 7:30), Nashville (Fri. 7:30), at Detroit (Sun 2:00)

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NCAA March Madness – Final Four

Carolina vs. Kansas, UCLA vs. Memphis. All the number one seeds. Which is sort of shocking, really.

Hats off to Davidson; what a fun team to watch. I love the way they play. The NCAA tournament would be better for allowing more teams like them into the tournament. And by “teams like them” I mean “teams in smaller conferences”. Make the tournament bigger, by at least 14-20 teams, and add a bunch of play-in games or something. Today we rely on the polls and biases of a bunch of bureaucrats in the NCAA; wouldn’t it be better for all to let in more teams like Davidson and George Mason and let the players decide it on the court? The tournament itself benefits, the fans benefit, and the teams that make it benefit. They’re already letting in too many teams, and they favor fourth and fifth place teams in power conferences over second place teams from smaller conferences. I’m not sure this is a valid assumption. Expand the pool, I say!

My pick is Kansas, although based on what I saw this weekend, they had the most trouble making the Final Four. I’m still in last place in our family pool. Next year I really need to get the dog to enter the pool so I improve my chances of not finishing last.——–

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Cubs Break Camp

Big Z to start today (Monday) against Milwaukee and Ben Sheets.

This team is in pretty good shape with injuries and general health. My own personal preview, in 100 words or less: Defense should be pretty good, approaching excellent, at all positions, which will help the pitching, which already looks deep. Bullpen should continue as a strength, though Kerry Wood as closer seems a bit risky to me, due to issues with durability and control. Bench looks OK. Lineup seems in a state of flux though; they still don’t have enough high-OBP guys at the top, and are still too right-handed. Keeping Fukudome higher up in the order, in the top three at least, seems key to their ability to score runs, assuming he is as good a hitter as advertised. Barring injuries, they seem ready to repeat as Central champs, but advancing in October is going to require a more intelligent approach to hitting than they showed last year.

This week: 3 at home vs. Milwaukee, 3 at home vs. Houston, Off day: Tuesday.

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Bulls Disappear in Rear-View Mirror

After a nice game against Atlanta on Tuesday, they looked bad again in Philly on Wednesday. Lost to Atlanta Friday, beat Milwaukee Saturday.

But few people care what they do, at this point, because they are inconsistent and lacking in desire. My wife is a big fan, and is relentlessly positive, and she doesn’t even care any more.

This week: Boston (Mon. 73o), at Cleveland (Wed. 7:00), Washington (Fri. 7:30).

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