Hoops Predictions: Stat Leaders, All-Big Ten Teams

Football season has surpassed the midway point, meaning it’s only a matter of time before college basketball is part of our lives again. On Thursday, in fact, it’s Big Ten Basketball Media Day, the annual event that precedes the opening tip across the conference. With that in mind, it’s time to offer my predictions on statistical leaders and present my preseason All-Big Ten Teams.

Scoring champ: Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin – Though a point guard, Taylor increased his scoring by 8.1 points per game from his sophomore to junior season last year. Don’t expect another significant jump like that one, but the number should only increase now that Jon Leuer, last year’s leading scorer, is playing professionally.
Runner-up: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Dark horse: Christian Watford, Indiana

Rebound champ: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State – This is a two-man race between Sullinger and Trevor Mbakwe, last year’s rebounding champ. Sullinger is my pick, though, because he’s no longer a freshman and he’s lost weight, which should keep him fresher and even more productive.
Runner-up: Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota
Dark horse: Jordan Morgan, Michigan

Penn State's Tim Frazier

US Presswire

Assists champ: Tim Frazier, Penn State – The ball will be in Frazier’s hands a lot this season, and while he doesn’t have any proven scorers around him, the assists will come as a result of his playmaking ability and the aforementioned time with the ball.
Runner-up: Bryce Cartwright, Iowa
Dark horse: Alex Marcotullio, Northwestern

Blocks champ: Ralph Sampson III, Minnesota – While Sampson III has been a frustrating and inconsistent player most of his career, he’s always had the ability to alter and swat shots. The 6-foot-11 center is the conference’s leading returner in blocked shots (2 per game), and there’s always the hope that this is the year he finally figures it all out.
Runner-up: Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota
Dark horse: Adreian Payne, Michigan State

Steals champ: Aaron Craft, Ohio State – In a word, Craft is a pest. He’s the Big Ten’s new Chris Kramer, the former Boiler defensive stalwart who drove opponents crazy. Plain and simple, the sophomore is the conference’s best on-the-ball defender – don’t be surprised if he records a 10-steal game this season. He did have a seven-steal game as a freshman.
Runner-up: Draymond Green, Michigan State
Dark horse: Eric May, Iowa

3-point champ: John Shurna, Northwestern – The Big Ten lost six of its seven leaders in 3-pointers made, including the top four, so it could be a down year from downtown. If Shurna can stay healthy, he’s as strong of a pick as anyone. One thing’s for sure: Shurna, who shot 43 percent from distance, doesn’t need a lot of attempts to hit his share of treys.
Runner-up: Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
Dark horse: Ryne Smith, Purdue

My preseason All-Big Ten Teams:

FIRST TEAM
Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin
John Shurna, Northwestern
Draymond Green, Michigan State
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota

SECOND TEAM
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
William Buford, Ohio State
Christian Watford, Indiana
Robbie Hummel, Purdue

THIRD TEAM
Bryce Cartwright, Iowa
Lewis Jackson, Purdue
Tim Frazier, Penn State
Jordan Morgan, Michigan
Melsahn Basabe, Iowa

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