The Big Ten/ACC Challenge tips off in a matter of hours. With that being the case, coupled with the fact Trevor Mbakwe has been lost for the season, BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina thought it was time to release his latest Big Ten Player Rankings. See Brent’s top 10 list in this post. Agree? Disagree? Tweet @BTNBrentYarina.
1. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State – The thinned-up version of Sullinger is every bit as lethal as last year’s oversized one. The preseason Big Ten Player of the Year has improved in every statistical category in Year 2, the most impressive being his free-throw percentage, from 70 to 85 percent.
2011-12 stats: 63%, 18.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.8 bpg
Last time: No. 1
2. Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin – The scoring is down, but that’s because Taylor has opted to get his teammates involved against the inferior foes thus far. He’ll start shooting more than 9.8 times a game once the competition stiffens. Either way, his assist-to-turnover ratio is a sterling: 5 to 1.
2011-12 stats: 11 ppg, 5 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.3 spg
Last time: No. 2
3. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan – Arguably the conference’s most prolific scorer, Hardaway has shown no affects of losing star point guard Darius Morris to the NBA. The star sophomore is still scoring at a great rate (17.2), and he’s shooting an impressive 49 percent, up from 42 percent as a freshman.
2011-12 stats: 49%, 17.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3 apg
Last time: No. 7
4. John Shurna, Northwestern – The Big Ten’s leading scorer, Shurna is benefiting from being healthy and from teammate Drew Crawford’s improved play. Together, the two give the Wildcats a dynamite 1-2 scoring punch that can do damage inside or outside.
2011-12 stats: 21.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1 spg, 1.6 bpg
Last time: No. 8
5. Tim Frazier, Penn State – To nobody’s amazement, the Penn State point guard leads the Nittany Lions in every major statistical category. What is amazing, though, is the excellent success Frazier is having as a distributor, considering he isn’t playing alongside a single consistent, proven scorer.
2011-12 stats: 19.1 ppg, 6 rpg, 7.1 apg, 2.4spg
Last time: NR
6. Robbie Hummel, Purdue – Is Hummel healthy and in playing shape after all the missed time? All you need to do to answer that question is look at his minutes per game, right now at a career-high 30.6. The lone Baby Boiler still around, Hummel is clearly thriving in his new role as the undisputed go-to guy.
2011-12 stats: 19.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.9 bpg
Last week: No. 9
7. William Buford, Ohio State – Earlier this year, I wrote that we’ve yet to see Buford at his best, and if he showed it in his final year, we might be looking at this season’s E’Twaun Moore. So far, so good. Buford is shooting it at a career-high clip (49 percent), and he’s contributing in all facets of the game – just as Moore did.
2011-12 stats: 49%, 17.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.2 apg
Last time: No. 6
8. Aaron Craft, Ohio State – Much like teammate Jared Sullinger, the pesky Craft has improved in all the important aspects of his game as a sophomore — points, assists, steals and turnovers. Craft doesn’t score it like the rest of the names on this list — he does flirt with double figures as the third or fourth option, though. That doesn’t matter, because he’s up here because of his relentless defense and the fact he runs the Big Ten’s best team.
2011-12 stats: 9.2 ppg, 3 rpg, 5.5 apg, 3.5 spg
Last time: No. 5
9. Draymond Green, Michigan State – Green is pretty much a guarantee for a double-double every night, but his shooting and turnover struggles are becoming problematic. While a point-forward is going to be susceptible to his share of miscues, 3.2 turnovers per game is a little too much, and his shooting (36 percent) continues to drop. Remember, this is a guy who shot 56 and 53 percent his first two seasons, albeit in a different role.
2011-12 stats: 12.7 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.7 bpg
Last time: No. 4
10. Cody Zeller, Indiana – From a statistical and impact perspective, there haven’t been many better than the Big Ten’s elite freshman. Zeller is doing it all, including registering nearly three steals a game, and he’s changed the entire dynamic of his team. Still, it’s very early and he hasn’t been challenged by a solid team or a powerful big man.
2011-12 stats: 73%, 14.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.7 spg, 1.2 bpg
Last time: NR