5 alive: Ranking top Big Ten duos still in action

Five Big Ten teams remain alive in the postseason. There’s Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tourney, and there’s Iowa in the NIT quarterfinals. All five teams – like most teams in action this time of year – boast terrific 1-2 punches. See how I rank the Big Ten’s remaining duos in this post.

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1. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo & Cody Zeller – Let’s see, this tandem includes two All-Big Ten first-teamers and one Naismith Award finalist (Oladipo). It also features, arguably, the conference’s best defender and the elite big man. Offense to defense, and everywhere in between, no Big Ten duo does it better than Oladipo and Zeller.
Combined 2012-13 stats: 58%, 30.3 ppg, 14.4 rpg, 3.4 apg, 3 spg, 2 bpg

2. Michigan’s Trey Burke & Tim Hardaway Jr. – Like offense? If so, this should be your favorite Big Ten tandem. Burke is the nation’s elite point guard – a 1 who can score just as well as he distributes – and Hardaway Jr. is, what they call, a prototypical NBA wing. When the latter’s in rhythm, it makes the Michigan offense so much fun to watch.
Combined 2012-13 stats: 46%, 33.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 8.9 apg, 2.3 spg, 1 bpg

3. Ohio State’s Aaron Craft & Deshaun Thomas – The fact this duo comes in at No. 3 proves just how good the first two are. While Indiana features the Big Ten’s top all-around tandem, the Buckeyes’ showcases the best of both worlds. Not only does it have the Big Ten’s most prolific scorer (Thomas), it has the conference’s most relentless/respected defender (Craft).
Combined 2012-13 stats: 44%, 29.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 6 apg, 2.7 spg, 0.4 bpg

4. Michigan State’s Keith Appling & Adreian Payne – If we’re talking starting 5’s, Michigan State might sit atop the list. That’s the thing, the Spartans boast several players worthy of duo-inclusion. For the sake of this post, Gary Harris and Derrick Nix are left off. Appling and Payne comprise quite the tandem, and it’s one that contributes on both ends of the floor. It also provides tons of highlights.
Combined 2012-13 stats: 47%, 23.7 ppg, 11 rpg, 4.2 apg, 2 spg, 1.8 bpg

5. Iowa’s Devyn Marble & Aaron White – The nucleus to what figures to be one of the Big Ten’s better teams next season, Marble and White are an underrated tandem. Take away the Marble’s struggles midway through the Big Ten slate, and he was as good as any shooting guard. As for White, he’s Cody Zeller Light (I said, “Light,” guys), in that he scores, boards, runs the floor and draws a ton of fouls.
Combined 2012-13 stats: 44%, 27.5 ppg, 10 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.1 spg, 0.9 bpg

About Brent Yarina BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.

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6 Comments

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Charles Taylor on 3/26/2013 @ 1:31pm EDT Said:

Nice to see some props for Iowa’s tandem. Iowa has played great basketball all year

Delmar Jones on 3/26/2013 @ 3:47pm EDT Said:

Why do you have Iowa in with these teams. They are not in the NCAA so who care this is abot the teams that are iin the sweet 16.The Big ten has been the best conference all year .

bob jones on 3/26/2013 @ 4:49pm EDT Said:

How about Lindsey Moore and Jordan Hooper at Nebraska for top duo still playing? They’re in the Sweet 16 after beating a very good Texas A&M team on their home floor rather easily. Mens or womens, they get my vote for best duo left.

ralph cleveland on 3/28/2013 @ 12:28pm EDT Said:

They were never giving all year long, just who they call the big four.

David on 3/28/2013 @ 1:44pm EDT Said:

If you look at the title. It say the 5 teams still playing

    Delmar Jones on 3/28/2013 @ 4:32pm EDT Said:

    I have nothing against any of the other duo from the Big ten , we all know who is the best defender in the conference Mr Craft and who is the leads the conference in scoring Mr Thomas . I think that Ohio State has the right to boast that they have the best and numbers don’t always tell the story case in point Craf did not score much aginst Iona but his ball hawking got the Buckseyes going. Hey just hope that all the Big ten teams do well. GO BUCKS