Top 5 Big Ten efforts of NCAA opening weekend

One weekend of the NCAA tourney down, and the Big Ten has three teams in the Sweet 16. The teams: Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Before the Sweet 16 tips, it’s time to look back at the Big Ten’s top five performances of the first two rounds. Who takes the top spot? It has to be Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, who poured in a career-high 41 points in the Spartans’ NCAA opener.

[ MORE: Dienhart: Could three Big Ten team make Final Four? ]

5. Wisconsin’s Traevon Jackson, vs. American. All of the Badgers got off to a slow start en route to falling behind American, 19-13, in the first 13 minutes of their NCAA opener. From that point on, it was all Wisconsin, which ended the game on a 62-16 run. Jackson helped break the Badgers out of the early funk with an efficient all-around performance.
Statline: 6-8, 18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals

4. Michigan State’s Travis Trice, vs. Delaware. Trice’s big effort vs. Delaware is overshadowed by the jaw-dropping individual efforts of a couple of his teammates. Still, there’s no downplaying his shooting exhibition in Michigan State’s Round 2 win. He was on fire, scoring 19 points on eight shots.
Statline: 7-8, 19 points, 3 rebounds

3. Michigan’s Nik Stauskas, vs. Texas. An underrated aspect of the Big Ten Player of the Year’s game, Stauskas, once again, showcased his terrific distributing skills vs. the Longhorns. The star sophomore’s eight assists tied a career-high, and he amassed the dimes without committing a single turnover.
Statline: 17 points, 2 rebounds, 8 assists, 0 turnovers

2. Michigan State’s Branden Dawson, vs. Harvard. Dawson is on a flat-out tear since returning from a broken right hand, and he’s never been better than he was in leading the Spartans past the Crimson. The Big Ten tourney MOP shot 12-of-15 and poured in a career-high 26 points to help Michigan State avoid elimination.
Statline: 12-15, 26 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal

1. Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, vs. Delaware. Sometimes there’s no stopping a player on a certain night, and that was exactly the case for Payne in Michigan State’s NCAA opener. The senior exploded for a career-high 41 points, the NCAA tourney’s first 40-point effort since Stephen Curry (2008) and the most by a Michigan State player in the tourney since Greg Kelser’s 34 (1979).
Statline: 10-15, 41 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block

About Brent Yarina BTN.com senior 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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