With Wisconsin’s heartbreaking national semifinal loss to Kentucky late Saturday night, the Big Ten’s 2013-14 hoops season is officially complete. It was a great season, one that saw three Big Ten teams make the Elite Eight. Now, it’s time for my All-Big Ten NCAA tourney team.
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin. Yes, his NCAA tournament began and ended with a whimper, as he scored eight points vs. American in the opener and eight vs. Kentucky in the Final Four. But in between, the 7-0 junior was dominating in scoring 19 vs. Oregon, 19 vs. Baylor and 28 vs. Arizona to help the Badgers to their first Final Four since 2000. His effort vs. No. 1 Arizona was one of the most singularly spectacular efforts in the 2014 Big Dance, as he also had 11 rebounds.
Adreian Payne, Michigan State. Speaking of singularly spectacular efforts, who could forget Payne’s team record 41-point effort vs. Delaware? The senior big man dominated, shooting 10-of-15 from the field and 17-of-17 from the charity stripe. Payne was pretty good in the Spartans’ other three games, as well, averaging 13.7 points, six rebounds and one block.
Nik Stauskas, Michigan. The Big Ten Player of the Year was dialed in during the Wolverines’ run to the Elite Eight. He scored 15 vs. Wofford, 17 vs. Texas, 14 vs. Tennessee and 24 points vs. Kentucky, showing his usual shooting aplomb (40 percent from distance). Stauskas also tied a career-high with eight assists, to go with zero turnovers, vs. the Longhorns.
Branden Dawson, Michigan State. No one from the Big Ten had better back-to-back games than Dawson, who tallied a combined 50 points and 19 rebounds in victories over Harvard and Virginia. It was a continuation of his MOP performance in the Big Ten tourney. The junior shot 63 percent and averaged 16.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals in the team’s four games.
Ben Brust, Wisconsin. The senior left it on the court, scoring in double-figures in four of five games. He was very consistent, going for 17 vs. American, 12 vs. Oregon, 14 vs. Baylor, five vs. Arizona and 15 vs. Kentucky. Brust averaged three triples per game and shot 50 percent from distance (15-of-30). An underrated rebounder, he also averaged a respectable 3.8 rebounds.
Jordan Morgan, Michigan. Morgan opened the tourney with a pair of double-doubles, and he scored double digits in all four games. Maybe the Big Ten’s most consistent tourney performer, the senior big man shot 71 percent overall, scored 10, 15, 15 and 11 points and grabbed 10, 10, seven and four rebounds. Solid across the board.
Austin Hollins, Minnesota. The senior saved his best for last in leading the Golden Gophers to the NIT title. Hollins started slowly, scoring eight points vs. High Point and 10 vs. St. Mary’s. Then, he heated up, notching 32 vs. Southern Miss to push Minnesota to New York for the Final Four. Once in the Big Apple, Hollins had 19 vs. Florida State and 19 vs. SMU. He was efficient, too, shooting 56 percent from the field (28-of-50), including 48 percent from deep (14-of-29).
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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