Dienhart: Here's my midseason report & All-Big Ten teams

Dienhart: Here's my midseason report & All-Big Ten teams

The season has rounded the halfway point. There have been surprises, disappointments … and whole bunch of fun games with lots to look forward to.

Here is a midseason report as we race to the finish line.

Midseason Biggest Overachiever: Maryland. The Terps lost some big-time talent off a Sweet 16 club, as Diamond Stone, Jake Layman, Robert Carter Jr. and Rasheed Sulaimon all are gone. No problem. Mark Turgeon has plugged in arguably the best collection of freshmen in the Big Ten in Justin Jackson, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter. Maryland is 20-3 overall and 8-2 in the Big Ten, hot on the heels of front-running Wisconsin.
Honorable mention: Minnesota and Northwestern

Midseason Biggest Underachiever: Michigan State. Yes, the roster is dotted with lots of youth. And yes, the non-conference schedule was grueling, both opponent- and travel-wise. But, this is a team led by  mega-talented youth in Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Nick Ward and Joshua Langford. In fact, many feel this is Tom Izzo’s best collection of freshmen ever. Alas, the Spartans are 14-9 overall and 6-4 in the Big Ten, fifth in the league as MSU battles to earn a 20th consecutive NCAA bid.
Honorable mention: Illinois and Michigan

Midseason Player of the Year: Ethan Happ, Wisconsin. A great case can be made for Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, he of a Purdue record 20 double-doubles. But Happ, the best player on the Big Ten’s best team, impacts the game in every facet. No, he doesn’t take jump shots or hit free throws at a good clip, however he scores (14.7), boards (9.1), dishes (2.8), without turning it over at an alarming rate, and defends (2 spg; 1.1 bpg) better than just about anyone.
Honorable mention: Iowa’s Peter Jok and Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan

Midseason Freshman of the Year: Miles Bridges, Michigan State. The Big Ten is loaded with many good ones. But the 6-7 product of Flint, Michigan, is averaging 16.3 points,  8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He missed seven games earlier in the season due to injury, but is coming on strong and living up to the hype as the Big Ten’s top incoming freshman.
Honorable mention: Michigan State’s Nick Ward and Minnesota’s Amir Coffey

Midseason Coach of the Year: Greg Gard, Wisconsin. The Badgers were the pick to win the Big Ten by many, but credit must be given to the coach who has delivered on big expectations while being the hunted all season. That’s not easy to do, especially for a guy who is in his first full season as head coach. Wisconsin is 20-3 overall and 9-1 in the Big Ten, heading toward the program’s fifth conference title since 2002.
Honorable mention: Maryland’s Mark Turgeon and Northwestern’s Chris Collins

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MIDSEASON ALL-BIG TEN TEAMS

First Team
G Peter Jok, Sr., Iowa
G Melo Trimble, Jr., Maryland
F Miles Bridges, Fr., Michigan State
F Ethan Happ, So., Wisconsin
F Caleb Swanigan, So., Purdue

Second Team
G James Blackmon Jr., Jr., Indiana
G Bronson Koenig, Sr., Wisconsin
G Tai Webster, Sr., Nebraska
G/F Scottie Lindsey, Jr., Northwestern
F Nigel Hayes, Sr., Wisconsin

Third Team
G Nate Mason, Jr., Minnesota
G Derrick Walton Jr., Sr., Michigan
F Thomas Bryant, So., Indiana
F Malcolm Hill, Sr., Illinois
F Jae’Sean Tate, Jr., Ohio State

Midseason All-Freshman Team

First Team
G Tony Carr, Penn State 12.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.0 apg
F Miles Bridges, Michigan State 16.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg
F Amir Coffey, Minnesota 12.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.1 apg
F Justin Jackson, Maryland 11.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg
C Nick Ward, Michigan State 13.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg

Second Team
G Jordan Bohannon, Iowa 9.4 ppg, 4.5 apg
G Anthony Cowan, Maryland 10.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.7 apg
G Carsen Edwards, Purdue 10.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.9 apg
F Tyler Cook, Iowa 11.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F Lamar Stevens, Penn State 11.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg

Third Team
G Joshua Langford, Michigan State 6.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg
G Cassius Winston, Michigan State 7.1 ppg, 5.3 apg
F Kevin Huerter, Maryland 8.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg
F Cordell Pemsl, Iowa 9.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg
F Mike Watkins, Penn State 9.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg

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10 Biggest Games Left
Purdue at Indiana, Feb. 9
Northwestern at Wisconsin, Feb. 12
Maryland at Northwestern, Feb. 15
Michigan State at Purdue, Feb. 18
Maryland at Wisconsin, Feb. 19
Northwestern at Indiana, Feb. 25
Wisconsin at Michigan State, Feb. 26
Indiana at Purdue, Feb. 28
Purdue at Northwestern, March 5
Michigan State at Maryland, March 5

Projected NCAA Tourney Teams with seeds

No. 3 Wisconsin
No. 4 Purdue
No. 4 Maryland
No. 7 Northwestern
No. 8 Michigan State
No. 9 Indiana
No. 10 Iowa

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Email Tom Dienhart using the form below.

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

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, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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