It’s Monday, and that means it’s time to release my updated Big Ten Player Rankings.
Not a ton of movement in this latest installment, although there is one new name: Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy, who has been playing out of his mind.
See my full list below.
1. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue. With 23 double-doubles in 27 games, Swanigan has to be the leader for National Player of the Year. In blowout wins over Rutgers and Michigan State, Swanigan posted two more double-doubles, averaging 18 points and 16 rebounds. Perhaps most impressive: He only turned it over twice in the two wins.
Last week: 1
2. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin. With Bronson Koenig slowed by a calf injury, Happ stepped up with 20 critical points, to go along with seven rebounds and five steals (!), to help Wisconsin stop a two-game losing streak by defeating Maryland. The Terps had no answer for Happ and Nigel Hayes. “We couldn’t guard them,” said a complimentary Mark Turgeon.
Last week: 2
3. Melo Trimble, Maryland. Trimble was brilliant last week in a win at Northwestern and a loss at Wisconsin. He exploded for 29.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists, while connecting on 61.8 percent of his shots.
Last week: 5
4. Miles Bridges, Michigan State. Trials and tribulations continue to damage Michigan State’s season, but Bridges keeps showing up prepared to compete. After averaging 15.5 points and 10 rebounds, he was rewarded with his fifth Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor.
Last week: 3
5. Tai Webster, Nebraska. We all love scorers, and the Nebraska point guard is second in the Big Ten in scoring during conference play (18.4). But Webster’s defense late against Ohio State was impressive, as he jumped the passing lane against Marc Loving and forced the Buckeyes to take a low percentage shot. Nebraska has now won two in a row, and looks healthy heading down the stretch.
Last week: 6
6. Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin. The Badgers are 6-0 when Hayes has attempted at least 10 free throws this season. Hayes paraded to the line 14 times in Wisconsin’s monster showdown with Maryland and picked the perfect time to deliver the 11th double-double (21 points and 10 rebounds) of his career.
Last week: 7
7. Derrick Walton Jr., Michigan. After averaging 23 points over the previous five games, Walton finally cooled off against Wisconsin, finishing 1-of-8 from the floor. But his eight assists and five rebounds helped Michigan pick up a resume-building win over Wisconsin. Walton is the first player in program history to score 1,000 points, pull down 500 rebounds, and hand out 400 assists.
Last week: 4
8. Nate Mason, Minnesota. Mason was part of the team that won eight games last season, and he’s played an integral role in the turnaround in Minneapolis. Fresh off a week highlighted by a 30-point effort, Mason is ranked fourth in the league in scoring, fifth in free-throw shooting, second in assists, ninth in steals, second in assist-to-turnover ratio and fourth in minutes played.
Last week: 10
9. Peter Jok, Iowa. Yes, the senior’s shooting woes are cause for concern (33 percent in last seven games), but he’s managed to average 13.9 points during the funk. Also, while the shots aren’t falling, he’s still rebounding (5.4 rpg) distributing (3.4 apg) and defending (1.3 spg).
Last week: 8
10. Jordan Murphy, Minnesota. Ethan Happ and Caleb Swanigan get most of the headlines when it comes to Big Ten sophomores, but Murphy is pretty good himself. In the last four games, all double-doubles, the forward is shooting 63 percent and averaging 18 points, 15 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
Last week: NR