While analysts across the nation are busy compiling their super-early 2014-15 hoops polls, I thought I’d go with a more exact-inexact exercise and share my top five 2014-15 breakout candidates. You know the names from this season, but they’re certain to be even bigger names next season.
We’re fast approaching the end of the regular season, so that means it’s time to start considering an All-Big Ten most improved team. Who would make your 2013-14 team? Mine is headlined by a quartet of sophomores, including Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Nik Stauskas. See my full team, plus vote for your most improved player, in this post.
This week on “The Journey: Big Ten Basketball 2014,” we learn how and why Ohio State’s Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson traded places in the starting lineup and sparked the Buckeyes. Also, see why Chris Collins’ most important recruiting win at Northwestern so far was keeping senior Drew Crawford in Evanston. We also explore the special family connection between Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine and his brother Drew.
The weekend is officially here. So that means it’s time for my weekly survey of seven Big Ten hoops writers. This week’s question: Who is the Big Ten’s most underrated player? Check out the responses. No consensus, but some interesting responses.
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We all know who the superstars are in the Big Ten—Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, Deshaun Thomas, Brandon Paul, Trevor Mbakwe. This year the list really could go on quite a bite. But who do I think have been some of the most underrated players this season in the conference? Glad you asked.
It’s easy to see why so many experts think Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine has a bright future. Forget the future, actually, the freshman is a player who can do a lot right now. He proved it with a seven-point, nine-rebound, two-assist effort in Saturday night’s victory at Nebraska.
The Big Ten had a relatively bad weekend, dropping marquee games against other high-major conference teams. The main event was a battle between two top-10 teams when Kansas visited Columbus. Given that the game was on the Buckeyes’ floor, Ohio State should have won this game, and probably by more than just a point or two. Instead, Kansas ended up with a relatively comfortable 8-point win. The Jayhawks led most of the way, and started pulling away with about ten minutes left. There was no great mystery as to why OSU lost—they were terrible shooting the ball, both inside and outside the arc. On twos, Ohio State converted just 35 percent, and they were at 26 percent on threes. Kansas, meanwhile, shot 53 and 46 percent, respectively. Otherwise, OSU outplayed the Jayhawks, but shooting trumps all.
Find out more about: Aaron Craft, Alex Olah, Brandon Paul, Dave Sobolewski, Denzel Valentine, Derrick Nix, Deshaun Thomas, Drew Crawford, Nnanna Egwu, Shannon Scott, Tracy Abrams