Jess Settles, BTN men's basketball analyst, November 18, 2015

All but one Big Ten team (Northwestern) has played multiple games through the first week-plus of the 2015-16 season.

[ MORE: All of the best from Michigan State's win over No. 4 Kansas ]

That's given me the chance to consider the entire Big Ten landscape and formulate several super-early opinions.

Like, these three takes below.

Denzel Valentine, ladies and gentlemen

If you were locked into the latest College Football Playoff rankings or focusing on what could be the most intriguing three weeks of Big Ten football in recent memory, you might have missed the epic performance the Michigan State senior put on in a 79-73 comeback win vs. No. 4 Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday night. Valentine scored 29 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, and dished out 12 assists in an instant classic that will go down as one of the best individual accomplishments in program history. Get this: Valentine, just the fourth player in Michigan State annals to record a triple-double, scored or assisted on 22 of Michigan State?s 28 baskets! Making all of the clutch shots and plays with the game on the line, he finished with one measly turnover in 38 minutes. Valentine sent an early message to the college basketball world that Spartans are ahead of schedule and ready for another memorable season. He also sent a message to Melo Trimble, Caris LeVert, Nigel Hayes and all of the other stellar Big Ten players that the player of the year award is his to lose. If you missed the game, you missed Valentine at his best, and no college basketball player will come close to matching his masterpiece this entire season.


Will Maryland's bevy of big guys be a positive or negative?

If the NCAA allowed coaches to trade players, every coach in America would be reaching out to Maryland?s Mark Turgeon. The third-ranked Terps boast four talented bigs who would immediately alter the destiny of any college basketball team needing inside help. With a locker room full of so much size, Turgeon may be willing to listen to offers. Through two games, Diamond Stone, Michal Cekovsky, Damonte Dodd, and Robert Carter have all contributed. In Tuesday night?s rivalry victory vs. Georgetown, the veteran Carter was the most impressive, scoring 12 points, pulling down eight rebounds, and displaying ball skills most big men don?t possess. He logged 31 minutes. Cekovsky continues to improve and is a defensive and rebounding force. Dodd pulled down three rebounds, and over the last two seasons has shown his ability to score in bunches. Five-star recruit Diamond Stone struggled facing his first real competition since probably the 6th grade, but the freshman will have many signature moments this season. I said in my 14 burning Big Ten basketball questions on opening night article last week that Coach Turgeon will have to be part-coach, part-shrink and part-chess master to manage this talented team. After two games, he is already going to have to make adjustments. Dodd, Cekovsky and Stone only played 14 minutes apiece and that can?t sit very well with any of them. To be fair, Turgeon had to go with a smaller lineup to keep Maryland in the game down the stretch. Time will tell if so much depth at the center position will be a big plus or a big problem for Maryland.


Time for Wisconsin to turn the page

Losses are never a good thing, but maybe Wisconsin?s home upset to Western Illinois on opening night will bring reality to the Wisconsin fan base that the best era in Badger history is over. The last two seasons in Madison, the back-to-back Final Four berths and last season's run to the national final, have been magical. Even in an imperfect game, Bo Ryan and the Badgers came close to perfection many nights. We may never see another team like them, and they are one of the best Big Ten teams to never win a national championship. As the Final Four banner was lifted into the rafters and players and coaches were being honored, it was very hard for everyone involved not to think about what could?ve been and who was no longer wearing the uniform. After the disappointing loss to the Leathernecks, it was time for the best staff in the Big Ten to get back to work, which is a very good thing. With talented veterans Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes and a hungry group of newcomers, Wisconsin will improve rapidly over the next six weeks, and by the time the Big Ten season rolls around, Western Illinois and last year?s team will be a distant memory.