BTN analysts offer best of Big Ten non-conference season
Ready for Big Ten conference play to tip off, Big Ten fans?
You’re in luck, because it happens Tuesday (view full scoreboard). Before Northwestern-Penn State gets things started at 3 p.m. ET, though, we asked BTN analysts Jess Settles and Shon Morris to provide their best of the non-conference season.
Get each analyst’s non-conference All-Big Ten team and select superlatives below.
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue. Put up Moses Malone numbers! (Millennials please Google “Chairman of the Boards.”)
Melo Trimble, Maryland. Trimble’s unselfish play and late-game heroics have the rebuilt Terps rolling.
Peter Jok, Iowa. The Big Ten’s leading scorer is now a complete offensive weapon.
Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin. The preseason Big Ten Player of the Year is playing at a high level and seeks a third trip to The Final Four.
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin. The sophomore impacts the game at both ends, averaging 12.9 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks.
Best win: Indiana vs. Kansas. The season-opening win showed the Hoosiers can win without Yogi Ferrell, and carries serious weight for the entire Big Ten.
Best team: Indiana. With a healthy OG Anunoby, the Hoosiers have victories over Kansas and North Carolina, but Big Ten title is up for grabs.
Best player: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue. Swanigan has been dominant, but some elite players are lurking.
Best freshman: Miles Bridges, Michigan State. Assuming Bridges returns at full strength, he is the beast in a talented and deep freshman class.
Best storyline: Northwestern played a tough non-conference schedule, and is a few heartbreaking plays away against ranked Butler and Notre Dame from being undefeated. If they get off to a good start in conference play, the entire country will tune in to the ‘Cats “quest for history.”
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue. The sophomore is POY in conference at this point.
Peter Jok, Iowa. Handling offensive load as young team matures defensively.
Malcolm Hill, Illinois. Demanding ball and delivering offensively.
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin. Impacts game at both ends with excellent footwork.
Nate Mason, Minnesota. Quietly putting together an outstanding season.
Best win: Indiana vs. Kansas. Defeating the outstanding backcourt of Kansas at neutral site in first opportunity without Yogi Ferrell is very impressive.
Best team: Wisconsin. Experience at every position, and its execution against Syracuse zone was nearly flawless.
Best player: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue. A trio of 20-20 outings and 10 double-doubles speaks for itself.
Best freshman: Miles Brideges, Michigan State. Yes, he’s been hurt, but he’s so talented and has produced when healthy.
Best storyline: Improvement of Minnesota and Rutgers. This is easy. The two teams, which combined to go 12-13 last season in non-conference, have each lost just one game.