If the Big East is the backcourt of America then the Big Ten has to be the Frontcourt. Of the top seven in the conference, all get big time production from their front lines. Lets take a look.
Ohio St.: Have to start with Jared Sullinger, easily the best freshman in the country as he averages a double-double (18 PPG, 10 RPG) and shoots a ridiculous percentage from the field (.577%). The Buckeyes also have a big banger in Dallas Lauderdale (6’8”, 260 lbs.) and another, less talked about freshman, with a nice shooting touch in Deshaun Thomas (9 PPG, 4 RPG, .503 FG%, 84 FT%).
Purdue: They may only have one major impact player on the interior, but he’s a POY candidate. Jajaun Johnson not only averages great numbers (21 PPG, 8 RPG), he shoots extremely well (.511 FG%, .800 FT%), and is a workhorse for this team (35 MPG, 7 of 9 BTG 35+ MPG).
Wisconsin: Another team led by a senior big, but with a bit more depth on the front line. Jon Leuer leads the team in PPG (19) and RPG (7), but they also get good production from fellow senior Keaton Nankivil (10 PPG, 5 RPG, .530 FG%). Not only that, but they have Mike Bruesewitz who easily has the worst red fro since Kyle Broflovski. The most puzzling thing about the Badgers is with all the point production (over %58) they get from their inside players it doesn’t translate to a very good rebounding team. The Badgers rank 278th in the country in RPG!
Minnesota: A true Medusa on the inside led by the fresh face (unless your one of his former girlfriends) Trevor Mbakwe. The JC transfer averages a double-double (14 PPG, 11 RPG), is extremely explosive, and has a silly FG% (.614). Junior’s Ralph Sampson (11 PPG, 5 RPG, .474 FG%) and Colton Iverson (7 PPG, 5 RPG, .500 FG%) give the Gophs the experience and a blue-collar mentality.
Michigan St.: Even with the struggles (see below), Draymond Green (13 PPG, 9 RPG, 4 APG) has incredible versatility and Delvon Roe (7 PPG, 6 RPG, .500 FG%) continues to put up solid numbers.
Penn St.: This team is not just Tony Battle anymore. The next three top scorers for the surprise team of the league all reside in the front line. Wear and tear could be a concern for the Nittany Lions as Jeff Brooks (14 PPG, 7.5 RPG, .577 FG%), David Jackson (11 PPG, 4.5 RPG, .877 FT%), and Andrew Jones (7 PPG, 6 RPG, .553 FG%) all average over 30 MPG this season.
Illinois: Led by two seniors and a freshman this line would be big on the next level, not just the Big Ten. The 7 footer Mike Tisdale (10 PPG, 7 RPG, .818 FT%) and fellow senior Mike Davis (11 PPG, 7 RPG, .538 FG%) have been aided by the arrival of McDonalds All-American Jereme Richmond (8 PPG, 5 RPG, .514 FG%) and another 7 footer Meyers Leonard.
Best Team (duh): Ohio St. (22-0, 9-0)
The amount of talent on OSU is not just reserved to the frontcourt. The Buckeyes are one of two legitimate title contenders from the Big Ten because of their backcourt. The last remaining undefeated team in the nation has it’s own three headed threat with Buford, Lighty, and Diebler. The Bucks were unchallenged during the non-conference portion of the schedule, but things have tightened up in the Big Ten as 6 of the 9 games have been decided by 5 pts or less. An undefeated season seems unlikely (fear not Indiana fans, whom I hate) as they’re schedule only gets more difficult down the stretch.
Next in line: Ummm…. Don’t really know if they belong, but since Wisconsin (16-5, 6-3) still get OSU twice they have to be considered for the moment, but they can’t lose another game.
Biggest disappointment (duh): Michigan St. (13-8, 5-4)
Kind of funny how everyone just kept harping during the non-conference season that “MSU might be struggling but they’ll put it together by March” and then finally after a couple of losses in the conference, people realized, “maybe they just aren’t that good.” This team may have believed the early hype, thinking it would just magically happen and they wouldn’t have to work for it (how’d that work out). Whatever it is, this preseason #2 ranked team in the nation (another reason the top #25 in CBB doesn’t mean a thing) is in chaos. They’ve lost three of four and barely escaped a banged up (yet improved) Indiana team at home in O.T last weekend. Oh, and by the way, Korie Lucious, who was averaging 24+ MPG and hit the game winner in the 2nd round of the Big Dance against Maryland, was suspended for the remainder of the year. Can they turn it around? It will be tough. They have a very winnable game @ Iowa before a disgusting 6 game stretch. The NIT is seriously possible for this team.
Next in line: Really there may only be one other team in the country who is more disappointing than the Spartans so we wont disgrace the rest of the Big Ten.
Biggest surprise (not so duh): Penn St. (12-9, 5-5)
So the Lions didn’t do much in the non-conference, but they’ve had a couple nice wins within, including against MSU, Ill, and Sconey. They also scared the bejesus out of Ohio St. and Purdue on the road and have gotten some nice production from a previously thought of weakness. But it’s kind of a stretch to put any team in this category, with the exception of MSU, the Big Ten has been taking shape the way most thought it may.
Michigan St. (13-8, 5-4) @ Wisconsin (16-5, 6-3): I think we know why MSU is here, while the Badgers are now in second place and as previously stated can’t lose if they want any chance at the regular season title.
Ohio St. (22-0, 9-0) @ Minnesota (16-5, 5-4): Minnesota played the Bucks tough in Columbus falling short in a furious 2nd half comeback and they held Sullinger to a manageable 15 pts. Both teams have a game prior to this (MN @ IND Wed 5:30, OSU vs UM TH 6pm), but regardless what happens in those it should be a good one in the Barn.
The Big Ten is also sort of failing us this week, which is further proof of why they have Gameday at UF and a really crappy Thursday night lineup. I mean, Notre Dame @ Rutgers, prime time, thank the shit you believe in I’m working. Oh, and don’t give me that Michigan @ Ohio St. rivalry BS on Thursday night either, that will be a blood bath (ok, maybe I’ll DVR it).