The Big Ten will announce the official All-Big Ten teams live at 7:00 PM tonight on the Big Ten Network. For now, we decided it would be a good time to put together our own teams with a bit of a twist. These teams were picked based on conference only statistics. This helps level the playing field and provides a fair estimate of how players played against each other. Sticking with that theme, all stats listed below are conference-only numbers. The players on each team are listed in order with player of the year honors in bold.
The five selections for this team were relatively routine and I fully expect to see the same five names on the official teams. Selecting the player of the year was much more difficult. I eventually opted with JaJuan Johnson because he’s the most balanced player on the list. He might not be the most efficient offensive player of the bunch but he is arguably the best defender, and still put up very impressive numbers. Jordan Taylor is a statistical marvel, but closing the season with 8 points in a blowout loss to Ohio State leaves a bitter taste. Sullinger finishes third but as the best player on the best team, he was tough to move out of the way as well.
The Big Ten Tournament bracket has been finalized. Michigan will play around 2:30 p.m. on Friday as the #4 seed versus #5 Illinois. Michigan’s last first round bye was 7 years ago in 2004, when the Wolverines knocked off Iowa.
Similar to the game in East Lansing, Colton Christian entered this game and managed to make a huge play in limited time. John Beilein said after the game that Colton has the ability and athleticism to make plays like this, he just needs to learn how to play on the perimeter. But this play is a good example of what he can do while he’s on the floor: anticipate where the ball is going to be and put himself in position to make an athletic play. Here, Evan Smotrycz elects to take the 3-pointer when he sees a little bit of daylight, and Colton starts out on the perimeter. The second the shot goes up, Colton crashes the glass and maneuvers his way around Draymond Green, but he still isn’t in great position to get to the ball. Even so, he makes a heck of a play by getting in the air and getting a hand on it. He also shows great awareness, making sure to tap the ball out to Matt Vogrich, who’s open at the top of the key. Vogrich receives the ball and makes a subtle pass fake that sends Durrell Summers scattering after nothing. The end up result is a wide open triple that Vogrich knocks down with ease. [click to continue…]
Michigan led for the entire game but I never felt comfortable. Now the regular season is over the Wolverines not only swept Michigan State for the first time since 1997, they are 19-12 (9-9) with a legitimate chance to make the NCAA Tournament. Personally, I’m still trying to figure out what happened. This team was picked 10th or 11th in the league and three months ago I was worrying whether they could beat teams like Harvard and Oakland at home. A month ago I was trying to judge whether Michigan could rebound from a 1-7 stretch to finish the season on a positive note. Now, I’m trying to decipher RPIs and bubble resumes to figure out whether Michigan is actually an NCAA Tournament team.