Big Ten Basketball: Team Preview — The Elite Teams — Part VI
Which Hog Will Eat The Cabbage?
Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State
We have been through the have not’s and the have something teams. Now on to the teams that definitely have a chance at winning the league title. All three teams a re locks to make the NCAA Tournament. The three teams most likely to win the conference title are Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State.Wisconsin appears to be better than last year and the schedule is the most favorable in the realm. It seems somehow the Badgers play Ohio State and Michigan State once each, and at home to boot. Wisconsin is a very good team, and that schedule equalizer puts the Badgers right into the mix.
Now do not get any alternative ideas, this is the same type of Wisconsin team all of us are used to watching. This year the tough defense continues and the offense has been impressive. The Badgers were 13-0 in nonconference play, beating Florida, St. Louis, Marquette, and West Virginia.Sophomore forward Sam Dekker is leading the way in scoring, averaging around 14 points per game. He is contributing well regarding shooting percentage and rebounding.
Also averaging around 14 points a game is 7-foot junior Frank Kamisnky and also averaging around 6 rebounds a game. He can hit three-pointers.
The very familiar senior guard Ben Brust is averaging 13 points a game and contributes five rebounds a game; a very nice number for a small guard.
Junior Traevon Jackson is hitting over ten points a game and nearly five rebounds a game.Josh Gasser is a guard averaging almost 9 points a game and 4 rebounds.
Wisconsin has shot almost 40 percent from the three-point area, an excellent figure. The team is shooting 47% combined and 73% from the foul line. Wisconsin gets inside and gets to the foul line. The verdict is clear: the Badgers are tough.
Ohio State may have the most athletic talent in the league. This has been a given over the last decade. Gone is the one-pony scoring show of last year and several Buckeyes have made big progress on the scoring front now that the ball hits their hands more frequently.LaQuinton Ross has been a big beneficiary of the new ball dispersal. The 6’ 8” junior is averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds a game. On the surface, these stats are not overly impressive, but Ross can take over a game in many ways. He is probably one of the top three or four athletes in the conference.
A second Buckeye to come on strong is senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. Like Ross, he is one of the top athletes in the conference. He is averaging over 12 points and five rebounds a game.
Ohio State has always known the high level of athlete Amir Williams can be. Last year, the light came on and is burning brighter this year. The 6’ 11” junior is supplying 10 points and 7 rebounds a game. He is a highlight maker and a Dunkenstein candidate.Aaron Craft is the best defensive player in the conference. He is short of ten points a game, but runs the Buckeye show. The points off of Craft’s defense make up for the average offensive output. He is a senior leader every team would love to have.
Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson are hitting in excess of 7 points a game and give Ohio State even more athletic depth.
The shooting of this group is not the league’s best; in fact, some in Columbus consider this team (like other past OSU teams) as being offensively challenge. The Buckeye offense is not built on a wow factor, and the Buckeye defense is built to fuel the offense. The results have been outstanding year after year.Michigan State is the league Bully. This is a better Spartan team than last year. Gary Harris is now a sophomore and the improvement is notable. The big guard is hitting big shots and helping MSU avoid some of the bad hands and turnovers of a couple of years ago. Harris is one of the premiere guards in the country and will be a clear high NBA draft pick. At 18 points a game, and hitting almost 90 percent from the foul line, Harris can control a game.
Adreian Payne is the most physical player in the conference. The 6’ 10” inside player will muscle to the full extent of the law. He is averaging about 16 points and 8 rebounds a game. His shooting has been excellent, regarding both field goal and foul line.Senior Keith Appling makes up the other half of the conference’s best backcourt duo. He is averaging about 16 points a game and 5 assists. He is playing steady, and this is a real benefit to the Spartan chances of going a long way in March.
Denzel Valentine is a nice swingman that can add defense, scoring, and rebounding.
Collectively, the Spartans are not the biggest team in the league, but big enough.
Collectively, the Spartans are not the most athletic team in the league, but athletic enough. What the Spartans have is proven impact players that can take over a game.
This team will be tough to beat.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu
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