Examining the Big Ten’s best at the quarter turn

With nearly a quarter of the season in the books, it’s time to examine the Big Ten’s best thus far in 2012-2013:

Best player – Cody Zeller, Indiana

Truth be told, Zeller’s numbers have fallen in line fairly closely with how he finished up last season. He’s currently averaging 15.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and is shooting over 64 percent from the field. There’s certainly a case to be made for Deshaun Thomas as the Big Ten’s best player to-date, but Zeller gets the edge because his play has led the Hoosiers to an 8-0 start and a no. 1 national ranking with wins over North Carolina and Georgetown.

Also considered: Thomas, Ohio State; Trey Burke, Michigan

Best freshman – Nik Stauskas, Michigan

If you had the Canada native as your freshman of the year coming into the season, we’d like to see your preseason ballot. Overshadowed by Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary in the Wolverines’ 2012 recruiting haul, Stauskas is averaging 14.2 points per game, is hitting close to 96 percent of his free throws and is shooting a ridiculous 63% on 3-point attempts. As a result, he’s captured two straight Big Ten freshman of the week awards and his efficiency is a big reason for Michigan’s 7-0 start and rise to No. 3 in both polls.

Also considered: Robinson III, Michigan; Sam Dekker, Wisconsin

Best distributor – Trey Burke, Michigan

This one isn’t really close when you look at the numbers. Burke is averaging seven assists per game and is second in the league in assist rate at 37.6. Much like the balance currently being displayed in Bloomington, Michigan has a plethora of offensive options like Tim Hardaway Jr., Stauskas, Robinson III that Burke is finding with regularity. Also of note: His turnover rate is down slightly from a season ago.

Also considered: Yogi Ferrell, Indiana; Keith Appling, Michigan State; Shannon Scott, Ohio State; Jordan Hulls, Indiana

Best defender – Aaron Craft, Ohio State and Victor Oladipo, Indiana

Craft entered the season as the Big Ten’s reigning pest on defense and has done nothing to warrant losing that badge of honor. He continues to change games with his on ball defense and if you surveyed guards around the country, he’d be at the top of the list of the guys that nobody wants to face. But Oladipo also deserves recognition here. His 2.2 steals per game is second in the Big Ten and his steals percentage (5.07) is third in the league. Oladipo’s prowess on defense is no longer just potential: It’s reality.

Also considered: Branden Dawson, Michigan State; Austin Hollins, Minnesota

Best rebounder – Trevor Mbawke, Minnesota

A lot of the explosiveness that made Mbawke great in the past has yet to resurface, but his work on the glass early on for the Gophers has been pivotal. He’s pacing the league in offensive rebounding percentage (16.9) and is fifth in defensive rebounding percentage (22.3). As he continues to become more comfortable and gains confidence as the season rolls along, his potential to change games on the glass could be realized.

Also considered: Adreian Payne, Michigan State

Best shooter – Jordan Hulls, Indiana and Stauskas, Michigan

Looking at the numbers, this is nearly a dead heat between IU’s senior leader and Michigan’s freshman sharpshooter, Stauskas. Hulls has an effective field goal percentage of 75.4, while Stauskas checks in at 75.0. Hulls is shooting better from inside the 3-point line, while Staukas holds the edge from distance. Separating the two over such a small discrepancy in percentages just doesn’t feel right.

Also considered: Reggie Hearn, Northwestern

Best team – Indiana

The Big Ten has five teams in the top 14 of the latest Associated Press poll, so there’s no shortage of teams to pick from. While some might knock Indiana’s strength of schedule through eight games, they’ve been the most dominant team and have won every game by 10 or more points. As Ryan outlined this morning, the Hoosiers are also pacing the conference in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

Also considered: Michigan; Ohio State; Illinois

  • http://www.facebook.com/geoff.chenoweth Geoff Chenoweth

    Best 6th Man – Will Sheehey

    Also Considered – Remy Abell

    Go Hoosiers!

  • marcusgresham

    Best coach—Indiana’s Tom Crean
    Also considered: Michigan St.’s Tom Izzo, Michigan’s John Beilein.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Best Mascot —Hoosiers

  • http://www.facebook.com/Cashew314 Steven Harris

    Best nickname — The Big Handsome

    Also considered: “The Kentucky Killer” (CWat), “The Blur” (Yogi Ferrell)

  • http://www.facebook.com/doug.wilson.9404 Doug Wilson

    Best Fanbase– Hoosier Nation

    Also Considered: NONE!

  • DeeLyle

    Kind of surprised 6th man wasn’t included, but I agree. Will has been incredible.

  • SCHoosier

    This Stauskas kid is the real deal at Michigan. He’s big..and is” Hull’s like” in his 3pt stroke. McGary..one of UM other freshman also surprised me. When IU was recruiting him, Mitch was a 6-9 kid who liked to hang around the 3pt line. Now he’s a 250 pound banger with a nice touch around the basket and good at his FT’s. With Robinson also in the mix, Michigan has an outstanding freshman class..which together with Burke etc will give the Hoosiers all we want. I think we split the home and home with them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.spera.3 Gregory Spera

    “Yogi” already has a nickname.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Cashew314 Steven Harris

    No, Kevin does. “Yogi” went ahead and got one too.

  • stacy george

    True to form U have to have outrageous #’s in order for people to believe Ur of value… When we are watching a team sport & Cody Zeller is but a cog within the engine of the IU offense, but without him where would they be??? They were a 12 win team, then Mr. Zeller steps on campus & they win 27 games, cause & effect… But because so many do not want our beloved Hoosier’s back where they belong in the rare a fied air of the BasketBall World… I admit I was born a Hoosier & will die a Hoosier… Living my life in my home town like so many true Hoosier fans discussing, arguing about BasketBall… IU is our Religion best served cold & the Best College program compare none, this includes U PUKE!!!

  • joebull

    you mentioning Izzo for past years? not a great start this year. obviously he’ll be in consideration by year’s end, but not deserving through 1st quarter

  • marcusgresham

    Good point

  • marcusgresham

    We’ll split the first two, get ‘em in the B1G Tournament championship game and then again in a repeat of ’76. I’d take that.

  • Kenneth234

    With all do respect, and Cody Zeller is a huge piece of the success this team has had last year and thus far this season, but lets not take away from the effort and drive of everyone else associated with this program. It has been a collective effort that Mr. Zeller is just a part of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/geoff.chenoweth Geoff Chenoweth

    Best Dance Moves While Dressed in an IU Track Suit – Derek Elston

    Also Considered – Hanner Perea (loses points for the earrings)

  • stacy george

    With all do respect, there is no #1 ranking with Cody Zeller… Indiana BasketBall of my youth does not make a come back as quick without Cody Zeller… Does it come back YES it does! I just believe it takes another 4 or 5 years… Compare this IU team with those of the late 30′s, mid 50′s & 70′s this is what I believe Cody Zeller brought back to Indiana BasketBall which was lacking… I do not discount the drive I just look at reality & face facts… And no it is was not a collective they were missing a cog in there machine name Cody Zeller… Due I think this team could win without him no & that was my whole point of why he is the best player in nation… Indiana cannot win without Cody Zeller do we forget so soon how it was before he arrived???

  • Joe B

    This shows my bias but also the media’s bias to love the big names.. but I think that Zeller hasn’t even been the top player on IU so far this year. I believe that title goes to Jordan Hulls. He has been a scorer(12ppg, over 50% from 3),a distributor(4-1 asst/To ratio) a leader, and Mr. Clutch. Obviously, Cody is irreplaceable on this team, but Hulls has been the X Factor.(in my opinion)

  • MillaRed

    Simply put, no other player in the B1G, perhaps in the country puts more pressure on a defense than Cody Zeller. There is so much more to all of this than statistics.

    He runs the floor and the defense can never take a possession off. The opposing center has to just plain hate this. And there is a reason they are either in foul trouble or so tired they can’t do anything late. There’s a reason we are just thrashing teams at the 30 minute mark.

    So you want to pack in a zone on IU? That’s all Cody. Sure we had an 0-9 start but that’s not going to happen again. We have too many shooters for a zone to last an entire 60 minutes.

    He’s a defensive presence you have to respect and we all know just because you have the height that isn’t a given. Many 7 footers are not shot blockers.

    Cody is only going to get better. We saw what he is capable of vs. UNC. And I expect him to be huge against the better teams when we shorten the bench.

  • http://www.vccm.net/ iubase

    Well said…the 75 and 76 team had no one individual – Scott May was good but Benson, Quinn, Wilkerson all had longer NBA careers. Laskowski reminds me a bit of Will. He and abernathy also played in the NBA. This team has some of the same depth, intensity and chemistry – and CZ is a step above the rest of this team….

  • stacy george

    Lets take Cody Zeller off the IU team where would they be??? Maybe in the top 25 & Hull’s is the best player with his stats, but if teams focus on him instead of Cody where would he be???? This is my question for U??? We have a great team but they did not become that great team until Cody Zeller arrived, like him or not he is the real deal…

  • stacy george

    Thank U…

  • stacy george

    U misunderstand where is I’m coming from…

  • Joe B

    Notice I said Cody Zeller is irreplaceable…

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    Great observation on the “at the 30 minute mark!” I have been telling friends to look for our kick at this time as the other team is exhausted and the after-burners flame on for us!

  • stacy george

    There is but one 6th man & it is Will Sheehey… No If & Or Buts, No Remy Whoever not even in the same universe, Will is the Man…

  • unclekerfuffle

    I see your point now. Sorry for the misinterpretation.

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