Big Ten’s Top 25 Players: 15-11

  • 08/24/2012 9:29 am in

With the official start of practice less than nine weeks away, Inside the Hall and UM Hoops have partnered to bring you a preseason breakdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2012-2013 season.

Our selection process was hardly scientific, but it did involve much deliberation and compromise to arrive at a list that we hope will provide plenty of reaction and debate.

The series is broken down into five parts (25-2120-16) and our third installment of players 15-11 is available below:

15. Jared Berggren, Wisconsin (6-foot-10, center, senior)
27.8 mpg, 10.5 ppg, 4.9. rpg, 1.7 bpg, 52.4 eFG%

Berggren ranks 15th on our list but there are only two prototypical big men that occupy one of the 14 spots ahead of him. The redshirt senior’s development has been slow and steady but he has emerged as a more than capable inside-out big man with the ability to thrive in Bo Ryan’s swing offense, which has become increasingly more perimeter oriented in recent seasons. Berggren attempted over a third of his field goals from 3-point range last year but knocked triples down at an impressive 37% clip. He was also proficient in the paint, making 50% of his twos. The 6-foot-10 senior is not going to be a star in the Wisconsin system but his importance as one of the league’s top big men can’t be underrated on a team looking to reestablish itself after Jordan Taylor’s graduation.

14. Victor Oladipo, Indiana (6-foot-5, wing, junior)
26.7 mpg, 10.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.4 spg, 48.7 eFG%

Indiana has a future lottery pick (Cody Zeller), experienced scorer (Christian Watford), lights out shooter (Jordan Hulls) and star studded freshman class but Victor Oladipo is the glue that can hold everything together. Oladipo thrives attacking the basket and getting into the lane where he converts 52% of his twos and gets to the line often. He’s an above average defensive rebounder with the ability to get in the passing lanes and create easy scoring opportunities in transition. His skillset and energy makes him a fan favorite at Assembly Hall and rightfully so. Oladipo has the strength and athleticism to play at the next level, but he’ll have to find a three point shot (10-48 on threes in 2012) to elevate his game from effective glue player to top flight wing scorer.

13. Brandon Paul,  Illinois (6-foot-4, guard, senior)
33.4 mpg, 14.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 46.4 eFG%

Brandon Paul’s position on lists of this sort is certain to cause debate. Only Northwestern’s John Shurna and Penn State’s Tim Frazier scored more points per game in conference play last season and Paul’s 43-point outburst against Ohio State won’t soon be forgotten. However, Paul has the sort of efficiency numbers to make those with even a semblance of understanding of tempo free stats squeamish. Paul was the least efficient of the 14 Big Ten players that used at least 24% of their respective teams’ possessions. That slotted him behind Wisconsin’s Ryan Evans, Nebraska’s Bo Spencer and Minnesota’s Andre Hollins. Despite his inefficiencies as a volume shooter, Paul can still get to the line and it would be painful to imagine Illinois without his scoring presence in the backcourt. Using DJ Cooper as an example, new Illini head coach John Groce has shown the ability to nurture a volume shooter, riding Cooper’s ups and downs throughout the season all the way to the Sweet 16 with Ohio last season.

12. Gary Harris, Michigan State (6-foot-5, wing, freshman)
ESPN: 5-star, 11; Scout: 5-star, 16; Rivals 5-star, 25

Ranking freshmen in a predictive list is often times based more on situation and opportunity than sheer ability. For example, Trey Burke would have never shared freshman of the year honors had Darius Morris returned for his junior season. Gary Harris has both situation and ability on his side. Ranked eleventh in RSCI Hoops’ consensus rankings, Harris is the most highly regarded prospect enrolling at a Big Ten school. He’s also headed to a program that will have to deal with the loss of the most complete player in college basketball. There were few, if any, players as important to their team as Draymond Green was a year ago and Harris will be called on to replace much of his production, despite the differences in size, shape, position and style of play. Tom Izzo is notoriously tough on freshmen but he needs a go to scorer and Harris fits the bill.

11. Christian Watford, Indiana (6-foot-9, forward, senior)
28.4 mpg, 12.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 49.2 eFG%

Watford’s playing time was reduced as a junior and he scored fewer points but he was a better basketball player. His effective field goal percentage and offensive efficiency were significantly improved from his first two seasons but it was the little things that stood out with Watford’s year over year improvement. Once known as little more than a scorer, Watford increased his rebounding production despite being less involved on offense. He showed the ability to defend the league’s best point guard or drop down to the low block and battle it out with the conference’s best big men. And while that sacrifice is admirable, Watford’s offensive skillset is still hard to match. He’s a 43 percent 3-point shooter at 6-foot-9 and can score points in bunches. If he’s finally able to improve his two point shooting (41% in 2012, 39% in 2011) he could elevate his game to the conference’s elite.

This edition of the Big Ten’s top 25 players was written by Dylan Burkhardt of

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  • Shop7

    I’m probably a little biased, but I’d put Wat in the top ten.

  • chumhoosier

    Gary Harris over a proven V? Watford at 11? Both very questionable in my opinion.

  • MillaRed

    I think CWat has 1st team B1G potential.

  • calbert40

    I get that Harris is supposed to be a stud, but let’s get real for a second. If you could only have one on your roster this season, who would you take? I’ll take the guy with 2 yrs B1G experience. Not “hating” on Harris, because I think he is really good, but I’d take Victor.

  • Robert_Montgomery

    This season has me giddy just thinking about it….

  • inLinE6

    We pretty much have 5 starters all in top 20?

  • inLinE6

    He definitely needs a little leg work to be 1st team B1G. If he keeps his momentum from NCAA tournament, he’ll lock in 1st round pick next year.

  • A few surprises for me so far: Gary Harris over V?… C Wat at 11?… So is Hulls in the top 10? If so, how is Cwat not? If Hulls isn’t on the list at all, What the Eff?… and lastly, did I miss Jeff Howard’s name in the 16-25?, because that is an injustice.

  • Jake

    Not Hulls or Sheehey.

  • INexpat2001

    According to IU’s stat page, Oladipo shot 10 of 48 from 3… not 20 of 48.

    I love Dipo, but I had to look that up because I did not remember him being 40% from deep.

  • Hoosier7883

    What a joke! Typical of the garbage that comes from “main stream media” ESPN. What ever happened to reporters that actually do real homework.

  • Oldguyy

    Surprised to see nothing written about Berggren’s defensive ability. That’s what impresses me about him most.

  • cdog

    This should provide plenty of motivation for Vic to shut down Harris when we play MSU. It should be an epic battle.

  • INexpat2001

    1) I think you are commenting on the wrong post
    2) Such rankings are subjective in nature (regardless of the purported point system used), and not what most people would consider the job of “reporters that actually do real homework”
    3) I’m not sure what ESPN being “main stream” has anything to do with the flaws in the rankings.

    I don’t agree with ESPN’s 50/50 rank behind Louisville either, but…

  • Fixed.

  • No one ever talks Defense. Our biggest liability IMO. But on paper we should probably win most of the games so. Score score score.

  • Daburns0

    So is Hulls #10. I’m gonna call my shot on that one. I can’t imagine we only have 1 player in the top 10. Plus, the rest of the big ten can’t wait for Hulls to graduate. He has torched all of them at least once (even though some on here don’t care for his game).

  • Evansville Hoosier

    I don’t know, I think you may be trying too hard to be unbiased. Players I legitimately feel are better than Wat: Zeller, D. Thomas, Craft, Burke.. And that’s probably it. Some would say Frazier, but while he’s very good I think Watford would be even more impressive in Frazier’s situation. So I’d say Watford, Hardaway, Appling, Frazier, Mbakwe are all about the same level. I guess Watford being at 11 means he’s behind drew crawford and I really don’t agree with that. Crawford is an above average player on an average team IMO. Watford would do better in his situation as well.

  • CreamandCrimson

    What happened to people that actually read before they spew negative comments? If you don’t agree with the list, fine. But if you are going to comment on this site, please try and understand this isn’t ESPN and calling content on here “garbage” won’t go over real well.

  • Yoshi3107

    Unless he is in the top 10, which I doubt , I don’t understand how Bill Sheehey is not on this list??? He would start and most likely be a leading/2nd scorer on the majority of teams in the Big10 and that might have been the case last year. I understand IU is a lot deeper than most teams and it would look biased with so many IU players but “COME ON, MAN” give the kid some credit.

  • Hoosier7883

    My bad on the previous post… I was reading another post an was commenting on that. Too many tabs open. Alex you are great. Again my bad

  • tmessIUfan

    I agree! I don’t think there’s a better college basketball sight in the country! Keep runnin’ the best show in town Alex!!

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I feel Sheehey is just a notch or two behind VO. Surprised we haven’t seen him yet……

  • While Hulls has his shortcomings (turnovers, defense), he possesses the most important skill in the game, the proven ability to put ball though hoop.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    i love all the IU disrespect in this list. keep it coming! our guys needs some more of whatever fuel they were running on all year last year.

    the worst thing that could happen to this team is for them to feel satisfied!

  • MisterSlippery

    Wow, Hulls and Zeller Top 10 and CWAT not. I guess we can’t have everybody in the Top 10, but he’s often been our best and most versatile player. I don’t mind Harris being that high, if he turns out to play up to his billing. These are projections, not awards after the fact, so its always going to have guesswork involved with rookies.

    I wonder where we would have seen Cody Zeller and Myers Leonard last year? I would think Cody has to be #1 in the conference this year and Sullinger or Green would have been #1 last year.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I would be rather surprised if Will Sheehey starts. The only two probable starters not mentioned yet are Hulls and Zeller. We can assume Zeller is #1 and Hulls may or may not be in the top 10.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Will (not Bill) has a strong case to be in the top 20. However, I really doubt he would be the leading scorer on “the majority of teams in the B1G” and that definitely would not have been the case last season.

    I really like Will Sheehey but I think the role he has at IU is perfect for him and I don’t think a Big Ten would want to rely on him as its leading scorer.

  • CreamandCrimson

    What IU disrespect? They have named 15 players thus far and IU has had three of them. We are going to have at least one more when they get to the top five. If Zeller doesn’t take the 1 spot, then we can talk about “disrespect”.

  • CreamandCrimson

    As a fan of basketball, I really like Berggren’s game. He is rock solid defensively, passes well, has an effective FG% over 52% and always plays hard. Berggren was a big reason we came up short in both contests against Wisconsin last season.

  • Yoshi3107

    Bill(what he is referred to by close friends),as a Sophomore averaged about 10 ppg if you include the post-season being a sixth man and with Verdell somehow in front of him in the lineup. Just remember the progress he made from Frosh-Soph year. If not the hardest, he’s definitely one of the hardest working guys on the team, I think you will be surprised by the role he takes this year on the team and in the Big10. Either way this still is a great post and I understand complaints would be said no matter how the list was made, like anything else. Go Hoosiers.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    will being left out
    jordy being left out
    harris ranked above vic
    watford not top ten

    THAT IU DISRESPECT! and especially if zeller isn’t #1

  • DarkSouth

    I though he’d have a good year last year but was shocked how well he blocked shots. In a regularly paced game, he’d around or over 2 a game.

  • DarkSouth

    I still get excited remembering the personal run he went on to keep us in the tournament game against VCU once it looked like they were going to up us away. Too bad halftime came up, it felt like he would go for 30 or 40.

  • mdn82

    Yes, this isn’t biased at all… Maybe we should have 6 in the top 10 since nobody else has decent players.

  • mdn82

    Well, your eyes are different than most and most think he will be a second team All Big Ten at worst.

  • CreamandCrimson

    No need to yell. I understood why you thought IU was being disrespected. I just don’t think one of our substitutes being left off of a top 25 list and Watford getting put at 11 constituted major disrespect.

    Your opinion though and that’s fine. I will agree with you on Harris over Victor. I am looking forward to seeing that matchup play out on the court.

  • mdn82

    Vic won’t get the numbers Harris will because we are deep. That doesn’t make Vic any less important, but he won’t get the minutes Harris will, because MSU isn’t as deep as us.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    i’m a fan. i think like a fan. this is a fan website. i’m allowed to be biased . besides, if i’m an iu player that’s exactly how i feel about this article! very disrespected

  • SCHoosier

    Boy that final 10 must be loaded given the talent left out there. tough job Alex!

  • mdn82

    That is fair enough. But, this list was an unbiased approach by a Michigan site like ITH with ITH at the Big Ten as a whole. You will have this. That was my opinion to your approach. You have every right to be biased towards this, but I disagree with you. That is all. I personally hope every player doesn’t care where ITH and a Michigan site has them ranked.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    i hope they care a lot! and i hope they get ticked! that is, as long always they remember to give thanks for the ammo…

  • chumhoosier

    Well i think my eyes are just fine. He averages 8 ppg and 5 ast. With a whopping 35% from 3 and 71% from foul line. Very pedestrian numbers.

  • Devout Hoosier

    I predict Hulls is about to have his best year yet scoring wise. Just like Diebler for Ohio St., he’ll be the benefactor of collapsed defenses in the paint. With him roaming rather than play making as point guard, watch out. Yogi and Vic able to penetrate too, hulls will always be option #2 for most plays and I guarantee he’ll burn the nets.

  • Devout Hoosier

    Craft is the very definition of overrated. Many coaches in the B1G and sports commentators have pointed it out.

    I remember Painter getting a T after he went ballistic in the PU vs OSU game when craft pulled his typical d-fence reach in foul with no call. I assumed it was the game plan, Craft does X and I’m bringing it to the referee’s attention in a big way.

    Craft is a good average point guard, but there is nothing in his stats that puts him apart from his peers in the B1G. He has steals, but most of them are with contact.

  • mdn82

    So, 8 and 5 isn’t decent at the college level? You may want to see how many players in college avg. 5 assists a game, while getting 2.5 steals per game. With Sullinger out, he will get more points. I think he is a fine quality players with numbers to back it up. He has a better line than any PG we have had in a long time.

  • mdn82

    Dude Painter getting a T isn’t exactly evidence he is a dirty player. If you get 2.5 steals per game, you are probably going to be reaching for steals here and there.

  • Oldguyy

    Personally, I wouldn’t say Appling is as good as Frazier, particularly given that Frazier was the main focus of everyone’s defense when they played Penn State.

  • Agree. His minutes will go down slightly, while his scoring will go up slightly.

  • I know, the injuries and lost time, but hopefully Mo reads this and gains even more motivation. He was a freshman stud and still has the skills. Anyone know how he is moving? Feeling?