Big Ten play is finally here, but it would behoove us here at BTP to sort out the best of the best from non-conference play first. So without further ado, the Team of the Non-Con.
Team of the Non-Con
Player of the Non-Con: Adreian Payne - C, Michigan State: 18.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 54% FG, 46% 3pt
A deserving choice for Player of the Non-Con, Payne has solidified himself as the nation's premier senior big man with his displays this season. A threat to score from anywhere on the court, the 6'10" center is shooting an astounding 46% from range on just over two attempts per game. The Spartans enter B1G play as the nation's fifth-ranked team and are still the popular pick to win the conference, and a lot of that rides on the shoulders of Payne. Wisconsin and Ohio State have a couple of budding stars at center in Frank Kaminsky and Amir Williams, respectively, but you'd be hard pressed not to take Michigan State's man in the middle if it came down to it.
Sam Dekker - F, Wisconsin: 14.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 52% FG
The Badgers have been the most unsurprising surprise of the season - they went undefeated in non-conference play and the college basketball world shrugged. Bo Ryan has his team firing on all cylinders and Sam Dekker is leading the charge. The sophomore leads Wisconsin in scoring and rebounding, and he's been at his best against the best: Dekker averaged 16.0 ppg against the five high-major opponents the Badgers have played this season (St. John's, Florida, West Virginia, Virginia, and Marquette).
Rayvonte Rice - G/F, Illinois: 18.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 50% FG
Rice hasn't needed much time to adjust to life with the Illini. Since day one in Champaign he's been the go-to-guy, putting up 22 in the season opener. Since then he's broken the 20-point plateau five times, including a season-high 28 in Illinois' final non-con game against a feisty UIC. Rice can hit the three, but he's an absolute monster in the paint, shooting close to 60% on his two-point attempts.
Keith Appling - G, Michigan State: 15.9 ppg, 5.5 apg, 3.3 rpg, 50% FG, 48% 3pt FG
Many thought Michigan State needed a big year from Appling to solidify themselves as Final Four contenders, and the Spartans are getting just that. The senior has been lights out from beyond the arc at 48%, picking up some slack from the struggling Gary Harris (29% from distance in his sophomore season). He's developed his point guard skills this offseason as well; Appling is averaging 1.7 more dimes per game than last season while cutting down on his turnovers (1.9 this season compared to 2.3 tpg in 2012-13).
Tim Frazier - G, Penn State: 18.2 ppg, 7.5 apg, 3.9 rpg, 48% FG
We knew Frazier, a first team all-B1G selection in 2011-12, was good. But after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury early last year, there were questions raised about his endurance and and ability to bounce back from such a debilitating injury. It's safe to say that those questions have been answered - Frazier is currently third in the nation is assists per game and fourth in the conference in scoring. Officially listed as a graduate student, he's become much more of an efficient player with options like D.J. Newbill (conference-best 18.9 ppg) and Ross Travis (11.8 ppg) to dish to, and the Nittany Lions look like they could beat any given opponent on any night because of Frazier.
Other receiving multiple votes:
- Nik Stauskas, Michigan: 18.2 ppg, 48% 3pt
- Yogi Ferrell, Indiana: 16.8 ppg, 4.2 apg
- D.J. Newbill, Penn State: 18.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg
- Glenn Robinson III, Michigan: 14.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg