The conference season is half way over, so the BTP staffers are handing out their midseason awards. Take a look at the winners:
Drew Hamm - Nik Stauskas is the pick here. His eFG% (which takes into account that a three is worth more than a two) leads the conference at .607. He's 5th in PPG (17.3), 7th in APG (3.9), and leads the B1G in win shares (4.3) and offensive rating (133.3) all while averaging the 4th most minutes per game (35) for the top team in the conference. Tim Frazier was my second choice.
Thomas Beindit - I will go with Gary Harris here. He has been incredible for MSU this season and he is probably the main thing that has allowed them to overcome many of these injuries. He can score, defend, and has the ability to impact the game even in little areas.
Aaron Yorke - It's a close race between Nik Stauskas, Gary Harris, and Yogi Ferrell for me, but I'm going with Ferrell. This season, he's established himself as the Big Ten's premier point guard, and he has to be his best every night for his team to have a chance. Ferrell doesn't have the sexiest shooting percentages, but his much improved three-point accuracy allows him to be a threat from anywhere on the floor.
Jason Dorow - This is a really tight race. Terran Petteway belongs in the mix alongside Stauskas, Harris and Ferrell. At midseason, Stauskas has had the biggest impact. Stauskas is the best 3-point shooter in the conference (44.7%), and he's efficient from anywhere on the floor. After losing so much talent since last March, no way Michigan is second in the conference without Stauskas' leadership.
Josh Stern - With the exception of the Duke and Indiana games, Stauskas has been tremendous all year. He is a vastly better player than he was last year, and losing three starters from a Final Four team has put a huge amount of responsibility. He has responded, leading Michigan to a 17-5 record and 9-1 in the B1G so far.
Chad Markulics - I'm also gonna go with Stauskas. Nobody expected Michigan to be this good coming into conference play, even with a healthy Mitch McGary. The Canadian has been nothing short of spectacular all season long (see Drew's take) and he's played himself into being a first-round lock in June's NBA Draft.
2. Best Freshman
Drew Hamm - Noah Vonleh leads the conference in rebounding per game (9.4) and is 23rd in PPG (11.7). He's fifth in FG% (.539) and 11th in BPG (1.2). He's really tall and athletic and I hope he goes pro yesterday.
Chris Kay - Noah Vonleh really impressed me against Michigan last weekend. You know his stats as Drew just mentioned them, but seeing him play is what gives him this award for me. He completely dominates the low post for Indiana and has three double doubles in his last five games. For future reference, I think Derrick Walton Jr. is going to have a great second half.
Thomas Beindit - Noah Vonleh in a runaway. It's been awhile since the Big Ten Freshman of the Year race was this lopsided. Zak Irvin is probably second, but Vonleh is the guy right now.
Jason Dorow - Looks like there is a consensus here. Noah Vonleh has provided the inside presence Indiana needed to compete this year, not to mention he leads the B1G in rebounding.
Josh Stern- I was tempted to tie Vonleh and Nigel Hayes, but Vonleh's production has been phenomenal so far. A starter on a mediocre team, Vonleh has been able to both pound the ball inside and shoot it from deep, and is one of the main reasons that this Indiana team is still on the bubble.
Chad Markulics - Yep, Vonleh. I saw Indiana play in person at Penn State last month and he's every bit the player he looks on TV. He even hit a couple of threes that day. I'm a little surprised Indiana isn't better between Ferrell and Vonleh.
3. Best Defensive Player
Drew Hamm - I (HOT TAKE ALERT) think Shannon Scott is a better defender than Aaron Craft this year. Scott leads the B1G in steal percentage (4.5 to Craft's 4.4) and is second in defensive rating (87.4 to Vonleh's 87.3, while Craft is fourth at 88.4). Scott also fouls less per game. NOBODY TELL DAKICH WHAT I THINK!
Thomas Beindit - The guy who has impressed me the most so far has been Gary Harris. His ability as an on ball defender and stay on guys in transition is fantastic. He also has the ability to guard several different positions.
Aaron Yorke - Aaron Craft is still the guy for me. He's still just as tenacious and annoying as he was when he was a freshman. Just because the hype surrounding him has made him a little overrated doesn't mean he's still not the best defensive player in the conference.
Jason Dorow - Aaron Craft may be struggling offensively, but he is the best overall defender in the conference. He's always forcing turnovers and leads the Big Ten in steals per game. Craft simply outhustles everyone else on the floor. If there's a second place here, Sanjay Lumpkin deserves to be in the discussion for his skills on the perimeter and inside.
Josh Stern - While Aaron Craft might be the best defender, I wanted to give this award to the best and most versatile defender on the best defensive team. Crawford has made Northwestern relevant again and it starts with their defense, allowing the fewest points in the B1G. Crawford can guard positions 1-4, and his length and size at 6'5 allow him make such an impact at the defensive end.
Chad Markulics - Fine, I'll go for the shot blocker. A.J. Hammons is easily the conference's top rim protector, swatting 3.2 shots per game. He also averages 7.4 boards on the league's best rebounding team. Purdue hasn't been great this season, and some of that can be pinned on Hammons' inconsistency, but he changes the game in a way that even the best on-ball defenders can't.
4. Most Improved Player
Drew Hamm - Although he got a transfer year to work on his skillz, Terran Petteway is the most improved player in the B1G. He went from averaging 3.1 ppg as a freshman at Texas Tech to 17.5 ppg this year at Nebraska. Rebounds, steals, and blocks per 40 minutes are all up and turnovers are down. Frank Kaminsky is most improved "All In The B1G" edition.
Jason Dorow - Like Drew, I'm going to split this award up. Terran Petteway is leaps and bounds better than he was at Texas Tech and no doubt deserving of this award for how he's carried Nebraska this season. With his numbers, Petteway even has a case for B1G Player of the Year. Caris LeVert is the most improved player who was already in the conference. LeVert has really stepped up on both ends of the floor for Michigan.
Chris Kay- Did anyone think that Caris LeVert was going to average 12/4/3/1 this season? Those numbers don't jump out at you, but he has had monster games when needed this season. When Stauskas wasn't on top of his game against MSU, LeVert had 17 points and 8 rebounds. Against Duke the same thing happened and he stepped up his game scoring 24 points.
Thomas Beindit - Caris LeVert easily. I thought LeVert would have a breakout season, but his play has even surpassed my hopes. If he can keep improving, he could be a great player for Michigan the next few seasons.
Aaron Yorke - LaQuinton Ross is the most improved player because he's stepped up and become the consistent double-digit scorer that the Buckeyes need him to be. Ohio State has been a disappointment in conference play so far, but they'd be even more so without Ross's ability to put the ball through the hoop.
Josh Stern- Along with Stauskas, LeVert has had a tremendous amount of responsibility and has risen to the challenge. The second most important player on the Wolverines, LeVert has added muscle and quickness to help expand his game. He is up 10 PPG from last season, grabbing 3 more rebounds per game and is a big reason why Michigan is 9-1 in the B1G.
5. Best Coach
Drew Hamm - Right now, it's Chris Collins for the job he's done at Northwestern (they already have more conference wins than last year). I bet I change my mind by the time the season is over, but I hope I don't though, because Northwestern should have something nice happen to them in basketball for once.
Chris Kay - Have to agree with Drew here. Did anyone think Northwestern would be in the top 8 let alone tied for fourth in the B1G? They have beaten Wisconsin and Indiana on the road, both of which are impressive wins. Give Chris Collins the award!
Jason Dorow - Chris Collins's first season at Northwestern has been miraculous. After preseason predictions placed NU in last place in the Big Ten, Collins' gameplanning has helped the Wildcats to five conference wins. The energy Collins is pumping in totally changed the outlook of the entire program and has Welsh-Ryan Arena rocking.
Thomas Beindit - I am tempted to pick Beilein here due to Michigan's quick turnaround minus 2 NBA 1st rounders, but Chris Collins deserves this. Northwestern was not only a joke in the offseason, but even earlier this year. To make them competitive is incredible.
Aaron Yorke - John Beilein deserves this award the most because of his ability to continue to win conference games without Trey Burke and Mitch McGary. Fran McCaffery has done a great job with Iowa, but I think it was a little easier to see them coming. Beilein has had younger players step up to fill big roles with minimal growing pains. That's the sign of a great coach.
Josh Stern- As much as it pains me to say this, what Izzo and the Spartans have done is nothing short of a miracle. Izzo has been playing the season with countless injuries to starters, and has gotten incredible production from his bench players. The Spartans could have taken a hit, but are tied at the top with the Wolverines, and Izzo has a lot to do with that.
6. Best Game
Drew Hamm - I still think the best conference game of the year is the January 7th matchup of Ohio State and Michigan State at the Breslin Center. This game had it all: an intense crowd, wild momentum swings, overtime, and a terrible shooting performance by LaQuinton Ross. MSU ended up pulling it out 72-68 and sent OSU on a month-long tumble down the standings.
Thomas Beindit - This is a tough one, but I'm going to go with Michigan vs. MSU in the Breslin. The guy was incredibly hyped (we even did a special roundtable on it), featured great play, and both teams have shown they control the conference.
Aaron Yorke - Ohio State at Michigan State from January 7 is the conference game of the year so far. This one had everything: a dominant Michigan State performance, an epic Buckeye comeback, overtime, and Dan Dakich singing the sonnets of Aaron Craft. It was Big Ten basketball at its finest.
Jason Dorow - The excitement of the Ohio State v. Michigan State game on Jan. 7 will be unparalleled in the B1G regular season. At the time, it was the #3 and #5 teams in the country going at it for conference supremacy. Ohio State made a huge run to send it to OT. Both teams were going all out and diving on the floor, B1G basketball at its finest.
Josh Stern - In a game in which neither team completely seized control, it took a Russell Byrd 3-pointer with under a minute left for the Spartans to steal one at Carver-Hawkeye. This game showed how good Iowa is, but also how the Spartans will not back down from any challenge.
Chad Markulics - The B1G has been particularly batshit this year, and nothing illustrated that more than the games on Jan. 29th. Penn State's come-from-behind upset at Ohio State was the best watch for my money - it's always fun to see players take over a game like D.J. Newbill did that night - but the game that encapsulated what this season is all about happened right after, when Chris Collins and Northwestern just waltzed into the Kohl Center and put the whoopin' on the Badgers. I would've put my house on Wisconsin to win that game, but Drew Crawford and Tre Demps and that suffocating defense were worth a win and that's why I love this conference.