Gene Rayburn: "The Big Ten is so good."
Audience, in unison: "How good is it?"
Rayburn: "The Big Ten is so good that the BTP staff didn't vote for 'blank' when selecting their Team of the Week!
/music begins to play
/Richard Dawson makes a pass at the female contestant: "They call me 'Adreian Pleasure,' you know..."
Ahh, you get it. Nobody from Sunday's Michigan State-Wisconsin classic made this edition of Team of the Week, mostly because there were so many other outstanding performances. Straight to the team we go:
Player of the Week: Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa - 2 GP, 18 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg, 6-13 3pt (46%)
Iowa needed a win against Michigan and they sure got one, smashing the Wolverines by 18 on the back of Marble. His hot early shooting set the tone for a Hawkeye blowout, in which he finished with 26 points on 6-10 from behind the arc. Marble was less effective against Ohio State, going for 10 in the loss to a suddenly resurgent Buckeye squad, but our staff felt his dominant performance in victory was worthy of the Player of the Week nod.
Caris LeVert, Michigan - 2 GP, 19 ppg, 6 rpg, 3 apg, 11-19 FG (58%)
Is LeVert the most improved player in the B1G? (Yes.) He's certainly not playing like a guy who shot 31% in ten minutes per game a year ago, and he's a big reason why Michigan will likely finish in the conference's penthouse alongside their in-state rivals. It's a shame his 22 points at Iowa went to waste, but combined with his 16-7-5 performance against a usually tough-to-beat Nebraska, he did not go unnoticed by our voters.
Maurice Walker, Minnesota - 2 GP, 15.5 ppg, 7 rpg, 14-26 FG (54%)
Speaking of most improved players, Mo Walker has been nothing short of a revelation for Richard Pitino's Gophers. The 6-10, 250lb mountain of a man had only played more than 20 minutes in one game before his breakout performance against Wisconsin in late January, but he hasn't looked back. Averaging 14.2 points and just over 6 boards per game over his last five, Walker has given Minnesota consistently outstanding minutes in the low post (he's shooting 60% from the floor over that span). His 14 and 8 against Indiana at The Barn keyed a crucial victory for Minny's tournament hopes.
Aaron Craft, Ohio State - 2 GP, 12 ppg, 5 apg, 3 rpg, 4.5 spg, 9-14 FG (64%)
Oh, this is what Dakich was talking about. Craft had himself a ball game at Carver-Hawkeye, living up to his reputation as the best on-ball defender in the conference with a six-steal outing. His 17 points and six assists didn't hurt Ohio State's effort either. All this talk about the Buckeyes not being "for real" reached its zenith after Penn State won in Columbus, but all they've done since is win, and win in impressive fashion. Their defending keeps them in every game at the least and when Craft has it going offensively they're a really tough out, as Iowa discovered.
A.J. Hammons, Purdue - 2 GP, 15.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 4.5 bpg
Hammons must've seen most of the BTP staff (read: not the smart, funny, and good looking one(s)) overlook him for midseason defensive player of the year honors because he took all of his pent-up frustrations out on poor old Minnesota in Purdue's triple-OT victory. 20 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks were the final tallies for the sophomore, who made what would ultimately be the game-winner with just over a minute to play in the third extra frame. The Boilers couldn't carry that momentum into Columbus, though Hammons once again showed up with 11 points, seven assists and three blocks in defeat.