The 2014 NCAA Tournament has come and gone, and at its dramatic conclusion, the Connecticut Huskies cut down the nets for the fourth time since 1999. While the American Athletic Conference celebrates titles in both men's and women's basketball, the Big Ten Conference had a stellar showing of its own.
While the lofty goal of placing three of its own teams in the Final Four fell a few inches short, several of its brightest stars had tremendous performances across the board. Whether it was tremendous shooting, divisive passing, or stupendous rebounding, some of the best that the Big Ten had to offer left a mark on The Big Dance that should be worth recognition.
And with that in mind, here is my take on the 2014 All-Big Ten NCAA Tournament Team.
Guards: Nik Stauskas (Michigan) and Ben Brust (Wisconsin)
Unfortunately due to Michigan State's Keith Appling's underwhelming performances, the Big Ten is without a "true" point guard. But what we're left with is a playmaking guard in Michigan's Nik Stauskas and a terrific three-point shooter in Wisconsin's Ben Brust. Brust set the all-time record for three-pointers by a Wisconsin Badger during the course of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, proving to be just as dynamic as he was during the regular season.
Brust nearly put up double figures in all five games in the Tournament, falling shy of double digits against Arizona. Stauskas meanwhile showcased exactly why he was voted as the Conference Player of the Year for the regular season. The Ontario native averaged 17.5 points in four games and finished off the Wolverines' run with a 24-point performance in their heartbreaking defeat against the National Runner Up Kentucky Wildcats in the Elite 8.
Forwards: Branden Dawson (Michigan State), Adreian Payne (Michigan State)
It's true that Michigan Wolverine Glenn Robinson III finally flashed the potential that a lot had locked into the sophomore going into his collegiate career during this NCAA Tournament. But unfortunately for Robinson III, he falls just shy of the cut in favor of two Michigan State Spartans. Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne's contributions to this Spartan club were enormous, and helped pave the way for their run to the Elite 8 in the East Region.
Dawson's back-to-back 20+ point performances against Harvard and Virginia were just what the doctor ordered. As was his practically pristine performance from the free throw line against the Crimson, when he went 12-14 from the line in Spokane. Payne meanwhile started off with a bang: a 41-point performance against Delaware, and then from there never finished with less than 12 points scored. Payne also held the edge in the rebounding department, averaging 6.5 boards in his four games in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Center: Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)
Frank The Tank rounds out this All-Big Ten NCAA Tournament and few and far between would deny his inclusion. Kaminsky was simply outstanding throughout the Wisconsin Badgers' run to the Final Four from just about everywhere on the court. He averaged 5.8 rebounds in the Badgers' five games in The Big Dance. The big man averaged 16.8 points in those five contests, including a 28-point outburst that catapulted Wisconsin over the Arizona Wildcats on the way to their first Final Four in fifteen years. Heck, one could argue that Kaminsky was perhaps the best player from the conference during the entirety of the Tournament, and he deservedly lands here at the center position.