With the Big Ten regular season beginning its final act, it's time to sit down and start figuring out where things stand not only for each respective team, but also for the various players that make up the conference. Who's going to win Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and make the All-Big Ten team?
Luckily, the BTPowerhouse staff has you covered.
Check out the discussion below.
1. Right now, who do you have on your All-Big Ten team and why?
-Thomas Beindit: Right now, I have Yogi Ferrell, AJ Hammons, Peter Jok, Jarrod Uthoff, and Denzel Valentine on my All-Big Ten team. To start, Uthoff and Valentine have been playing at All-American levels this year. Valentine is probably the most diverse player in the country and Uthoff has been incredibly efficient and can get teammates involved. Those are no brainers.
Likewise, Ferrell and Jok have both been great overall this season. Both are probably a notch behind Uthoff and Valentine, but each has still be fantastic. Ferrell has been tremendous as a passer and both have been dynamic at scoring with the ball in their hands. My last pick is Hammons. I actually think Nigel Hayes is the fifth best player in the Big Ten, but the longstanding rule is that a big man has to be picked for an All-Big Ten team, so I'll take Hammons.
-Jerome Scherwin Jr.: Denzel Valentine, Jarrod Uthoff, Yogi Ferrell, Nigel Hayes, and Melo Trimble.
I think the Valentine/Uthoff/Ferrell/Trimble picks are pretty self explanatory. Just turn on any one of their games and try to take your eyes off of them for more than two possessions. It can't be done. And when you add their watchability with their season statistics, you've gote yourself an All-Big Ten first teamer. Hayes might be a surprise from some people, but I'm telling you, ever since he ripped into his team after their loss to Northwestern, not only has he taken ownership of this season, but he's played more consistently. He's so much fun to watch when he takes control on the block and he's become the leader we all hoped he would be after watching him shine in the tournament last season.
-Noah Morris: Yogi Ferrell, Denzel Valentine, Jarrod Uthoff, Melo Trimble, AJ Hammons. All you have to do is look at the numbers that Ferrell, Valentine, Uthoff and Trimble have posted this year to have a full understanding of their spot on the team. These guys show up every single night and put up whatever numbers are necessary for their team to win along with being the unquestioned leaders of their teams. For basically the first two and a half years of his career at Purdue, Hammons had been an enigma. You never knew what you would get from him night to night. Since Big Ten play kicked into full gear last year, Hammons has been the man for Purdue. Against Northwestern, he collected his conference leading 8th double double and is right up at the top of the talk for defensive player of the year honors.
-Andrew Holmes: Denzel Valentine, Peter Jok, Jarrod Uthoff, Nigel Hayes, A.J. Hammons
Why no Yogi or Melo? They are both struggling mightily right now, and I'm not confident either one of them gets out of their funk before the regular season ends. Conversely, Peter Jok has been extremely impressive for Iowa lately. I'd say Ferrell is still right on the cusp for me, but he needs to get back to making shots.
-Marco Knudsen: My All-Big Ten team would consist of Yogi Ferrell, Melo Trimble, Denzel Valentine, Jarrod Uthoff and A.J. Hammons.
Valentine and Uthoff are no-brainers. Both have been playing out of their minds throughout the season and should be serious contenders for National Player of the Year. Ferrell and Trimble have been steady point guards that have pioneered their teams towards the top of the Big Ten standings. Without James Blackmon Jr., Ferrell has elevated his game by becoming seemingly lethal on the fast break and getting other guys involved. Trimble has been the beneficiary of Robert Carter Jr., Diamond Stone and Rasheed Sulaimon stepping on the court this season, but has performed admirably and managed to galvanize new personalities as an extension of coach Turgeon on the court. That's not an easy feat for a sophomore. Hammons has been the epitome of efficient this season. Sharing time in the front court with Haas and Swanigan, Hammons has averaged 14.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg and 2.6 bpg in just 24.3 minutes per game.
2. Who is your Player of the Year right now?
-Thomas Beindit: Undoubtedly, the Big Ten Player of the Year debate is between Jarrod Uthoff and Denzel Valentine. These two have been head and shoulders above everyone else. Still, picking between them is really tough.
Uthoff has been dynamic when scoring, is the key player on the Big Ten's best team, and is just so, so good at creating for himself and teammates. On the other side, Valentine can literally do everything and has been on fire recently. As of now, I'm going to pick Uthoff, but a big part of that has to do with the time Valentine missed. If he keeps up this pace, I'll probably take Valentine.
-Jerome Scherwin Jr.: It's Jarrod Uthoff. Nobody on this site, or any other site for that matter, had Iowa contending in the Big Ten. Some didn't even believe Iowa would be a NCAA Tournament team. And nobody thought we'd see this type of performance from Uthoff. I know that we all anticipated him being a very solid player like he was last year. But this kind of leap? We're talking about a kid that CBS left off of their Top-100 best players list at the start of the season (I still remember!).
Yet here we are, it's the middle of February and not only is Iowa an NCAA Tournament team, they are quite possibly a one seed and on top of the Big Ten standings. And that all has been possible with the way very special way Uthoff has played.
Everyone and their mothers knew that Valentine was going to be special this year. And he absolutely has been. But when you have a player -- at the time of this writing -- that is scoring 18.8 points per game (.7 points per game behind Valentine who leads the conference), 6.7 rebounds (9th in conference) and three blocks (first in conference) for a team that is 11-2? A team that nobody thought would be in the Top-5 of the conference? You have to reward him.
-Noah Morris: Denzel Valentine or Jarrod Uthoff is basically a daily debate in my mind at this point in the year. Valentine is the only player in America averaging over 19 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists a game. He's got 2 triple doubles and might be the most difficult cover in the conference. Uthoff has been absolutely unbelievable and exceeded the expectations for both himself and his team all year. I don't believe in penalizing a player because of an injury, and that paired with the consistency of Valentine as an individual puts him basically 1/1000th of a step ahead of Uthoff in my book. He's been held to less than 10 points one time this year, against Arkansas Pine Bluff when they won by 46. He's scored at least 19 points in their last 8 games. They're both so good, but Valentine is oh so slightly ahead of Uthoff for me right now.
-Andrew Holmes: Flip a coin, Uthoff and Valentine are both right there. My colleagues have presented great arguments for both. For me, it comes down to the fact that Uthoff has been healthy all year and that his team is currently sitting atop the Big Ten standings. Jarrod gets the nod.
-Marco Knudsen: During the offseason, I picked Denzel Valentine as the best player heading into the 2015-16 season. I have to stick with Valentine as the Player of the Year now.
3. Who is on your All-Big Ten Freshmen team right now and why?
-Thomas Beindit: I'll go with Ethan Happ, Jordan Murphy. Corey Sanders, Diamond Stone, and Caleb Swanigan. For me, four out of the five were really easy picks. To start, Sanders and Stone have not only been some of the most productive Big Ten freshmen this year, but some of the most productive players overall. Both were easy selections.
Along with those two, Happ has had a tremendous emergence over the last few weeks and has been the key to Wisconsin's turnaround. Additionally, Swanigan doesn't have the offensive numbers, but his rebounding alone merits him a spot.
The final pick was a bit hard for me, but I've really liked what I've seen out of Murphy this year and he's been productive. In fact, Murphy has scored double-digits in nine of his last 10 games and had a double-double in Minnesota's upset win over Maryland on Thursday.
-Jerome Scherwin Jr.: Thomas Bryant, Caleb Swanigan, Ethan Happ, Diamond Stone and Jalen Coleman-Lands.
-Noah Morris: Corey Sanders, Ethan Happ, Thomas Bryant, Diamond Stone, Caleb Swanigan.
-Andrew Holmes: Corey Sanders, Ethan Happ, Caleb Swanigan, Diamond Stone, Thomas Bryant.
-Marco Knudsen: Corey Sanders, Jalen Coleman-Lands, Ethan Happ, Diamond Stone and Thomas Bryant.
Sanders and Stone have been magnificent this season, so those two weren't even in question of making this list.
Hardly anyone knew about Happ entering this season, but as the season has progressed, Happ has helped carry the Badgers to NCAA tournament bubble consideration. He leads Wisconson in rebounding at over seven per game and has notched an 11.8 point per game clip.
Coleman-Lands may be on a team that is struggling, but without him, Illinois could very well be in the same category as Rutgers. From game winning three-pointers to working his way close to a double figure scoring average, Coleman-Lands has been a major spark since entering the starting lineup.
Bryant may not have overwhelming statistics, but he has played his role well and has helped catapult the Hoosiers to the top of the Big Ten.
4. Who is your Freshman of the Year right now?
-Thomas Beindit: Unlike last year with D'Angelo Russell, it's not going to be an easy pick for Freshman of the Year. For me, I think it has to be between Ethan Happ and Diamond Stone. Those two have been incredibly important for their respective teams and have really come on over the last few weeks. At this point, I would give Happ the edge simply because he's played more.
-Jerome Scherwin Jr.: This is like splitting hairs, as I personally could convince myself (and have) of Diamond Stone, Ethan Happ and Thomas Bryant. But if I'm casting my vote right now, I think I'm giving it to Diamond Stone. There is just something missing for Maryland both offensively and defensively when he goes to the bench. He's also an animal on the offensive boards (second in KenPom's offensive rebound percentage rankings) and creates so many extra opportunities for the Terps.
-Noah Morris: I'm giving it to Ethan Happ. Being able to watch Frank Kaminsky for a year undoubtedly had a huge impact on his game, and he's taken what he learned and applied it directly onto the court. You can add Ethan Happ to the long list of Wisconsin players who waited their turn in line to be successful and didn't miss the chance when it presented itself.
-Andrew Holmes: This is a real tough call, but I'm going to go with Thomas Bryant. He has started since day one, and has been instrumental in the Hoosiers improvement since last year. There is a lot I'd like to see him work on, like not complaining after every foul, but he has been everything IU fans hoped he would be and more. Plus, he hasn't slammed anyone's head into the floor or been suspended for a violation of team rules in the last week.
-Marco Knudsen: As much as I want to give it to Diamond Stone, I feel Ethan Happ is more deserving. This season was supposed to a transition year all throughout for the Badgers, but the fact that Wisconsin was able to win seven straight games late in the year and work themselves into bracketology conversations is a an accomplishment I didn't see coming.
5. Name one player being underrated in the awards discussion.
-Thomas Beindit: While everybody else is engaging in an Andrew White lovefest - he certainly deserves his fair share of attention - I want to highlight Brandon Taylor for this one. Penn State hasn't had a great year, even despite its recent turnaround (looking at you Indiana and Iowa), but one player who has stood out is Taylor.
Overall, Taylor is averaging 16.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game and has a 103.0 offensive rating this season. Yes, some of that is probably due to him playing on a bad team, but he's taken a massive 30.3 percent of shots while on the floor in conference play and still has been efficient with a 51.1 effective field goal percentage. For me, that deserves some appreciation.
-Jerome Scherwin Jr.: It's Andrew White of the 6-7 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Right now, the junior transfer out of Kansas is averaging 17.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.1 steal per game while shooting 51.1% from the field (42.6% from three) and nobody really knows about it. I'm not sure if it's because he plays for Nebraska, or if it's because of their overall record, but Andrew White remains one of the more fun players to watch on a nightly basis for his propensity to not only fill it up offensively, but his willingness to crash the boards. If this dude was on Michigan State, we'd hear/read a lot more about him.
-Noah Morris: I'm looking at Andrew White from Nebraska as well. Combined with Shavon Shields, there are very few combinations in the Big Ten that are more deadly when the two of them or even just one of them are on their game. Coming as a transfer from Kansas, you knew that White had some big time ability, and he hasn't let the chance to show it slip past him. If Nebraska was even a slightly better team in terms of overall record, White would certainly be garnering a lot more attention around the conference. He's done his part to earn consideration in these award talks.
-Andrew Holmes: If we all say Andrew White, does that mean he isn't underrated anymore?
-Marco Knudsen: I would say Troy Williams of Indiana isn't getting enough credit. He's averaging 12.5 points and over six rebounds per game. Not only does he provide a scoring punch that will help build leads for the Hoosiers, but he's the spark of energy when the Hoosiers need it most. His highlight reel dunks, and defensive prowess have been crucial for Indiana, and it'll be interesting to see how far his energy takes them as this is likely his final year with the Hoosiers.