Thursday, March 12, 2009

Big Ten Tourney Time!

No need for a Power Poll this week, the teams have sorted out themselves... or have they? The difference between second-place Purdue and say, Northwestern, has proven to be pretty thin. And the tourney has proven to be pretty cruel to higher seeds. But I don't think this is going to be a problem for Michigan State, which is the deepest and best team in the tourney. They should win walking away.

The NCAA selection committee is probably rooting for the Hoosiers this afternoon so they can justify leaving out Penn State, which barring a really nice run, is probably what's going to happen to PSU. The Big Ten can get 7 teams in (the top 5 seeds should be a lock), but it would require at least two wins and another upset by PSU and/or Michigan. And Minnesota can't lose to Northwestern again, but if it does, NU needs to run the table to get the league all its bids.

My all-uninformed Big Ten selections (my HPER ratings are on hiatus until I get a good draft of my thesis handed in).

Big Ten Player Of the Year- All bloggers should take a moment to hail Spartans' Weblog's particular genius, 'cause I don't think anyone saw this coming, up until even maybe a month ago. But Kalin Lucas was picked the Big Ten POY because he was the best player on the best team. And Travis Walton got defensive honors for a similar reason.

...However, I slightly disagree on both counts. Don't get me wrong, no disrespect meant- they are worthy...Hoosiers should be so lucky to have such a backcourt. But there are other worthies as well. To wit, noone does steals and blocks like Minnesota's Damian Johnson. He averages 2.0 steals and 2.1 blocks per game, which is an amazing combination and top 30 nationally in each per-possession category (according to KenPom). He's the obvious defensive POY in my book.

For Player of the Year, the choices are tougher, as you've got a number of very good players who are incredibly valuable to their teams: OSU's Evan Turner, Purdue's Robbie Hummel, NU's Kevin Coble, Michigan's Manny Harris & DeShawn Sims. I would also add the oft-overlooked Goran Suton- just look at the difference in the Sparties before and after his return.
However, on intangibles, I gotta go with Talor Battle. The sophomore point showed some real leadership, ran his team well in conference play, and pulled a couple of really surprising upsets. Penn State should not, by all expectations, be in the NCAA at-large hunt. But thanks to the game-winner by Battle at home, the Lions nailed down a sweep of the Illini, and it's just one of many big shots he hit this year. Battle racks up assists while keeping turnovers quite low, he shoots a good percentage from behind the arc despite being the focus of the opponents' defense, and he gets to the free-throw line. There's not a lot of separation statistically between Lucas & Battle, Battle's a little better with the Assist/TO ratio and better at 2pt FG% but worse at threes & frees. But Battle was also probably "more valuable" to his team, and honestly, as I said above, the statistical intangibles tip it for me, especially those big shots.

All Big Ten
Talor Battle (PSU)
Manny Harris (UM)
Evan Turner (OSU)
Kevin Coble (NU)
DeShawn Sims (UM)

All Freshman
Delvon Roe (MSU)
Matt Gatens (Io)
William Buford (OSU)
BJ Mullens (OSU)
Verdell Jones (IU)


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