We had this great idea of polling beat writers for other Big Ten basketball programs via Twitter to put together a mid-season All-Big Ten team.
The refrain from almost everyone who responded was the same: “Wow, this is hard.’’ Many didn’t respond, I suspect because it was, well … really, really hard.
The same crazy balance and parity among the teams in the Big Ten in the first half of the season carries over to the individual talent. There were at least a dozen different players I seriously considered putting in my mid-season starting five.
Anyway, here is what we came up with:
Nik Stauskas, Michigan: The main reason the Wolverines have exceeded expectations and are tied for first place at the midway point of the league schedule. He is averaging 17.8 points per game and leads the conference in 3-point field goal percentage although he has demonstrated that he is much more than just a quality outside shooter.
Gary Harris, Michigan State: He and Stauskas were the only players mentioned on every ballot. He’s much less of a surprise, but he has had to shoulder an extra share of the load with Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson injured. He is averaging a league-best 18.4 points per game and has proven to be a lockdown defender as well.
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana: The Hoosiers guard may have benefited from the timing of the poll. He had one of the best games any Big Ten player has had all season in Indiana’s victory over Michigan on Sunday. For the season, he is averaging 17.8 points per game and leads the league with 60 3-point field goals.
Devyn Marble, Iowa: The Hawkeyes have been one of the three best teams in the Big Ten this season and he has clearly been their best player. He not only averages 16.3 points per game (17.8 in Big Ten play) but he has shown tremendous versatility and improved defensive skills.
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Drew Crawford, Northwestern: He, too, probably was helped by the timing of the survey as he was named the Big Ten co-player of the week for his player in the past week. He leads the league in minutes played in conference play, is scoring at a 16.3 clip and is the unquestioned leader of what is unquestionably the Big Ten’s surprise team.
Others who received votes: Keith Appling, Michigan State; Terran Petteway, Indiana, Aaron White, Iowa; Tim Frazier, Penn State.
Many of those who voted apologized for voting for five guards (one admitted to sticking White in there just to have one frontcourt player), but it really was almost impossible to vote anything but a straight backcourt ticket.
The league’s top 11 scorers at this point are guards. The conference’s top two centers — Adreian Payne and Mitch McGary — have missed much of the season with injuries. The best true center in the league so far has been Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh, but he hasn’t been the best player on his team.