It's closing in on awards time in the Big Ten, and with the all-league teams soon to be announced. Here's one man's vote on the top two squads in the conference.
All-Big Ten First Team
G - Trey Burke, Michigan - The guard picks are easy. Burke's obviously one of the best in the country, leading the league (conference games only) in scoring at 20.2 per game. He's also averaging 6.6 assists per game, two more than anybody else in the Big Ten. Burke also leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.5). A potential national player of the year, he's a lock here.
G - Victor Oladipo, Indiana -- Oladipo is one of the most explosive players in the league, with off-the-charts athleticism. He's 13th in the league in scoring (13.9), but first in field goal percentage (59.6), second in steals (2.1 average), and tied for third in offensive rebounds (2.6 average). He's a difference maker as a defender.
F - Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State -- Thomas is a one-man wrecking crew for the Buckeyes, averaging 19.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for OSU. He's the Big Ten's best free throw shooter (87.8 percent), and one of the biggest reasons the Buckeyes have a shot at another title.
F - Adreian Payne, Michigan State -- Payne has come on to become his surname for MSU opponents, especially in recent weeks. He's 20th in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 11.3 per game, but he's very efficient, third in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (56.5). Payne stands fourth in the league in rebounding average (7.4), 14th in free throw shooting (76.5), and remains an imposing defensive presence.
C - Cody Zeller, Indiana -- Zeller anchors the Hoosiers down low, and just keeps churning out the numbers. He's third in the league in scoring (16.6), second in rebounding (8.1), seventh in field goal percentage (53.8), 11th in free throw percentage (78.9), tied for 11th in steals (1.2), and sixth in blocks (1.4).
G - Aaron Craft, Ohio State -- One of the best defensive players in the country, Craft is a handful for anyone. He's averaging just 9.9 points per game, but turns it on when necessary - ask Indiana. He's also fourth in the league in average assists (4.2), seventh in free throw percentage (80.4), first in steals (2.2), third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1), and first in being a general pain to whomever he's guarding.
G - Gary Harris, Michigan State -- The freshman lived up to his billing this year, standing 12th in the Big Ten in scoring average (13.9), 13th in field goal percentage (47.1), 13th in free throw percentage (76.6), and second in three-point percentage (48.1).
F - Tim Hardaway, Jr., Michigan -- Hardaway has played guard this season, but easily slips into a wing spot, standing tied for eighth in the Big Ten in scoring (14.3) while becoming a presence on the boards this season, 11th in the league in average defensive rebounds (4.2). He's fifth in the league in three-point shooting (41.7 percent).
F - Christian Watford, Indiana -- Watford isn't the biggest scorer in a loaded Hoosiers lineup, standing 16th in the league with a 12.7 average. But he's deadly in a lot of ways - first in the Big Ten in three-point percentage (50.8), ninth in the league in rebounding average (6.4), and fifth in defensive rebounds (5.1).
C - Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota -- The league's top rebounder averages 9.8 per game, while scoring at an 11.2 clip. He doesn't waste many shots, connecting on 57.7-percent of his shots, good for second in the Big Ten. He's also third best in the conference at turning away shots, blocking an average 1.6 per game. Mbakwe leads the Big Ten in both average offensive (3.9) and defensive (5.9) rebounds.
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