football

Early all-conference selections

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With the end of the Big Ten regular season upon us this weekend, now is the
time to start taking stock as to who may earn some of the top All-Conference
selections. The Peegs.com basketball coverage team of Jeff Rabjohns, Nathan Hart
and Mike Pegram voted today, ranking in order a top 15 for all players and a top
five for a freshman only team.
With four days left in the regular season, things aren't set in stone but
this should give an idea what will happen next week when the official honors are
handed out.
All-Big Ten Teams
Big Ten MVP:
Draymond Green, Michigan State, (6'7, 230) - in his senior season
Green has found another level of play and has carried his Spartan team to the
brink of an outright Big Ten championship. He does everything from scoring
inside and outside, driving, finding teammates, and rebounding. Green is
averaging 16.5 points in league play to go along with a conference best 10.5
rebounds. He's also averaging 3.6 assists and shooting a remarkable 47.0 percent
from beyond the arc. The unique thing about Green is he's quicker and more
explosive this year than he's been in any of the the prior three seasons under
Tom Izzo. He also demonstrates great leadership ability.
Other First team members:
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State (6'9, 265) -  as of today he's
averaging 17.5 points and 9.3 rebounds in league play while shooting 52.9
percent from the floor. Sullinger was most people's pick for Preseason Player of
the Year but the Buckeyes have not been as good as expected and his numbers are
very much in line with his freshman season stats. He's a bit thinner this year
which has helped his mobility but he's maybe not been quite the immovable force inside of last
year. Having said all that he still was our runner-up for POY and it will be
interesting if he returns to Columbus for a junior campaign.
Cody Zeller, Indiana (6'11, 230) - after a rough start the big
center has steadily improved to help Indiana move from the bottom of the league
to the upper division. Averaging 15.6 points and 5.8 rebounds during conference
play and most impressively tops the league with his 61.4 percent field goal
rate. Just a very efficient player. His ability to run the floor has really
shown itself over the past few weeks.
John Shurna, Northwestern (6'9, 220) - the Big Ten's leading scorer
with a 20.6 ppg average, Shurna has tried to carry this team on his back into
the NCAA but hasn't quite been able to get the job done in his senior season.
Has shown more ability this year to score in other ways that his strange looking
but deadly jump shot.
Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin (6'1, 195) - hasn't been as productive as
his junior year but he did not have as good a frontcourt to play alongside this season in
Madison. Still he has steadily picked up his production, averaging 16.4 points
and 3.4 assists per game. Just barely made this first unit in our voting and
this fifth spot should end up being a close point guard battle between Taylor,
Tim Frazier and Trey Burke.
Second team:
Tim Frazier, Penn State (6'1, 160) - has to be the league's most
improved player among starters. Second in the league with a 20.1 scoring average
to go along with a league best 5.6 assists per contest. That comes off a year
where he averaged just 6.3 points per game.  Besides leading the league in
assists he's also tops in free throw shooting (88.0 percent) and steals
(2.3/game).
Robbie Hummel, Purdue (6'8, 215) - if he had played all conference
year like his last three weeks, Hummel would have been an easy first teamer.
Over the last six games he's averaged 23.7 points per game. For conference games
to date his numbers are now 16.4 points and a fourth best 7.8 rebounds per game.
He hasn't shot the ball as accurately as his pre-knee problem days but certainly
seems to be rounding into his old form.
Trey Burke, Michigan (5'11, 180) - a big reason Michigan was a
serious title contender until that home loss this week to Purdue. Averaging 15.3
points and second best in the league with 4.5 assists per game. Clutch play late
in games is another reason he's such a formidable contender for Zeller in the
Freshman of the Year race.
Matt Gatens, Iowa (6'5, 212) - been on an absolute tear of late,
averaging 24.4 points over his last five games. Had back to back 7-for-10
shooting from beyond the arc in wins over Indiana and Wisconsin. Averaging 17.0
points in league play and tops the league with 2.8 three-pointers per game while
shooting an impressive 49.5 percent from that distance.
William Buford, Ohio State (6'6, 220) - maybe hasn't developed into
the star many thought he would be in his final season but it was another steady
year for Buford, averaging 14.0 points and 5.7 boards per game. Seems to play
better at home which could be a concern as we head into the neutral site time of
the year.
Third team:
Meyers Leonard, Illinois (7'1, 245) - along with Frazier he's the
most improved over last season. After averaging just over two points and 1.2
boards per game as a freshman, Leonard has put up 13.5 points and a third best
8.0 rebounds per game his sophomore season. Terrific skills for someone of his
size, Leonard just has to improve his decision making. Has come on the last
week, averaging 21.5 points in his two most recent games. With good big men so
rare, the NBA opportunity is already there if he so chooses.
Brandon Paul, Illinois (6'4, 200) - had the game of the year when he
exploded for 43 points in January 10th win over Ohio State. Led his team with
14.3 points per game but also has been up on the conference charts for assists
(2.9) and steals (1.8). Just needs to sharpen his shot selection to have a big
senior season next year.
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State (6'7, 225) - has become more of the
natural scorer he was known for in high school this season, averaging 14.7
points and 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting 51.9 percent from the floor. One
of the best offensive rebounders in the league. The lefty has been lighting it
up of late, averaging 21.5 points over OSU's last four games.
Bo Spencer, Nebraska (6'2, 193) - has made the most of his one
season at Nebraska, leading the Huskers with a 14.1 points per game. Averaged
25.0 points in big home wins over Indiana and Illinois. Has struggled the last
two games, hitting just 4-for-20 shots, so he may need a good season finale at
Minnesota to receive his honor next week. What will Nebraska do without him next
year?
Drew Crawford, Northwestern (6'5, 205) - has steadily improved each
of this three years in Evanston, upping his numbers this year to 16.3 points and
4.5 rebounds per game. Shot a career best 49.4 percent from the floor this year.
Can he continue to improve his production next year when Shurna isn't around to
draw so much defensive attention?
All-Freshman Team
Frosh Player of the Year
Cody Zeller - five time winner of Freshman of the Week award, Zeller
and Trey Burke have both made tremendous impacts this year and would be very
deserving of this award. Zeller gets the nod here for helping engineer the
biggest turnaround of any Big Ten team, or any team in the country for that
matter.
Remaining team members:
Trey Burke - six time winner of Freshman of the Week award. Point
guard is the toughest position for a freshman to handle and he made a great
transition to this level and made Wolverine fans forget about the early
departure of Darius Morris. See more above.
Aaron White, Iowa (6'8, 225) - the Strongsville, Ohio player wasn't
highly ranked but leads the Hawkeyes in rebounding (6.1/gm) and is third in
scoring (11.1/gm). Also tops on Iowa with his 52.5 percent field goal rate.
Branden Dawson, Michigan State (6'6, 220) - while he was highly
ranked, Dawson has been solid, averaging 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in league
play and is third overall in the entire Big Ten with his 57.6 percent field
goal rate.
David Sobolewski, Northwestern (6'1, 185) - everyone was worried
about what Northwestern would do without Juice Thompson but Sobolewski filled
that void nicely all season. Currently averaging 10.0 points in conference
action and 3.3 assists. Has a solid 2.0 to 1 assist to turnover ratio and has
played over 37 minutes per game during league play.
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