The leaves continue to fall and the calendar continues to turn. In addition to often-terrible Trevor Mbakwe news, autumn brings us closer to the start of the college basketball season. From The Barn brought some of the best and brightest Big Ten bloggers together to get their thoughts on the upcoming season and see what they think about conference play, who to watch for and how things might end up. Who better to talk about the conference than the guys who live it everyday? On with the show:
Q1: Who would you say is the most feared player in the conference this season?
Eric Gingrich – The Buckeye Battlecry (Ohio State): There’s only one answer to this question…Aaron Craft. No, just kidding, though opposing point guards probably continue to have daily nightmares about him.
The real “only answer” to this is clearly Cody Zeller. He is an absolute beast in the paint, and he will only have gotten better during the off-season. Zeller may take over games in the Big Ten by himself this season, making Indiana singularly difficult to beat.
David McGee – Corn Nation (Nebraska): Off the top of my head, I’d say Cody Zeller at Indiana and Burke at Michigan come first to mind. Deshaun Thomas and Trevor Mbawke would be among that group as well. I’m sure Michigan State has a player or two that belong in this conversation as well.
Rick Reese – Black Heart Gold Pants(Iowa): Cody Zeller and it’s not even close. He’s the best player on the league’s best team and as he goes so go the Hoosiers. Trey Burke and Aaron Craft are a tie for second.
Phil Mitten – Bucky’s 5th Quarter (Wisconsin): Obviously Cody Zeller stands head and shoulders above the rest as the most respected talent in the league. But I’m not sure that’s the same as most feared. Given another year of improvement, Zeller should be both. Maybe it’s how well Wisconsin played him, but he just doesn’t send me shivers as a fan.
Trevor Mbakwe is still the freakiest physically (for the eighth year in a row) and you really can’t hem that guy in. But from a straight fear standpoint, I don’t think anybody wants any piece of a red hot Tim Frazier. He always plays with that look in his eye too, like he wants to tear your heart out. I think he will do it to a few unlucky teams this year.
Travis Miller – Hammer & Rails (Purdue): I am going to go off the board a bit here and say freshman Kevin Ferrell at Indiana. I’ve watched this kid play in high school the last two years and he is legitimately a Next Level point guard. I fear him because he is the missing piece that can make Indiana’s offense completely terrifying. With Zeller in the middle and excellent three-point shooters like Hulls and Watford, Ferrell can be a master of the drive and kick game. His HS team won two consecutive state titles because he had three D1 players around him, two of which never had to step inside the three-point line. They had open looks all day long. If he adapts to the faster college game immediately Indiana will be unstoppable.
Loretta8 – Sippin’ On Purple (Northwestern): Cody Zeller, for sure. I’d expect him to improve upon his All-Big Ten level play of last year, and now he’s got a pass-first point guard to give him the ball in Yogi Ferrell. Those two on the pick and roll are going to be completely unguardable if Ferrell is as good as advertised.
Chad Markulics – Black Shoe Diaries (Penn State): It has to be Cody Zeller, right? The consensus best player on a consensus top-5 preseason team probably deserves that honor. Unless you mean, like, having an appearance that’s fearsome. In that case I would go with Aaron White. Gingers over 6’6″ give me the creeps.
From The Barn (Minnesota): Zeller is a force, as nearly every above has indicated. But when you line up against Indiana are you really scared of Cody Zeller? For some reason he doesn’t strike the same fear into me as some like, say, Trey Burke. You know exactly what you’re getting with Zeller and, while he’s going to kill you no matter what, you can game plan for him. Burke is a different story. Here’s a guy that can kill you in multiple ways and you really never know when. Will it be from behind the arc? Will he take it to the paint? Will he dish it off? That dynamic is scary and something that can really hurt other teams on any given night.