College Basketball's 10 Best in the Big Ten
Stats to know: 15.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 62.3% FG, 1.2 bpg Among players who used at least 24 percent of their team's possessions last year, no one was more efficient than the 6-foot-11 Zeller, whose quickness, inside scoring ability, and basketball IQ make him both a favorite for national player of the year honors and a tantalizing prospect for the professional ranks.
Stats to know: 15.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 34.5% 3P Now the focal point of the Buckeyes' offense after playing second fiddle to Jared Sullinger as a sophomore last season, the 6-7 Thomas can score from both inside and outside and should get more opportunities than ever to do so. What's more encouraging for Ohio State might be the improvement he showed as a defender late in the season.
Stats to know: 8.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 2.5 spg College basketball's peskiest defender and master of turnover creation had surgery in July to clean up the bone spurs in his ankle that had hobbled him at times last year. If the player who averaged 10.4 points while still locking down opponents in last March's Final Four run wasn't 100 percent, a healthy Craft could be in line for a big-time year.
Stats to know: 14.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 34.8% 3P No player is more central to the Wolverines' hopes for a deep postseason run than the diminutive point guard from Columbus, who in one season went from a relatively unheralded three-star recruit to a Cousy Award finalist. After surprising many by declining to turn pro, expectations are understandably high for his sophomore season.
Stats to know: 14.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 60.4% FG The 6-8, sixth-year forward, who tore his ACL in the seventh game of last season, will begin this season coming off the bench. But if Mbakwe is able to regain his pre-injury form, he will give the Golden Gophers a strong, athletic interior presence that could lift Minnesota back into the NCAA tournament.
Stats to know: 12.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 43.7% 3P The shooter of last season's most celebrated shot -- a buzzer-beating three to knock off No. 1 Kentucky at Assembly Hall in December -- can play inside and out and provides the Hoosiers with an excellent second option alongside Zeller.
Stats to know: 18.8 ppg, 6.2 apg, 4.7 rpg, 2.4 spg He's only played on one winning team in his three years in State College, but Frazier's play is far from the reason why. Given his biggest role yet, the 6-1 point guard filled up box scores last year while posting the second-highest assist rate (45.2 percent) in the nation and earning first-team all-conference honors.
Stats to know: 14.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.4 spg As Ohio State found out during Paul's 43-point explosion last January, the 6- 4 guard can score in bunches. Consistency was an issue (he also scored four or fewer points four times) but Paul is the kind of guard that can carry an offense when needed.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Stats to know: 14.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg The other half of the Wolverines' backcourt is a talented second-generation star. Hardaway's three-point percentage dropped to just 28.3 percent thanks to a midseason slump last year, but his size (6-6) and talent complement Burke well and give Michigan a second quality scoring option on the perimeter.
Stats to know: 11.4 ppg, 3.9 apg, 1.2 spg The former McDonald's All-American has already established himself as a tough defender, but this year he will be even more of an offensive key for a Spartans team trying to replace the all-around production of Draymond Green. Appling is quick and adept at running the fast break and a return of the outside shooting he displayed as a freshman (41.1 percent) would make him even more dangerous.