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Swan Again

Player of the Week

Caleb Swanigan, Purdue

Caleb SwaniganCaleb SwaniganWe’re well into December, and Purdue is arguably the Big Ten’s hottest team right now. They scored the conference’s big win of the week this week with a 17-point comeback over #21 Notre Dame, and for that, Biggie Swanigan wins his second Player of the Week. With a monster 26-point, 10-rebound effort, Swanigan played center rather than power forward for most of the second half against Notre Dame as Purdue took ahold of the game. He even showed a rare shot-blocking ability with 4 against the Irish. He followed that up Monday with a 21-21 effort against hapless Western Illinois, the third 20-20 performance by anyone this season. He shot 51% from the floor this week and extended his double-double streak to 3. Things couldn’t have gone much better for Purdue (ugly first half against Notre Dame aside) and certainly not for Swanigan, and he is one of the conference’s elite as we approach Big Ten play.

Who’s Hot?

James Blackmon, Indiana

The Hoosiers had a chance to get a big win of their own last week but even in a loss to Butler, James Blackmon asserted himself with 26 points on 9/15 shooting. He scored another 18 in another lights-out performance against Delaware State. On the week, his 22-point scoring average, 62% from the floor, and 57% from the arc reassert that he is one of the best scoring guards in the conference.

Vincent Edwards, Purdue

It wasn’t all Caleb Swanigan carrying Purdue this week. After a very slow start to the season, small forward Vincent Edwards, shifted to the 4 as Swanigan played center, has been a monster. He put up 20 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double of his own against Notre Dame, and then he added 16 points, 6 assists, and 6 boards against Western Illinois. He’s a monster on the offensive glass, and his three-pointers are calling, and that’s exactly what they need out of him. He now has 4 straight games of double-digit scoring and he shot a torrid 67% from the field this week. He’s a real x-factor for Purdue, and when he is rolling, so are the Boilermakers.

Moritz Wagner, Michigan

The sophomore from Germany is a fascinating player. Wagner is a 6’11” forward who can shoot the 3, and this season, he’s getting a lot more playing time. He continued a 6-game streak of double-digit scoring performances with 18 against Central Arkansas (on 8/9 shooting, for 89%) and then added 9 against Maryland-Eastern Shore on a perfect 4/4. He is now shooting 88% over his last three games while averaging 12.7 PPG in that span. On the year, he is connecting on 69% from the floor and 56% from deep with an average of 11 PPG. His efficiency is remarkable and his minutes, which have been wavering around 20, should continue to increase.

Who’s Not?

JaQuan Lyle, Ohio State

This week, Ohio State only had their loss to UCLA< but on a larger scale, their star guard, JaQuan Lyle, expected by many to take a big step forward in his sophomore season, has been underwhelming as of late. Whether it’s poor shooting performances (no game over 40% in his last 5) or turnovers (3+ in 5 of his last 6) or outside shooting (2/15 in his last 5), he has been inefficient. While the Buckeyes have hung close to good teams, they have also struggled with poor teams, even losing to Florida Atlantic last week, a game in which Lyle shot 4/11. He’s a talented guard in the early stages of his development, but the early results haven’t been ideal.

Best Shooters

1) Duncan Robinson, Michigan

After finishing 4th in the conference last season in 3-point percentage, Robinson is only 20th this season, but that may be more the fact that other players’ percentages have yet to normalize. Robinson is shooting a cool 40% from deep, which he has done consistently since he arrived in Ann Arbor last year. He’s 6’8” but he’s listed as a guard and has amazing form, which makes him a very difficult matchup whenever he’s on the floor.

2) Dakota Mathias, Purdue

Touted as one of the best shooters in his class upon arriving at Purdue, Mathias has not disappointed. He made 39% as a sophomore and now is connecting on 52%, good for 5th in the conference. He’s great at getting open off screens and also contributes as a crafty passer on the perimeter.

3) Peter Jok, Iowa

The best all-around PLAYER on this list, Jok can shoot off a screen as well as off the dribble, making him absolutely deadly on the perimeter. His 40% outside shooting has turned into 43% this far this season despite increased defensive pressure and a larger role. If he can score more efficiently inside the arc, he could be flirting with a 40%-50%-90% season.

4) Scottie Lindsey, Northwestern

Before now, Lindsey has had the luxury of being more of a spot-up shooter, but this season, he is being expected to take on a larger brunt of the scoring load. Even so, he has raised his outside shooting percentage to 45%, good for 10th in the conference. He’s the leading scorer for Northwestern and is showing just how good he is offensively for the Wildcats, stepping into the role Tre Demps held last season.

5) James Blackmon, Indiana

Blackmon Jr. might be the least of a stereotypical “pure shooter” on this list, but he’s a guy who absolutely makes shots when the lights come on. He’s a gamer, and he’s connected on 43% of his 3’s this season, good for 12th in the conference, despite defenses zeroing in on him in the wake of Yogi Ferrell’s graduation.

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