Player of the Week
Nick Ward, Michigan State
The big fella is starting to look utterly dominant at the college level. A routine dispatching of Rutgers in MSU’s conference opener was paced by 20 from Ward but he followed that up with a dazzling 26 against 18th ranked Iowa on a perfect 10/10 from the floor. All told, Ward accrued 46 points on 68% shooting in a pair of Spartans victories to open conference play.
Jordan Poole, Michigan
The more casual Big Ten fan may know of this guy primarily as the freshman who hit the shot that toppled Houston and sent the Wolverines to the Sweet Sixteen in last year’s tournament. But anyone familiar with what Michigan has been doing this season knows that Poole is a significant contributor, especially as of late. In the Wolverines’ two big victories over ranked Purdue and UNC teams this week, Poole shot 14/22 (64%) from the floor and an astonishing 10/13 (77%) from outside, including a perfect 5/5 against Purdue. John Beilein’s squad is winning these games, and winning them handily, and the emergence of Poole as a complementary scoring option alongside Charles Matthews and Ignas Brazdeikis has cemented this team as a Final Four contender.
Bruno Fernando, Maryland
The talented sophomore is now on a tear, having recorded three straight doubles as Maryland followed up a near-upset of Virginia with a win over Penn State to open conference play. Fernando averaged 13 and 12 in this two game stretch and his shooting percentage for the year has skyrocketed to 73% from the field. It was encouraging to see him hold his own physically against a big, powerful, physical Virginia frontcourt, and he’s shaping up to be one of the conference’s finest bigs.
D'Mitrik Trice, Wisconsin
Much ado has been made about Ethan Happ but as we saw last season, he can only do so much without a strong supporting cast. Enter Trice, much improved after experiencing the ups and downs of life as a Big Ten freshman last season. In helping the Badgers begin conference play 2-0, he averaged 17 PPG on 52% shooting, including 60% from outside. He’s the perimeter playmaker and shot creator that was sorely lacking on last year’s team.
Carsen Edwards, Purdue
43 total points against a pair of ranked squads isn’t something to sneeze at…unless you’re Carsen Edwards. The national POY candidate is the motor behind this offense but when the motor sputters at a rate of 14/40 (35%) shooting from the field, wins aren’t likely to follow. Additionally, 13 total turnovers help paint the picture of a younger Carsen Edwards, trying to do too much to single-handedly lift his team. The Boilermakers should bounce back, and a player of Edwards’ caliber certainly will bounce back but for now, Edwards is in a slump.
2) Michigan State
6) Ohio State
10) Penn State