This is always one of my favorite articles to write. Since the 2012-13 season I have gone to the other SB Nation writers of around the Big Ten and solicited their input for our own all-Big Ten teams. The conference itself will announce its official all-Big Ten teams tonight at 5pm on BTN, but I wanted to get our teams out there first. I asked each writer to break down their ballot as follows: five First Team members, five Second Team, and five Third Team. A First Team vote was worth three points, a Second Team worth two points, and a Third Team worth one point. I also had them pick a Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and 6th Man of the Year.
This year we had 15 contributors, which is down from last year, but it is still a good representation across the blogs. Here is what we came up with and you can compare it to the league’s official teams at 5pm
Big Ten Player of the Year: Cassius Winston – Michigan State
Yes, Carsen Edwards was the preseason favorite, but Winston has been excellent in leading an injury-riddled Spartan team to a share of the title. Winston was POTY on 11 of 15 ballots, while Edwwards was on three and Ethan Happ was on one. Winston has averaged 19 points, but his 7.6 assists is a huge number compared to Edwards. Edwards is at 23.4 ppg, but only 3 assists per game. Happ averaged a double-double at 17.8 points and 10.4 rebounds with a healthy 4.7 assists, but has been a huge liability at the free throw line at 46.8%, a career worst. All three players are worthy nominees, but I am fine with Winston.
Big Ten Coach of the Year: Matt Painter – Purdue
This was a near unanimous selection as he was on 14 of 15 ballots. Only Steve Pikiell of Rutgers also received a vote, and that is fine. Pikiell has done a great job in making Rutgers an actual threat up from “a complete abomination”. I think we can all agree Painter has done a phenomenal job this year. His job stands out even more when Purdue did not look great after 11 games, but ripped off a 17-3 stretch to surprisingly win the regular season title with Michigan State.
Big Ten Freshman of the Year: Ignas Brazdeikis – Michigan
This was a closer race, but Iggy beats out Indiana’s Romeo Langford 9-6 on the 15 ballots. The Michigan freshman had a great debut with 15 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. His 41.7% from three was huge for Michigan as they got off to a great start this season. Langford had a good year, but I think his tendency to not take over games hurt him.
Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year: Nojel Eastern – Purdue
There were a lot of representatives here, and Eastern wins with a plurality. He has 5 votes, while Bruno Fernando received three votes. Zavier Simpson of Michigan and Josh Reaves of Penn State had two votes, while Charles Matthews, John Teske, and Ethan Happ also received a single vote. Nojel has been great defensively without question and has been a large reason Purdue went 16-4 in league play.
Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year: Xavier Tillman – Michigan State
This is always one of the harder awards to judge because sixth men can become starters in a heartbeat like our own Matt Haarms. Four of the ballots I received didn’t even name a sixth man, but Tillman still stood out. He got eight of the eleven votes I received with Nicholas Baer of Iowa getting two and Aaron Wiggins of Maryland getting one.
All Big Ten First Team:
Cassisus Winston – Michigan State– 45 points
Carsen Edwards – Purdue – 45 points
Ethan Happ – Wisconsin – 45 points
Bruno Fernando – Maryland – 40 points
Lamar Stevens – Penn State – 34 points
This is a solid first team with Winston, Edwards, and Happ all being unanimous selections. Fernando, with his 14 and 10.5, is also a great first team selection. He was First Team or Second Team on everyone’s ballot. Stevens grabs the fifth First Team spot by averaging 19.8 points per game. He finished second in the league in scoring behind Edwards. He also has the ability to heat up and push Penn State to a couple surprise wins in Chicago.
All Big Ten Second Team
Ignas Brazdeikis – Michigan – 28 points
Zavier Simpson – Michigan – 23 points
James Palmer JR. – Nebraska – 23 points
Jordan Murphy – Minnesota – 21 points
Anthony Cowan – Maryland – 21 points
Romeo Langford – Indiana – 21points
Because of a tie with the voting we have six Second Team members, but that is fine. The top two freshmen in the league are here with Brazdeikis and Langford. Brazdeikis challenged Stevens for the last First Team spot down to the final ballots. Langford was an interesting case. He wasn’t listed on four ballots, but most had him as a Second Teamer and one even had him as a First Team selection.
All Big Ten Third Team
Nick Ward – Michigan State – 18 points
Juwan Morgan – Indiana – 16 points
Tyler Cook – Iowa – 15 points
Amir Coffey – Minnesota – 14 points
Dererk Pardon – Northwestern – 6 points
Jordan Bohannon - Iowa - 6 points
Because of the tie that gave us six Second Teamers it opens up another spot for Pardon, who sneaks onto the third team. Since he tied with Bohnannon this team also has a sixth member.
All Big Ten Honorable Mention
The following players received at least a point (third team nomination) from one voter:
Ryan Cline – Purdue
Kaleb Wesson – Ohio State
Matt Haarms – Purdue
Geo Baker – Rutgers
Charles Matthews – Michigan
John Teske – Michigan
Ayo Dosunmu – Illinois
Trent Frazier – Illinois
Nojel Eastern – Purdue
Matt McQuaid – Michigan State
D’Mitrik Trice – Wisconsin
Vic Law – Northwestern
Xavier Tillman – Michigan
Eugene Omoruyi – Rutgers
Grady Eifert - Purdue