Big Ten Basketball's Best and Worst

Chris ScheiCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2009

The Big Ten season is upon us. Within the conference, there have been surprises and disappointments. Let's look at some of my midseason Big Ten awards.

Most Valuable Player: Manny Harris, Michigan

Manny "fresh," as his teammates call him, has been the catalyst and the face of Michigan's turnaround. But when you do as much as he does, it's tough to be avoided. Manny has been a stat-stuffer, averaging 18.7 points a game, along with 7.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists.

Most Improved: DeShawn Sims, Michigan

After a few personal tragedies as a freshman and learning a new system as a sophomore, the once-promising Detroit prospect has shown Michigan fans what they have been waiting for. DeShawn is averaging 16.8 points a game and eight rebounds.

Most Surprising Team: Illinois, Michigan, Penn State

Relax, Gopher fans. There wasn't much expected from these three schools, but Michigan (2-1, 12-3), Penn State (2-1, 13-3) and Illinois (1-1, 13-2) have given their fans something to cheer about. With the players returning and the freshman class the Gophers had, not to mention the very favorable schedule, I left them off this list.

Most Disappointing Team: Purdue

They've had and have injuries, I get it. But the Boilers were non-existent at home against a Duke team Michigan would later beat, and they still have enough talent to be successful. The Boilers don't want to get to deep into the Big Ten schedule playing like this.

You Should've Known They Would Be Fine: Wisconsin

The Badgers are always going to be okay. Bo Ryan has enough players to be competitive, and having leaders like Trevon Hughes and Marcus Landry never hurts.

Most Important Player to His Team You May Have Never Heard of: Al Nolen, Minnesota

Nolen is the best on-the-ball defender on a good defensive team. He's averaging six assists per game, with less than two turnovers a game. He is quickly turning into one of the best point guards in the league.

Coach of the Year: John Beilein, Michigan and Bruce Weber, Illinois

John Beilein is working magical wonders in Ann Arbor, and Bruce Weber is doing almost the same at Illinois. Nobody really knows how these two guys are doing what they are doing, but they are.

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