Big Ten Tournament 2012: John Shurna and 3 Players to Watch

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 11:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is fouled on a shot attempt by John Shurna #24 of the Northwestern Wildcats during the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ohio State won 67-61 in overtime.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The 2012 Big Ten Tournament begins Thursday with the eight lowest seeds facing off.

One of those teams is Northwestern, who has had a pretty good season so far, finishing 18-12 overall and 8-10 in the Big Ten. ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Wildcats as a 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

A lot of their success can be contributed to senior forward John Shurna. He led the conference in scoring at 19.8 points a game. Shurna was also first on the team in rebounding (5.3) and second on the team in assists (2.7).

Shurna is one of the most important players in this tournament as a poor showing from Northwestern could see them out of their tournament bubble pop, but a deep run will solidify its bid and possibly see them move up a seed or two.

However, he's not the only player to watch out for this week. Here are three others:


Jared Sullinger

The argument could be made that Sullinger might have made a mistake in deciding to come back for another season. His field-goal percentage, points and rebounds totals are down from last year's averages.

Ohio State was the preseason No. 3 team in the country and were No. 2 for most of the early part of the season. However, they finished with a 25-6 record and are looking at a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Sullinger's performance is key if OSU wants to win the conference tournament and avoid having to deal with Kentucky or Syracuse in its region. He's still averaging almost a double-double every game (16.9 PPG, 9.3 RPG).


Robbie Hummel

Hummel has had a pretty good season after missing all of 2010-11 with an ACL tear. He finished fourth in the Big Ten in both scoring and rebounding.

As a team, Purdue finished with an overall record of 20-11 and a Big Ten record of 10-8. The Boilermakers are surely in the NCAA Tournament, but much like Ohio State, a good showing in the conference tournament could mean a better seed.

Lunardi has Purdue as No. 9 in the South Region, which means they would face Kentucky in the Second Round.

Hummel is going to be called upon to step up. He was a part of the Purdue teams that made back-to-back Sweet Sixteen's in 2009 and 2010.


Draymond Green

Green's situation is much the same as Sullinger's in that Michigan State is probably locked in as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Back-to-back losses against Indiana and Ohio State probably ended any shot at a No. 1 seed.

Still, Michigan State is going to need Green to continue his very good regular season form.

He showed a lot of versatility this year as he not only led the Big Ten in rebounding at 10.3 per game, but also led the Spartans in 3-pointers made and was second in assists on the team.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer believes that Green will likely win Big Ten Player of the Year.

As his stats show, he has done a little bit of everything for the Spartans this year.