The Big Ten tournament is already underway and it has not failed to impress. When the top teams get going, this event will be a thrill to watch.
While there are at least four or five teams that have a chance of winning the entire tournament, these squads will only go as far as their top players take them.
With NCAA tournament seeding and possible at-large berths on the line, everyone will be trying hard to get as far as possible. However, these are the men who will impact the championship the most.
Note: This is not a list of the best players in the conference, but the most important this week.
10. Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa
Iowa is not officially out of the NCAA tournament, but the odds are not good. It will take at least a run to the semifinals (including a win over Michigan State), and even then a bid is not guaranteed.
The only thing that is definite is that Roy Devyn Marble will do anything possible to help his team win a game. Only once in the last eight games has he been held to fewer than 15 points, and the Hawkeyes are 6-2 in that span.
If Iowa makes a run, the wing will be a big reason for that success.
9. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
Trey Burke is still running the show in Michigan, but the Wolverines need Tim Hardaway Jr. to step up his efforts.
In the last two games, the guard has made only two of his 13 shots from deep, and his lack of scoring is starting to hurt. If he can be a consistent secondary scorer, Michigan can beat any team in the country.
8. Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Like Hardaway, Aaron Craft must show up as a consistent scorer to help his team in the tournament. Fortunately, Craft also provides a lot of help on the defensive end.
The point guard is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country, and his ability to slow down the opposing attack will help take the Buckeyes far in March.
7. Ryan Evans, Wisconsin
Wisconsin has a very balanced attack on offense, which prevents the team from relying on just one scorer. However, this leads to no one taking control when a basket is needed.
As a senior, Ryan Evans needs to step up his efforts on both ends of the court. He is a great athlete and a solid rebounder, and he must utilize these abilities to help the Badgers win some tough games in Chicago.
6. Brandon Paul, Illinois
Brandon Paul has already made his mark on the Big Ten tournament. He scored 25 points in the win over Minnesota in the first-round matchup, including the game-winning shot as time expired.
Considering no one else on Illinois scored more than six points, it is obvious that he will need to have another huge day in order to upset Indiana in the quarterfinals.
Another win is not likely, but Paul will have a big role in the team's next game.
5. Victor Oladipo, Indiana
The National Player of the Year candidate might not even be the best player on his own team. He is outstanding defensively, but Indiana can survive a poor offensive day from the swingman.
Of course, a big-time shooting performance can make the Hoosiers almost unbeatable.
4. Keith Appling, Michigan State
It has to be frustrating for Michigan State fans to watch Keith Appling play. The junior has plenty of talent, but he is one of the most inconsistent players in the conference.
The Spartans have won each of the past 10 games when the point guard scores at least 10 points, but they have lost the four games when he is held to single digits.
For Michigan State to win this tournament, Appling must play well as he tries to lead this very young team.
3. Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
The Big Ten's leading scorer will get his points one way or another. The key for him will be efficiency.
Ohio State cannot win if the forward just chucks up contested shots all day. He must play smart to keep his shooting percentage high. This will allow more players on the roster to come through offensively.
2. Cody Zeller, Indiana
There is really no one in the Big Ten who can guard Cody Zeller for an entire game. The big man can run the floor incredibly well and can finish around the rim as well as anyone in the country.
For him, it is about aggressiveness. Zeller has to take over games like he did against Michigan when he finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
If he can play this well consistently, the Hoosiers will be a tough out.
1. Trey Burke, Michigan
No one in the entire conference can control a game as much as Trey Burke. The point guard can score himself or distribute to his teammates as well as anyone in college basketball.
In addition, he has shown that he will do anything necessary at the end of the game to help his team win.
Michigan has a very good chance to win the tournament and go deep in NCAA tournament, and Burke is the person that will carry them there.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!