The 2013 Big Ten tournament may be over, but that just means fans can enjoy their favorite players from it in the coming week's national tournament. This year's Big Ten tournament was one for the ages, and not one to be forgotten.
I, for one, am looking forward to watching Wisconsin, wherever it may end up in the final bracket. The Badgers were the ultimate underdogs this year, taking out top teams in Michigan on March 15 and Indiana on March 16, and they definitely have men who will be worth watching once the Big Dance begins.
The same can be said for the Michigan State Spartans who, despite a semifinals loss to eventual champion Ohio State, have a great deal of talent on their roster that shined bright in the Big Ten tournament.
The point is that while the 2013 Big ten Tournament may be over, the seasons of those who starred in it aren't. When the Big Dance begins, this small handful of men will continue to shine and bring national attention to both themselves and their teams.
Traevon Jackson, G, Wisconsin
The son of former NBA guard Jim Jackson, this young man only averaged 6.8 points and 2.8 assists per game on the regular season and shot just 38 percent from the field. In the Big Ten tournament, he stepped up his effort.
Jackson averaged 11 points and three assists per game in helping lead the Badgers to the championship game, posting a field-goal percentage of 43 percent along the way. He doesn't have much size at 6'2", 218 pounds, but plays with strong determination and just how much he upped his effort against teams like Michigan and Ohio State says it all.
Once the tournament starts, it's going to be interesting to see what new heights his talent will reach when every game continues to count.
Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State
Blessed with great size at 6'10", 240 pounds, Payne performed excellently in the Spartans' two Big Ten tournament games. Over those two contests, he averaged 15 points, nine rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
That's well above his regular-season marks of 10.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. He also shot 53 percent from the field in the tournament.
Seeing as how Michigan State is sure to draw a high seed for the tournament, which you can see happen when you watch Selection Sunday at 6 p.m. ET, Payne could be in a prime position to continue dominating. Players of his caliber are hard to find on the college level, and he uses his size well in being a force on both sides of the floor.
So long as his team gets a favorable draw, he should be good to have another few good games.
DeShaun Thomas, F, Ohio State
Love them or hate them, the Buckeyes have a great team entering this year's tournament and Thomas is leading the way. Not only did he lead Ohio State with 19.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this season, but he posted 17.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in the Big Ten tournament.
Granted, Thomas shot just 36 percent from the field in the Buckeyes' three tournament games, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he made a respectable 44 percent of his attempts for the regular season. As a whole, he has been a solid scorer for the team all season long and plays much bigger than his 6'7", 225-pound frame.
Now that ex-teammate Jared Sullinger belongs to the NBA, expect Thomas to put the team on his back in the tournament and continue having fine games, and that includes being more conservative with his shot selection.
Oh, and don't forget to download your printable bracket!