Big Ten/ACC Challenge: The Most Dominant Player for Each Team

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIINovember 28, 2011

Big Ten/ACC Challenge: The Most Dominant Player for Each Team

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    It's hard to believe we're already in the 13th year for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. This year's games will be played on Tuesday, November 29th and Wednesday, November 30th. You can view the games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.

    Both teams are playing for the Commissioner's Cup. The Big Ten won last year for the second consecutive year, but the ACC has dominated the Challenge, winning the first 10.

    In the event of a 6-6 tie in the 12 game matchups, the Commissioner's Cup will remain in the Big Ten due to winning the event last year.

    This year's games feature two of the biggest games of the year in Duke at Ohio State and Wisconsin at North Carolina, and involves six teams ranked teams as of Week 3.

    These are arguably the top two conferences in college basketball. Since the start of the new decade in 2000, the ACC and Big Ten have combined for 19 Final Four appearances and six national championships.

    This slideshow is a list of the most dominating player on each of these teams.

    Here's the line-up of games:

     

    Tuesday, November 29th

    No. 15 Michigan at Virginia 7:00 P.M. ESPN2

    Northwestern at Georgia Tech 7:15 P.M. ESPNU

    Illinois at Maryland 7:30 P.M. ESPN

    Miami at Purdue 9:00 P.M. ESPN2

    Clemson at Iowa 9:15 P.M. ESPNU

    No. 6 Duke at No. 3 Ohio State 9:30 P.M. ESPN

     

    Wednesday November 30th

    Indiana at NC State 7:15 P.M. ESPN2

    Penn State at Boston College 7:15 P.M. ESPNU

    No. 20 Florida State at Michigan State 7:30 P.M. ESPN

    Virginia Tech at Minnesota 9:15 P.M. ESPN2

    Wake Forest at Nebraska 9:15 P.M. ESPNU

    No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 1 North Carolina 9:30 P.M. ESPN

Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan Wolverines

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    Michigan currently is 5-1 and travels to play the Virginia Cavaliers in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Wolverines are coming off of a third place finish in the Maui Invitational and are led by sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr.

    Hardaway Jr. is currently Michigan's leading scorer with 17.2 points per game. He's explosive to the basket and can shoot the lights out.

    He scored over 20 points in two of the three games in Maui and scored 19 in the other.

    Hardaway Jr. is also averaging 3.0 assists per game and 3.5 rebounds per game for the Wolverines.

John Shurna, Northwestern Wildcats

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    Northwestern is looking to make their first NCAA Tournament berth and is already off to a great start in doing so. The Wildcats are off to a 5-0 start and travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

    The Wildcats most dominant player is a tough one since they have two guys in John Shurna and Drew Crawford both averaging over 20 points per game.

    If I were to choose one, I'd choose Shurna.

    Shurna is a 6'9", 215-pound senior and is leading this team. He is averaging 21.5 points per game on 45 percent field goals and 42 percent three-point shots. He's also shooting 88 percent from the free-throw line.

    Shurna's career game this year came on November 17th against LSU, when he scored 37 points in an 88-82 victory.

    Shurna can get to the rim with a quick first step and can shoot very well.

D.J. Richardson, Illinois Fighting Illini

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    Illinois is in a rebuilding year this season after losing their top four scorers from last season. This season the Illini are led by junior guard D.J. Richardson.

    Richardson has led the Illini to a 5-0 start. They face a winless Chicago State team before they travel to Maryland for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

    Richardson is averaging 14.4 points per game this year. He's scored in double figures every game except the first one against Loyola where he struggled from the field in shooting 1-for-8.

    Richardson is an explosive guard and he looks to lead the Illini back to the tournament in a rebuilding year.

Robbie Hummel, Purdue Boilermakers

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    The Boilermakers' 5-1 record may look good, but it doesn't say how bad they're struggling. They may have a blowout win against an inferior opponent, but they have struggled against small schools like High Point and Iona.

    The Boilers are really missing JaJuan Johnson and E'Twan Moore who both are now in the NBA. They're led now by senior Robbie Hummel.

    Hummel two years ago looked like he would join Johnson and Moore in the NBA, but he missed the end of the season two years ago and all of last season with knee injuries.

    This season Hummel is healthy, and the Boilers are once again leaning on him with a young and not very talented team.

    Hummel is averaging 18.5 points per game in this young season. He scored in double figures in all five games, with the best of 24 points against Iona.

    The Boilers will only go as far as Hummel will lead them.

Melsahn Basabe, Iowa Hawkeyes

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    The Iowa Hawkeyes have struggled this year, as they're 3-2 on this young season. Matt Gatens is the leading scorer on this Hawkeyes team, but Melsahn Basabe is their most dominating player.

    Basabe has struggled to stay on the court, but the sophomore truly can change a game.

    He averaged 11 points per game last year as a freshman and averages 8.2 so far this year. He averages 4.6 rebounds per game to go along with those 8.2 points per game as well.

    Basabe hasn't scored in double figures since his 15-point performance on November 14th against North Carolina A&T.

    Stats have shown that when he's scored at least eight points this season Iowa is 3-0. They've lost their last two games and Basabe only scored two points in each game.

Jared Sullinger, Ohio State Buckeyes

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    The Ohio State Buckeyes have a tough matchup in their Big Ten/ACC Challenge. They host the Duke Blue Devils on Tuesday night.

    The Buckeyes are led by sophomore Jared Sullinger. Sullinger would have been a lottery pick in the last NBA Draft, but he chose to come back to school after leading the Buckeyes last year. He averaged 17.2 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game last year.

    The 6'9" forward hasn't let anyone down so far this year.

    Sullinger is averaging 19.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game so far this season.

    He's a force in the paint and is a tough matchup for anyone.

Cody Zeller, Indiana Hoosiers

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    The Indiana Hoosiers are off to one of their best starts in five years. The Hoosiers have struggled in the Tom Crean era, but this year is different.

    The reason why this Hoosiers team is so much better is due to freshman Cody Zeller.

    Zeller is leading the Hoosiers in scoring (14.6) and rebounding (7.6) per game.

    Zeller is a threat down low, but he can shoot the ball well. He is currently shooting 80 percent from the field and 74 percent from the line.

    Another thing that Zeller does great is finding the open man. He gets a lot of attention from other teams, so when they do double him Zeller finds the open teammate.

    This has made the Hoosiers so much better and the reason why they will make the NCAA Tournament this season.

Tim Frazier, Penn State Nittany Lions

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    Penn State is off to a great start after losing their coach and two leading scorers from last season's NCAA Tournament team.

    This year the Nittany Lions are led by 6'1" junior guard of Tim Frazier.

    Frazier is leading the team in scoring with 21.0 points per game. He's reached double figures in every game and scored over 20 points in four of the five games, with 26 points twice and 27 once in Penn State's 53-49 win over South Florida.

    Frazier is shooting 54.5 percent from three-point land, which is amazing. If he continues to shoot this well, Penn State will be in good shape.

Draymond Green, Michigan State Spartans

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    Michigan State is on a three-game winning streak after suffering losses in their first two games to the top-10 powers of North Carolina and Duke.

    The Big Ten/ACC Challenge game will be the third game this season versus an ACC opponent.

    The Spartans are led by forward Draymond Green.

    Green is leading the Spartans in scoring (12.4), rebounding (10.8) and assists (3.2).

    Green is hoping to lead this young team back to the tournament this season.

Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota Golden Gophers

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    Minnesota is off to a surprising undefeated start. The team is led by senior forward Trevor Mbakwe.

    Mbakwe is leading Minnesota in points (16.0) and rebounds (10.2) per game.

    He's a tough, physical player with a great shooting touch.

    Mbakwe is shooting 64 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free-throw line.

    If he can continue this throughout this season, Minnesota will make a run to the NCAA Tournament after missing it last year.

Bo Spencer, Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Nebraska is off to a great 4-1 start on the season and being led by transfer Bo Spencer.

    Spencer transferred to Nebraska from LSU and enters the Big Ten/ACC Challenge as Nebraska's leading scorer.

    He averages 15.5 points per game and 4.0 rebounds per game on the year so far. Spencer has scored in double figures every game except the first one, and has scored 20 or more points twice, with a 23-point performance in the 83-63 win over Rhode Island as his high thus far.

    Spencer will lead Nebraska in their first season in the Big Ten.

Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin Badgers

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    Jordan Taylor may be the best point guard in America. He's led this Badgers team in all three of his seasons, and looks to lead this team once again.

    Taylor averaged in double figures in points the last two seasons, and has one of the best turnover-to-assist ratios in all of basketball.

    He single-handedly keeps this Badgers team in contention every game. He knows when to make big shots and distributes the ball at the right times.

    Taylor this season is down in points per game (9.6), but he's averaging a career-high 5.4 assists per game.

    I expect this Badgers team to ride Taylor's back all the way to at least the second weekend in the NCAA Tournament.

Harrison Barnes, North Carolina Tar Heels

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    North Carolina is everyone's favorite to win the national championship this year despite their recent loss to UNLV. This team is stacked and it was hard to pick the single most dominant player on this team.

    I think sophomore Harrison Barnes earned that role.

    Barnes was one of the most highly touted freshmen last year at North Carolina and is a major part of the reason why North Carolina was the preseason No. 1 pick.

    Barnes averaged 15.7 points per game last year as a freshman, and hasn't disappointed so far this year. He averages 17.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game this season as a sophomore.

    If he would come out and declare for the NBA Draft next season, he would surely be in the running for the No. 1 pick. If he continues to play the way he is this year he would surely be the top player in the nation this season.

Travis McKie, Wake Forest Demon Deacons

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    Wake Forest is due to have a down year this year in the ACC, but they will be supported by sophomore Travis McKie.

    McKie averaged 13 points per game last year as a Freshman, and this year he's backing that up with an even better performance.

    He averages 21.8 points per game—a team high. He also leads the team in rebounding with 6.0 rebounds per game as well.

    If the Demon Deacons are to turn this season around, they will surely lean on McKie.

Dorenzo Hudson, Virginia Tech Hokies

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    Virginia Tech looks to avoid the bubble this year come tournament time. They are led by Senior Dorenzo Hudson.

    Hudson leads the team this year, averaging 17.8 points per game so far.

    He hopes to keep that double-digit trend up as he's done so the last two seasons.

    Hudson is currently shooting 56.8 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point land.

Michael Snaer, Florida State Seminoles

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    This may be one of the best seasons ever down in Tallahassee. Florida State entered the season in the preseason top 25 and they return a ton of key players.

    The Seminoles will be very junior- and senior-dominated and so far are led by junior Michael Snaer.

    Snaer was one of the best recruits in the county when Florida State signed him a few years ago. He averaged 8.8 points per game last year, but he improved his explosiveness and now averages 12.5 points per game so far this season.

    Another thing Snaer does so well is defending the other team's best player, as he is the best defender on the team.

    The Seminoles are banking on Snaer to be a star and lead them deep in the tournament.

Patrick Heckmann, Boston College Eagles

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    The Boston College Eagles look to have a rebuilding year this year. So far they're a disappointing 2-3 and haven't played so well.

    The team is young and led by freshman Patrick Heckmann.

    Heckmann averages a team high 15.8 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game.

    He's scored in double figures in every game except one, with his best coming in a 32-point performance in the 66-62 win over UC Riverside.

C.J. Leslie, North Carolina State Wolfpack

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    NC State is off to a quick 5-1 start this year and will lean on sophomore C.J. Leslie to lead them past Indiana in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

    Leslie has helped NC State in their quick start, averaging 16.7 points per game, a team high.

    He's also averaging 5.7 rebounds per game so far this year.

    The forward has scored in double figures in the three of the five games he's played this season, with a high of 20 points coming against Vanderbilt.

Austin Rivers, Duke Blue Devils

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    Duke is primed for another deep NCAA Tournament run with a young team. They will play the best game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge when they travel to Ohio State to play the Buckeyes.

    This team is led by a lot of talent, but Austin Rivers makes the plays and is the best player on the court.

    He doesn't lead this team in any stat, but what he brings is great dribble penetration to the rim and has the moves to score easily. He also can shoot lights out if you play off of him to stop the penetration.

    Another thing he can do well is penetrate and kick to an open shooter.

    Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins are benefiting from this most with so many open shots dished by Rivers.

    Rivers is averaging 14.4 points per game, 2.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game so far as a freshman.

    He will be the key on how far the Blue Devils will go.

Andre Young, Clemson Tigers

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    Clemson vs. Iowa will be a great game in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Both teams are off to mediocre starts.

    Clemson is off to a 3-2 start and led by 5'9" senior guard Andre Young.

    Young is averaging a team high 14.4 points per game. He's also averaging 3.8 assists per game.

    Young has scored in double figures in every game except one, with a high of 20 points coming against Coastal Carolina.

    He may be small, but he makes up for it in speed and uses that to get to the rim.

Malcolm Grant, Miami Hurricanes

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    The Miami Hurricanes are off to a quick 4-1 start and have a great chance to upset Purdue in their Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup.

    The Hurricanes are led by 6'1" senior guard Malcolm Grant.

    Grant is leading the team in scoring with averaging 17.8 points per game.

    He's scored in double figures every game with season, with a high of 22 coming in their last game against Ole Miss in a 64-61, which happened to be their lone loss this season.

    Grant is shooting 40 percent from three-point land this year and will need to shoot the three well to keep Miami in games.

Terrell Stoglin, Maryland Terrapins

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    Maryland is off to a slow 3-2 start this season, but they can turn it around by beating undefeated Illinois in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

    Maryland will host the Illini on Tuesday.

    The Terps are led by 6'1" sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin.

    Stoglin is averaging 20.2 points per game, which is a team high. He's scored in double figures in every game except one, with a high of 32 points against Colorado on November 18th.

    The sophomore is explosive and can get to the rim. The team is leaning on him to contend for a tournament berth.

Glen Rice Jr., Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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    Georgia Tech can pull the upset on Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. They host the undefeated upstart Northwestern Wildcats.

    If the Yellow Jackets want any shot to win, they will lean heavily on junior Glen Rice Jr.

    Rice Jr. is the son of former NBA player Glen Rice. He's averaging a team high 17.7 points per game and ranks second on the team in assists and rebounds with 2.7 and 7.0 per game, respectively.

    Rice is like his dad and is a threat from anywhere on the court. He's shooting 66.7 percent from the field so far this season and 42.9 percent from three-point range.

Mike Scott, Virginia Cavaliers

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    Virginia has a tough task in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge against the Michigan Wolverines. Virginia is off to a 5-1 start, so it would definitely turn heads if they can upset the Wolverines.

    This season the Cavaliers are led by 6'8" senior Mike Scott.

    Scott is leading the team in points and rebounds with 14.8 points and 10 rebounds per game.

    Scott has had a double-double in two games this season with a best of 21 and 10 against Drexel in a 49-35 win on November 19th.

    The Cavs lean on him heavily and he hopes his senior leadership can lead them to a NCAA Tournament berth.