Indiana Daily Student

Top 10 Big Ten opponents for IU

Head coach Tom Crean watches his team from the sidelines during IU's game against Georgetown on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. IU lost to Georgetown 91-87.
Head coach Tom Crean watches his team from the sidelines during IU's game against Georgetown on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. IU lost to Georgetown 91-87.

Big Ten play has arrived – an 18-game stretch of the most competitive basketball on IU’s schedule. While the conference struggled through nonconference play, it brings a slew of talented rosters and NBA-level talent.

Here’s a look at some of the top individual players in IU’s Big Ten schedule.

Honorable mention: Dez Wells (Maryland), Jake Layman (Maryland), Travis Trice (Michigan State), Zak Irvin (Michigan), A.J. Hammons (Purdue), Aaron White (Iowa)

10. Melo Trimble – Maryland freshman guard

IU v. Maryland, Jan. 22 – IU at Maryland, Feb. 11

2014-15 stats: 15.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals per game

Trimble has scored in single digits just once this season en route to a 12-1 Terrapins start. He boasts a 70 percent true shooting mark, good for No. 8 in the country, and sits just outside the top 100 nationally in kenpom.com’s offensive rating.

9. Denzel Valentine – Michigan State junior guard

IU at Michigan State, Jan. 5 – IU v. Michigan State, March 7

2014-15 stats: 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists per game

Valentine has established himself as the top scorer on Michigan State’s roster, but shades of his do-it-all ability from previous seasons remain. A vast improvement in his 3-point shooting – 50 percent from long range this season – has made him one of the conference’s most dangerous offensive players.

8. Branden Dawson – Michigan State senior forward

IU at Michigan State, Jan. 5 – IU v. Michigan State, March 7

2014-15 stats: 10.8 points, 8.5 rebounds per game

A deep Spartans team hinders Dawson’s offensive stats, but he’s an effective player on both ends. Dawson leads the Big Ten in rebounding at 8.5 per game and has been praised by IU Coach Tom Crean as one of the conference’s most versatile players.

7. Rayvonte Rice – Illinois senior guard

IU at Illinois, Jan. 18

2014-15 stats: 17.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 1.8 assists per game

Rice loves to play IU – in two games against the Hoosiers, he’s scored 29 and 20 points. After scoring almost 16 points per game last season, he added a 3-point shot to his game, improving from 29 percent from deep last season to 47 percent season.

6. D.J. Newbill – Penn State senior guard

IU v. Penn State, Jan. 13

2014-15 stats: 21.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 steals per game

Continuing the tradition of under-the-radar guards at Penn State, Newbill has quietly led the Big Ten in scoring this season. He’s improved his efficiency numbers in each season at Penn State, shooting 47 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range this season. He receives heavy minutes from Penn State Coach Pat Chambers – 37.5 per game – and is undoubtedly the key man in the Nittany Lions’ 12-1 start to the season.

5. Caris LeVert – Michigan junior guard

IU v. Michigan, Feb. 8

2014-15 stats: 14.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.9 steals per game

LeVert struggled in his final three nonconference games, failing to score double-digit points in each, but remains an NBA-caliber talent on a struggling Michigan team. A projected first-round NBA Draft pick in 2015, LeVert has had issues adjusting to an expanded role this season, shooting just 42 percent from the field.

4. Sam Dekker – Wisconsin junior forward

IU at Wisconsin, Feb. 3

2014-15 stats: 12.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists per game

A projected first-round NBA Draft pick, Dekker is a contributor in all phases of the game. He’s not a volume shooter – just 8.7 shot attempts per game – but scores effectively and efficiently, with a 59.9 true shooting percentage.

3. D’Angelo Russell – Ohio State freshman guard

IU v. Ohio State, Jan. 10 – IU at Ohio State, Jan. 25

2014-15 stats: 17.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists per game

A McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit, Russell has started his collegiate career in a big way. He takes almost 30 percent of Ohio State’s shots when he’s on the floor, and has scored in single digits just once in 14 career games. He’s a projected lottery selection in the 2015 NBA Draft.

2. Terran Petteway – Nebraska junior forward

IU at Nebraska, Dec. 31

2014-15 stats: 19.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists per game

Petteway was at the heart of last season’s ‘Nebrasketball’ revival, leading Nebraska to the NCAA Tournament and earning first team All-Big Ten honors after transferring from Texas Tech. He’s continued that role this season, using 34 percent of the Huskers’ possessions. ‘Nebrasketball’ has disappointed this season, losing to a handful of teams outside the nation’s top 100, but Petteway remains one of the country’s top scorers.

1. Frank Kaminsky – Wisconsin senior forward

IU at Wisconsin, Feb. 3

2014-15 stats: 16.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.2 blocks per game

The preseason Big Ten Player of the Year and Wooden Award finalist has lived up to his lofty preseason expectations, pacing Wisconsin to a 12-1 start. The 7-foot senior is at the center of everything Wisconsin does, taking over 28 percent of the Badgers’ shots when he’s on the floor. On the defensive end, Kaminsky is fourth in the Big Ten in blocked shots, as well as second in rebounding. IU held him to just 11 points and nine rebounds in an upset win last season, but that came with now-departed Noah Vonleh.

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