With the college basketball regular season nearing an end, teams are fighting to make their final cases for an NCAA March Madness spot. So far, scouts and fans have been surprised this year by the wide variety of talent and efficiency in college basketball.
One of the primary conferences that has contributed to the excitement is the Big Ten. Here are the conference’s premiere players who have made the most noise thus far:
Iowa has caught many people off guard this season after losing superstar Luka Garza. The Hawkeyes currently stand at 17-8 with a 7-7 in conference record. Much of this can be credited to the team’s leading scorer in the Big Ten and the third-leading scorer in the country, Keegan Murray. Murray is a sophomore 6-foot-8 forward from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The sophomore has come to the forefront after averaging just 7.2 points a game while only starting in four games in his freshman season
Murray made a complete 180 from his freshman to sophomore season. As opposed to last year, Murray is averaging 23.3 points per game while having started in 24 appearances. During his freshman campaign, Murray was shooting 29.6% from 3-point range, while this year, he is shooting 36.7% from beyond the arc.
He’s already played in more games this season than his entire freshman year.
Johnny Davis from Wisconsin has also improved his offensive game this season. The 6-foot-5 guard is averaging 20.7 points per game while also averaging 35 minutes a game.
During the 2020-2021 season, Davis averaged a mere seven points per game while playing an average of 24.3 minutes. His ability to create space between him and defenders has left him unstoppable in college basketball.
Davis currently stands as the third-leading scorer in the Big Ten behind Kofi Cockburn and Keegan Murray.
Cockburn, the 7-foot, 285-pound Illinois center, is a dominant presence in the paint. He is the second-leading scorer in the Big Ten, averaging 21.7 points per game.
Cockburn has helped Illinois not only on the offensive side of the court but also on the defensive end. He leads the conference with 11.2 rebounds per game.
With his ability to work strongly inside the paint, Cockburn has been allowed to take high percentage shots. He currently stands in fourth place in the Big Ten for field goal percentages at .608.
The only players ahead of him are Zach Edey, Derrick Walker and John Harrar.
Currently in the Big Ten, Illinois stands in third place with a 19-7 overall record and 12-4 record in conference.
The Wisconsin Badgers stand in second place with a 21-5 record, having gone 12-4 in conference so far.
Iowa is currently on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, as it posts an 8-7 in-conference record.
These Big Ten programs and their stars are just weeks away from competing for a conference tournament title. The Big Ten tournament starts March 9.