Big Ten Hoops Preview: Badgers are the Team to Beat
Big Ten Hoops Preview: Badgers are the Team to Beat

This article is part of our Draft Kit series.

Misnomer is a word like unique: it has a binary component. Therefore, the Big Ten can not become more of a misnomer by adding two more teams. Rutgers and Maryland give the conference a presence on the eastern seaboard. They aren't the traditionally midwestern teams of the conference, but they should fit right in (after the usual adjustment period).

Entering the season, it would appear that Wisconsin is the team to beat. The Badgers have the most returning talent, particularly in the front court, with the pairing of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker. The usual suspects such as Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State should all be very good. The conference may not be quite as good at the top as in the past couple of seasons, but should vie for the best group once again.

Top Three

Frank Kaminsky, forward, Wisconsin Badgers - The 7-foot-1 forward is just the latest in the line of Badger bigs who do not play much for a season or two, then explode into productivity. Kaminsky made a name for himself early in 2013-14 with 43 points against North Dakota. He showed off his offensive diversity on a national scale in the Elite 8 win over Arizona with 28 points, three 3-pointers, and 11 boards. If you can finagle center eligibility out of Kaminsky, he should be one of the most valuable players in the nation.

A.J. Hammons, center, Purdue Boilermakers -
Center eligibility is the reason that Hammons, the 7-1 pivot from Purdue, makes this list. I could have chosen a number of other flashier players, but Hammons showed nice, incremental progress last year as a sophomore when he averaged 10.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks. Like most young bigs, fouls tend to be an issue and Hammons was whistled at least four times in his last five games of the season (the Boilermakers lost their last seven).

D.J. Newbill, guard, Penn State Nittany Lions -
The Nittany Lions have only made the NCAA tournament four times since joining the Big 10 ion 1990 (winning two Big Dance games), but they seem to have at least one fantasy relevant player each season. From Talor Battle to Tim Frazier to D.J. Newbill, the torch has been passed. The Southern Miss transfer led Penn State with 17.8 points as a junior. Frazier has run out of eligibility, so Newbill should be able to put up some very pleasant numbers, including additional assists.

Top Freshman

Kameron Chatman, guard, Michigan Wolverines - Being a productive freshman is as much about opportunity as skill. Michigan has Caris LeVert (who narrowly missed being part of the top three), but plenty of holes to fill after Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, and Mitch McGary left Ann Arbor. Chatman is a 6-7 small forward from Portland, OR. He should be able to help Big Blue on the boards and may be able to initiate the offense.

Top Transfer

Anthony Lee, forward, Ohio State Buckeyes - It is hard to imagine the Buckeyes without Aaron Craft, but we'll have to face that reality this fall. Lee, a 6-9 transfer from Temple, could step in right away to be the Buckeyes' top scorer (though he won't replace apple-cheeked Craft - no one could). He provided 13.6 points and 8.6 boards for the Owls. Because he finished his undergraduate studies last year, he won't have to sit out before playing.

Pair of Sleepers

Darnell Valentine, forward, Michigan State Spartans - Pass-happy forwards are among my favorite players in college basketball. Valentine may not have been one of the many name players on last year's Spartan squad, but he started 33 games and averaged 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. Those are the kind of well-rounded numbers I like. The junior should see a nice bump in shot opportunities. If he can continue to hit 37.7 percent of his 3-pointers, he could be a major factor in fantasy leagues.

Sam Thompson, forward, Ohio State Buckeyes -
I am doubling down on Thompson who was my sleeper last year. I thought he'd step in for Deshaun Thomas and get plenty of scores. It didn't happen. In fact, it was a problem for the Buckeyes because they needed someone to score. Thompson only averaged 7.9 points, but he managed to hit a fair number of 3-pointers (35.5 percent) and could get a bump in minutes as a senior next to the aforementioned Lee.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Perry Missner
Missner covers college basketball for RotoWire. A veteran fantasy sports writer, he once served on the executive board for the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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