A hearty welcome to those of you just now joining the rest of us in following college basketball now that football season has ended. We’ll be running a series of posts to get all you football fans caught up on the season at-large. To read through them all, click here.
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State (17.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game)
Franklin has continued his upward trajectory this season for the Aztecs, who will need him down the stretch in a loaded Mountain West race.
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State (20.0 points, 6.2 rebounds per game)
The most impressive part of Thomas’ performance this year is that, as the only go-to scorer on this Ohio State team, opponents gameplan to contain him, but he still puts up 20 points per game.
Cody Zeller, Indiana (16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds per game)
With the emergence of Victor Oladipo, Zeller has seemed to take a back seat, but his production is just as consistent. Without his double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds, the Hoosiers would not have beaten No. 1 Michigan on Saturday.
Russ Smith, Louisville (18.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game)
Smith has worked to channel his at-time erratic playing style last season into full-on production this year. The Cardinals have hit a rough patch, of late, but he is averaging 19 points in his last two games, both Louisville wins.
Otto Porter, Georgetown (14.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 blocks per game)
The do-everything guy for Georgetown has stepped his game up since Greg Whittington has been out of the lineup. A huge double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds led the Hoyas to a win over Louisville on Jan. 26.
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse (12.6 points, 8.6 assists, 4.9 rebounds per game)
Many picked Carter-Williams to be one of the breakout stars in the country this season and he has delivered. Syracuse has been at a disadvantage without James Southerland, who is out with academic issues, but Carter-Williams is the engine of the Orange offense.
Ben McLemore, Kansas (16.4 points, 5.4 rebounds per game)
McLemore is the center of the Jayhawks’ offensive attack and is the star that coach Bill Self needed after a run to the Final Four last season.
5. Victor Oladipo, Indiana (14.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game)
Oladipo might not have the gaudy numbers to show it, but if we’re talking about value, there are few players more valuable to their teams than Oladipo is to Indiana. Not only an offensive threat, Oladipo brings energy and is one of the nation’s toughest defenders. He was key to Indiana’s ability to slow down a big-time Michigan offense and get a win Saturday.
4. Jeff Withey, Kansas (13.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.2 blocks per game)
Withey’s ability to affect the game on both ends of the floor is what makes him so valuable to this Kansas team. His domination around the rim changes the way Kansas is able to play defense and, in concert with McLemore on the offensive end, the inside-out combination drives the Jayhawks.
3. Mason Plumlee, Duke (17.6 points, 10.8 rebounds per game)
The weight of Duke’s NCAA tournament hopes falls heavier onto Plumlee’s shoulders after the injury to forward Ryan Kelly, but he has continued to produce. If Duke wants to make a run deeper than the Round of 64 and Kelly remains out, the way Plumlee plays will likely steer the ship for the Blue Devils.
2. Doug McDermott, Creighton (24.0 points, 7.3 rebounds per game)
McDermott has scored in double figures in all but one game for the Bluejays this season, including a 39-point outing against Missouri State, which he followed with a 31-point game against Northern Iowa. His team is 20-3, including 9-2 in a tough Missouri Valley Conference. If his production keeps up, like many believe it will, Creighton will keep winning.
1. Trey Burke, Michigan (18.2 points, 7.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds per game)
Burke is the engine of an offensive attack that features a number of weapons for the No. 3 Wolverines. He is a simultaneously a scorer and a facilitator. He has worked to become the best player in the country at his position and is showing how wise it was for him to spurn the NBA Draft and return to Ann Arbor for his sophomore season.