Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.
The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.
With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.
March Madness 2017: Big Ten Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards
Big Ten Player of the Year: Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
A no-brainer for this award, Swanigan posted a ridiculous 25 double-doubles this season while averaging 18.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. Nearly unguardable in the post without a double team at the college level, Swanigan has expanded his offensive game as he hurts defenses from every level of the floor. A 44 percent three-point shooter who also makes 79 percent of his free throws, Swanigan has rare touch for a player his size.
Big Ten Coach of the Year: Richard Pitino, Minnesota
Minnesota looked like they might be in serious trouble entering this season but Pitino has done a remarkable job of helping turn things around while saving his job. After only eight Big Ten wins the last two seasons, the Golden Gophers finished with 11 Big Ten wins this season as they finished in fourth place. Mixing veterans, transfers and true freshmen, Minnesota has a top-15 defense and the future looks solid.
First-Team All-Big Ten:
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue (POY)
Melo Trimble, Maryland: The Terps lost four starters but Trimble (16.9 ppg, 3.7 apg, 3.4 rpg) was once again one of the nation’s most clutch players. Trimble scored Maryland’s game-winning points five times in the final 30 seconds this season.
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin: Happ clearly emerged as Wisconsin’s best player this season, putting up 13.9 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Defensively, Happ is perhaps the Big Ten’s best player.
Peter Jok, Iowa: One of the nation’s best offensive players, Jok scored in bunches (2o.2 ppg) but also improved his all-around game (5.7 rpg, 2.7 apg) while leading the Big Ten in free-throw percentage at 92 percent.
Derrick Walton Jr., Michigan: Finally healthy for a full season, Walton was brilliant in his senior season as he gets a slight nod over Nate Mason. Walton had good numbers (14.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.5 apg) and was very efficient (43% FG, 41% 3PT, 85% FT)
The Big Ten Tournament moves east to Washington D.C. for the first time this season as it will be very intriguing to see which fanbases travel to catch this event.
As for the tournament action itself, this has been a strange year for the Big Ten.
Since the committee didn’t give the Big Ten a top-four seed during February’s early bracket reveal, we know that the conference likely has work to do to get even one top-four seed. With the way Purdue has played lately, they have the best chance to win this event and gain a respectable seed, but the Big Ten is going to have to prove itself in March with some pretty undesirable seeds.
The Boilermakers are the easy favorite for this event as they won the Big Ten regular season by two full games and enter this week as winners of eight of their last nine games. With the Big Ten’s best player in Caleb Swanigan and a great supporting cast that was built to play around Swanigan’s unique skillset, the Boilers are motivated to earn a better NCAA tournament seed by winning this event. Matt Painter made that clear in the postgame interview following the Northwestern win.
And if they lose?: Wisconsin
Based solely on recent play, Wisconsin has no business being in the title conversation this week. The Badgers had lost five of six games before Sunday’s win over Minnesota as they went into a freefall. But the rest of the Big Ten is still very mediocre and Wisconsin has a veteran group that knows how to win in tournament settings. The win over the Golden Gophers was convincing enough that Wisconsin might have figured things out just in time.
Maryland: As long as Melo Trimble is on the floor, you can’t count out Maryland. One of the nation’s elite guards is still great in close games and he has plenty of talent around him.
Minnesota: The Big Ten’s biggest surprise has an elite defense anchored by Reggie Lynch, one of the nation’s best shot blockers, and an offense led by breakout guard Nate Mason.
The Hawkeyes have quietly crept into the bubble picture by winning four straight — including impressive road wins at Wisconsin and Maryland. The Big Ten Tournament draw also happens to lay out very nicely for Iowa. Potential matchups in the first three rounds come against Indiana, Wisconsin and Maryland — three of the four teams Iowa just beat. With something to play for, a potent star senior scorer in Peter Jok and a favorable draw, Iowa could be a team to watch in D.C.
The Bubble Dwellers:
Illinois: A shocking road loss to Rutgers might leave Illinois out either way. A win over Michigan in the first round has to happen at the very least and Illinois might even have to beat No. 1 seed Purdue to get in.
Iowa: If Iowa beats Indiana and gets the best of the Badgers again in the quarterfinals then they might be dancing.
Defining moment of the season: The Big Ten didn’t have a lot of great moments this season but Purdue clinching the Big Ten title against rival Indiana on Senior Day was pretty cool.
CBT Prediction: Purdue over Wisconsin
Northwestern leading scorer Scottie Lindsey out against Purdue with illness
Northwestern leading scorer Scottie Lindsey will miss time due to an illness, the team announced on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-5 junior will miss the Purdue game at the very least as the Wildcats try to remain in the Big Ten race.
Attempting to make its first NCAA tournament in school history, the Wildcats will have to play without Lindsey and they’ll also likely be without senior Nathan Taphorn against Purdue after an ankle injury in the win over Indiana.
Without Lindsey and Taphorn, Northwestern is missing two of its biggest perimeter threats and that could make things a lot tougher for their offense.
Lindsey is averaging 15.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Scottie Lindsey (illness) will miss tomorrow’s game at Purdue. #B1GCats
Former Northwestern guard Johnnie Vassar has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Northwestern and the NCAA, claiming that the NCAA’s transfer rules are in violation of federal antitrust laws.
Included in the lawsuit is an allegation the Northwestern coaching staff tried to ‘run him off’, a practice of making life miserable enough for a player that he opts to transfer out of the program. It’s done to free up a scholarship. Division I college programs are limited to offering 13 scholarship.
Vassar played for the Wildcats during the 2014-15 season and tallied 70 total minutes, scoring 15 points in his career. His suit was filed on Nov. 14, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The suit wants to change the NCAA’s rules that force players to sit out a season after transferring instead of allowing them to immediately play without losing athletic eligibility.
“In a competitive market free of the NCAA and its members restraint, these athletes would be allowed to transfer without restriction, particularly where, as in this case, their current coach no longer wants their services and ‘runs them off,’” the complaint said.
Vassar’s claims against Northwestern about trying to be run off are also included in the complaint. Vassar is claiming that Northwestern didn’t want him on scholarship so they tried to get him to sign a blank “Roster Deletion” form where he would voluntarily withdraw from the team. Vassar says he was also told by the staff to transfer.
Among the claims Vassar makes is he was placed in a team-induced internship where he worked as a janitor instead of being able to play with teammates. The lawsuit also claims that Northwestern falsified timecards to try to create misconduct so they could take away Vassar’s scholarship.
Northwestern announces plans for Welsh-Ryan Arena renovations
Six years after recommendations were made for the renovations of athletics department facilities on campus, Northwestern revealed the plans for a project that will modernize Welsh-Ryan Arena. The project is estimated to cost more than $110 million, with donors stepping forward to help with the money needed, and it will begin at the end of the 2016-17 basketball season.
Construction will force the men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams to find new homes for the 2017-18 season, with those locations yet to be determined by the school. However the improvements to Welsh-Ryan are much-needed, and when completed will provide the programs with facilities expected to help them compete in the Big Ten. The school hopes to have the work done by the fall of 2018.
Among the changes to be made are chair-back seating throughout the arena, new locker rooms for the men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball programs, and new offices for the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
Illinois, Northwestern part of State Farm Chicago Legends event
Thursday afternoon another in-season event was announced, with Big Ten programs Illinois and Northwestern being two of the four participants. The State Farm Chicago Legends event will be played for the first time December 17 at the United Center, with BYU and Dayton making the trip to Chicago as well.
The Cougars facing Illinois in one game and Dayton playing Northwestern in the other matchup.
Of the four teams only Dayton reached the NCAA tournament last season, and with most of their rotation returning Archie Miller’s Flyers are expected to do so once again in 2016-17. BYU, even with the loss of Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer, should also be an NCAA tournament team with Nick Emery returning for his sophomore season and he’ll be joined by the likes of forward Eric Mika and guard T.J. Haws (both return from LDS missions).
Illinois will look to rebound from a disappointing season that included injuries (Tracy Abrams’ ruptured Achilles) and disciplinary issues. Malcolm Hill, one of the Big Ten’s top scorers, will be back to lead the way. And Northwestern will continue its quest for the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament bid, with a promising rotation that includes point guard Bryant McIntosh, small forward Vic Law IV and forward Dererk Pardon.