Some surprises among key players in SEC, Big Ten

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If I told you Demetri McCamey was Illinois’ most important player, you’d not your head in agreement. Same with Christian Watford and Indiana, JaJuan Johnson and Purdue and Terrence Jones and Kentucky.

When those four guys thrive, their teams usually win.

But what if I threw Cameron Tatum of Tennessee into that mix? Or David Lighty of Ohio State? Are they in the same category? Dan Hanner says yes.

The brains behind Yet Another Basketball Blog ran plus/minus numbers on players in the Big Ten and SEC and zeroed in on the key player for each team, sometimes with surprising results.

For instance, Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie get all the pub for Georgia, but point guard Gerald Robinson is the big reason for any Dawg wins. Also, Billy Donovan may want to increase Patric Young’s playing time.

Some are a result of massive amounts of playing time (like Wisconsin and Jordan Taylor), or their roles on the team (a key to Lighty’s success).

But the Tatum stats are impressive. Here’s Tanner’s analysis:

With Tatum, Without Tatum, Opponent
20, 0, Chattanooga
18, -9, Belmont
13, -9, Missouri St.
19, -14, VCU
9, 1, Villanova
24, 6, Middle Tennessee St.

When Tatum is on the floor, Tennessee looks like a different team this year. Just look at those splits against VCU! Tennessee has a lot of intriguing players from Tobias Harris to Scotty Hopson, but these stats make me want to watch Cameron Tatum a little more closely.

Dude. That’s some good stuff, Cameron. No wonder the Vols have gotten off to a fast start.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller.