The LWOS Big Ten All-Time Series wraps up with part two. Part one looked at some very historic programs but part two is focused on more of the up-and-coming new Big Ten programs.
Big Ten All-Time Series Part 2
Best Team: 1990-91
The 1990-91 Cornhuskers finished the season 26-8 and were ranked 11th in the AP poll, which is the highest any Nebraska team has ever been ranked. To be frank, Nebraska has never had a great basketball team. This team did well enough to be a three seed in the NCAA Tournament, but they ultimately lost in the first round.
Best Player: Tyronn Lue
Tyronn Lue played for Nebraska from 1995-98. While there, he averaged 15.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. Lue was also a two-time member of the All-Big 12 team. He narrowly edges out Palmer because his team was slightly better.
Honorable Mentions: James Palmer Jr.
Best Coach: Danny Nee
Danny Nee coached at Nebraska from 1986-00. During that span, he won 254 games for a 57 percent winning percentage. Nee also took Nebraska to the NCAA Tournament five times and won the NIT once. Compared to other Nebraska coaches, that is very impressive.
Best Team: 2016-17
The 2016-17 Wildcats are the only Northwestern team to ever make the NCAA tournament, and they won a game! The team finished at 24-12 and were fifth in the Big Ten. They were led by some great players in Bryant McIntosh, Vic Law, and Scottie Lindsey. To be honest, this team probably underachieved. Regardless, they knocked off Vanderbilt for their one and only NCAA tournament win. They then took number one seeded Gonzaga to the wire.
Best Player: John Shurna
John Shurna played for Northwestern from 2009-12. He averaged 15.7 points,five rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. In his senior season, Shurna led the Big Ten in scoring at 20.0 points per game. Also, he was named to the 2011-12 All-Big Ten team. Shurna is the best player in Northwestern history. Other players have shown flashes of skill, but Shurna did it consistently for multiple years on bad teams.
Honorable Mentions: Bryant McIntosh
Best Coach: Chris Collins
Chris Collins is the best coach in school history. The Chicago kid chose to go to Northwestern to attempt a resurrection. He did better than anyone thought, winning that first NCAA tournament game and having the Wildcats ranked numerous times. Collins has been in Evanston since 2013 and won 109 games which is just below 50 percent. That is still better than most.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Best Team: 2006-07
The 2006-07 Buckeyes were fantastic. The team went 35-4, including 15-1 in the Big Ten. This helped them win the Big Ten regular-season and conference crown. Additionally, the Buckeyes made it to the National Championship game thanks to Mike Conley and Greg Oden. They were the team responsible for resurrecting Ohio State basketball.
Best Player: John Havlicek
John Havlicek is one of the best players in basketball history. He played for Ohio State from 1959-62. During this time, he averaged 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. He was also named an All-American and was a member of the NCAA All-Region team three times. Finally, Havlicek won an NCAA championship in 1960.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Conley, D’Angelo Russell, Jerry Lucas
Best Coach: Thad Matta
Thad Matta coached at Ohio State from 2004-2017. During that span, he led the team to nine NCAA tournaments, two Final Fours, and one NIT championship. Matta recorded a record of 337-123 for a 73 percent winning percentage. For some reason, Ohio State and Matta parted ways. They appear to have another good coach in Chris Holtmann, but he has big shoes to fill.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Best Team: 2019-20
The 2019-20 Penn State squad was poised to be the best Nittany Lion team ever. They were 21-10 heading into the conference tournament and would have been a top-five seed in March Madness. They also had the talent to advance to the second weekend, which has not happened since 1954. Unfortunately, this year’s team had to see the season end the way it did, but they have started something special in Happy Valley.
Best Player: Talor Battle
Talor Battle is one of the few players in NCAA history to have over 2,000 points, 600 rebounds, and 500 assists. He also checks in as Penn State’s all-time leading scorer, just six points clear of Lamar Stevens. Battle was a statistical king while a Nittany Lion. He put his name all over the record books and was an All-American honorable mention in 2011.
Honorable Mentions: Lamar Stevens, Jesse Arnelle
Best Coach: Patrick Chambers
Patrick Chambers has been the head coach at Penn State since 2011. He struggled for the first two seasons but has since brought his overall record to 148-150. Chambers does not have the statistics to back up this selection. However, anyone would say Penn State has their guy. They are going to continue to improve under his watch.
Best Team: 1993-94
The 1993-94 Boilermakers finished the season 29-5, including 14-4 in the Big Ten which made them regular-season champs. That was good enough to earn a one seed in the NCAA tournament. Purdue rode their stars to an Elite Eight berth where they ultimately saw their season end. Regardless, this team made it farther than almost any other Purdue team.
Best Player: Glenn Robinson
Glenn Robinson was a monster on the floor. He played 62 games for Purdue from 1992-1994. In that span, he averaged 27.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Essentially, Robinson was unguardable. He was a major reason that the team was so good and went so far. That superb play continued in the NBA. Carsen Edwards was phenomenal as well, but could not quite catch Robinson.
Honorable Mentions: Carsen Edwards, Robbie Hummel
Best Coach: Gene Keady
There is no wrong answer here. Gene Keady led the Boilermakers from 1980-2005. He racked up a 512-270 record for a winning percentage of 66 percent. He led them to the NCAA Tournament 17 times in that span and won several Big Ten regular-season crowns. He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year seven times and won numerous National Coach of the Year awards. Matt Painter has been outstanding for the Boilermakers as well. If he continues his current pace, he will pass Keady.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Best Team: 1975-76
The 1975-76 Scarlet Knights went 31-2 and found themselves in the Final Four for the first time. They were ranked as high as three in the nation that season and had three NBA players on the roster. After that point, Rutgers struggled to stay relevant. This season was the first time in several decades that they were ranked.
Best Player: Eddie Jordan
The argument for the best player is not very easy. Eddie Jordan narrowly wins this one. He played for the Scarlet Knights from 1973-77. During this time, he averaged 14.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. He then went on to coach Rutgers and that was not a good situation.
Honorable Mention: Geo Baker
Best Coach: Tom Young
Tom Young led Rutgers from 1973 to 1985. During that time, Rutgers played in several conferences, but he earned a record of 239-116 for a winning percentage of 67 percent. Young also got the Scarlet Knights to the NCAA Tournament more times than anyone by a lot, and their only Final Four berth. Steve Pikiell has a real chance to earn this honor very shortly.
Best Team: 2014-15
The 2014-15 Badgers are most known for knocking off the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats in the Final Four. That team would then go on to lose to the Duke Blue Devils in the National Championship. The Badgers went 36-4 that season, including 16-2 in the Big Ten, leading to a Big Ten crown. They had Duke on the ropes and were very close to a National Championship, but fell just short.
Best Player: Frank Kaminsky
Frank Kaminsky played for Wisconsin from 2011-2015. He didn’t play much in his first two seasons, but his junior and senior years were great. Specifically, Kaminsky averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in his senior season. He was named AP Player of the Year and won the Wooden Award as a senior.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Finley, Devin Harris, Ethan Happ
Best Coach: Bo Ryan
Bo Ryan was the head coach at Wisconsin from 2001-16. During this time, Wisconsin never missed the NCAA tournament which is remarkable consistency. The Badgers went to two Final Fours and won three conference championships in that span. Ryan compiled a 364-130 record for a 74 percent winning percentage.
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