Earlier this week, Penn State head coach Pat Chambers stated that he believed the Nittany Lions had one of the best backcourts in the country. He was talking about his standout guards senior Tim Frazier, junior Jermaine Marshall and prized sophomore transfer DJ Newbill. I agree with Chambers, to an extent, this is a very good backcourt. It got me thinking, if Penn State’s guards can even be considered some of the best in the nation they need to be the best in the conference. And, they are not. Here are my three best backcourts in the Big Ten.
3. Penn State- This was a close call between Penn State and Indiana for third. I think they have equal depth, Indiana has point guards Jordan Hulls and freshman Yogi Ferrell, along with shooting guard Victor Oladipo. Both teams have three very good guards, however the best guard from either of those teams is Frazier. Frazier, who I believe is the most unknown great player in the conference is an excellent scorer. Frazier can single-handedly take over a basketball game, as he showed last year by making a bad Penn State team competitive, at times. We simply do not know if Ferrell can get to that level. Also, Marshall and Newbill are more efficient and dynamic scorers than Oladipo and Hulls. Newbill, who was redshirted last season after transferring from Southern Miss, has shown in practices that he has what it takes to be very good in the Big Ten. Frazier and Marshall have proven themselves.
2. Michigan State- Michigan State has their own dominant duo. Junior Kieth Appling returns, as a junior. He has gobs of talent but at times can be inefficient. He has all of the ability to be one of the best players in the conference, and without Draymond Green will have to step up offensively for the Spartans to succeed. He is joined in the backcourt by five star freshman Gary Harris. Harris is simply special. According to Tom Izzo, the Mcdonalds All-American is as good on defense as he is on offense. The freshman sensation might only be in East Lansing for one season, bu it is shaping up to be a very impressive season. Izzo has also touted fellow freshman guard Denzel Valentine as someone to watch. He even made comparisons to Magic Johnson of Valentine, but those have to be taken with a grain of salt.
1. Michigan- The best bakcourt in the conference is home to the best guard in the conference. The former would be Michigan and the latter is All-American Trey Burke. Burke, last season as a freshman, lit up the conference with his dazzling playmaking abilities. He lifted Michigan to new levels in conference play, and made a lot of the big shots along the way. After flirting with the NBA, Burke returned and was named an All-American. He is joined by junior shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. Hardaway is one of the most talented and gifted players in the conference. If he can become a more efficient offensive player and a more aggressive defender he will be dominant in the conference and will make Burke even more lethal.
So, Chambers is half right. His backcourt is in the top quarter of the conference, but I don’t think it is one of the best in the nation. Then again, they have not even played a real game yet, so things can change.