Big Ten Power Rankings: Player Comps

Five Stars of the Past Week:

Caleb Swanigan and Vincent Edwards, Purdue – 46 points, 20 rebounds, 5 blocks in win over Notre Dame

Mike Watkins, Penn State – 15 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, and 1 steal in win over St. John’s

Dupree McBrayer and Nate Mason, Minnesota – 40 points and 12 assists in win over LIU-Brooklyn

Deshawn Freeman, Rutgers – 16 points and 11 rebounds in win over Fordham

Maverick Morgan, Illinois – 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in win over BYU

Five Six Games to Watch This Week:

Charlotte vs. Maryland (Baltimore), Tuesday, 7:00 pm EST, ESPN2

North Dakota at Iowa, Tuesday, 9:00 pm EST, BTN

Missouri vs. Illinois (St. Louis), Wednesday, 7:00 pm EST, ESPNU

Oakland at Michigan State, Wednesday, 7:00 pm EST, BTN

Rutgers at Seton Hall, Thursday, 6:30 pm EST, FS1

Arkansas St. at Minnesota, Thursday, 7:00 pm EST, BTN

I’m gonna keep the team analysis pretty short this week since most teams only played once and a lot of them played trash.

However, KenPom re-released the player comparison feature again and I’ve wasted hours flipping through a ton of them this week. If you’d like to read the formula behind these comps, you can read about it here.

Since there’s not a ton to talk about that happened this past week or what will happen this coming week, I thought it’d be fun to pick one player comp for each of the teams that I think fits the most. I was gonna do full starting lineups, but I did two of them and it took forever and the Bucs just lost and morale is low.

1. Wisconsin (Last Week: 1 / KenPom: 10)

They beat Green Bay, which made them 2-0 against other Wisconsin teams this year. A nice bounceback after going 1-2 last year.

Favorite Player Comp:

Brady Morningstar – Zak Showalter: This is so goddamn spot-on. Showalter and Morningstar are both the fourth or fifth option in lineups where they’re surrounded by big-name players. Morningstar did have a little more talent around him, though. That KU team had the Morris brothers, Thomas Robinson, Tyrel Reed, Tyshawn Taylor, Josh Selby, and Jeff Withey. Not surprisingly, they went 35-3 before getting upset by VCU.

2. Indiana (Last Week: 2 / KenPom: 16)

They lost to Butler, which isn’t really that big of a deal. Kelan Martin was absurdly hot in the first half.

Favorite Player Comp:

OG Anunoby – Chandler Parsons: Needed to break the racial barrier down. They had different backgrounds coming into college. Parsons was a 5-star recruit and was part of a loaded recruiting class that never really accomplished anything. Anunoby was more under the radar, but he’s quickly established himself as an intriguing pro prospect. His rise along with this comp is interesting to me because Parsons ended up playing all four years. Parsons has had a nice career and he was never quite the defensive prospect that OG is right now.

3. Purdue (Last Week: 3 / KenPom: 13)

Big-time comeback win for Purdue. That’s a big monkey off the back in a variety of ways. They needed to get a quality win in non-con, they needed to win a game in that event, and winning playing small ball should give them a lot of confidence that they can play a variety of ways.

Favorite Player Comp:

Caleb Swanigan – Derrick Williams: Williams was the better athlete and a master at getting to the free throw line, but their games are pretty similar. Swanigan’s a better passer and rebounder, but they both primarily live(d) on the inside and supplemented with the occasional perimeter shot. If Swanigan follows a similar career path to Williams (getting to the Elite 8 like Zona did would help), you’d have to call it a success.

4. Northwestern (Last Week: 4 / KenPom: 46)

They nearly blew another one, but the win over Dayton was another massive one. It feels like in order to get to the tournament, it’s going be an absolute grind every night that will cause Wildcat fans stress, but it’s gonna be so damn beautiful when it happens.

Favorite Player Comp:

Vic Law – Trevon Bluiett: It’s admittedly boring since Bluiett is still playing, but that doesn’t make it wrong. They’re both long wings who can do a little bit of everything and play a pretty smooth game. I’m not sure either will ever be NBA guys, but they’re good enough for the scouts to keep an eye on.

5. Michigan (Last Week: 5 / KenPom: 28)

They beat a couple of tomato cans by a lot of points.

Favorite Player Comp:

Mo Wagner – Jon Leuer: A strikingly similar first two seasons, albeit Mo is only halfway through this one. They also have the same essence about them that makes you want to punch them in the nose if your team is playing against them. Mo is destined to also be the token white guy off the bench for a new NBA team every season I guess.

6. Minnesota (Last Week: 6 / KenPom: 48)

They beat LIU-Brooklyn. It wasn’t impressive, but they didn’t have Amir Coffey either.

Favorite Player Comp:

Amir Coffey – Evan Turner: Following Turner’s path is probably the best-case scenario for Coffey, which is a pretty good one, despite Turner’s lack of success in the NBA. While the numbers are similar in their freshman years, Turner developed so much over his three years in Columbus. He improved as a defender, was one of the best passers in the country, and was a great rebounder for his position. That last facet might be the greatest area of need for Coffey over his career. For being 6-8 and playing a ton of minutes, he doesn’t have a lot of boards to show for it. It doesn’t help playing with Windex men like Jordan Murphy, Eric Curry, and Reggie Lynch, but still. Akeem Springs rebounds at a higher rate.

7. Maryland (Last Week: 8 / KenPom: 64)

They beat Jacksonville State.

Favorite Player Comp:

Melo Trimble – JamesOn Curry: I LOVED JamesOn Curry back in the day. Unfortunately for him, his pro career never really panned out, which was probably impacted by some of his off-the-court problems. I’m not sure it’s a great thing for Trimble that they’re comparable, but the similarities are definitely there. Melo is more of a driver, but he also has the ball in his hands more. Curry played off the ball. The very noticeable trend that the two share, though, is over the course of their career as they became a bigger part of the team and their usage rate went up, the team got worse. That’s obviously not all either of their fault, but…it’s something. I’m just saying Melo’s comps as a freshman were Shelvin Mack, Jerryd Bayless, Olivier Hanlan, Josh Perkins, and Kendall Williams and now by far the most flattering comp he has is Curry. Maybe it’ll change as the schedule gets tougher.

8. Ohio State (Last Week: 7 / KenPom: 37)

The Buckeyes hung around with UCLA all game, but at the same time it never really felt like they had a chance to win.

Favorite Player Comp:

JaQuan Lyle – Lance Stephenson: This is without a doubt my favorite. I cheated a bit on this because it was Lyle’s comp for his freshman year, but it’s just too perfect. First off, both of them had these long, twisted recruitments where they were going/looked like they were going to a variety of schools. They both have a ton of talent, but their attitudes seem to hold them back. They both think they can shoot, but they can’t. They’re both gifted passers, but they turn it over too much. I want Lyle’s career to be different than Stephenson’s, but I’m not sure he’ll ever even get there.

9. Illinois (Last Week: 10 / KenPom: 66)

Big win for the Illini over BYU in Chicago. They’ve responded with five straight decent wins since Thanksgiving week.

Favorite Player Comp:

Malcolm Hill – Quenton DeCosey: I’m starting to think maybe Malcolm Hill isn’t as good as I thought.

10. Iowa (Last Week: 13 / KenPom: 68)

Northern Iowa isn’t as good as they have been over the past couple of years, but the Hawkeyes destroyed the Panthers. And they only gave up 46 points!

Favorite Player Comp:

Peter Jok – Nick Faust: Not a perfect comparison. Jok is a more natural shooter while Faust is a more gifted athlete, but they both are capable of going for 40 if they’re feeling it while also capable of going 3-18 and taking the whole team down with them. I love them both.

11. Rutgers (Last Week: 11 / KenPom: 118)

Say what you want about the schedule, but the Knights just keep winning. It’s true that none of their 11 wins would be featured on an NCAA Tournament resume, but they’ve won three of them away from their home floor and they seem to keep winning in more-and-more convincing fashion. The three teams below them can’t say the same thing.

Favorite Player Comp:

Corey Sanders – Shaq Harrison: Big Ten fans may remember Harrison as the guy who almost single-handedly ended Michigan’s season in Dayton last year. Sanders isn’t quite the stat-stuffer that he was last year, but that’s probably for the better. He was asked to do way too much last season. His numbers this year are very similar to Harrison’s as a sophomore. Things Sanders should do to be more like Harrison as a senior: reduce turnovers, stop shooting so many threes, attack the rim and get to the free throw line.

12. Michigan State (Last Week: 9 / KenPom: 56)

It shocks me just as much as you to have the Spartans here, but I’ve got to stay true to ranking teams how they’re playing right now and they pretty much stink right now. Miles Bridges or not, they haven’t consistently put away bad teams at home and Northeastern took advantage and hammered them down the stretch. That’s a team that has lost to Harvard, Cornell, Boston, Stony Brook, and LIU Brooklyn. Is it time to panic? No, but a loss to Oakland and you might want to start thinking about it.

Favorite Player Comp:

Miles Bridges – Carmelo Anthony: Now we’re talkin’. It’s definitely not a perfect comp, but I can’t just see Carmelo’s name and pass it up. For one, Melo was a better, more dynamic scorer and Miles is a more explosive athlete, even at that stage of Melo’s career. But they’re similar in that they can’t really guard wings, but they don’t have the traditional height for an NBA 4 either and that they’re both good rebounders.

13. Penn State (Last Week: 14 / KenPom: 109)

They went to the Garden and shredded St. John’s with their dribble penetration. Another nice win for the Nittany Lions. I’m excited to watch them in B1G competition.

Favorite Player Comp:

Mike Watkins – Andrew Nicholson: Watkins’ top 3 comps – Nicholson, Tarik Black, Tyrus Thomas – were/are all NBA players, btw. The obvious comparisons between these two is thier efficiency around the basket offensively and their shot-blocking ability on the other end. Watkins is a better rebounder than Nicholson was at this stage. Nicholson ended up staying with the Bonnies all four years and developed the threat of a perimeter shot by the time he was a senior, which is something that would obviously be a great addition to Watkins’ game and his pro prospects.

14. Nebraska (Last Week: 12 / KenPom: 88)

They lost to Gardner Webb and now they have to beat Southern just to finish .500 in non-con. Not good. They played a very difficult schedule and they didn’t have anything close to a bad loss up until this weekend, but I think you’d have to end up calling this first half-ish part of the season a failure.

Favorite Player Comp:

Tai Webster – DJ Newbill: This is bittersweet for Webster because it’s a compliment to how well he’s playing this year, but an indictment of his teammates.


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