Best of the Big Ten, NBA Style

Onto part four of our NCAA-to-pro review.  Today we look at the Big Ten.  Much has been made of the pros pumped out of Michigan in the 1990s and the Michigan State in the early 2000s but are there any other pros of note here?  Let’s take a look:

11. Northwestern: PG: Billy McKinney, SG: None, SF: None, PF: None, C: Evan Eschmeyer

10. Penn State: PG: Joe Crispin, SG: Tom Hovasse, SF: Frank Brickowski, PF: Calvin Booth, C: John Amaechi

9. Wisconsin: PG: Wes Matthews, SG: Devin Harris SF: Michael Finley, PF: Scott Roth, C: Paul Grant

8. Iowa: PG: BJ Armstrong, SG: Ricky Davis, SF: Kevin Gamble, PF: John Johnson, C: Brad Lohaus

7. Purdue: PG: Jerry Sichting, SG: Jimmy Oliver, SF: Glenn Robinson, PF: Carl Landry, C: Joe Barry Carroll (Editor’s Note:  We changed center to Brad Miller, see comments below for more details).

6. Ohio State: PG: Mike Conley, SG: Michael Redd, SF: Jimmy Jackson,PF:  Clark Kellogg, C: Herb Williams

5. Illinois: PG: Deron Williams, SG: Eddie Johnson, SF: Kendall Gill, PF: Nick Anderson, C: Ken Norman

4. Indiana: PG: Isiah Thomas, SG: Eric Gordon, SF: Mike Woodson, PF: Alan Henderson, C: Kent Benson

3. Minnesota: PG: Bobby Jackson, SG: Ray Williams, SF: Voshon Lenard, PF: Kevin McHale, C: Mychal Thompson

2. Michigan: PG: Gary Grant, SG: Jamal Crawford, SF: Glen Rice, PF: Chris Webber, C: Roy Tarpley

1. Michigan State: PG: Magic Johnson, SG: Steve Smith, SF: Jason Richardson, PF: Zach Randolph, C: Kevin Willis

-Northwestern becomes the first team we’ve seen in awhile that can’t field a full starting lineup.

-Penn State barely field a team.  Brickowski is the best they’ve got by far.

-Wisconsin has two really good players and not much else.  FYI, that is Wes Matthews the Elder not the current Blazer.  The Father Matthews was a nice role player at point.  Unfortunately, Roth and Grant barely played in the NBA, which undermines the Badgers ranking.

-Iowa is still looking for a pro star after all these years.  Ricky Davis doesn’t quite count.

-Purdue’s front court is good but that backcourt…not so much.  Interestingly, Carroll has the longest pro career of any Purdue pro, which you wouldn’t think given his bad reputation for sloth and selfishness.

-Some interesting calls on Ohio State. Jim Cleamons had a longer career so far than Conley but Conley has already matched Cleamons’ peak stats, so he gets the nod.  Tony Campbell also has a claim but we go with JJ who has a better all-around player.

-In the grand tradition of Illinois’ Final Four team in 1990, this team has no center and has a bunch of shooting guard/small forward types.  Still they are very talented and that’s without Derek Harper, who easily could’ve made the team.  Had to go with Norman at center since the only big man of note is Brian Cook.  Finally, in an odd note, Johnson and Harper both played the exact same number of pro games (1,199), to tie for first among Illinois alumni.

-Bobby Knight always had the rep of not developing pros.  Post-1980, the Hoosiers haven’t done a great job.  That doesn’t mean that Knight wasn’t a great coach but it certainly lets you know what type of player he looked for.  Since Knight, the only pro of note they’ve produced is Gordon.

-Minnesota has a surprisingly strong team and might be a true small forward away from topping Michigan.  Willie Burton is the best small forward we could find, so we opted to go with a three guard line up and Williams.

-Michigan might be better the Michigan State but Magic, to me, is the difference maker.  As for the Wolverines, we take Tarpley over Juwan Howard because Tarpley was so much better, despite his short career and his issues.

-The Spartans are scary good.  The interesting thing is that they have among the best passing guards at their respective positions in Magic and Smith but two of the bigger black holes in the front court.  Still makes for a great team.

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