I've said it many times: DeAndre Mathieu has been absolutely huge for the Gophers this season. When the tiny JUCO point guard came to Minnesota, no one really knew what to expect. Now, it's hard to imagine the Gophers without him. He pushes the tempo on offense and defense, creates for his team and adds a scoring spark.
Just how good has 'Little Dre' been? Well, according to me, myself and I, he's been the fourth best floor general in the Big Ten. That's a fair compliment when you consider the sturdy reputation the conference has at that position.
*All stats are kenpom.com, including conference play only and are accurate heading into Tuesday night's games.
My point guard rankings:
1. Yogi Ferrell: The guy one spot below makes an intriguing argument, but it's tough to say that Ferrell isn't the top guy in the league right now. In conference play, he leads the Big Ten in scoring, has gone 26-for-63 from three-point range and does all that while using a high percentage of Indiana's possessions and creating big shots for his teammates.
2. Tim Frazier: This guy does it all for Penn State, just as he always has. In addition to dishing out assists at the 20th best rate in the nation, the senior scores 13.9 points a game and even adds 5.4 rebounds. He's a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end, too.
3. Keith Appling: The Michigan State guard's quickness makes him tough to guard, and offensively he makes opponents pay when they can't, igniting for 14.7 points a game while taking good care of the ball -- he has the second best assist-to-turnover (2.3-to-1) ratio of league floor generals.
4. DeAndre Mathieu: Say hi to Craft if you look down, would you? Most people would have trouble believing that Little Dre would outplay the senior Ohio State veteran this season, but that is exactly what's happening. The Minnesota version uses more of his team's possessions while maintaining nearly identical offensive ratings, and Mathieu has a better assist rate (69th best in the nation), too.
5. Aaron Craft: Things have been hard in Columbus lately, and Ohio State's Craft finds no exception. Yes, he still creates havoc on the defensive end, ranking 19th nationally in steals, but his mediocre offensive and assist efforts keep him from ranking higher on this list.
6. Mike Gesell: The 6-1 Gesell has quietly been a nice steady presence for Iowa, as it's made its jump to the next tier of the Big Ten this season. The point guard isn't really phenomenal at anything, expect for maybe ball handling (he has the best assist-to-turnover ration conference-wide), but offensively and defensively, he'll never be a liability.
7. Tracy Abrams: The Illinois guard is cut much from the cloth of the guard above him, but hasn't been quite so consistent. But the junior has made notable strides every season he's been with the Illini, and could be much improved again in another year.
8. Traevon Jackson: We've all seen the Wisconsin guard hit some big shots for the Badgers, and the junior, who took the job last season by default when John Gasser went down, and then kept it, will continue to get better.
9. Derrick Walton Jr.: For a freshman, Walton is doing absolutely fine. He's had to fill the very large shoes of former Michigan point guard, and he's done so without becoming the focal point of the team, which is usually what you want when you're replacing a national player of the year. With Walton at the helm. Michigan has been ticking along nicely.
10. Ronnie Johnson: The sophomore is an average player on a team that has gone through a lot of struggles in the conference. But hey, that's life in the Big Ten.
11. Tre Demps: Northwestern's Demps has a long ways to go before he will be talked about among the league's elite, but for now, he's at least taking good care of the basketball, posting an 11.2 turnover rate.
12. Tai Webster: Dylan Talley is gone, and freshman Webster has had to take his place. He, like the Huskers will take the Huskers, will take his lumps in an extremely tough league. It's all a learning process.