Big Ten All-Tournament Team: First Round Thursday

Posted by Brendan Brody on March 14th, 2014

There were some extraordinary performances during the first day of action in the Big Ten Tournament. There are still seven games left to be played, and many more outstanding games are likely going to be put forth. Here, however, is a brief look at the five tournament standouts from day one.

Tracy Abrams played with a renewed confidence in Illinois' first-round win over Indiana.  (B.Tse)

Tracy Abrams played with a renewed confidence in Illinois’ first-round win over Indiana. (B.Tse)

  • Tracy Abrams, Illinois: Abrams went for a season-high 25 points and also tied for a team-high seven rebounds. He was active defensively, and showed tremendous poise and leadership by only turning the ball over once as the primary ball-handler. This was the best game he’s played in quite some time after going through a horrible stretch where he only averaged 6.6 PPG and shot 23.2 percent from the field. This was the Abrams that Illinois needs to keep playing.
  • LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State: This was a slightly different version of the normally smooth forward with a lethal mid-range game. Ross instead was a monster on the boards, as he ended up with 15 (six offensive) caroms. He struggled to make shots out of his normal repertoire, but made up for it by being hyper-aggressive in retrieving his misses. He also added 19 points and two blocks on the afternoon. The junior is not always known for his toughness, but he earned his points in this one.

  • Tre Demps, Northwestern: Seemingly every time that Iowa started to close the gap once Northwestern took the lead, Demps was there to hit a back-breaking three. He finished up 8-of-12 from the field and 4-of-6 from deep on the evening. He also did a nice job distributing the ball with five assists. He has averaged 12.8 PPG, and 3.2 APG since JerShon Cobb suffered a season-ending injury, and is handling the scoring and play-making load at a high level.
  • Deandre Mathieu, Minnesota: Mathieu more or less got snubbed by only being named honorable mention by the writers when the postseason awards were announced on Monday, and he took it out on Tim Frazier yesterday. He didn’t dominate the match-up, but he played better than the senior Penn State floor general. Mathieu didn’t shoot the ball very well, but he did his usual duties of creating steals and turnovers in the press. He finished with three steals and added 13 points for this efforts, while dropping five assists versus only two turnovers. With Andre Hollins still struggling, Mathieu has become the Gophers’ most important player.
  • Dave Sobolewski, Northwestern: The former starter has lately only been spoken of when announcers were mentioning the fact that he was Frank Kaminsky’s high school teammate. Since January 2, he had only made a couple of three-pointers, and he equaled that output last night in a key three-minute stretch. The junior scored all 10 of his points in the second half, and grabbed a surprising six rebounds to boot. He even snatched one away on a 50/50 ball from Adam Woodbury, who is a full foot taller than him. Sobolewski was one of the ringleaders for a scrappy Wildcats’ effort that resulted in a win not too many people thought they were going to get.
Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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