Introducing the Big Ten Point Guard Title Belt

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 8th, 2015

Point guard play has been the difference in many games involving Big Ten teams this season, but if fans who follow the league were asked to name its best floor general, several different answers would be given. Do you value a scoring guard like Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell or do you fancy a pass-first type like Ohio State’s Shannon Scott. Each team around the conference has a point guard who impacts the team’s bottom line by how or well or poorly they play on a given night, so how do you determine which player is the best? It’s a tricky question, but one that I’ve decided to tackle here. Per KenPom’s metrics, considering all point guards who have played at least 50.0 percent of their teams’ available minutes, there are 18 eligible Big Ten players. That group was then rank-ordered into five categories: free throw percentage; assist-to-turnover ratio; assist rate; effective field goal percentage; and steal rate.

Shannon Scott is one of the best point guards in the B1G, but is he the best?(AP)

Shannon Scott is one of the best point guards in the B1G, but is he the best?(AP)

These five metrics could arguably be tweaked or weighted by importance, but each represents a valuable commodity for someone who has the ball in his hands for a good portion of the game. Good point guards need to make free throws; they are expected to get their teammates involved; and they have to either be a capable shooter from behind the arc or get into the lane for high percentage shots. Defensively, a point guard needs to be able to pressure and irritate their assignments, and while steal rate isn’t a perfect indicator, individual defensive metrics are notoriously difficult to compare. Keeping in mind that statistics are only one part of the equation in evaluating players, after compiling the rankings, the top five came out as follows (in no particular order):

  • Myles Mack, Rutgers
  • Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
  • Spike Albrecht, Michigan
  • Shannon Scott, Ohio State
  • Deandre Mathieu, Minnesota

Statistically, the best point guard in the Big Ten right now is Minnesota’s Mathieu, who is among the top five in four of the relevant point guard categories. A defensive pest, Mathieu ranks only behind teammate Nate Mason in steals with his 4.8 percent mark. He also ranks favorably in eFG (53.0%), assist rate (32.6%), and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7-to-1). His scoring is down slightly this season (9.9 PPG), but he’s averaging a full 1.5 APG and a steal per game better than his work last season. Mathieu doesn’t force things offensively, and has done an outstanding job involving his teammates despite the team’s disappointing start to Big Ten play. For now, the point guard title belt belongs with the Minnesota senior. This could change, of course, as soon as the Gophers’ next contest against Michigan, but that’s what makes it fun. Stay tuned as this will more than likely change hands a few more times over the span of conference play.

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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2 responses to “Introducing the Big Ten Point Guard Title Belt”

  1. Steve says:

    I can tell you have not watched many Maryland Basketball games. Melo Triimble is the best freshman PG in the BIG.

  2. Brendan Brody says:

    Steve: I’ve watched plenty of Maryland games my friend, and right now Melo would probably be on my hypothetical ballot as either 1st or 2nd Team B1G. But he’s more of a combo guard than a true point. He didn’t rank as highly in some of the metrics I used, including a really bad assist/turnover ratio (1.20:1) which was the worst out of all 18 eligible players. Melo’s great, but not by the categories I looked at as barometers for a true point guard.

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