7-foot Zeller vs. 6-foot Burke for top team and player tonight

If the battle for top player in the country tonight were a debate, then 6-foot Trey Burke might need a Michael Dukakis style podium to be on par with Indiana's 7-footer Cody Zeller. However, our ratings on www.valueaddbasketball.com measure the impact of the assists and point guards and the rebounds of centers, and so far No. 1 Burke has nudged out preseason No. 1 Zeller going into tonight's game.

Natl Top 10 so far in B10 Team Height   Natl Top 10 preseason Team Ht
1 Burke, Trey Michigan 6-foot-0   1 Zeller, Cody Indiana 7-foot-0
6 Zeller, Cody Indiana 7-foot-0   8 Craft, Aaron Ohio St. 6-foot-2
9 Oladipo, Victor Indiana 6-foot-5   12 Thomas, Deshaun Ohio St. 6-foot-7
26 Thomas, Deshaun Ohio St. 6-foot-7   22 Burke, Trey Michigan 6-foot-1
31 Hollins, Austin Minnesota 6-foot-4   37 Sobolewski, Dave Northwestern 6-foot-1
53 Hulls, Jordan Indiana 6-foot-0   42 McGary, Mitch Michigan 6-foot-10
55 Appling, Keith Michigan St. 6-foot-1   73 Frazier, Tim Penn St. 6-foot-1
76 Berggren, Jared Wisconsin 6-foot-10   76 Dawson, Branden Michigan St. 6-foot-6
79 Hollins, Andre Minnesota 6-foot-1   78 Hulls, Jordan Indiana 6-foot-0
85 Robinson, Glenn Michigan 6-foot-6   79 Williams, Rodney Minnesota 6-foot-7

While at No. 3, Indiana is the favorite tonight due to the home court advantage that gives the home team a 70% chance of beating an evenly matched road team. I was in Alumni Hall the last time a No. 1 team visited, and watch Tom Crean whip the crowd and a bunch of potential recruits sitting front row into a frenzy for an upset win that was the subject of the ESPN basketball promo video the rest of the year.

When Zeller decided not to cash in as an NBA lottery pick and came back for this year, it made both him and Indiana No. 1 in the country entering this season. While Zeller started a little slower, coming in at #19 earlier this season as Indiana was upset by Butler to lose their No. 1 ranking. However, he has shot up to No. 6 in the rankings released at the beginning of this week, and a dominant performance tonight at home could make Indiana No. 1 and give him a shot at the top spot.

The two have not been alone in their dominant play. Jordan Hulls was calculated as the 9th best Big Ten player coming into the season, and has been even better at #6 in the conference and 53rd in the country, so Burke has a tough matchup. Even more important has been Victor Oladipo, who so far has played well enough to not only emerge as a top 10 player in the conference, but in the country.

National titles take three stars, and Indiana has them and the home court tonight. Glenn Robinson has emerged to break the conference top 10 this year, and while Mitch McGary has not quite lived up to his preseason projection, he is in the top 10% of all players to give the Wolverines' their 6-foot-10 answer to Zeller, and Tim Hardaway is in the top 3% of all players. It is the best two teams in the best conference, but as you can see from the table, they will both have plenty of competition the rest of the season and a chance to make their mark.


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