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Wisconsin basketball: who has produced the best players in the B1G over the last two decades?

Well, if first team all-conference honors are your metric...than Wisconsin is the best!

Penn State v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

This tweet from Tim Venus, who is one of the visual artists that makes the cool graphics for the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team, got me thinking about who has produced the best players in the B1G over the past 20 years. I don’t know why the tweet only counts the last 19 years because 20 is such a nice, round number...but we at B5Q will always go the extra mile for you.

The graphic notes that the Badgers have had 16 first team all-B1G players over the last 19 years, which is tops in the conference! Even when you add on a twentieth season to the list, the Badgers still have the most!!

All-B1G 1st Teamers 2001-2020

Team 1st Teamers
Team 1st Teamers
Wisconsin 16
Michigan State 14
Ohio State 14
Purdue 14
Illinois 10
Indiana 10
Penn State 8
Iowa 7
Maryland 7
Michigan 6
Minnesota 4
Nebraska 0
Rutgers 0

The only thing that changed when we added the twentieth season was that Michigan State jumped up into a tie for second place with Purdue and Ohio State. Say “thank you” to Charlie Bell, Spartans.

What about Maryland, Nebraska and Rutgers though? They all joined the B1G party late and didn’t have as many seasons to choose from for all-conference players. The Terps in particular look like they could’ve challenged for supremacy here as they had seven first-team all-B1G players in only six seasons competing in the conference. If you were to extrapolate that out to 20 seasons? You’d, uh, you’d get a much higher number I’m sure!

(If my rudimentary math skills are correct, you’d get 17.14 players. Haven’t seen .14 players on the court since Tim Jarmusz was playing for the Badgers, folks.)

((Editor’s note: my math has been corrected by a commenter: “But you got the numerator and denominator mixed up…7 players in 6 years = 1.167 players per year x 20 years = 23.33 players. The way you did it is 17.14 years to get 20 B1G first team players (6/7 × 20)!” Even more impressive for the Terps!))

Now, looking at all-conference first-team performers is only one way to go about who has the best players in the conference. Let’s take a look at a few others and see if we can come to a definitive conclusion.

Michigan State has proven to be the school that produces the best of the best, when it comes to the B1G conference. They’ve had four conference players of the year over the past two decades: Kalin Lucas, Draymond Green, Denzel Valentine and Cassius Winston. Those are certainly four names well known by B1G (and NBA) fans

B1G POTY 2001-2020

Michigan State 4
Illinois 3
Wisconsin 3
Ohio State 3
Indiana 2
Purdue 2
Michigan 2
Iowa 1

We can also take this to a national level. The B1G has had four AP National Players of the Year over the past two decades: Evan Turner (2010, Ohio State), Trey Burke (2013, Michigan), Frank Kaminsky (2015, Wisconsin) and Denzel Valentine (2016, Michigan State).

If you look at consensus first team All-Americans you’ll find that a number of similar teams have the highest representation. Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger leads the way, having been named a consensus first team All-American in back to back years.

B1G Consensus first team All-Americans 2001-2020

Player School Total
Player School Total
Dee Brown Illinois 1
Victor Oladipo Indiana 1
Luka Garza Iowa 1
Trey Burke Michigan 1
Denzel Valentine MSU 2
Draymond Green MSU
D'Angelo Russell OSU 4
Jared Sullinger (x2) OSU
Evan Turner OSU
Caleb Swanigan Purdue 2
JaJuan Johnson Purdue
Frank Kaminsky Wisconsin 2
Alando Tucker Wisconsin

The Buckeyes, Badgers and Spartans would appear to have separated themselves from the rest of the B1G pack being first or second in all of these potential rankings and having three of the four national players of the year.

If you took into account NBA success, Michigan State and Ohio State would definitely be ahead of Wisconsin as the Badgers only have one alum on an NBA roster currently and only a handful of their all-conference performers made it at all.

So, who produces the best players in the conference? I would say...Michigan State by a hair followed by Ohio State and Wisconsin tied for second but I went back and forth on this a bunch. Who do you think is best?