The first of our two semifinals in the Big Ten players tournament is in the midst of a heated battle (make sure to vote in that one before Wednesday morning). Now, it's time to tip off the other half of our Final Four.
The tournament began with eight Big Ten standouts from the past 15 seasons. As a reminder, each league team was limited to one entry, and candidates must either have won Big Ten MVP honors or a major national award.
This matchup features a very strong No. 3 seed and the only player to pull off an upset in Round 1. Voting for this game will take place until 9 a.m. ET Thursday.
And here it is ...
No. 3 seed Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska DT, 2006-09) vs. No. 7 seed Antwaan Randle El (Indiana QB, 1998-2001)
These are two players whose names are hard to spell and who were even harder to slow down on the football field during their college careers.
Randle El pulled off the shocker of the first round, toppling former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 seed Troy Smith of Ohio State. But it's understandable why the ex-Indiana star would receive so much fan support. He was a dual-threat quarterback at a time when such players were still a rarity in the Big Ten, and had he played for a more high-profile program, he would have been an even bigger name. He started all four years for the Hoosiers, becoming the first player in NCAA history to score 40 touchdowns (45) and to throw for 40 TDs (42), the first to record more than 2,500 total yards in four different seasons, and the first to both pass for more than 6,000 yards and rush for more than 3,000 yards. He was the 2001 Big Ten MVP, a year in which he finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting -- remarkable on an Indiana team that did not go bowling.
Suh crushed just about everything in his path during his time in Lincoln and did the same in the first round of our tournament, dominating Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards. Yes, the strong Nebraska voting bloc helped, but there's no denying Suh's sheer dominance. His numbers in 2009 -- 85 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and 10 pass breakups -- are like something out of a video game, if video games actually made defensive tackles the stars of the show. He won a slew of major trophies his senior year and nearly took the Heisman as well. Don't sleep on Suh's chances of winning it all in this tourney.
So there you have it. I'd pay to watch these two go head to head on the football field, but we'll settle for this theoretical matchup for now. Get your votes in, and send your rationale here. We'll post some of the best responses when we announce the winner on Thursday.