Who is College Basketball’s Player of Year?
It's hard to say who the No. 1 team in the country has been this season with upsets happening on a nightly basis and deciding who the National Player of the Year will be just as difficult. In the past, we've had J.J Redick vs. Adam Morrison, or Kevin Durant vs. Greg Oden, and this year there's about 5-10 players that could win college basketball's top award.
Starting off in the Big Ten, Michigan's Trey Burke and Indiana's Victor Oladipo may be the frontrunners.
Coming into the season, it was Indiana's Cody Zeller that received all the attention after being voted preseason player of year. However, Oladipo's defensive presence as catapulted himself to one of college basketball's premier players. The 6'5" junior averages 13.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and about a block per game. He shoots 63.1% from the field.
Meanwhile, Burke may be the best point guard in college basketball. The 6'0" sophomore averages 19.0 points, 6.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and only turns the ball over 1.9 times a game. He shoots 49.2% from the field, and 38.4% from long range as well.
The quality about Burke's game that may win him college basketball's player of the year is his ability to not fade away late in big games. Two games come to mind. First, against Michigan State last Sunday, he played great defense and stole a pass from the Spartans to clinch the victory. Second, against Ohio State earlier in the year, he stole the ball back from Aaron Craft after Craft had stolen it from Burke. After Michigan went up, Burke then blocked Craft's shot to seal the win for the Wolverines.
If you want to see Oladipo and Burke go head-to-head, they meet Sunday in Ann Arbor.
Here's a few other top contenders for college basketball's national player of the year to watch in the coming weeks.
Georgetown's Otto Porter, Jr helped ascend the Hoyas to No. 5 in the latest poll, but were knocked off last night by Villanova. Porter, Jr, averages 16.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 block, and 2.0 steals per game. He shoots 50.3% from the field, and 44.4% from long range. Porter's statement game may come this Saturday against Syracuse at home.
Creighton's Greg McDermott has put on a show in the Missouri Valley Conference. The 6'8" junior averages 23.4 points, and 7.6 rebounds per game while shooting 56.0% from the field, and 48.1% from long range for a big man.
Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk has helped the Bulldogs ascend to the top of the rankings for the first time in school history. Olynyk is 7'0", averages 17.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. He shoots 66.8% from the field, and 37.5% from long range.
Miamii's Shane Larkin has an outside chance, but a strong ACC and NCAA tournament would help the 5'11" guard. Larkin helped bring the Hurricanes into the top-five, and are currently sixth in the country. He averages 13.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 2.0 steals.
It might be fair to say the award may come down to the last man standing in Georgia when college basketball's best team cuts down the nets.