Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Is Oladipo the clear Big Ten Player of the Year?

A lot of the debate following Indiana’s win over Michigan State on Tuesday night has been more about “is Victor Oladipo the Big Ten Player of the Year” as opposed to the importance of the win for the Hoosiers.
In regards to the win, it was huge for Indiana. The Hoosiers are now the clear favorite to win the Big Ten, and likely have at least a share of the title.
But, this blog is about the B1G Player of the Year and if Oladipo is in fact the deserving winner right now.
Here is a look at the guys that appear to be the leading candidates:
Victor Oladipo, Indiana – Oladipo isn’t the top scorer on his own team, or even the leading rebounder, but he does so many things that impact the game. Right now he is averaging 14 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.4 steals per game. He is also shooting 63.9 percent from the field and an impressive 51.1 percent from 3-point land. He leads the Big Ten in steals by a significant mark. He ranks in the top 15 of the Big Ten in points, rebounds and blocks. He is a great on-the-ball defender and has tremendous instincts when it comes to making plays on either side of the ball. Though he wasn’t spectacular in the two conference losses, he has come up big in Indiana’s biggest wins. He had 19 points last night against MSU, 26 at Ohio State, 15 against Michigan and 21 at home against the Spartans. He has also had 15 steals in those four games.
Trey Burke, Michigan – Burke is likely the best overall offensive player in the conference. He averages 18.6 points per game, which is second in the conference. Burke is also leading the conference in assists, as 6.9 per game, which is more than 2 assists per game better than any other player in the conference. Burke is also tied for eighth in the Big Ten in steals while shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from 3-point land. Despite all the impressive numbers, Burke lacks the big victories that Oladipo has. Burke hasn’t been disappointing in Michigan’s losses, but he also hasn’t been able to get Michigan a big win on the road. It’s not necessarily his fault, but it will likely cost him the Big Ten Player of the Year Award.
Cody Zeller, Indiana – Zeller is going largely unnoticed due to the buzz surrounding Oladipo. However, Zeller leads the Hoosiers in points (16.6 ppg), rebounds (8.1 rpg) and blocks (1.3 bpg). Zeller is also shooting 58.8 percent from the field. It would be interesting to find out just how much Zeller impacts what Oladipo can do, but the fact is he lacks the flash that Oladipo has. Zeller can make some big plays, but the perception is that he is a bland player that you sometimes forget is on the floor. There is a belief that he is soft, and he just doesn’t appear to be as impactful on a game as his teammate.
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State – Thomas isn’t going to win this award, but he is worth noting as a candidate. He is leading the conference in scoring at 20.1 points per game and he also pulls down 6.2 rebounds per game. He essentially all the Buckeyes can rely on when things get tough. Aaron Craft is a great defender, but can’t score consistently. Thomas hasn’t disappeared in games this year either. He has scored in double figures in every game. If his point totals get low, it is more likely because he isn’t getting the ball as opposed to he is afraid of the challenge.
I didn’t list anyone from Michigan State or Wisconsin on here because neither has a clear-cut candidate. I would have said Keith Appling prior to him disappearing against Indiana for the second time this season. I’d also argue that Gary Harris has surpassed him as MSU’s top player.
When it comes to the Badgers, they just do it all as a team. You really can’t look at their stats and roster and say that they have one individual that truly dominates the others.
When all is said and done, I still feel Oladipo is the best player in the conference, and maybe the nation. He does all the little things that you don’t often see from top players. He also is still improving as a player, which is why Indiana is getting stronger as the season moves on. He may have a better cast of teammates around him, but that is always likely the case when it comes to Player of the Year awards.
So, who do you think is the top player in the B1G this season?

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