4 Standout Big Ten Player of the Year Candidates
With one game left in the men’s Big Ten regular season, talks have started about who will be named the conference’s player of the year. Whereas Michigan’s Trey Burke easily took home the award in a landslide selection a year ago, this season doesn’t have such a clear front-runner. The Big Ten always has one of the deepest and best conferences in the nation, but the parity has been even more so this season. Everybody has beaten everybody — for example, the recently crowned Big Ten Champion Wolverines needed a buzzer-beating layup from Glenn Robinson III to beat last-place Purdue a little more than a week ago.
This depth and parity that has become a staple of Big Ten basketball is because of the players; they make their respective teams competitive, and becoming the conference’s player of the year has become an honor second to none. It’s given to the most distinguished player in the one of the best conferences in the nation.
It would be easiest if the selection was solely based on talent and statistics. It is not. While those factors play an important role, there are other more intangible characteristics. The voters (the coaches in this case) tend to take into account how a player’s team has done throughout the season — which is something that isn’t necessarily determinative of who the best player in the Big Ten actually is — and also how they have played recently. A team like Michigan, who just won its first Big Ten regular season since 1986, is more likely to produce the player of the year than, say, Penn State or Purdue, who reside at the bottom of the conference. Either way, this is not a list ranking who is most likely to win the award: it’s a list making a case for the current top candidates.