In one of the wildest college hoops seasons in recent memory, being ranked No. 1 in the country meant that a loss was probably on the horizon. At one point for 5 weeks in a row there was a new number #1 team in the country every week. Indiana has been one of the best teams in the country playing in the best conference the Big Ten.
IU has a deep squad and a scoring prowess to the tune of 81.9 points per game good for 2nd best in the country behind Northwestern St. They have no glaring holes and two likely Top 5 picks in the upcoming NBA draft in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. Both players are expected to forego their remaining eligibility and take that NBA lottery money.
Gonzaga who touts a current 12 game win streak and is undefeated in the West Coast Conference will likely be the overall No. 1 seed if they win their soft conference tournament where only two teams can most likely beat them on an off night. They are lead by the 7 footer from Canada, Kelly Olynyk ,who is one of the top 5 candidates for Player of the Year. His Stat line is solid 17.7 PPG 7.0 RPG 67%FG in only 25.6 Minutes per Game so he is extremely efficient. But the true top player in college basketball this year hails from Columbus Ohio and wears the Maize and Blue jersey from University of Michigan.
No player has been more consistent or means more to his team then Trey Burke.
Burke has been the only player in the Big Ten to score 15 plus points in every conference game. His stat line for the year while going through the rugged Big Ten season reads like this : 35.1 MPG 19.1 PPG 49.2% FG 79% FT 6.9 APG 1.6 SPG 3.6 AST/TO ratio. What those numbers translate into in overall rankings for the entire country is top 25 in points per game, top 10 in Assists per game and No. 1 in the country in assists to turnover ratio. This for a player who has the ball in his hands for about 90% of Michigan’s possessions.
If Michigan can beat Indiana on Sunday they will improve their record at Crisler arena to 19-0 on the season. They will share the Big Ten title with Indiana and a possibly two other teams. If Michigan can win that game then I don’t think there is any way the voters can take the Wooden Award away from the deserving Burke. I’ve watched every Michigan game this season. Without Burke Michigan wouldn’t be playing in the NIT tournament let alone playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Burke’s defining moment came versus in state rival Michigan State. MSU embarrassed Michigan by 23 points earlier in the year and sadly they were up by over 30 in the 2nd half.
Michigan had a ten point lead erased with less then 4 minutes to play and Michigan State had the ball with less then a minute to play and clinging to a 1 point lead. Then Trey imposed his will on the defensive side of the ball stripping Appling of the ball and dunking the ball to give Michigan the lead. He then stepped in the passing lane on the ensuing possession and stole the ball without Michigan State getting a final shot off. These are the moments that Wooden award winners should have and Burke has spoiled Michigan fans with these memorable moments every time he steps on the court. This is why he has been the top player in the country and deserves this award more then any other player in college basketball this year.
Since the Wooden award inception in 1976-1977 there have been five point guards who have won the award: Phil Ford, Jay Williams, TJ Ford, Jameer Nelson, and Jimmer Fredette. Other then Jimer Fredette, averaging nearly 30 points per game, Burke’s stats stack up with all the other former point guard Wooden Award Winners.
2001-2002 Jay Williams 33.6 MPG 21.3 PPG 45.7 FG% 67.6% FT 5.3 APG 2.2 SPG
2002-2003 TJ Ford 33.6 MPG 15 PPG 40.1 FG% 82% FT 7.7 APG 2.0 SPG
2003-2004 Jameer Nelson 33.9 MPG 20.6 PPG 47.5% FG 79.2% FT 5.3 APG 3.0 SPG
The biggest competition for Burke is Otto Porter Jr. out of Georgetown. He will win Big East Player of Year with his solid play all year. I think he will finish 3rd in voting if Georgetown beats Syracuse in the final game of the season and wil1at least have a share of the Big East title after being upset by Villanova on Wednesday night. He is averaging 34.5 MPG 16.6 PPG 7.6 RPG 51% FG. I think Burke’s biggest competition and the smoothest college player in the game this year is Victor Oladipo. This monster is going to be an immediate asset to some NBA team next year. He plays suffocating defense. He finishes at the rim like the hoss that he is and in my mind is the most efficient player in all of college basketball. If he wasn’t surrounded by so much talent his stat line would be more impressive from a numbers perspective. 27.7 MPG 13.7 PPG 63% FG (leads Big Ten) 74.5% FT 6 RPG 2.3 SPG. All these players have had great years, but nobody has been as a dominant every time they step on the floor as the 6’0 point guard from Columbus. He has made Michigan basketball relevant again and I haven’t been able to say that since the early 90’s when the Fab Five took the country by storm.