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Big Ten Basketball: Player, Freshman, & Coach of the Year Races

Can Minnesota sweep all three races?

Penn State v Purdue
He’s just tall
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Your OTE “writers” have been talking about who the frontrunners are for the Big Ten basketball ____ of the year awards. As we move into the second week of February, the competition seems to be narrowing on all fronts. And no, the Minnesota Golden Gophers will not be sweeping these awards.

Player of the Year Race

We start with the player of the year race, which generated the most discussion. The main candidates: Purdue’s Zach Edey, Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, and Penn State’s Jalen Pickett.

Rutgers v Indiana
Can TJD knock Zach Edey off the B1G player of the year pedestal?
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

RU in VA: if I had a vote, I’d pick TJD as the frontrunner of the POY.

Green Akers: I tend to think Edey’s going to win that in a runaway because sportswriters are astoundingly lazy and he’s by far the easiest guy to see no matter where you are.

POTY seems to be the least-controversial; Purdue is set up to win the league comfortably and Edey is their best player by a wide margin, a near-lock for All-American and likely a Naismith finalist at least. He’d have to fall down a very, very deep manhole to not get it at this point.

BuffKomodo: It’s Edey 100%, unless Purdue collapses and Indiana manages to win the conference. Then I could see a TJD. Even then though, shit Edey is hard to guard.

RU in VA: Edey’s gonna get it because he gets away with murder, but he plays within the rules he’s given. Which is, no rules.

TJD is by far the most polished NBA prospect. He just ate Omoruyi’s lunch for 40 minutes last night.

BoilerUp89: In my opinion, it’s almost certainly Edey’s to lose. He’s the best player on the best team and forces teams to completely change their defense. TJD would win the award most years and if Edey gets hurt or plays poorly down the stretch or TJD dominates their 2nd matchup he could still win the award. His stats are comparable (especially lately) but a) Indiana plays faster, b) defenses don’t have to focus on him quite as much.

Neither of them are all that likely to stick in the NBA for a variety of reasons, but this isn’t a NBA potential conversation, it’s about who is the best college player.

Pickett is the third wheel in this argument but there is a big gap* between the top two and him. He’s having a perfectly good season but plays on the wrong team. Penn State basketball’s media/fanbase isn’t going to get him the recognition he deserves and he’s been more susceptible to having a down game than the top two.

*misdreavus79: Is it that big, though? Sure, Edey is putting up insane numbers, but Pickett is averaging 18, 8, and 7. If he keeps this production through the rest of the season, he’d be the first player to finish with at least 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists in the last 30 years.

Pickett is averaging more assists than Edey has made in any game this season, or TJD in all but two games, while averaging nearly as many points and rebounds per game as TJD —no one is going to catch Edey’s 13 rebounds per game, of course.

Sure, there’s a clear front runner for Player of the Year, but the gap between them and Pickett is not as big as the uniform leads you to believe. Put a different way, if either of these were true:

  1. Pickett played for Purdue
  2. Penn State wins 9 of its remaining 10 games

The conversation for how big the gap is suddenly changes, even if Pickett continues to average 18, 8, and 7.

[Editor’s note] Unlike most of this article, misdreavus’s comments were written a week ago when Penn State still had 10 games left. Pure stats comparison though, yeah Pickett should be in the conversation.

stewmonkey13: Green Akers has the right of it and the correct reasoning. Seems relatively cut and dry.

RU in VA: I’m going to just write something so it’s not 15 people making out with Zach Edey.

But Cam Spencer has somewhat quietly led the B1G in defensive Plus Minus, and is third in Defensive Rating - both stats as per Bart Torvik - while averaging 2.4 steals per game. If TJD and Zach Edey decide to take the rest of the basketball season off and film a buddy cop movie, Cam is a bit of a dark horse for B10 POY.

BoilerUp89: I think Spencer is a strong contender for defensive player of the year, but not player of the year. And since I defined the questions for this article, I probably should have included one about defensive player of the year. But after Edey, TJD, and Pickett are probably Kris Murray, Maryland’s Jahmir Young, and a host of other players in the conference (including Rutgers’ own Cliff Omoruyi) that I would say are more likely to be first team all-B1G, let alone B1G player of the year, than Cam Spencer.

The stats

Zach Edey: 22.4 points/game, 62.7% FG%, 13.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 1.4 assists, 2.4 turnovers

Trayce Jackson-Davis: 19.8 points, 57.5% FG%, 11.3 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 3.5 assists, 2.4 turnovers

Jalen Pickett: 17.3 points, 35.1% 3P%, 7.8 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.2 turnovers

Kris Murray (not discussed because nobody likes the Iowa Hawkeyes): 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks

Cam Spencer: 12.9 points, 41.9% 3P%, 2.4 steals, 3.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.3 turnovers


Who will win the B1G POTY race?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    (140 votes)
  • 11%
    (20 votes)
  • 2%
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    (5 votes)
169 votes total Vote Now

Freshman of the Year Race

Ohio State v Michigan
Will a guy coming off the bench win FOTY?
Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Green Akers: FoTY is interesting. It should be Sensabaugh in a runaway, but the team is so bad, but FoTY is an award where that might not matter. Still, I bet the media gives it to Jett Howard even though his stats are a couple of ticks worse than Sensabaugh’s across the board.

BuffKomodo: Hood-Schifino and Sensabaugh are the leaders. Sens 1 and JHS 2 at the moment.

BoilerUp89: This race is between Jalen Hood-Schifino, Brice Sensabaugh, and maybe Michigan’s Jett Howard. I think some combination of Wisconsin’s Connor Essegian, Fletcher Loyer, and Braden Smith fill out the all-B1G freshman team, but those three aren’t in the same conversation as the three contenders.

Up until the Maryland game in which he shot 1/14 from the field, I thought JHS was running away from the field with the award as he had really elevated his play recently and helped TJD to carry an Indiana roster with some hurt pieces on their recent winning streak. I still think JHS is the front runner, but the door is wide open for Sensabaugh or Howard to grab the award down the stretch here and if I look at the stats, I may actually be overrating JHS too much because he plays on a winning team.

The stats

Jalen Hood Schifino: 31.4 mins, 12.2 points, 41.5% FG%, 39.4% 3P%, 3.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists

Brice Sensabaugh: 23.8 mins, 17.3 points, 50.2% FG%, 46.6% 3P%, 5.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists

Jett Howard: 30.5 mins, 14.6 points, 43.3% FG%, 38.8% 3P%, 2.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists

BoilerUp89: We need to ask, how is Sensabaugh only playing 23.8 minutes/game for Ohio State? What is Chris Holtmann thinking? Sensabaugh has fouled out in 5 games, but this still seems like a fireable offense.


Who will win B1G FOTY?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    (62 votes)
  • 26%
    (35 votes)
  • 5%
    (7 votes)
  • 21%
    (28 votes)
132 votes total Vote Now

Coach of the Year Race

Purdue v Michigan
Matt Painter is trying for his 5th B1G coach of the year award a year after perhaps his most disappointing season.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Green Akers: Painter probably wins COTY for racking an easy conference title the year after losing Ivey and Stefanovic, but Pikiell arguably had less coming back without Baker and Harper. Everybody else sucks this year.

BoilerUp89: I wouldn’t rule out Collins for COTY either if Northwestern makes the tournament.

Green Akers: Begs the question, Is This The Year?

MNW looks into how to fire the above two writers

BuffKomodo: Painter COTY pending a collapse.

BoilerUp89: I do think this is the clearest cut discussion at the moment unless Purdue collapses down the stretch - which please don’t do Boilermakers. My liver would not appreciate it. If Purdue was to collapse, Steve Pikiell and Chris Collins have overperformed expectations even more than Painter and in most years that’s the definition of the award. But when a coach overperforms (even if not as much as some others) and wins the conference by multiple games (which Purdue is currently on pace for) that takes precedence.


Who will win COTY?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    (84 votes)
  • 17%
    (28 votes)
  • 13%
    (22 votes)
  • 3%
    Ben Johnson
    (5 votes)
  • 12%
    (19 votes)
158 votes total Vote Now

Bonus Poll Question!


Is This The Year?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    (56 votes)
  • 32%
    MNW is going to put a hit out on BU89 for asking this question
    (49 votes)
  • 30%
    (47 votes)
152 votes total Vote Now