With all the chatter, deserved as it may be, for Indiana’s Victor Oladipo as the National Player of the Year over the past few weeks, we got a reminder Sunday from another player in the running.
While Oladipo has gotten the majority of the talk, Michigan guard Trey Burke continues to produce and did so again Sunday against Illinois in a 71-58 home victory at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. Burke scored 26 points on 8-of-11 shooting and dished out eight assists, all while only turning the ball over once.
The explanation for the shift in the national narrative is likely a simple one. Michigan had lost three of four in a tough stretch of the Big Ten schedule before winning two straight, while Indiana has retained the No. 1 ranking in the country and have won nine of its last ten.
The most interesting race might not be the National Player of the Year race, but rather just the Big Ten Player of the Year, with Burke and Oladipo looking to be at the top of the list.
Burke is the engine behind the Michigan offense, but Oladipo is the do-everything wing man who has turned out to be just as important, if not more important, than Preseason Player of the Year Cody Zeller. Among those who vote, will the more important factor be pure stats alone, or the complete game that goes beyond the box score?
Perhaps we’ll know more when Indiana meets Michigan in the regular season finale on March 10.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.
Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.
Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.
The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.
John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.
We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.
For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.
Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.