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.