Sean Harrington's Illini Insider: Award winners
BTN analyst Sean Harrington reveals his award winners in the Big Ten:
Player of the Year
Trey Burke, Michigan
Burke’s numbers speak for themselves. He averaged 19.2 points and 6.8 assists while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 39 percent from three-point range. Burke was the focus of every defense he faced and led a very young Michigan team to the No. 1 ranking halfway through the season.
Freshman of the Year
Gary Harris, Michigan State
Harris became a household name in a hurry in Big Ten country. He averaged 13.2 points, scoring 10 or more points in 23 games.Harris has the ability to get to the basket as well as light it up from behind the arc. Look for Harris to be in the running for Player of the Year next year in the Big Ten.
Defensive Player of the Year
Victor Oladipo, Indiana
Blocks and steals are usually how you pick the defender of the year. Oladipo did not disappoint in those categories, getting 26 blocks and 69 steals. However, Oladipo was the best defender because he could guard the 1 through the 4. He was the Deion Sanders of basketball. He could take half the court away. Teams ran plays away from Oladipo to try to protect the ball from him.
Sixth Man of the Year
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
Dekker is a perfect fit for Bo Ryan’s offense. The freshman averaged 9.7 points while shooting 42 percent from three. Dekker was able to reach double figures in 10 conference games, including seven of his last eight. In an offense that plays a low-possession game, these numbers are even more impressive.
Coach of the Year
Bo Ryan, Wisconsin
Guess which team finished in the top four of the Big Ten again? That’s right, Wisconsin. Ryan has led the Badgers to fourth or better every year he has been at Wisconsin. With the conference as good as it has been in years, a fourth-place finish seemed impossible with the graduation of Jordan Taylor and the season-ending injury to Josh Gasser. Ryan continues to recruit the right players to fit his system. We really should not be surprised by this now.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Roy Devyn Marble
BIG TEN TOURNEY STORYLINES
Indiana may be the only team that does not have to make a statement. The Hoosiers should have a No. 1 seed locked up in the NCAA and are playing for pride and a clean sweep of the season.
Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State all are chasing a Big Ten championship that they just missed coming down to the last Sunday of the regular season. If that is not enough to play for, all three teams have a shot at an NCAA No. 1 seed if they win the Big Ten tournament.
Wisconsin wants to prove that the regular season was no fluke. The Badgers are the only team in the Big Ten that had a perfect record against Indiana and Michigan (2-0).
Illinois and Minnesota are in the NCAA tournament, but the Gophers will be a little nervous as Sunday approaches. Plus, Illinois gets a shot at Indiana and could play itself to a No. 7 seed, which would mean avoiding the No. 1 seed in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Iowa may have the most to play for of any Big Ten team. Iowa needs two wins to get into the bubble conversation. The Hawkeyes will get an at-large bid if they can get to the championship game.
Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue all had their work cut out for them. They had to win the tournament to get into the NCAA. That likely isn’t going to happen for any of them, but these teams are good enough to spoil some plans. The Boilermakers and Nittany Lions had been playing really good ball the last few weeks — and for a half it looked like Penn State might surprise Michigan again.