NCAA Basketball Awards 2013: 5 Candidates For National Player of the Year
As teams complete their regular seasons with hopes of being selected to the 68-team NCAA tournament field, national player of the year candidates are polishing their resumes for consideration. Unlike players from the teams on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, fans can be sure they'll see all of the following candidates in the 2013 tourney:
Sophomore guard Trey Burke has helped steer No. 7 Michigan to a top 10 ranking and second place in the Big Ten. He is expected to take the Wolverines at least as far as a regional final.
Why He'll Win: Burke leads the Wolverines with 18.9 points, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. The nation's best point guard, Burke has the nation's best assist-to-turnover ratio. He plays high-level defense against Michigan's many ranked conference opponents, including getting two steals to seal a win against Michigan State on Sunday.
Why He Won't: The Wolverines have another star, Tim Hardaway Jr., in the backcourt. Burke was unable to take over games at Ohio State and Indiana. Michigan has lost five of their last seven games on the road.
Forward Cody Zeller was supposed to be Indiana's player of the year candidate, but Oladipo has been more spectacular. The 6-foot-5 junior guard has shot 63.4 percent from the field and made many highlight reel plays for the second-ranked Hoosiers.
Why He'll Win: The trendy choice, Oladipo is the best player on the best team in the best conference. Oladipo is the current college player of the year candidate most likely to become an NBA star in the future.
Why He Won't: Oladipo averages 14.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, but teammate Zeller tops him in both categories (16.5, 8.1). Oladipo all but disappeared in the loss at Illinois in February. The Hoosiers should be one of the favorites for the national title, but they have lost four games to unranked opponents. Great players can prevent that from happening.
Perhaps the nation's most complete frontcourt player, Kelly Olynyk of Gonzaga has helped the Bulldogs to their first-ever No. 1 ranking. The 7-foot, junior forward is a force in the paint.
Why He'll Win: As the best player on the nation's best team, Olynyk has averaged 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He also acts as a defensive stopper. Gonzaga probably will be a No. 1 seed, even if it falls in its conference tournament.
Why He Won't: Gonzaga is just 1-2 against ranked teams this season. Unlike the Big Ten or the Big East, the West Coast Conference isn't overflowing with ranked opponents. Some voters may hold the lesser competition against Olynyk.
Georgetown didn't seem to be a factor in the Big East race prior to the season, but sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. has made the fifth-ranked Hoyas into a force in 2012-13. Porter has filled out stat sheets nicely while helping his team beat five ranked teams.
Why He'll Win: An all-around star, Porter averages 16.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 block per game. He had a career-high 33 points in a win against then-No. 8 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome on Feb. 23.
Why He Won't: The Hoyas still have their doubters. Porter has taken a long time to get on the radar of voters who may find Trey Burke of Michigan or Victor Oladipo of Indiana more exciting and dynamic.
A natural-born scorer, Doug McDermott of Creighton is a classic mid-major talent. The junior forward's Blue Jays are out of the top 25 for now after a late-season swoon, but they should still be a lock to make the NCAA tournament.
Why He'll Win: McDermott is second in the nation in scoring, averaging 23.4 points per game. He's a big talent who seizes the moment in big games, like Creighton's win over Wichita State on Saturday when McDermott went off for 41 points.
Why He Won't: McDermott hasn't played against a ranked team yet this season. The late-season, three-game losing streak hurt Creighton and subsequently McDermott.