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You’re Nuts: Way-too-early picks for Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Year

Rosters are more or less set, so this question isn’t as nuts as it seems, really.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Semifinals Purdue vs. Ohio State Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NBA Draft deadline has now passed, and the head coaches of the 14 Big Ten men’s basketball programs have a much better idea of who will be on their teams this year. We, as fans and writers, also have a better idea of what each team will be working with.

Last week, Connor and Justin took a swing at who will win the Big Ten this upcoming season. Connor went with the defending champions, while Justin went with Michigan State — another program expected to open the season in the top five of the AP Poll.

Forty-four percent of the people who voted sided with Connor, 41% sided with Justin, and the remaining 15% said that neither Purdue nor Michigan State will cut down the nets. Here are the updated standings now, one week before the NBA Draft:

After 104 weeks:

Justin- 46
Connor- 43
Other- 11

(There have been four ties)

This week, we are discussing the Big Ten Player of the Year Award. The last Buckeye to win POY was Keita Bates-Diop in 2018. Neither of our basketball writers thinks a Buckeye is winning it this year. But who did they pick?

Today’s Question: Who is your way-too-early pick for Big Ten Player of the Year?

Connor: Zach Edey

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Semifinals Purdue vs. Ohio State Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

You’re telling me one of the most efficient players in college basketball history lost to a 16-seed in the NCAA Tournament, and I’m not supposed to bet on him to be the best player in his conference this season?

I’m not really sure where Edey can improve, but I don’t expect him to take a step back. Clearly, he could establish a little bit more of a jump shot and expand his range, but at 7-foot-4 and 290 pounds, does he really need to? The Big Ten double and triple-teamed Edey last season, and he still yanked down a whopping 5.5 offensive rebounds The mind-boggling part about that is the fact that Zach Edey also averaged 8.5 made shots on 14.1 attempts per game last year. That means he missed nearly six shots per game, but grabbed one offensive rebound for nearly every miss (on average — he did not grab every single one of his misses last year).

When you throw in the whole “worst NCAA Tournament loss in college basketball history” thing into the mix, including the ridicule of Edey online after it, I think it’s a concoction for a scorched-earth campaign by the reigning National Player of the Year.

Ideally, Edey will benefit from better play from Purdue’s young core around him. Braden Smith, Fletcher Loyer, Trey Kaufman-Renn, and Caleb Furst are good players who have yet to reach their full potential. More efficient shooting from Loyer and an increased willingness from Smith to take shots would help Edey deal with less traffic below the basket.

The bottom line? Zach Edey won the Big Ten Player of the Year Award last year, as well as the National Player of the Year. I don’t see a scenario where he gets worse this season, so how does he not win at least the Big Ten POY?

Justin: Terrance Shannon Jr.

Illinois v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

In my opinion, the second biggest return of a Big Ten player was Terrance Shannon Jr. coming back to Illinois. All eyes were watching and waiting to see what Zach Edey would do and that is fair, he is the defending Big Ten Player of the Year.

However, Edey was pretty much expected to be back. Shannon was 50/50 between leaving or staying in college, and with him back, Illinois has one of the best players in the conference back in action.

I also am picking Shannon over Edey for the simple reason that I do not think they will give Edey the award in back-to-back seasons unless he completely runs away with it, and I do believe Shannon will be good enough to at least make the voters give it a thought.

Shannon has played three seasons at Texas Tech and one season at Illinois and has been a scorer ever since he got to college. He averages 12.7 points per game for his career and 17.2 points per game last season.

The big step he has to take is rebounding. He averages 3.9 rebounds per game for his career and a career-high 4.6 rebounds per game and a career-high 2.8 assists per game. If he can move those averages up to six rebounds per game and three or four assists per game and the Fighting Illini finish in the top three of the Big Ten, Shannon has a great chance to be the conference Player of the Year since he will likely average around 20 points per game.


Who will win Big Ten Player of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    Zach Edey (Connor)
    (23 votes)
  • 0%
    Terrence Shannon Jr. (Justin)
    (0 votes)
  • 25%
    Neither of these players
    (8 votes)
31 votes total Vote Now