The network provides its take on the best of the Big Ten this season.
Travis at Hammer & Rails organized a vote by SB Nation Big Ten writers for all conference teams. Both Austan and I voted, and you can click over to H&R to take a look at the results. My ballot is below, with some discussion.
First team: Cody Zeller (IU), Trey Burke (Michigan), Victor Oladipo (IU), DeShaun Thomas (Ohio State), Adriean Payne (Michigan State).
The first four names were pretty easy. I can't really imagine an argument for keeping any of them off of the first team. These were anonymous in the SB Nation polling and should have been anywhere else. I struggled between Payne and Mbakwe, but ultimately I gave Payne the nod for his versaility. The two had pretty similar scoring and rebounding numbers, but Payne is a 44 percent three point shooter.
Second team: Christian Watford (IU), Tim Hardaway (Michigan), Aaron White (Iowa), Aaron Craft (Ohio State), Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota)
I guess I can't mock the Big Ten media too much for having Craft on the first team when I have him on the second team. I have White on the second team while the group had him on the third team. Ditto Hardaway and Watford.
Third team:Derrick Nix (Michigan State), Jermaine Marshall (Penn State), Andre Hollins (Minnesota), Yogi Ferrell (IU), Jared Berggren (Wisconsin).
I wish I had a good explanation for why I have Yogi and not Gary Harris on this list while giving Harris the nod for freshman of the year, but I don't have, other than haste. Probably should switch those out.
POY: Trey Burke
I struggled over this one. I was pretty passionate last season about Zeller over Burke for freshman of the year, but I thought Burke was a pretty obvious choice for POY given his volume numbers and his efficiency numbers and just how crucial he is to Michigan's success, and how consistent he was. I think it bodes well for IU that the Hoosiers don't lean so heavily on any one player, but I thought this was the right call.
6th man: Will Sheehey
Yet another category in which I agree with the herd.
Coach of the year: Tom Crean
Crean got only two votes, one from me and one from a MSU writer. Let's face it, for a coach with a talented team to win this award, he usually has to separate himself from the pack. While IU won the Big Ten outright, had the Hoosiers held on in just one other game, and won it by two games with a 15-3 record, my guess is that he might have had a better shot. Otherwise, the award usually goes to a coach who makes a big move from one year to the next or to a coach who dramatically exceeds preseason expectations. Crean doesn't fit either of those categories, but if we look at the big picture, what he has done over the past two seasons, going from 12-20/3-15 to 26-5/14-4/Big Ten champs/likely #1 seed in NCAAs has to be among the best two-year turnarounds in recent college basketball history. Yes, IU was #1 before the season, but playing to expectations, especially when those expectations are new to both the coach and the players, isn't easy, either. While IU had some disappointing losses, the Hoosiers won the league by handing teams 2, 3, and 5 their only home losses. I think Crean deserves more credit than he gets.
Freshman of the year: Gary Harris
Again, Yogi was great, but I think this one was pretty clear.