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SB Nation Big Ten Men’s Basketball Awards: Drew’s picks

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I’m all about transparency, baby.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

If you missed it on Tuesday, all of the Big Ten blogs on SB Nation announced their picks for all-conference teams and the other postseason awards. Travis Miller over at Hammer and Rails organizes this every year and it’s a fun look at where some of the people who follow these teams, and this league, the closest think players rank.

The Wisconsin Badgers had an excellent day on Tuesday when the coaches and media announced their awards on Big Ten Network. Johnny Davis was named Player of the Year, Greg Gard was named Coach of the Year and Brad Davison, Tyler Wahl and Chucky Hepburn were also honored.

In the interest of full transparency, and the Embrace Debate Ethos that we constantly strive for here, I wanted to show you all what my picks were and then give some reasoning behind them.

First Team selections: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin), Keegan Murray (Iowa), Jaden Ivey (Purdue), Kofi Cockburn (Illinois), EJ Liddell (Ohio State)

These were completely uncontroversial selections. Just about everyone (one voter didn’t include Davis and two didn’t include Ivey) agreed here.

Second Team Selections: Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana), Hunter Dickinson (Michigan), Ron Harper (Rutgers), Payton Willis (Minnesota), Race Thompson (Indiana)

TJD, Dickinson and Harper were all second-team selections on the SBN list. The only reason I didn’t include Edey, who was on the SBN second-team, was because I was trying to do some semblance of positional integrity.

Third team selections: Zach Edey (Purdue), Alonzo Verge (Nebraska), Bryce McGowens (Nebraska), John Harrar (Penn State), Brad Davison (Wisconsin)

I had Willis on the second-team, whereas he made the third-team for SBN, because I liked him better than Trent Frazier. I may have had some recency bias when including Verge (I was the only one who included him on any team) as he had just finished torching the Badgers when I made my selections.

Race Thompson and John Harrar were both listed in the honorable mention section. I liked what Thompson brought to the Hoosiers on the defensive side of the ball and his rebounding. Harrar is an excellent rebounder and scored enough to help keep the Nittany Lions in some games.

Player of the Year: Keegan Murray, Iowa
Coach of the Year: Greg Gard, Wisconsin
6th Man of the Year: Malik Hall, Michigan State
Freshman of the Year: Bryce McGowens, Nebraska
Defensive Player of the Year: Caleb McConnell, Rutgers

Gard and McConnell were basically unanimous choices by the SBN poll, the B1G coaches and the media. McGowens won the top freshman award on the SBN poll by a slim 9-7 margin over Malaki Branham, who won the award from the Big Ten.

I was again an outlier when it came to the 6th Man of the Year award, as everyone else picked Trevion Williams of Purdue and I went with Michigan State’s Malik Hall. I’ll admit that I was, uh, probably wrong about this one. I forgot how few games Williams started this season (only four) and thought that it was more. Malik Hall, you are a good player, but I was mistaken in picking you for this award.

Now for what I’m sure is the most controversial of my picks: Keegan Murray for player of the year.

Beyond Murray out-producing Davis in every counting stat, outside of assists, Murray also had more win shares (7.3 to 4.3), a better box plus/minus (15.5 to 9.3), better offensive (133.4 to not even in the top-20) and defensive (95.7 to 96.8) ratings, and produced more points per game (20.4 to 18.8) than Davis. In fact, Murray was tops in the conference in all of those categories, except for defensive rating in which he was fifth.

I think Davis was a more valuable player to Wisconsin than Murray was to Iowa, but I think that Murray had the better statistical season and should be named player of the year. Obviously, the Big Ten coaches and media disagreed, but the SBN poll had Murray receive nine votes compared to Davis’ six (Jaden Ivey received one vote).

So, there you go. Have at it in the comments!