Big Ten Freshman of the Year: Burke or Zeller?

In the waning moments of Michigan’s upset win over Ohio State on Saturday, the Twitterverse started naming Trey Burke the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. The point guard was instrumental in the win, scoring 17 points and dishing out five assists, but let’s not consider this thing over. The race is just heating up, as Indiana’s Cody Zeller has been every bit as impressive — probably even more so the past couple of weeks. Brent Yarina breaks down the two worthy candidates in this post.

OVERALL STATS
Trey Burke: 43.1%, 14.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.8 rpg, 0.9 spg, 0.4 bpg
Cody Zeller: 65.6%, 15.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.3 bpg
Edge: Zeller

BIG TEN STATS
Trey Burke: 43.2%, 15.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.6 apg, 1 spg, 0.4 bpg
Cody Zeller: 65.1%, 16.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.8 spg, 1 bpg
Edge: Zeller

HEAD-TO-HEAD
Season record: 1-1
Burke: 37.5%, 14 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 6 asp, 1 bpg
Zeller: 63.2%, 14.5 ppg, 8 rpg, 1 bpg
Edge: Draw

IMPACT
Burke: Burke fabulously replaced Darius Morris, last year’s star point guard who opted to leave early for the NBA, and the Wolverines are a much better team than they were at any point last season. To little surprise, Burke is the biggest reason for that.
Zeller: The only significant addition from last season’s team that finished 12-20, including 3-15 in the Big Ten, Zeller and the Hoosiers are 20-6. Oh, and their eight Big Ten wins match the total they had in Tom Crean’s first three seasons.
Edge: Draw

TEAM SUCCESS
Burke: Michigan is in the thick of the Big Ten title chase, trailing Michigan State by one half-game as of Sunday morning. This a team that went 9-9 in Big Ten play last season with all of the same key players, Burke the lone exception.
Zeller: Indiana is a competitive Big Ten foe for the first time since Kelvin Sampson roamed the sidelines. The Hoosiers aren’t in the title chase this season, but they’re among the best of the rest, and that’s saying a whole lot.
Edge: Burke

SIGNATURE MOMENTS
Burke: Helped Michigan beat the Big Ten’s four other top teams, including rivals Michigan State and Ohio State. In wins against Memphis, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Indiana, he contributed 16.6 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.4 apg and 0.8 bpg.
Zeller: Led Indiana to wins over No. 1 Kentucky and then-No. 2 Ohio State, in addition to rivals Notre Dame and Purdue, both away from Assembly Hall. In Indiana’s biggest wins — Kentucky, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan and Purdue — Zeller averaged 16 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.
Edge: Zeller – Ohio State wins cancel each other out, and Kentucky win trumps Burke’s Michigan State win

BEST GAME
Burke: vs. Michigan State – 8 of 11, 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Zeller: vs Iowa – 11 of 12, 26 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block
Edge: Burke – The across-the-board production is better against Michigan State

As you can see, it’s a very close race. There is no favorite, in my opinion, and it’s so close that it wouldn’t be a surprise if the two tie for the award. Both of these guys are worthy of All-Big Ten first-team honors, so it’s going to be a great debate the final couple of weeks. Who do you think should win the award? Tell me in the poll below:

Brent Yarina is a web editor and blogger for BTN.com. Find all of his work here and follow him on twitter at @BTNBrentYarina.

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3 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (3 Comments)
philman84 on 2/21/2012 @ 7:26am EDT Said:

I think freshman of the year should also look at who impacted their team the most. IU would not be anywhere close to the W-l record they have if not for Big Z, where as Mich was expected to be about about where they are maybe a little lower. Both players are awsome basketball players how ever there is no doubt Zeller changed IU the most.

FanaticHoosier on 2/22/2012 @ 1:43pm EDT Said:

Just one comment on the best game stats. How does the edge go to Burke. Zeller had better FG%, more points, more assists, more steals, the same amount of rebounds (there weren’t many rebounds to be had in that game), and only one less block. I know MSU is better than Iowa, but to say that Burke had better across the board production is absurd.

H on 2/22/2012 @ 8:51pm EDT Said:

Trey Burke deserves it more. He is a key reason why Michigan is hot right now and in serious contention for the Big Ten title. Zeller and Indiana started hot, but have not beat anyone of significance since Jan 5 when they beat MI at Ind. Trey Burke has stepped up in all the Big Ten showdowns and has helped to a 11-4 conference record

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