Debate It: Is Burke or Oladipo Big Ten POY?

As we near the stretch run of the Big Ten schedule, there are plenty of races to keep an eye on. The most intriguing one, other than the Big Ten title race, is the battle for Big Ten Player of the Year. Will it be the season-long frontrunner Trey Burke? Or the quickly surging Victor Oladipo?’s Tom Dienhart and Brent Yarina debate the topic in this post.

[ VOTE ON FACEBOOK: Who is your Big Ten Player of the Year? ]

Brent: The way the two teams are trending – Indiana up, Michigan down – Victor Oladipo is my guy. There isn’t a better all-around talent in the Big Ten, plus he’s the best player on the best team.

Tom: Yes, it’s hard not to be impressed with what Oladipo is doing. Heck, he may be the national player of the year. But Trey Burke is very special. He averages more points than Oladipo (18.6 to 13.8) and more assists (6.9 to 2.3 ). And Burke is asked to carry a much bigger load for a much younger team than Oladipo.

Brent: If we’re going just on stats, Oladipo will have the edge in just about every category, save for points, assists and turnovers. For example, there’s field goal percentage (64 percent to 49 percent), rebounds (6 to 3.2), steals (2.4 to 1.5) and blocks (0.8 to 0.4). Plain and simple, Oladipo does it all, and he does it all very well.

Tom: I think the fact Burke basically has to carry his team—and he has carried it very far so far–is very impressive. The Wolverines still could win the Big Ten. The Hoosiers still have to come to Ann Arbor to end the season. Earlier this year, Burke notched 25 points vs. Indiana in Bloomington. Bottom line: If Burke doesn’t play well, Michigan will lose. If Oladipo doesn’t play well, Indiana has Cody Zeller or Christian Watford to do the heavy lifting.

Brent: You’re making it sound like Burke doesn’t have talent around him. He has future pros all over the court, in Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas. And the fact Oladipo has so much help around him makes what he’s doing all the more impressive. Consider this: Oladipo has a huge impact in every game, and he only averages eight field goal attempts. Eight! His highest number this season: 13, aka one fewer than Burke averages.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Tom: Yes, Burke has talent around him—but no one the likes of Zeller or Watford, two big guys who can play all over the floor. Look, Burke is the focus of EVERY opponent’s defense. Each game, foes come in KNOWING they have to stop or slow down Burke. It hasn’t happened, as he has scored in double figures in each Big Ten game this season.

Brent: OK, but give Oladipo Burke’s 14.1 attempts per game, and at his current clip, he’d average 23.9 points, to Burke’s 18.6. This guy is so incredibly efficient. It takes a special type of talent to dominate a game the way Oladipo does on so few shots.

[ VIDEO: Oladipo swats Travis Trice’s would be transition layup ]

Tom: Right, Oladipo isn’t the focus of opposing defenses. Zeller is. Hence, Oladipo has more room to operate than Burke. When Indiana is at its best, it’s when the offense goes through Zeller—not Oladipo. Zeller is the marked man for IU. Not Oladipo.

Brent: That may be true, but take a look at what Oladipo has done in six games vs. ranked teams, all wins: 67 percent, 20 ppg, 6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 3 spg and 0.8 bpg. And how can we forget the two dominant performances vs. Michigan State, the Big Ten’s second-best team (65 percent, 20 ppg, 8 rpg, 5.5 spg and 2 bpg)? You’re right, Zeller might be the biggest name on Indiana, but I think Oladipo has become the Hoosier that every coach pinpoints. He has to be; he’s the most dynamic, most impactful player in the league.

Tom: All good points. The numbers are impressive. I just think because Burke has a bigger burden, he must score more and make things happen as the lead guard. Oladipo doesn’t have that burden. He can run the wing, defend, drive … Burke has to score AND distribute to get his team going. Oladipo just has to worry about Oladipo. That’s it.

Brent: And being Oladipo means you’re chasing unthinkable Big Ten history. At 63.9 percent from the field, Oladipo is tied for ninth place for the best field goal percentage in Big Ten history. As a guard. No other guard even sniffs the list. That stat, and the fact it’s taken me so long to get to it, speaks volumes about Oladipo’s season. Whether you’re looking at numbers, impact, ability, play in big games or team success, Oladipo is tough to top.

Tom: No doubt, everyone is in love with Oladipo right now. He is the “hot” guy. But, Burke was that guy earlier this season. This season isn’t over yet. Remember that. Big games loom. Heck, the Big Ten title and Big Ten Player of the Year honors may be on the line when the teams meet March 10 in Ann Arbor in the season finale for both.

Brent: Yep. Burke is an incredible talent, one of the game’s elite players. To me, though, Oladipo, barring an individual or team collapse, sealed the award last night.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (24 Comments)
Doug on 2/20/2013 @ 1:39pm EDT Said:

Oladipo, and it’s not even close.

D on 2/20/2013 @ 1:53pm EDT Said:

How about you just look at the fact that the so called POY(Burke)’s team has lost 3 of 5 in conference. The game at the end may not mean anything IF IU wins the next three games somehow.

Doug on 2/20/2013 @ 2:05pm EDT Said:

D, IU just won their toughest game last night. Wouldn’t surprise me if IU ran the table. As good as Burke is he doesn’t get his teammates involved enough and takes a lot of wild shots.

Matthew on 2/20/2013 @ 2:08pm EDT Said:

Burke, and it’s not really that close.

UWgetsNoLoveEver on 2/20/2013 @ 2:34pm EDT Said:

Burke hands down! How did Oladipo play in the games IU lost? B1G POY cannot avg 13 points per game, stop the love fest! OVERRATED!

Gary on 2/20/2013 @ 2:58pm EDT Said:

Oladipo. Not even close. There is more to it than just scoring. He totally destroyed the #4 team in the country on their homecourt in a minute and half practically all on his own.

UWgetsNoLoveEver on 2/20/2013 @ 5:21pm EDT Said:

ok Gary..he coverted a dunk on a blown defense, haha yep he took the game over

Andy on 2/20/2013 @ 6:39pm EDT Said:

He scored the final 6 points for IU in the last 1:20 of the game. That’s basically exactly what Gary just said, so I’m guessing you didn’t watch the entire game UW. Also, you mean the whole 3 games IU has lost by a total of 9 points, what the POY the year has to be on a team thats undefeated? Let me know when you find one of those. But based on what Tom is trying to argue above, is the POY based on who the best player is, or who the player that keeps is team in games the most is? Cause that second one seems like it would take up a lot of space on an award…

Doug on 2/20/2013 @ 6:49pm EDT Said:

Oladipo didn’t lose any game by 23 pts, which is closer than the final score. Burke shoots 25 times to score 20 pts, if Burke learned to pass the ball instead of shooting it all the time, maybe they would be in better shape right now.

Janis on 2/20/2013 @ 10:02pm EDT Said:

Burke is very good but the real conversation should be between whether it is Victor or Cody Zeller as POY.

Tony M on 2/21/2013 @ 3:52am EDT Said:

Janis, you hit the nail directly on the head! As humble Victor shared with us, loose quote, Cody got us here! However, Victor “sealed the deal” and kept us here! Victor for Big Ten (not “B1G” – what marketing genius came up with that one! Guess if you have more than ten teams that, sooner or later, you need a new name! OK, what would you name the new “grouping”?) player of the year!! And, throw his name in the hat for the NCAA Men’s Basketball “Player of the year.”

Jake on 2/21/2013 @ 8:16am EDT Said:

I just want to point out that Burke is NOT the only player to have double digit scoring in every B1G game this year. Watford has done the same. Which is more impressive than Burke because he is playing behind two Wooden Award finalists. Oladipo is the clear winner of this award for everything he does on the court. Not just offense.

Johnny on 2/21/2013 @ 9:54am EDT Said:

25 points vs IU…. on 24 shots!! 24… this is why Indiana doesn’t have anyone averaging 20 points like Burke, no one takes over 10 shots a game.. because they don’t need to, they are a legit good TEAM. Michigan is a group of individuals. Which is why they can’t win on the road. Which is why its ridiculous to say Burke deserves it based on his PPG average. If you actually watch IU games, you would understand how many points Vic creates, whether its an extra tip to keep a possession alive, a steal to start a fast break, an assist, a three, or a drive through the lane for a big time slam on the Wolverines. Oladipo all the way.

Movementarian on 2/21/2013 @ 10:21am EDT Said:

First, Tom, Trey Burke is not the only Big Ten player to score in double figures in every conference game. DeShaun Thomas also holds that distinction.

Sure, Burke is scoring 18 PPG, but he’s heaving more than 14 shots per game. You noted that he scored 25 against Indiana … it took him 24 FGA to get there! He shot 37% that game. Please tell me what is impressive about shooting 37%. I’d love to hear it.

Oladipo is shooting 64% from the field, 51% from three, and his eFG% is off the charts. Not to mention, he’s arguably the best defensive player in the country. I don’t think it’s a landslide, and having a debate about Big Ten POY is totally justified, but Oladipo has the best total body of work this season among all Big Ten players.

Al on 2/21/2013 @ 10:37am EDT Said:

Yes, Burke did score 25 on Indiana in Bloomington, but you failed to mention that it took him 24 shots to do so. Ah hem… Victor does his with much more efficiently with fewer shots. Besides, Vic has another All-American to share the stats with in Cody Zeller. It’s much easier to pad your stats when you are the teams go-to guy, like Burke. If Burke played for IU he’d be lucky to average much more than 12 ppg, simply because he’d be sharing point production with a team full of better scorers than he has at Michigan. Even IU’s sixth man, Will Sheehey, is averaging close to double figures, which makes Oladipo’s 13.8 even more impressive.

BBB on 2/21/2013 @ 10:59am EDT Said:

In the last 1:09 vs. MSU, Oladipo did the following: Defensive rebound, offensive rebound, tip-in, fast break dunk, defensive rebound, clutch free throw, clutch free throw. That’s 6 points and 3 boards. Michigan State was leading by 1 point at the 1:09 mark, and didn’t score the rest of the way.

BBB on 2/21/2013 @ 11:04am EDT Said:

My mistake. Gary Harris made one of the three free throws he didn’t deserve.

Sylvangreen on 2/21/2013 @ 2:20pm EDT Said:

I think it is Oladipo over Zeller in a photo finish. Watch for UM to fade down the stretch.

Sam on 2/22/2013 @ 10:54am EDT Said:

Tom you are WRONG Trey Burke is not the only B1G player to score in double firgures in each B1G game. Christian Watford has also scored double digit points in every B1G game. Check your facts sir.

Jake on 2/22/2013 @ 11:49am EDT Said:

Deshaun Thomas has also scored in double figures in each B1G game. Beginning to look less and less impressive for Burke.

E-Dub on 2/27/2013 @ 5:24pm EDT Said:

i notice almost every person on here is very bias, because all you guys are Indiana fans, im a former Michigan ST. player and played a few years in the NBA, so to be upfront with you guys, i can tell you now as good as you guys think Cody Zeller is, he want be that good of an NBA player peroid. Now as far as Victor, he has alot of upside and may turnout to be a pretty goos NBA player, if he can learn to create his own jump shot, that he has not done none this year. Remeber there are a ton of players that can run and dunk, but the NBA is a different animal and you have to be able to create your own shot, which means have great ball handling skills, which Victor doesnt have yet, maybe he will as time goes, but right now, if im a pro scout, i would take Trey. He is NBA ready, he has the creativity to get his own shot, great ball handling skills and if the game on the line and i had to choose who take the last shot Trey or Vic, i would take Trey all day. At the end of the day, i hope that they all have great NBA careers, but i just know what the NBA is vs the College game. Lastly for me to pick a Michigan player takes alot, because they are my enemies for life, but i recognize talent, and UofM has not had a player like Trey in over a Decade. Note, i forgot to say Trey also has a 4-1 assist to turnover ratio, and leads the big ten in assist, WOW is all i can say, much love MSU.

    Movementarian on 2/27/2013 @ 7:30pm EDT Said:

    Cool story, bro. This debate is about who has been the Big Ten Player of the Year for the 2012-2013 season, not everyone’s totally speculative thoughts about will be a better player in the pros. There’s a legitimate argument for Burke to win the award, but his future pro career has nothing to do with it.

Billingslea on 3/11/2013 @ 3:29pm EDT Said:

I believe Oladipo has now beaten Burke twice this year… Also, did you see Oladipo pick Trey’s pocket and take the rock to the other end of the floor for the easy lay up?