Column: Trey Burke over Victor Oladipo was a simple, logical, choice for Big Ten Player of the Year
On the surface, the choice for the Big Ten Player of the Year seemed difficult -- Michigan's point guard had been electric since the day the season began, but Indiana's versatile forward always seemed to have the goods when the stage was biggest.
But when you dug beneath the surface, or even scratched at it, this thing wasn't hard.
It was simple, really.
Burke was the Big Ten's Player of the Year, and it wasn't as close as some believed.
Oladipo is a phenomenal talent. He's the best player on the league's best team. His acrobatic dunks inspired Michael Jordan comparisons, and his tenacious defense was game-changing.
Even when the guy missed, it was impressive -- remember that botched alley-oop against Michigan in February? Oladipo still hasn't landed from that one.
Oladipo dabbled in the spectacular and kept everyone on the edge of their seats all year long.
But Burke made spectacular look routine. He made amazing look normal. He made consistency look easy.
By almost every measure possible, Burke was the Big Ten's best player this season -- and it really wasn't close.
Burke was second in the Big Ten in scoring average at 19.2 points per night. In conference games, he led the league at 20.2 points per tilt. Oladipo, meanwhile, was 11th in scoring at 13.7 per game.
Burke won the Big Ten regular-season assist title by a margin of 78, his assist-turnover ratio is fourth nationally at an absurd 3.5.
Oladipo was a better rebounder at 6 boards per game, but Burke averaged 3.5 himself. Oladipo led the Big Ten in steals with 69, but Burke was fifth with 51.
For Indiana, Oladipo made huge plays in big games. He closed out Michigan State on the road, on a bum ankle, with a game-sealing slam with less than a minute to go and he went for 14 points and 13 boards in a one-point win at Michigan on Sunday.
But Burke had his share of heroics as well.
He stole a win -- literally -- from Keith Appling and Michigan State earlier this month in the final minute, and scored 22 of his team-high 26 points during a second-half comeback at Purdue.
Burke is currently the second-most efficient offensive player in America, and had a usage percentage of 28. Oladipo, meanwhile, had a lower offensive efficiency rating and had a lower usage number.
But, perhaps more importantly, Burke had it every night. Every. Single. Night.
He was the only player in the conference to score at least 15 points in every Big Ten game, he scored 20 or more in seven of his team's 18 league contests, and four times, he went for 25 or more.
Nine different times Burke finished a league game with fewer than two turnovers, and nine different times, he finished with at least seven assists.
Oladipo, meanwhile, had five games of 10 points or fewer, and was extremely quiet in losses against Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio State -- scoring just 7 points and fouling out in a late-season loss to the Buckeyes.
When Michigan won Burke was terrific. And when Michigan lost, well, he was usually pretty good then, too. He had 25 points and 8 assists in a road loss to Indiana, 20 and 4 in a home loss to the Hoosiers. When Michigan was pummeled at Michigan State, it wasn't Burke's fault, he went for 18 points and 4 assists on 7 of 11 shooting.
One could argue Burke's stats are higher in most of these areas because he's a point guard, the ball is always in his hands. But one should also argue Burke's claim as Player of the Year is, in fact, greater because he was asked to do more -- way more.
And he delivered. Every time.
When Michigan leaned on Trey Burke, he stood tall. When Michigan leaned harder, he grew an inch.
Burke and Oladipo are both tremendous college players. Both will be selected in the first round of the NBA draft in June, if they want to. Both will be solid pros.
But this was Burke's award.
End of discussion.
-- Download the Michigan football on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Download the Michigan basketball on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Follow Kyle Meinke and Nick Baumgardner on Twitter
-- Like MLive's Michigan Wolverines Facebook