Award Tour: Huge Week Carries Otto Porter to the Top of the NPOY List

Posted by DCassilo on March 1st, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

As we hit March, the NPOY race looks like it’s down to four players: Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Mason Plumlee and Otto Porter Jr. While it’s almost certain that one of those four will take home the hardware, it’s almost impossible to decide on a clear front-runner. Look around the Internet, and you’ll see each of those players No. 1 somewhere. In a season with no clear-cut best team, a race like this for Player of the Year is fitting. Can’t wait to see how it all plays out over the next 17 days.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Jack Cooley – Notre Dame (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.4 PPG, 11 RPG

Cooley & Martin Will Likely Be Overlooked Again (AP Photo/J. Raymond)

Cooley has had a lot to celebrate this season. (AP Photo/J. Raymond)

One of the few players from a major conference to average a double-double, Cooley has been a quiet force on an overlooked Notre Dame team. He’s not going to make any top 10 highlight reels, but he is going to be the reason the Irish win games. This week: March 2 at Marquette, March 5 vs. St. John’s

9. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 19.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG

The Ohio State junior is what he is — a scorer who can do some rebounding. He does both every single night, regardless of defense. Thomas is a really good college player that is close to being a great one. This week: March 5 at Ohio State

8. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 5)
2012-13 stats: 16.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG

Zeller has shown a knack for disappearing in big games, and Tuesday’s loss to Minnesota was no different. He went just 2-of-9 from the floor before fouling out with nine points. He can’t do that in March. This week: March 2 vs. Iowa, March 5 vs. Ohio State

7. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 17.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG

As Gonzaga appears poised to grab the No. 1 ranking, Olynyk is on a tear. The junior has made at least 70 percent of his shots in his last four games. Regardless of competition, that’s pretty impressive. This week: March 2 vs. Portland

6. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 22.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG

At a time when his team desperately needed it, McDermott had one of his best games of the season on Wednesday for Creighton. The junior finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds against Bradley. He will need to do that routinely for this team to go anywhere. This week: March 2 vs. Wichita State

5. Jeff Withey – Kansas (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 13.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.8 BPG

As seemingly every top team is falling from the rankings, Kansas is quietly finishing the season strong. A lot of the credit goes to Withey, who has a double-double in four games of this five-game winning streak. This week: March 2 vs. West Virginia, March 4 vs. Texas Tech

4. Mason Plumlee – Duke (Last Week – 2)
2012-13 stats: 17.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG

Like Zeller, Plumlee has faltered in some tough environments. He was a non-factor in Duke’s loss to Virginia, tallying 10 points ad seven rebounds. We’ll see what happens when Ryan Kelly comes back. This week: March 2 vs. Miami, March 5 vs. Virginia Tech

3. Victor Oladipo – Indiana (Last week – 4)
2012-13 stats: 14.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.3 SPG

The Oladipo hype machine has cooled down a bit after the loss to Minnesota. He’ll still be a factor when this is all said and done, but he probably needs one more big performance to really have a shot at winning this award. This week: March 2 vs. Iowa, March 5 vs. Ohio State

2. Trey Burke – Michigan (Last Week – 1)
2012-13 stats: 18.8 PPG, 6.9 APG

We’re almost at that point when you start to feel bad for Burke. He’s clearly doing everything in his power to win, but his teammates are letting him down. It’ll be a shame if Michigan is bounced from the Tournament before we really see what he can do. This week: March 3 vs. Michigan State, March 6 at Purdue

1. Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown (Last week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 16.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG

Otto Porter has his Georgetown Hoyas back in the fold as a Big East contender (M. Sullivan/Reuters)

Otto Porter has his Georgetown Hoyas back in the fold as a Big East frontrunner (M. Sullivan/Reuters)

I hate to say I told you so, but Porter Jr. was No. 3 on this list even before what he did against Syracuse and Connecticut. Now he and the rest of the leading quartet are involved in a dogfight for the top spot. This will likely come down to the final game. This week: March 2 vs. Rutgers, March 6 at Villanova

FIVE MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAMS

5. Kentucky Wildcats. Champions a year ago, Kentucky is fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid. That wouldn’t be the case if Nerlens Noel was around, but this is still a team that played well below expectations before his injury. More than one NCAA Tournament win would be a shock.

4. North Carolina State Wolfpack. This team and not Miami was supposed to be the one that gave Duke a run for its money in the ACC. But the Wolfpack proved to be a little too young to make that leap this season. They could still be a factor in March, though.

3. Baylor Bears. The talent is definitely there but the wins are not, and after establishing themselves as a perennial NCAA Tournament team, the Bears could be on the outside looking in this season. I would have thought Pierre Jackson could have led this team to at least the Sweet Sixteen.

2. Texas Longhorns. The NCAA keeping Myck Kabongo out of the lineup was a real killer to the Longhorns’ season, but they still should have been better than they are. This will be the first time in 14 seasons UT will miss the Tournament. Texas is one of the main reasons the Big 12 is down.

1. Florida State Seminoles. Somehow this team is mediocre at best and headed for an NIT berth. It doesn’t make any sense for a team that finished last season so strong and returned several key contributors. If there was a anti-Coach of the Year award, Leonard Hamilton would have my vote.

HALFTIME ENTERTAINMENT

Let’s dip into recent NCAA history for this week’s memorable buzzer-beater. Before Butler upset Pittsburgh in a game that will never be forgotten, it needed some heroics from Matt Howard against Old Dominion. He barely beat the clock for the perfect put-back. It’s amazing how different we might look at the Bulldogs (and Pittsburgh) had that shot not fallen.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

10. Archie Goodwin – Kentucky (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 13.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.0 APG

With Noel out of the lineup, Goodwin has been one of the main reasons that Kentucky might be able to eke into the tournament. After falling off the map for a portion of SEC play, he’s averaging 15 PPG over his last three games. This week: March 2 at Arkansas, March 7 at Georgia

9. Semaj Christon – Xavier (Last Week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 15 PPG, 4.5 APG

Although he helped guide his team to a win over Memphis on Tuesday, Christon had 10 turnovers the game before against VCU. That is just unacceptable regardless of the Rams’ pressure. This week: March 2 vs. UMass, March 6 vs. Saint Louis

8. Isaiah Austin – Baylor (Last Week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 13.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG

Austin finally broke out of his slump by averaging 18 points, five rebounds and three blocks over his last two games. Baylor needs him to keep it up, as it is firmly on the bubble. This week: March 2 vs. Kansas State, March 4 at Texas

7. Jakarr Sampson – St. John’s (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 14.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG

When you watch Sampson, you get the feeling that he is going to absolutely break out next season. He has all the tools and does a little bit of everything on the court. Consider him a dark horse for Player of the Year of whatever conference the Red Storm are in next season. This week: March 2 at Providence, March 5 at Notre Dame

6. Jordan Adams – UCLA (Last Week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 15.4 PPG, 4 RPG

Behind Their Heralded Freshmen, UCLA Is Beginning To Show Glimpses Of Their Potential

Behind Their Heralded Freshmen, UCLA Is Beginning To Show Glimpses Of Their Potential

Adams is easily having the most overlooked season for any freshman out there. He’s really hit a groove lately and has at least 20 points in each of his last three games. Did I add he’s an 82.6 percent free throw shooter? This week: March 2 vs. Arizona, March 6 at Washington State

5. Jahii Carson – Arizona State (Last Week – 5)
2012-13 stats: 17.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.1 APG

With the direction Arizona State is headed, chance are we won’t be seeing Carson in the NCAA Tournament. The overtime loss to UCLA on Wednesday was a killer, but Carson had 22 points, five rebounds and seven assists. This week: March 2 at USC

4. Shabazz Muhammad – UCLA (Last Week – 4)
2012-13 stats: 18.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG

Teamed with Adams and Kyle Anderson, Muhammad and the freshmen have led a revival for this year’s UCLA squad. At 11-4 in the Pac-12, the Bruins have a legitimate shot at the league title, and that seemed unheard of just a few weeks ago. This week: March 2 vs. Arizona, March 6 at Washington State

3. Anthony Bennett – UNLV (Last week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 17 PPG, 8.4 RPG

Bennett played just four minutes on Saturday before leaving with a shoulder injury. His status for next game is still unclear. This week: March 2 at Nevada, March 5 vs. Boise State

2. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last week – 2)
2012-13 stats: 15.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG

McLemore, who has failed to score more than seven points in two of his last three games, has hit a wall. Luckily for him, Kansas continues to win, but that could change unless he gets it together. This week: March 2 vs. West Virginia, March 4 vs. Texas Tech

1. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last week – 1)
2012-13 stats: 14.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.4 APG, 2.9 SPG

Despite just an average week, Smart stays at No. 1 mainly because no one else played well enough to take it from him. The Player of the Year award in the Big 12 is likely between him and Withey. This week: March 2 vs. Texas, March 6 at Iowa State

COACH OF THE YEAR

5. Bruce Weber – Kansas State (Last week – 5)
Record: 23-5

Is there a less talked about team in country than Kansas State? The Wildcats are 23-5 and tied for first in the Big 12. I don’t think this is a team that can make the Final Four, but it’s time to put them in the top-10. This week: March 2 at Baylor, March 5 vs. TCU

4. Mark Few– Gonzaga (Last week – NR)
Record: 28-2

Although I might not agree that they should be there, the fact that Gonzaga is on the verge of becoming the No. 1 team in the county puts Few in Coach of the Year discussions. No one can deny the job he’s done there this season, and the Bulldogs will be as tough an out as any in March. This week: March 2 vs. Portland

3. Jim Crews – Saint Louis (Last week – NR)
Record: 22-5

Another coach that deserves his due is Crews. As a last-second replacement for Rick Majerus, he has guided Saint Louis to the top of a very tough A-10 conference. He deserves to be the coach there next season. This week: March 2 at George Washington, March 6 at Xavier

2. John Thompson III – Georgetown (Last week – 2)
Record: 22-4

There is no hotter team in the country right now than Georgetown. Porter Jr. is the perfect player for the system, and JTIII is reaping the benefits. It’s a shame we never got to see the opening night game against Florida finish. This week: March 2 vs. Rutgers, March 6 at Villanova

1. Jim Larranaga – Miami (Fl.) (Last week – 1)
Record: 23-4

A win in one of his last three regular season games should seal the deal for Larranaga. That would clinch a regular season ACC title. Saturday’s game should serve as a big test to see what this team can do in March. This week: March 2 at Duke, March 6 vs. Georgia Tech

DCassilo (19 Posts)


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