The Bob Cousy Award is handed out annually to the nation's top college point guard, and the 24 finalists for the award were announced Monday.
There are three Big Ten players on the list: Ohio State senior Aaron Craft, Michigan State senior Keith Appling and Indiana sophomore Yogi Ferrell.
And while it's unknown (and perhaps unlikely) whether one of these three will walk away with the Cousy Award, it does bring up a good question. Which of these guys is the Big Ten's best point guard? Or is the Big Ten's best point guard someone else entirely?
Craft has received plenty of national attention this season, and deservedly so. His defense is unparalleled in the conference and perhaps the country. He's the Big Ten's No. 1 steals man with 2.5 per game, and he ranks seventh in all of D-I hoops with 65 swipes on the season. Craft also ranks third in the conference in assists with 4.6 helpers per game. The Ohio State senior has been the Buckeyes' leader through this up-and-down season that currently sees them playing well again. But the knock against Craft is his scoring, of which there's not as much as other stars. He averages 9.5 points per game, good for just third on his team and nowhere near the conference leaders. But all those intangibles have to count for something, right?
Then there's Appling, who has all those intangibles plus some better numbers to back them up. The Michigan State senior ranks second in the conference in assists with 4.7 per game and is 11th in the Big Ten in scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game. Add his floor-general nature and his ability to play through pain — most notably a wrist injury that forced him out of three straight contests and still might not be healed — puts him right there on even ground with Craft's toughness. But there's one pretty big difference, aside from the scoring, and that's the Spartans' success. Michigan State is 10-3 in the Big Ten, while Ohio State is 7-6.
But don't count out Ferrell. Though his Hoosiers are pretty distant behind the Spartans and even the Buckeyes, Ferrell has done a huge job leading that team this season. The departures of big scorers Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller thrust Ferrell into a starring role, a drastically different role than he had when those two wore crimson and cream, and Ferrell has excelled in a big way. He's the Big Ten's leading scorer as of Tuesday, with 17.9 points per game. He's also sixth in assists (3.9 per game) and has made more 3-pointers (69) than anyone else in the conference. The Hoosiers might not be playing as well as Craft and Appling's teams, but it could be argued Ferrell's done more than those two.
And what about outside the big three? Penn State's Tim Frazier is having a strong year, eighth in the Big Ten in scoring, first in assists and sixth in steals. And among Big Ten players, only Northwestern's Drew Crawford has played more minutes than Frazier. Minnesota's DeAndre Mathieu has a pretty good argument for consideration, too, ranking in the top 10 in assists and steals. And what about the point guards of the good all-around teams, like Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson and Michigan's Derrick Walton Jr.?
The debate is a fun one, and there are still a handful of games to sort everything out. Only Craft, Appling and Ferrell will get votes for the Cousy Award, but that doesn't mean there aren't more than three great point guards in the Big Ten.