Every Big Ten Basketball Team’s Top Player of the Year Candidate

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Each Big Ten Team's Top POY Candidate

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The Big Ten basketball season has been as unpredictable as any in recent memory. With a handful of teams ranked in the Top 25 at the beginning of the season, the conference looked to be the best in college basketball yet again and start pulling away from the rest of the field.

However, since Big Ten play has begun, top teams have beat on each other and even some lesser teams have joined the party, taking down top teams in upset fashion. While many might look at the conference right now and say that there is no way it is still the best in the nation, people inside the Big Ten know that the team's are all so solid that they have been relentlessly beating up on each other.

For example, the Wisconsin Badgers started the season 16-0, but are just 6-5 in Big Ten play because of the stiff competition night in and night out. It's tough for outsiders to see just how solid the conference is this season, but any team can beat anyone on any given night -- anywhere.

There are still a handful of teams ranked in the Top 25, but the drop-off from first place to second place is two games and the drop-off from first to third is three games -- a high amount for less than 10 games remaining in the season.

It seems as if in-state rivals, the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans, will be battling it out for first place when the season comes to an end. The Spartans and Wolverines will be duking it out in round two of their season series on Feb. 23 as the Wolverines won game one of the season at the Breslin Center in January.

Let's take a look at the each of the conference's top player of the year candidates -- one for each team. I have ranked them in order of position they're in to win. For example, No. 12 has the lowest chance to win. Let me know if you disagree.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at connor.muldowney@rantsports.com.

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12. Purdue Boilermakers: A.J. Hammons

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Hammons is having a solid season for the Boilermakers, averaging 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, but the sophomore is playing for 14-10 Purdue team. The chances of him taking home the Big Ten Player of the Year honors are slim to none.

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11. Penn State Nittany Lions: Tim Frazier

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Tim Frazier has battled injuries his entire college career and it's good to see him produce and live up to his potential. Too bad Penn State is in last place in the Big Ten and barring a win-out deal, his 16.2 points, 6.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game will likely go unnoticed and unappreciated.

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10. Northwestern Wildcats: Drew Crawford

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Drew Crawford is a solid guard/forward combo that can nearly do it all. If the Wildcats were having a better season, Crawford's 16.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists would be enough to keep him in the running.

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9. Illinois Fighting Illini: Rayvonte Rice

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Illinois is having a similar season to the one it had a season ago. The Illini started out hot and found themselves ranked in the Top 25. However, they have fallen to 14-10, basically ruining any chance Rayvonte Rice had of winning the conference player of the year award. He is averaging 16.5 points and 6.0 rebounds.

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8. Nebraska Cornhuskers: Terran Petteway

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There may be no chance for a Nebraska player winning the Big Ten Player of the year award, but Petteway is as good as they come in the conference. He is second in the conference in scoring with 17.5 points per game and he also adds 5.3 rebounds per game. The sophomore has a bright future in this league.

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7. Minnesota Golden Gophers: Andre Hollins

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Andre Hollins is the leader of the underrated Golden Gophers. The point guard is a sure-handed bet on offense and an overall leader. Averaging 14.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, he is a long-shot to win it, but still a possibility for the 16-8 Gophers.

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6. Indiana Hoosiers: Yogi Ferrell

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Yogi Ferrell is one of the top players in the nation, but the Indiana Hoosiers have not had the season that they had a year ago. Ferrell averages 17.6 points, 4.0 assists and 2.9 rebounds per contest for the 14-9 Hoosiers.

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5. Ohio State Buckeyes: Aaron Craft

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Ohio State's Aaron Craft has been one of the peskiest players in college basketball. As a tough-nosed, physical defender, there probably isn't a better defensive weapon in the conference. Although he averages just 9.3 points per game, his 4.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game make him the complete package in all other aspects of the game.

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4. Wisconsin Badgers: Sam Dekker

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The Wisconsin Badgers started the season white-hot with a 16-0 record. However, they have cooled off a big, but Dekker has remained on fire. The sophomore forward leads the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game and he adds another 6.0 rebounds per contest to go along with 47 percent shooting from the field.

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3. Iowa Hawkeyes: Roy Devyn Marble

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Roy Devyn Marble may have two names, but he has one thing that stands out more than anything: his ability to score in bunches and take over games. When he is on, he's on. Prime example was the game against Michigan at home on Feb. 8 in which Marble dropped 26 points and made six threes to give the Hawkeyes an early lead and they never looked back. Marble averages 16.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

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2. Michigan State Spartans: Gary Harris

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Although Gary Harris had his worst collegiate game against Wisconsin on Feb. 9, shooting 3-20, but he has been as solid as any player in the conference for the entirety of the season. Harris averages 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game this year. He has the Spartans battling for a conference title and holding onto a current 20-4 record. He is my runner-up for the award as of right now (Feb. 10).

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1. Michigan Wolverines: Nik Stauskas

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Nik Stauskas is a pure scorer. He has the ability to put up points in bunches and, like Devyn Marble, take over a game. He has led the Wolverines to the top of the conference and his 17.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game make him my leader to win the award. Although his average has dropped a bit as of late due to somewhat of a cold stretch, he continues to shoot 49 percent from the field and 44 percent from three-point range.

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