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The Case for Dayton’s Obi Toppin as National Player of the Year

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We all know about Luka Garza, but it’s time we explore the case for Obi Toppin as the nation’s best player.

NCAA Basketball: Davidson at Dayton
It’s a two-man race for national player of the year.
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa’s Luka Garza became the first Hawkeye in 52 years to win the Big Ten Player of the Year yesterday. He set Iowa’s single season scoring record against Purdue in what has been perhaps the best individual season in program history.

His numbers this season have been other worldly. The junior is averaging 23.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 32 minutes per game. Despite being a 7’ tall center, Garza is Iowa’s second best three point shooting threat at 35.8% from beyond the arc. But what makes his season so remarkable is how the numbers have actually been better against better competition.

As Iowa prepares to head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament, Garza finds himself in a two man race for the National Player of the Year. His competition comes from another big man: Dayton’s Obi Toppin.

As great as Garza has been, Toppin is actually the front runner for National Player of the year according to Vegas. A big part of that is the success his team is having. Dayton came in at #3 in this week’s AP and Coaches Poll with an impressive 29-2 record. The Flyers are a virtual lock for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Iowa, meanwhile, finished fifth in the Big Ten at 20-11 and figures to be somewhere around a 6 seed when it’s all said and done.

But this is an individual award for the nation’s top player, not a team award. So let’s explore the case for Obi Toppin over Luka Garza for the Naismith Player of the Year.

The Case

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That’s it. That’s the case.

Luka Garza is the best player in the country. He put up the best numbers against the best competition and he did it despite other teams knowing he was the one guy they had to stop. He fought through double- and triple-teams all season and none of it mattered. He averaged 3.9 more points per game, 2.3 more rebounds per game and 0.6 more blocks per game than Toppin. Anyone making an argument for Obi Toppin over Garza has either not watched college basketball or is a Dayton fan.

It’s. Not. Close.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Iowa
Luka Garza is the national player of the year. Period.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports