The Iowa Hawkeyes saw their regular season come to a close in disappointing fashion Sunday night as they blew a 15-point first half lead over Illinois on the back of miserable free throw shooting to ultimately hand the Illini a 74-72 win and a share of the Big Ten regular season championship. The Illini share those honors with the Wisconsin Badgers, who managed to stumble into a home loss against last-place Nebraska to avoid winning the title outright.
But ultimately, that conference title for the Badgers seemed to mean a lot in the eyes of the media and coaches voting on All-Big Ten awards in the days that have since passed. On Tuesday, the conference announced the All-Big Ten teams, as well as the conference’s player of the year, coach of the year and several other awards.
In a shock to nobody, Keegan Murray was named First Team All-Big Ten unanimously across both the media and coaches. He was one of two players, joining Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, to be a unanimous selection. This comes after Murray became just the third player in the last 40 years to win Big Ten Player of the Week six or more times in a season.
Alongside Murray and Cockburn, Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis was a unanimous selection by the coaches while Ohio State’s EJ Liddell and Jaden Ivey round out the first team selections.
It’s a star-studded group with all five members finding themselves on various lists for not just Big Ten, but National Player of the Year candidates. While all five have had really tremendous seasons, Murray stands out statistically. He is the nation’s most efficient player with an offensive efficiency rating of 37.8 - the highest of any player in the country over the last 13 years not named Zion Williamson.
Murray hasn’t just been efficient, he’s been critical to his team’s success in a way that nobody else in the country has been. He leads the nation in win share per 40 minutes, offensive win share and offensive plus/minus. Murray leads all major conference players in scoring, is third in the Big Ten in rebounds and fourth in blocks per game. Put simply, Keegan Murray is the best all-around player in the Big Ten and means more to his team than any other player in the country.
But at the end of the day, the Hawkeyes finished 5th in the Big Ten apparently that is what really matters when it comes to conference player of the year honors as Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis took home that recognition despite trailing Murray in every statistical category kept save for assists per game (2.2 to 1.3) and free throw percentage (78.2% to 72.5%).
Davis was surrounded by a Second Team All-Big Ten player, a Third Team player, an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten player, an All-Big Ten Freshman player and the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year at Wisconsin. Murray was joined by an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten player in Jordan Bohannon, but yes, Wisconsin won more games than Iowa so Davis is your Big Ten Player of the Year. Sigh.
As noted, no Hawkeyes were named to the Second of Third Team All-Big Ten Teams. Along with the Wisconsin players noted, Purdue, Illinois and Rutgers had a player each on the Second and Third teams. Indiana, Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State each had a player make one of the lists.
That leaves Northwestern, Minnesota, Penn State and Maryland as the only teams not to have a player named to the top three teams. Each of those schools had at least one player named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. Rutgers led the charge in that group with an astounding four players receiving such honors.
All-B1G honorable mention pic.twitter.com/Dh5hk4Dgrp— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 8, 2022
Purdue’s Treyvion Williams was named the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year. Rutgers’ Caleb McConnell was named Defensive Player of the Year. As mentioned Wisconsin’s Greg Gard was named Coach of the Year.
Perhaps the only bigger snub than Keegan Murray not being named player of the year was his name being left off the All-Big Ten Defensive team. As mentioned above, Murray was fourth in the conference in blocks per game. The two leaders in that category both made the team. Murray was also 10th in the conference in steals per game averaging just 0.1 less per game than Illinois’ Trent Frazier and more than Purdue’s Eric Hunter Jr. or either of the other two big men honored.
Your 2021-22 All-B1G Defensive Team pic.twitter.com/cEjULBOijD— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 8, 2022
The exclusion of Murray from the Defensive Team is frankly a travesty while the inclusion of anyone from Purdue, a team that ranks 103rd nationally in defensive efficiency, outs the process for these teams as an outright fraud.
Ohio State’s Malaki Barnham was named Freshman of the Year on an Freshman Team that didn’t include a Hawkeye for the first time 2017-2018.
The future is bright for these freshmen. pic.twitter.com/WOrRVGdlw1— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 8, 2022
Congratulations to all those honored, especially Keegan Murray and Jordan Bohannon. Some year this process will be run correctly and a player like Murray will receive the honors deserved.