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Cassius Winston unquestionably deserves the Big Ten POY

Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

By Monday night, the Michigan State Spartans will have their eighth Big Ten Player of the Year.

After another eye-popping performance against Michigan, this time to end the regular season and win a share of the Big Ten championship, Cassius Winston is the clear choice for the award. The announcement will come Monday, and while it is theoretically Maryland’s Bruno Fernando, Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy and Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ all have a chance, the race is really between Winston and Purdue’s Carsen Edwards.

If the question is “who is most prepared for the NBA?” Or “who is the most explosive player in the Big Ten?” The answer is likely Edwards. However, Winston has clearly been the best player this season, and while it’s not a “most valuable” award, Winston is far-and-away the most valuable player to his team.

Statistically, Winston has the clear edge over his Purdue counterpart. The junior guard is shooting 51-percent from the field and 41-percent from beyond the arc, both are a great-deal better than Edwards. Additionally, Winston’s assist marks are on another level. Winston is averaging 7.6 assists-per-game, compared to Edwards three.

The advanced stats show the same picture.

Coming into the season, Edwards may have had the edge over Winston, mostly due to his explosive play. But the Michigan State star improved from an elite passer to a well-rounded player, thanks in large-part to his shooting. The growth even surprised his head coach.

“I didn’t think [Winston] would do what he’s doing,” Izzo said Monday during his press conference. Izzo said he expected Winston to be the team’s leader and said he’d be the best MSU passer since Magic Johnson, but never saw the shooting ability coming.

That growth is something that Izzo is especially proud of. Izzo said Winston has gone from someone who struggled early in his career, to the player he is today.

“There is a process to all of this, and when you go through the process and come out on top, that’s special for a coach, a family, a player,” Izzo said.