College Basketball: The Top 5 Midseason Player of the Year Candidates
In professional sports, we concern ourselves with the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, the single-season pinnacle of individual awards. That is the case in the MLB, NFL and NBA.
In college sports, the highest individual achievement in each sport is more commonly associated with a name. College baseball has the Dick Howser Trophy. College football has the Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards, in addition to the most popular of them all, the Heisman Trophy. In college basketball, we have the more well-known John R. Wooden Award, but we also have the Oscar Robertson Trophy, courtesy of the U.S. Basketball Writers' Association (USBWA).
What each of these awards share is the recurring title of Most Outstanding Player, or sometimes referred to as Player of the Year. What is a Player of the Year, though?
I think it makes sense to transpose the definition of the more popular Wooden Award to the Robertson Trophy. There's a set of criteria for the Wooden Award (which you can see here), but when you boil it down the award is presented to the most outstanding collegiate basketball player.
Therefore, we get the idea that the most outstanding NCAA basketball player is the best of the best. Halfway through the season, who are the best of the best?
For a look at who the Los Angeles Athletic Club and USBWA have on their midseason watch lists, you can go here or here. But, which players do advanced analytics suggest are a cut above the rest thus far?
Utilizing Sports Reference's advanced stats (which you can obtain more information on in the glossary) -- win shares (WS), win shares per 40 minutes (WS/40), player efficiency rating (PER) and box plus-minus (BPM) -- in addition to both Ken Pomeroy's adjusted strength of schedule ratings and, of course, team success (win percentage), I developed a composite ranking for each player.
All players were ranked from 1 to 5 in each of the six categories, with 1 being the best, and then all rankings were summed to yield an overall ranking of the five candidates.
Who are the five? And, according to the numbers, who is the leader in the clubhouse to this point?