Davis, Izzo in running for player, coach of year

Michigan State sophomore forward Paul Davis and head coach Tom Izzo are in the running for Big Ten player and coach of the year respectively.

(EAST LANSING) - Michigan State sophomore forward Paul Davis and head coach Tom Izzo are in the running for Big Ten player and coach of the year respectively.

The outcome of those races will depend in large part on the result of tonight's contest between the Badger and the Spartans at the Breslin Center at 7:00pm tonight.

Wisconsin forward Devin Harris, who currently ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring, training Minnesota super freshman Kris Humphries (22 ppg., 10.1 rebounds), is a strong candidate.

Going into tonight's contest, Harris is averaging 19.1 points per game and if Wisconsin defeats Michigan State and wins the Big Ten title, it could tilt the voting in Harris' favor.

Conversely, the same could happen for Davis if MSU is able to defeat the Badgers, who've won the last three contests vs. MSU tonight.

Coach Izzo says he has his criteria for how he votes. "Normally, I'm looking at voting for someone whose team is competing in the last week [for the title]" said Izzo, "not necessarily who wins it. Because if you're really that good of a player and worthy of MVP recognition, that means you're probably taking your team to new levels. There are some candidates on both Wisconsin and Illinois, even if we won it."

Izzo's criteria would eliminate voting for Humphries, who's Golden Gophers are out of the running for the Big Ten title and an NCAA tournament bid.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan is lobbying hard for Harris to be named as top player in the conference.

"I've never tried to be a politician that way because I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder," Ryan told the Chicago Tribune. "But Devin has done so much for our team athletically without [injured] Alando Tucker. Everybody that has seen us knows we're a little limited. What Devin has been able to do to pick us up ... you see he scored 38 here or 30 there, but with the ball and with [his 2.38] assist-to-turnover ratio and how he has led this team.

"There are other deserving players out there, but there's no way we're sitting at 10-4 in the Big Ten without Devin Harris," Ryan concluded.

In the race for coach of the year, Izzo remains the top candidate after rallying the Spartans from a horrendous early season start that included losses to UCLA, Oklahoma, Duke, Kansas and Syracuse to the verge of a Big Ten title.

If Izzo is choice #1, then Ryan is 1A.

Ryan has the Badgers contending for the title on the last game of the season and his squad will no doubt be dancing in the NCAA tournament when March Madness arrives.

How about consideration for Illinois coach Bruce Weber? If the Illini are able to run the table by defeating Purdue and Ohio State, the Illini would own a share of the Big Ten crown and Weber would certainly deserve his share of consideration.

The final games of the Big Ten season will likely determine what happens in both the player and coach of the year races.

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