ACC Player of the Year: Plumlee or Green?

With a month left in the college basketball season, it appears that the battle for ACC Player of the Year is a two man race.  While many will insist that the only true contender is Duke’s Mason Plumlee, I would encourage you not to overlook Virginia Tech’s Erick Green.  There’s plenty of time for these two to bolster their case (and more contenders to appear), but here are the arguments you could make so far for both.

Erick Green will win because: He is the nation’s leading scorer.  At 25.3 points per game, Green leads Creighton’s Doug McDermott as the top scorer in NCAA DIvision I men’s basketball.  In ACC play, Green is averaging 26.5 points per game to Plumlee’s 17.5.

Mason Plumlee will win because: He’s got the better all-around numbers.  Plumlee is averaging a double-double, 18.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. His 19 points and 10 rebounds Sunday night against Boston College counted for Plumlee’s 13th double-double of the season.  In each of his last four games, he’s also had at least two blocks and two assists.

Erick Green will win because: He’s on a bad team.  No, this team is really bad.  How is Erick Green supposed to get assists?  Take away Green, and the Hokies are shooting 39.6% from the floor (including a sparkling 23.8% field-goal percentage against Georgia Tech Sunday). Of course Plumlee out-rebounds Green, there’s a seven-inch difference between them. This guy is (literally and figuratively) leaving everything on the floor for Virginia Tech simply to make them competitive, as he was carried off the court by teammates Sunday due to dehydration following their 62-52 loss to the Yellow Jackets … the first help he got from them all game.

Mason Plumlee will win because: He’s on a winning team.  Duke is still winning without forward Ryan Kelly, and Plumlee is part of the reason for that.  In a nailbiter against Wake Forest, Plumlee scored 32 points and grabbed nine rebounds.  Against NC State, Plumlee recorded another nine rebound game and scored 30 points.  Shouldn’t you be able to beat Georgia Tech at home?  Duke did.  If Plumlee is scoring 18 points per game for the Blue Devils, how many would he score for Virginia Tech?

Erick Green will win because: He’s more consistent.  Twice during ACC play, Plumlee has been held to single digit scoring.  Against Miami, Plumlee scored 15 points, but took 15 shots to get there.  The only ACC game where Green failed to score at least 20 points was February 2 at North Carolina.  In that game, Green scored 16 points on 21 shots.  Of course, in that game, a player averaging nearly seven made free throws a game didn’t attempt a single free throw.  I’m not saying there was home cooking, but Green couldn’t get a couple freebies to get to 20 in that one? What?

Mason Plumlee will win because: He plays in North Carolina. Last season, Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin led the ACC in scoring, but UNC’s Tyler Zeller won Player of the Year. In 2011, Duke’s Nolan Smith led the ACC in scoring … and was Player of the Year.  Since 1995, four ACC Players of the Year have come from outside North Carolina: Maryland’s Joe Smith (1995), Juan Dixon (2002), and Greivis Vasquez (2010), and Boston College’s Jared Dudley (2007).

Erick Green will win because: If Greivis Vasquez can, so can Green.  Compare the year Green is having to Vasquez’s 2010 season.  Vasquez only averaged 19.6 points per game.  Green is making 48.4% of his shots to Vasquez’s 42.9%, when opponents of both are/were throwing the entire playbook at them in hopes of slowing them down. Vasquez holds a slight edge in rebounding, 4.6 rebounds per game to 4.3, but Vasquez is also 6-6 to Green’s 6-3.  Green protects the ball better, too, committing only two turnovers per game, and has a better assist-turnover ratio as a result. If Vasquez impressed ACC voters, even those in North Carolina, then so can Green.

Mason Plumlee will win because: He’s every bit as valuable as Green.  It’s hard to imagine, after watching Virginia Tech play this season, that there’s a player more valuable to his team than Erick Green to the Hokies.  However, if Plumlee went down with an injury, who would take the starter’s minutes at center? An undersized Amile Jefferson? Marshall Plumlee? Duke would still have its guards, but teams would be able to focus on them much more and  limit their productivity.  They probably wouldn’t plummet to Virginia Tech-like struggles, thanks to Quinn Cook, Seth Curry, and (most of all) Mike Krzyzewski, but there wouldn’t be any easy wins.

As of today, I would probably give a slight edge to Green. However, I wouldn’t consider it a travesty if you think it should go to Plumlee, and both still have a month to plead their case.

Would you vote for Plumlee or Green? Cast your vote here!

This week’s ACC power rankings:

1) Miami – The national media (and the Miami Heat) is all aboard the Miami bandwagon now, with several pundits lobbying for the Hurricanes to claim the number one spot nationally. If you thought Duke was better last week and are voting for Miami now, you’re not paying close attention.

2) Duke – I’m still trying to figure out how Duke even managed to get to Conte Forum through the winter storm that blasted the Northeast in order to escape with a 62-61 win.

3) Virginia – The Cavaliers scored 78 against Clemson and 80 on the road against Maryland? Who is this team, and what did they do to the Cavaliers that had broken the 70-point barrier only once before last week?

4) North Carolina – The Tar Heels were the latest to run into Miami, falling 87-61.  Rumor has it they have a pretty big game in Durham Wednesday.

5) NC State – Lorenzo Brown made his return in the Wolfpack’s narrow road win against Clemson.  They’ll get the mid-week stretch off to rest up before hosting Virginia Tech on Saturday, so they could be a much better team to enter the stretch run than they have been the past couple of weeks.

6) Maryland – Maryland picked up a road win at Virginia Tech, but then lost at home to Virginia. But, you know, they didn’t get blown out this week, like …

7) Florida State – … the Seminoles, who lost by 25 to Wake Forest on Friday.  I would punish Florida State by dropping them lower, but they won on the road against …

8) Georgia Tech – …the Yellow Jackets, 56-54, on Tuesday.    Georgia Tech has won three of their last five, but their losses were to Florida State and …

9) Clemson – … the Tigers, who went winless this week.  Clemson was blown out by Virginia but hung in for a close loss at home against NC State. Or, more accurately, led the Wolfpack for most of the contest and then lost.

10) Wake Forest – Wake Forest is 3-1 at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, with the loss a 75-70 defeat at the hands of Duke.  Their five road losses are by an average of 17.6 points.  Best home court advantage in the ACC?

11) Boston College – The Eagles gave Duke all they could handle, but couldn’t seal the deal.  Speaking of things that probably won’t happen but maybe should: Olivier Hanlan for ACC Freshman of the Year.

12) Virginia Tech – The Hokies’ losing streak is now six games long, and they go to Virginia and NC State this week. At least they have Erick Green (until he graduates this spring).

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