The debate on who should be ACC Player of the Year has really heated up recently, and mostly centered around two players: North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, and Virginia's Mike Scott. Both are worthy candidates, and have made a significant impact on their teams this season. But who should be the ACC Player of the Year? Let's break it down.
First, we can look at the basic stats. Keep in mind that UNC has played one more game than UVA has. Scott has scored more points (468-456). The rebounding edge goes to Zeller (270-221), and while assists aren't big for either guy, Scott has a slight edge (33-30). Zeller holds a hefty advantage in blocks (41-10) and steals (31-16). Scott holds a slight edge in fewer turnovers (53-55) and has committed fewer fouls (44-73). Neither has fouled out in a game this season. Scott has played about 30 more minutes than Zeller as well.
Next, let's look at shooting percentages. Scott holds the edge in field goal percentage (58.8%-54.5%) and free throw percentage (81.2%-79.2). Zeller has taken two more shots than Scott (303-301) and has taken more free throws (159-132). Zeller has not attempted a three pointer, while Scott has attempted 16, and has made six of them, good enough for 37.5 percent.
Next, let's look at the tempo based stats. If you need help with these stats, consult the glossary of terms located here on the site. Zeller holds a slight lead in points per 40 minutes and rebounds per 40 minutes, while Scott holds the lead in assists per 40 minutes. Scott also has a better eFG% by nearly four percent. Assist ratio and turnover ratio also favor Scott slightly. Points per possession are dead even (both are at 1.51). Offensive rating favors Scott, and defensive rating favors Zeller. Basically, Scott is a little better on offense, and Zeller is a little better on defense.
Finally, let's look at one other thing: possessions. UNC averages over 74 possessions per game, while Virginia averages 61. Over the season, UNC has had over 400 more possessions than Virginia has, so it's easier for Zeller to accrue these stats. It also shows that Scott is a lot more efficient player. But if Virginia had the same amount of possessions as UNC does, Scott would be averaging just under 21 points per game and just under 10 rebounds per game. Not only would those numbers lock him for ACC Player of the Year, but you could easily state his case for National Player of the Year. And if Zeller and UNC had the same number of possessions as Virginia, Zeller would only be averaging 12 points and seven rebounds. With those stats, Scott would be second in scoring and rebounding in the ACC, while Zeller would be outside of the top 15 in scoring and would be outside of the top five in rebounding.
I know people will look at the two meetings between the schools and say Zeller should win the award because of that. However, two games does not make a sample size. All of these stats prove to me that what is a race for the ACC Player of the Year really shouldn't be. And if Mike Scott doesn't win the award, it will be a shame.