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Andy Wittry | | December 21, 2021

Ohio State's E.J. Liddell leads Andy Katz's top 10 player of the year candidates

Predicting which of the 7 remaining undefeated basketball teams will finish with the best record

On the latest episode of the March Madness 365 podcast (#MM365), March Madness correspondent Andy Katz is joined by Colorado State coach Niko Medved and Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell. Katz also ranks his updated national player of the year candidates

You can listen to the latest #MM365 episode below.

Here are Katz's top 10 national player of the year candidates, through Dec. 20, 2021.

Adam Cairns | USA TODAY Sports Images March Madness correspondent Andy Katz ranked his latest national player of the year contenders.

1. E.J. Liddell, Ohio State

Liddell is the leading scorer (20.6 points per game) and rebounder (7.2) for the 14th-ranked Buckeyes, which are tied for first in the Big Ten with a 2-0 conference record. He was a first-team All-Big Ten performer last season but he has made significant improvements since then. His points-per-game average has increased by 4.4 points per game, his blocks-per-game average has nearly tripled to three per game and he's shooting career-high percentages from 2-point range (63.7 percent) and 3-point range (35.3 percent).

2. Trevion Williams, Purdue

Like Liddell, Williams was voted by the conference's coaches to the All-Big Ten First Team last spring, yet in one of the biggest surprises of the first month of the season, Williams spent Purdue's first 10 games this season coming off the bench while 7-4 center Zach Edey started. The move worked well, as Purdue reached No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time in program history. Williams has moved back into the Boilermakers' starting lineup during their last two games, but he's still in a timeshare with Edey, so while Williams' traditional stats — 13.7 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game and 2.8 assists per game — may not seem as impressive as other national player of the year candidates, he's putting up those numbers in just 20 minutes per game.

Williams played a crucial role in Purdue's overtime win over NC State, when he played a season-high 33 minutes (he hasn't played more than 24 minutes in any other game) and scored 22 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out nine assists, with four blocks and two steals.

3. Johnny Davis, Wisconsin recently broke down how Davis has become a breakout All-American candidate because the Wisconsin sophomore's development has been one of the biggest individual storylines of the 2021-22 season. He's averaging 20.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game — all of which are the best marks for any Badgers player. In the two games that Davis didn't play this season, Wisconsin lost at home to Providence and it eked out of a home win over Nicholls State by three points, so the Badgers have missed him greatly when he's on the sideline.

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4. Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky

Tshiebwe, in his first year playing for Kentucky after transferring from West Virginia, leads the country in rebounding at 14.2 rebounds per game for the 20th-ranked Wildcats. He's also their leading scorer at 16.3 points per game, while logging more than one assist, one steal and one block per game, on average.

5. Kofi Cockburn, Illinois

Cockburn, a reigning first-team All-Big Ten selection, is now averaging 20 and 10 for Illinois as he's leading the team with 21.4 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 62 percent from the field.

6. Paolo Banchero, Duke

Duke has already nearly matched last season's win total of 13 and that's because of Banchero, the versatile 6-10 freshman who's averaging 16.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He has scored in double figures in each of the Blue Devils' first 11 games, including 22 points against Kentucky and 21 against Gonzaga.

7. Benedict Mathurin, Arizona

Arizona has gone from unranked in the preseason to No. 6 in the latest AP poll as the Wildcats are one of the six remaining undefeated teams in the country. Mathurin, a 6-7 sophomore, is leading the team with 17.4 points per game, along with 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

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8. Jaden Ivey, Purdue

Ivey is one of two Purdue players on Katz's list of the top 10 national player of the year candidates, as he has progressed from a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection last season to the leading scorer for a team that has been ranked No. 1 in the country this season. The electric sophomore guard is averaging 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game, while shooting 58 percent from 2-point range and 44 percent from three.

9. David Roddy, Colorado State

Colorado State is one of the six remaining undefeated men's basketball teams this season and Roddy, a 6-5 junior, is a major reason why. He's leading the team in scoring (20.5 points per game), rebounding (7.7 per game) and blocked shots (1.3 per game) as an undersized big, who's also a deadly 3-point shooter. The Rams are the best 3-point shooting team in the country, and Roddy is making nearly 47 percent of his 3.2 3-point attempts per game. In back-to-back games against Bradley and Creighton, he scored 30 points, then 36. In the first game he made 10 2-pointers and 10 free throws, then made seven 3-pointers in the next game, so he's a versatile scorer for his size.

10. Keegan Murray, Iowa

We recently detailed Murray's sophomore leap, as the 6-8 forward has done an admirable job in nearly replicating reigning national player of the year Luka Garza's stats from his senior season with the Hawkeyes. Murray is averaging 23.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 67 percent inside the arc.

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