Michigan State won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title, and a big reason — no, the biggest reason — why was Cassius Winston.
The Spartans' junior point guard is fourth in the Big Ten in scoring (19 points), and third in the nation in assists (7.6), and is staking his claim as one of the best to play at Michigan State.
He's No. 9 among the top college basketball players in the country this season, according to Sports Illustrated's rankings posted Thursday. Also in the top 50 are Michigan freshman Ignas Brazdeikis (No. 31) and Detroit Mercy freshman guard Antoine Davis (36).
Winston has been a mainstay as the Spartans have had to adjust to a season-ending injury to Joshua Langford in December, Nick Ward's broken hand, and injuries have have cost Matt McQuaid and Kyle Ahrens parts of the season.
"As injuries have continued to pile up around him," writes Sports Illustrated, which on Wednesday named Winston to its All-America first team, "Winston has yet to slow down as the engine and leader of the Spartans and the one who, at times, almost single-handedly keeps them afloat. His assist rate of 47.5 is third in the nation."
Brazdeikis leads the Wolverines in scoring (15 points), and is second in rebounds (53) and 3-point percentage (41.7) in his first season in Ann Arbor, earning conference freshman of the year honors.
"The fiery lefty from north of the border never looked like a freshman during his debut season in Ann Arbor," Sports Illustrated writes, "stepping into a high-usage role early and serving as the constant for a Michigan offense that went missing at times down the stretch."
Davis took the Horizon League — and the country — by storm in his first season with the TItans, breaking Stephen Curry's NCAA freshman record with 132 3-pointers. He averaged 26.1 points per game.
The son of Detroit head coach Mike Davis, Antoine had one of college basketball’s clearest green lights as a freshman," Sports Illustrated writes. "He proved his worth by ... connecting on 38% of his long-distance shots, while not being one-dimensional."