Cassius Winston admittedly isn't coming off one of his best games of the season.
But, the Michigan State senior point guard remains one of the best players in the country.
Winston struggled, collecting 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the floor (and missing all five 3-point attempts), while dishing out five assists against nine turnovers.
No matter, ESPN's John Gasaway writes.
"Michigan State's dependence on Winston is indeed aberrant for a Final Four-level team," Gasaway writes. "In fact, we haven't seen a number for possession usage this high on a national champion since Kemba Walker himself. Maybe this fact makes the Spartans unusually susceptible to meltdown on offense — it certainly looked that way when MSU lost by 29 at Purdue. But the player who carries that load for a group still in first place in the Big Ten clearly merits inclusion here. Winston makes wise basketball decisions and then executes them at breakneck speed."
Winston is averaging 18.8 points and 6.2 assists for the No. 15 Spartans (13-4), and could break the program record on Friday for career assists when Michigan State plays host to Wisconsin. He's also threatening to become the first college basketball player to amass 2,000 points and 1,000 assists in a career.
Topping ESPN's list is Dayton's Obi Toppin. No. 3 in Duke freshman Vernon Carey, who ESPN said turned in one of college basketball's top individual performances when "he reduced the previously vaunted interior defense of Michigan State to a smoldering pile of rubble" with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocked shots in an 87-75 victory Dec. 3 in East Lansing.
No. 4 is Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu, who is coming off a career-high 30 points (on 12-of-16 shooting) in Sunday's 75-67 victory over Michigan.