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Can Smith or Sullinger catch Jimmer in PoY race?

Feb 24, 2011, 10:20 AM EDT

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Jimmer Fredette’s got all the momentum in the national player of the year race – the latest AnnArbor.com poll shows him well ahead of Jared Sullinger – but Nolan Smith is coming on strong.

His shooting and scoring are up compare to Fredette and Sullinger in the last three games (well, at least until Wednesday’s win over Temple).

Smith also has two other significant edges over Fredette and Sullinger: PR and TV.

Duke’s on ESPN three more times this season, including a March 5 showdown against North Carolina. Better believe that game’s gonna have a ton of eyeballs on it.

Sullinger gets two more national TV games, both on CBS. One’s against Indiana, the other’s a rematch against Wisconsin.

As for Fredette, the last chance he gets to impress a national audience is Saturday against San Diego State. And if the Cougars stumble in that game, expect a few voters to turn away from Fredette.

Perhaps more crucial to Smith’s chances is the recent PR blitz.

Fans of Duke’s senior guard launched ndotsmittypoy.com recently (a nod to his Twitter handle), a spot where stats, video testimonials, photos and more testify to Smith being the “People’s Champion.”

OK, so TV and PR aside, how does the “people’s champ compare to Fredette and Sullinger? Pretty well. Here’s a basic stat comparison:

Fredette

Sullinger

Smith

This is still Fredette’s race to lose. He’s got the scoring title in hand (unless Marshon Brooks turns in more of these nights) and loads of buzz built up over the season.

Yet, for the first time in years, this is one player of the year race that’ll go down to the wire.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

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