Even if you have been casually following college basketball this season, you will be aware that Duke freshman phenom Zion Williamson is the talk of the country. Williamson cultivated a cult following on social media with an array of impressive dunks during his high school days, and his first collegiate campaign proved why many believe Williamson will be the No. 1 overall pick in this summer’s NBA draft.
Duke entered the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, but they wound up falling well short of their national championship aspirations. After picking up nail-biting wins over Central Florida and Virginia Tech, the Blue Devils were finally toppled by Tom Izzo’s Michigan State squad in the Elite Eight.
So, Williamson’s collegiate career will come to an end without having been able to lead his team into the Final Four. Zion will likely win plenty of postseason awards for his exploits during the regular season, but the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award will elude him. That piece of hardware will be given to a player from one of the 4 teams left in the field: Virginia, Texas Tech, Michigan State or Auburn.
Betting on March Madness can be tricky with all of the upsets we see year-in and year-out. Obviously you’re aware of this if you happen to be one of the millions of people that bet on Duke to win it all this year. That’s why they play the games.
If you are looking to make up for some of the betting losses you may have suffered in the NCAA tournament to this point, you can try and do so by betting on which player will go on to win Most Outstanding Player. BetOnline has fresh odds posted ahead of this weekend’s Final Four, so get in on this while you still can.
The Long Shots
David Moretti (Texas Tech) +2800
Matt Mooney (Texas Tech) +2200
Mamadi Diakite (Virginia) +2000
Jared Harper (Auburn) +1200
Bryce Brown (Auburn) +1200
Texas Tech and Auburn are unquestionably the Cinderella stories of the 2019 tournament, so it makes sense that several of their players would be among the betting favorites to take home the tourney’s MOP award.
The first thing to realize about this award is that it is most often given to a player on the team that winds up winning the national championship. So, before betting on these Texas Tech or Auburn guys, you have to ask yourself whether these teams are really capable of cutting down the nets at the end of all this.
Texas Tech may be a No. 3 seed, but they were not a particularly popular pick to make it as far as they have. Ditto for Auburn, who entered the tournament as a No. 5 seed out of a relatively weak SEC.
Unlike each of the other 3 teams left, Auburn doesn’t really have one star player. They have made it this far playing a team-first style that has been tough for their opponents to overcome. The starting guards, Jared Harper (+1200) and Bryce Brown (+1200), are the players with the best odds to win the award on the Tigers’ roster.
Brown has been the more efficient shooter of the 2 thus far. The 6’3” senior is averaging 18.3 points per game through the first 4 games, while shooting a blistering 54.5 percent from the field. Brown was a monster in the Tigers’ Elite Eight win over Kentucky, finishing with 24 points in 39 minutes of action in the overtime thriller.
Not to be outdone, Harper put forth a more well-rounded effort, leading the team with 26 points to go along with 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and a pair of blocks.
If the Tigers are to do the impossible and win it all, one of these 2 is the best bet to win the MOP award. I lean toward Harper given his ability to stuff the stat sheet, whereas Brown tends to be more scoring-dependent. If you’re looking for a long shot bet, Harper at +1200 looks like a nice option.
David Moretti and Matt Mooney have played well for the Red Raiders, but most of the focus will understandably center on the team’s star, Jarrett Culver. Is the easy favorite among Texas Tech’s options here. It would take a pretty huge game (or games) from Moretti or Mooney in order to vault either of them ahead of Culver, so I’ll pass on both betting options there.
Mamadi Diakite is essentially in the same boat. He has been instrumental in Virginia’s successful run to the Final Four, but he may fall victim to a numbers game. He has provided strong rim protection while averaging 13 points and 9 rebounds per game thus far, so he does have an outside shot at nabbing the MOP if he has a monster game in one of the final 2 contests. Still, I wouldn’t go all-in on him at all.
Jared Harper (+1200) is my favorite bet of the long shots, followed closely by his own teammate, Bryce Brown (+1200). Diakite is passable at +2000, but I think he’ll get overshadowed by some of his more decorated teammates.
Xavier Tillman (Michigan State) +900
De’Andre Hunter (Virginia) +800
Ty Jerome (Virginia) +750
Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech) +600
Kyle Guy (Virginia) +375
Cassius Winston (Michigan State) +250
No disrespect to Xavier Tillman, who has been a beast with averages of 15.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game during the tournament, but if Michigan State winds up winning the national championship this season, Cassius Winston is going to be your Most Outstanding Player. Winston has been the Spartans’ unquestioned leader to this point, and he almost single-handedly disposed of Duke in the Elite Eight.
Winston scored 20 points to go along with his 10 assists against the Blue Devils, and through the first 4 games of March Madness the 6’0” junior is averaging 19 points and 7.7 assists. He played all 40 minutes of the game against Duke, and any player that never comes out of the game at all is going to take on a leadership role. Winston has certainly done that.
The Spartans might be the team to beat at this point, as they have a ton of momentum and they’re just behind Virginia at +200 to win it all. Winston is the MOP betting favorite at +250, and those odds are going to get slashed even more if Michigan State gets past Texas Tech and into the national championship game. Betting on Winston at +250 right now is a very good idea.
If you’re not convinced this is the Spartans’ year, then perhaps you like Virginia? The Cavaliers are the lone No. 1 seed to have made it to the Final Four this year, which is poetic for this team just a year after being the first-ever top seed to lose to a No. 16 in the first round. Tony Bennett’s team does it with defense, and De’Andre Hunter is the lynchpin to the Cavs’ stingy wing D.
Hunter has averaged a respectable 13 points through the first 4 games of Virginia’s run, so he’s not an awful bet here at +900 if the Cavaliers wind up winning the title.
It’s a bit interesting that Kyle Guy leads the way among the Virginia betting options here at +375 considering Guy hasn’t even played well in the tourney to this point. Guy did put up 25 points and 10 boards against Duke, but he’d struggled quite a bit offensively through the first 3 contests. In those games, the junior guard averaged just 7.3 points on brutal 21.6 percent shooting from the field.
Guy did show up when it mattered most, though, and if he finds his stroke in the final couple of games he has a decent path toward MOP glory. Virginia is the odds-on favorite to win it all at +150, so Guy at +375 does make for a pretty appealing bet in his own right. Hunter has the profit potential edge at +900, but Guy just has the feel of a guy (pun VERY intended) that could take home this award.
As mentioned previously, Jarrett Culver (+600) is almost a lock to win Most Outstanding Player if Texas Tech goes on to win the program’s first-ever national championship. The Red Raiders are listed at +400 to do so, but based on the way they cruised through their region I don’t think they’re a long shot in the least.
The sophomore swingman will be a lottery pick if he declares for the NBA draft after the season. Based on his play thus far, whichever team winds up drafting him will be pleased. Culver has put up averages of 21.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.25 assists through the first 4 games.
Culver will be right in the thick of things if the Red Raiders close the deal, so he’s a tremendous value option here at +600.
Anything can happen at this point. Auburn and Texas Tech have proven that they belong, while Virginia and Michigan State having advanced this far is hardly a surprise. Any of the 4 teams clearly has a legitimate chance at winning the national title, so I think the stars from each team are viable Most Outstanding Player bets.
It’s not exactly groundbreaking analysis to say that the 2 favorites, Winston and Guy, are the options that should garner most of your attention. I’ll give the Spartans the slight edge considering the experience of Izzo, so Cassius Winston winning MOP at +250 looks like the safest bet on the board. The +250 price also offers a good amount of upside.
Guy’s overall case has been less convincing, but nobody will remember the struggles from his first 3 games if he picks up where he left off against Duke. Hunter is pretty interesting at +900, but Guy is appealing in his own right at +375.
Culver at +600 offers the best profit potential among the favorites, while Jared Harper (+1200) looks like the most likely successful bet if Auburn keeps pulling upsets.
The MOP winner will come from the team that wins it all, so coordinating your national championship bet with your Most Outstanding Player bet makes a ton of sense. For example, put together a parlay in which you bet on Virginia to win it all at +150 along with Guy taking home MOP honors at +375.
Good luck in your March Madness betting endeavors!
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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