Who Will Win March Madness Most Outstanding Player?

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Who Will Win March Madness Most Outstanding Player?
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The Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament prop bet is now out on sportsbooks in states where college props are permitted. Betting on this is essentially a parlay, with the MOP coming from the team that won the national title for the past 37 tournaments.

Most Outstanding Player Through the Years

Not since Houston’s Akeem Olajuwon in 1983 has someone won the award while not being from the championship-winning team. Overall, there have been 12 instances where MOPs didn’t win the title. Oddly, 10 of those 12 came from 1953-66 when the selection panel had no issue going against the norm.

It’s unlikely we see that anymore. Outside of someone averaging 30 or more points per game and having its team lose on a buzzer-beater in the title game is the only situation I can come up with where it would be warranted.

The tournament that sticks out where it could have been a possibility was Davison’s run in 2008. As a sophomore, Steph Curry averaged 34.3 points, four steals, 3.7 assists and shot 51% from the field and 53% from 3-point range to lead the No. 10-seeded Wildcats to wins over No. 7 Gonzaga, No. 2 Georgetown and No. 3 Wisconsin.

Davidson lost 59-57 in the Elite Eight to Kansas, which won the national title. Curry had 25 points in the defeat but had his worst shooting performance, converting just 9 of 25 from the field and 4 of 16 from 3.

Kansas’ Mario Chalmers was named the MOP that year for his game-tying 3 over Memphis, sending the national title to overtime before the Jayhawks would prevail.

Curry had the best performance of any single player in the tournament. Still, unless it results in a title, there is typically a more memorable individual game or moment that makes it nearly impossible for someone from a losing team to now win MOP, essentially make the bet a parlay.

Here are the favorites for this year’s award on FanDuel Sportsbook.

Gonzaga: Drew Timme +950, Chet Holmgren +950, Andrew Nembhard +3000, Julian Strawther +4500

Gonzaga has four players in the top 16 at FanDuel. The Bulldogs are favored to win the national title at every sportsbook and are now down to +270 on FanDuel Sportsbook and +275 on DraftKings Sportsbook. The best number on Gonzaga can be found right now at BetMGM, where the Bulldogs are +300.

Timme led the team in scoring with 17.5 points and is more of a focal point on offense compared to Holmgren. With Holmgren as a better outside shooter, he’ll run the high post more, allowing Timme to operate more in the post and get more touches where he’s most dangerous.

Still, I’d lean Holmgren here out of the four. Overall, Holmgren has a greater impact on the game than Timme. He’s one of the best rim protectors on the defensive end, ranking fourth in the country in blockers per contest (3.6). One of the ridiculous stats is that Holmgren has more blocks (104) than missed shots this year (98). Also, he does stuff like this.

The ability to make memorable highlight-reel-worthy plays does play to Holmgren’s advantage for this award, which is why I’ll give him the edge in this prop.

Either Timme or Holmgren will likely outproduce Nembhard or Strawther throughout a tournament. Nembhard’s path is likely like Chalmers’: make a game-winning or game-tying shot. If it’s late in a game, he will have the ball in his hands for this sort of opportunity.

Strawther displayed his potential with 20 points in the loss to Duke and 20 in the win over BYU. If teams decide to double Gonzaga in the post during the national title and Strawther finds himself open and gets hot from the perimeter, he could find himself as the MOP.

Arizona: Bennedict Mathurin +1300

The uncertainty of Kerr Kriisa’s availability for the tournament makes Mathurin Arizona’s favorite to win MOP.

Mathurin is coming off one of his best games of the season, leading the Wildcats to an 84-76 win over UCLA in the PAC-12 Tournament final. He finished with 27 points and seven assists while showing how the Wildcats can still be one of the best offenses without their primary ballhandler.

Kentucky: Oscar Tshiebwe +1600

After transferring from West Virginia, Tshiebwe has been the running favorite this season on odds boards for the Wooden Award, given annually to the national player of the year.

Tshiebwe averages 17.3 points but his real damage comes on the boards. He averages 15.3 rebounds per game, which leads the country and is 1.5 more than second-place.

Kansas: Ochai Agbaji +2000

Agbaji has gone off against some of the best teams in the country. There was his 37-point performance in the double-overtime win over Texas Tech, and he also went for 27 in a loss to Baylor. The Big 12 Player of the Year has six games this year of at least 25 points and is averaging 19.7 per game for the season.

Purdue: Jaden Ivey +2400

The best pure athlete in this tournament might be Ivey. His first step and acceleration to the hole are typically unmatched by defenders, and he shoots 35% from 3-point range, so sagging off isn’t an option. Ivey averaged 17.4 points this season.

Auburn: Jabari Smith +2500

Unlike others on this list, there will likely be no doubt who MOP will be if Auburn cuts down the nets.

Smith is a projected top-five draft pick and has entered the discussion to even go No. 1 overall in the upcoming NBA draft. At 6-foot-10 with guard-scoring ability, he is one of the toughest individual matchups in the tournament. For the season, he averaged 17.1 points, seven rebounds and shot 43% from 3.

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Bryce Derouin

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