The deck has been reshuffled, and instead of 64 cards, we are now playing the game with just 16 cards in this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. BetOnline has also reshuffled things as far as its futures odds for one of America’s most popular sporting events to bet on.
The Florida Gators came into this year’s Big Dance as the top-ranked team in the country, the No. 1 seed for the entire tournament and the odds-on favorite to win the whole shooting match. We are now officially three rounds into this year’s tournament, and nothing has changed. The Gators have been listed as -185 favorites to make it to the Final Four by winning the South Region and +350 favorites to cut down the nets on Monday, April 7, in Arlington, Texas.
Depending on how much you are buying into the scenario above playing itself out, you may want to also try and capitalize on Florida guard’s Scottie Wilbekin’s +700 odds to be named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, which just so happen to be the top odds on BetOnline’s current board for this player prop.
He was relatively quiet in the Gators’ 67-55 Second Round win against Albany, but he proved to be a force in this past Saturday’s 61-45 romp over Pittsburgh with 21 points, three rebounds and two assists while shooting 9-for-15 from the field and 3-for-7 from 3-point range.
The next player on the list at +900 is Louisville’s Russ Smith. He was a big factor in Louisville’s run to last season’s National Championship title, but teammate Luck Hancock came away with the tournament’s MOP award. The Cardinals are now listed as +450 second-favorites to repeat as champions, so it could be a great time to hop on Smith’s bandwagon to bring home both the title and the MOP trophy this time around. He is once again in competition with Hancock for this year’s award, but he has created some separation as this season’s overall team leader. As long as Smith keeps playing to form and his team keeps winning games, he is a solid bet at those odds to win the MOP. Hancock has been listed at +1800 to repeat.
One of the main things standing in Smith’s or Hancock’s way could be this team’s biggest rival. The Kentucky Wildcats have suddenly come to life after an up-and-down regular season, and they could easily make this all a moot point with a win over Louisville as five-point underdogs in this Friday’s Sweet 16 matchup in the Midwest Region.
The third-favorite to win this season’s MOP for the NCAA Tournament is Michigan State’s Andreian Payne at +1000. Many people have already penciled the Spartans in as this year’s champion, including the President of the United States. They have been listed at +450 to win it all, so a wager on Payne at those odds sounds like money in the bank. The only problem is teammate Gary Harris is also listed at +1000 odds to win this award.
Through the first two games, Payne clearly has the edge in points with an average of 26.5 verses just 14.0 for Harris. Payne is shooting 56 percent from the floor, while Harris is shooting 45 percent. This is no doubt that the award will be won or lost from here on in, so you should heavily discount those early results. If you are ultra-confident that Michigan State get the job done, then the best strategy would be a small wager on both players to try and hedge your bets.
The Arizona Wildcats are the fourth-favorite to win this year’s national title at +600, and the player on that team with the best odds to win the MOP award is Nick Johnson at +1200. Fellow Wildcat Aaron Gordon is also on the list at +2000, but if you have Arizona going all the way, then Johnson is your man.
Both of these players have averaged 17 points per game in the team’s initial two victories, but Johnson has the inside track to become much more of a factor as the competition continues to heat up. He led the team in scoring all season long with 16.2 PPG and came up huge in a number of key victories this season. Gordon is a tremendous player, but as goes Johnson goes the Wildcats.
The MOP futures for a few other intriguing players on these top four teams include Florida’s Casey Prather and Patric Young at +1500, Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell at +2000 and Arizona’s TJ McConnell at +2500.
If you are sniffing a major upset somewhere down the line, they take a hard look at Michigan’s Nik Stauskas at +2200 as well as Virginia’s Joe Harris and UCLA’s Jordan Adams at +2500.
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