Final Four Predictions: Brandon Knight vs. Kemba Walker Props
by Alan Matthews - 3/31/2011
It feels rather fitting that we do a combined props story for the Final Four on Kentucky’s Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker, his Connecticut counterpart, because neither team would be in Houston if not for their star point guard.
Walker, a junior, is on a run not seen in a long time in college basketball. He led the Huskies, ninth in the Big East’s regular season, to five wins in five days to take the conference tournament title. No other team had won five in five days in any conference’s history to win the tournament title. Walker averaged 26.0 points per game and played 190 of a possible 205 minutes (one game went to overtime) in the rugged Big East Tournament. Walker has been even better, if possible, in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 26.8 points and 6.8 assists in wins over Bucknell, Cincinnati, San Diego State and Arizona. He has played 154 of a possible 160 minutes. His NBA stock will never be higher.
Knight doesn’t put up the gaudy numbers as Walker, but he shouldn’t considering he’s a freshman in his first NCAA Tournament. Frankly, Knight is probably not even the best all-around player or future NBA talent on his team – that’s fellow freshman Terrence Jones. And Knight is still inconsistent, as most freshmen are. Look at his point totals in this tournament: 2, 30, 9, 22. But in those two games where he was held to single digits he also hit the game-winner: a driving layup in the final second for his only points against Princeton and a pull-up 15-footer to beat top-ranked Ohio State. Overall Knight is actually UK’s worst shooter in this tournament, making only 35.7 percent of his shots (20 of 56). But he’s Mr. Clutch.
So let’s take a look at some of the props offered by Bodog on both Walker and Knight and offer some Final Four predictions for betting.
First off, the two players are the co-favorites at 2/1 for Final Four Most Outstanding Player. If you bet on either player in this you are betting on which team wins Saturday’s Kentucky-UConn game. Because if UConn wins, there is really no doubt that Walker wins the award. Shoot, he might become the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon to win it on a losing team even if the Huskies were to get upset in the final by either VCU or Butler. Knight isn’t a great bet with his erratic shot.
Walker is the favorite at -125 among the four players Bodog lists as the guy to score the most points in the Final Four. Knight is at +250. This again seems like an easy bet on Walker when comparing the two – Knight wasn’t even the second-leading scorer on his own team in two of the four NCAA Tournament games so far.
Knight’s ‘over under’ for points is 18 and assists 4.5 against Connecticut. The ‘under’ 18 points seems like a great bet considering Knight has gone over that total just three times in the past 10 games. He has gone over the assist total just once in the Big Dance. Walker’s totals against Kentucky are 25.5 and 5. The ‘over’ points seems like a lock considering he pretty much is UConn’s offense (although certainly Kentucky knows this). The ‘over’ assists seems like the best bet as well. For what it’s worth, when UConn beat Kentucky, 84-67, on Nov. 24 in Maui, Knight had six points and five assists, but he was obviously just a few games into his college career. Walker had 29 points and six assists.
Finally, you can also bet on whether Knight is just the latest star point guard to leave John Calipari after just one year of college basketball, following Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall. Is Knight as ready as those three? Obviously not. But looking at most NBA draft experts, Knight’s stock has risen enough to where he will be a lottery pick and would be the third-best point guard prospect behind Duke’s Kyrie Irving and Walker. Bodog offers ‘yes’ at -1000 that Knight goes and +600 that he doesn’t. The only thing that might keep Knight in school is the threat of there being no NBA season in 2011 due to labor issues – but that might be worth betting +600 instead of that -1000 option.
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