The 2015-16 college basketball season continues to wind to a close, but not before one of the biggest betting events of the year takes place in Houston with Saturday's Final Four showdown followed by next Monday night's Championship Game.
One of the most heavily-bet player props for this tournament is who will be named Most Outstanding Player (MOP). And now that the field has been reduced to just four teams, Bovada's current prop bet odds are a bit easier to navigate. While there are a number of worthy candidates on the list, I am looking for the one that offers the best value at their betting odds.
Odds to Win the 2016 NCAA Tournament MOP
Picking a winner in this player prop hinges on picking the right Final Four team to win a national title. You would have to go all the way back to 1983 to find the last time a player won the MOP award on a team that did not win a national championship (Hakeem Olajuwon).
At the top of the list in the field of four is North Carolina as an even-money favorite on Bovada's futures board. The betting odds for the Tar Heels' top players winning MOP have Brice Johnson as a +250 favorite and Marcus Paige listed at +750 betting odds. Also in the mix at +900 is Joel Berry II on a very deep and talented North Carolina squad.
The second-favorite to win it all at +275 odds is Villanova, and a likely candidate for MOP would be Josh Hart at +500. However, you cannot count out Ryan Arcidiacono or Kris Jenkins as +1400 long shots. All three of these players have been integral in the Wildcats march through the madness of the South Region.
Oklahoma will face Villanova in one Final Four matchup, and the Sooners' odds to win it all have been set at +350. You would have to believe that if Oklahoma does go on and win a national title that you would be cashing in on Buddy Hield's +300 betting odds to win MOP. He might even be worth a small side bet to win this award even if the Sooners' lose in the championship game given just how good he has been the past few weeks. Two other Sooners on the list are Jordan Woodward and Isaiah Cousins at +3300.
Syracuse is the longshot of the group after battling through the Midwest Region to get to the Final Four as a No. 10 seed. The Orange have been listed at +800 betting odds to take this incredible run all the way to a national title, and leading the way would probably be Michael Gbinije at +1600 odds. Another pair of MOP candidates on Syracuse's roster at +3300 odds are Malachi Richardson and Trevor Cooney.
Going through the entire list, the safest bet would be to go chalk on North Carolina with Johnson winning the MOP player prop. He has been the guiding force behind the Tar Heels' run so far with an average of 21 points per game while shooting a blistering 63 percent from the floor. And if they are going to win it all as favorites you can almost guarantee that he will be coming off two more impressive performances.
Another way to go in this prop would be to bet on Hield's ability to carry the Sooners to their first-ever national title with a pair of outstanding performances over the next several days. In his first four NCAA Tournament games he has averaged 29.3 points and 6.5 rebounds. Against No. 1 Oregon in the Elite 8 Round, Hield went off for 37 points while going 13-for-20 from the field.
I have been wrong about Villanova more than once in this tournament, but the Wildcats have finally made believers out of me after taking down No. 1 Kansas in an impressive fashion in last Saturday's five-point victory as two-point underdogs. That amazing win was a total team effort, with all three of their players on this MOP prop list making huge contributions. However, Josh Hart is still the heart and soul of this team.
As a native Philly guy, I will be channeling former Wildcats' coach Rollie Massimino and that incredible run to the 1985 National Championship with a 'best bet' play on Josh Hart being named this year's MOP when Villanova is cutting down the nets on Monday night.
Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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