The Top 5 Players To Bet To Win The College Hoops Player Of The Year Award

It has been nearly 2 months since we checked in on the National Player of the Year Award betting market. With the calendar recently turning over from January to February, that means March is just around the corner, and this race is tightening up!

Looking back on our early December picks, had you taken our advice, you would be very happy with where you stand right now, as that advice was on point! Before we jump into my updated National Player of the Year picks, let’s take a quick look back to see how our first round of picks are holding up. If you never got a chance to read that first article, you can check it out here.

What We Got Right

The headliner here is Kentucky Wildcats big man Oscar Tshiebwe. When I wrote this article on December 10th, none of the major books even had Tshiebwe listed as a contender, and now just a couple of months later, the big man is the favorite! Whether you took the field at 200-1 or if you pounded on Tshiebwe when he opened up as a 100-1 long shot, you have a high-value ticket on your hands now!

The play on Illinois center Kofi Cockburn is looking pretty sweet right now as well, as when we suggested a play on King Kofi, he was priced at 22-1, and now he is the 2nd favorite behind Tshiebwe at just 6-1! None of our early season predictions look bad at this point, but the plays on Cockburn and Tshiebwe certainly stand out as being insanely high value as the odds have plummeted on both players.

What We Got Wrong

It is hard to say that we got any of those early season predictions “wrong” as every player that we highlighted is still listed as one of the favorites to take home the college basketball Heisman. Drew Timme, Paolo Banchero, and Johnny Juzang are all still in the top-15 of the betting odds, and all of these guys could still win the award as they are each having excellent seasons for very good teams.

The main difference is that had you bet on those guys in December, you would have actually gotten worse odds than if you bet them today. That doesn’t mean that they are bad plays, as they could still win the award, it just means we didn’t nail the timing for max value. Enough about the past, let’s jump right into this updated version of the top 5 players you want to bet to win the college hoops player of the year award!

Oscar Tshiebwe – Kentucky Wildcats (+550)

If Oscar Tshiebwe can stay healthy and finish strong, this award is his to lose as he is leading the charge for a very good Kentucky team and is racking up gaudy stats night in and night out. I personally locked in my action on Tshiebwe at 120-1, and if I end up cashing this ticket, it will be my single biggest future’s win ever, so you all know who I am rooting for!

Tshiebwe has a couple of major things going his way right now, the first of which is the play of the Kentucky Wildcats. It is nearly impossible for a player to win this award on a bad team. It just doesn’t happen. The Wildcats are seemingly getting better each game, and after watching them thump the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence last weekend, this could be a team that wins a national title this year for Coach Cal. And second, his stats are mind-bogglingly good, especially in high-profile games.

No player in the nation has more 20+ rebound games than Oscar Tshiebwe, who has eclipsed that mark 5 times already this season. In big games, the big man has come up big, time and again! He went for 17 and 20 against Duke, 16 and 14 against Auburn, and 17 and 14 against Kansas.

If you are a believer in Kenpom’s player of the year rankings, Tshiebwe might already have this award locked down, as he has a bigger lead over 2nd place in the standings than 2nd place has over 8th. I know many of you out there are likely kicking yourself for missing out on this play when I first gave it to you in December, but there is still plenty of value to be had here, as Oscar is really starting to pull away with this award and still pays out an attractive 5.5-1. Get in on this now before you have to lay dog money to back the Kentucky standout.

Kofi Cockburn – Illinois Fighting Illini (+600)

For those of you that are suffering from a severe case of FOMO for missing out on getting action in on Tshiebwe, you might want to skip this section too, as we gave you Kofi Cockburn as a player to target back when he was sitting at 22-1 and since then his odds have dropped all of the way down to just 6-1. That being said, I still see plenty of value on a bet on the Illinois big man, as his stats compare well with Tshiebwe’s, and his team is great, as the Illini have a shot at taking home the Big 10 regular season title.

Cockburn got a late start to the season, as he was suspended for 4 games due to a transfer violation. Kofi was looking into transferring to Kentucky, and he crossed some lines he shouldn’t have, and it cost him 4 games. Looking back now, could you imagine if the Wildcats had both Tshiebwe and Cockburn? They might not have lost a single game. Oh, what could have been for Kentucky fans!

But after that late start, it is hard to poke many holes in Cockburn’s resume as he is a double-double machine, averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds per game. What makes the case for Cockburn so intriguing is that he is really turning it on lately.

Cockburn had arguably his best game of the year in his last game, dropping 37 points and 12 rebounds in a huge win over the Wisconsin Badgers. Last year’s NPOY winner was a big man from the Big 10, with Iowa’s Luka Garza taking home top honors, and with how Cockburn is playing, it could be back-to-back NPOY’s coming from the Big 10.

Drew Timme – Gonzaga Bulldogs (+1000)

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme came into this season as the face of college basketball. The mustache wearing swagger hound leads the nation’s top team (depending on who you ask), and his charisma and theatrics means that the spotlight is never very far away. What is hurting Timme right now more than anything is the strength of this Gonzaga team, as he hasn’t needed to be the force he was last year, every night, as guys like Chet Holmgren, Rasir Bolton, Andrew Nembhard, and Julian Strawther are all capable of carrying the Zags for long stretches of action.

Throw in the fact that the Zags play in the WCC, and many of their games have been blowouts, and we aren’t seeing the eye-popping numbers from Timme this season that many people expected. If the Zags weren’t so deep, we could see Timme racking up stats against these weaker teams, but they are one of the deepest teams in the nation, and that has led to stat lines like 12 points and 7 boards against Northern Iowa, 8 points and 2 rebounds against Loyola Marymount, and 10 points and 5 rebounds against Tarleton State.

Timme’s minutes are down this year, which should petrify the rest of the country as he is going to hit the NCAA tournament well-rested and ready to lead the Zags to another Final Four. We have seen when the Zags lean on Timme that he is close to unstoppable, like when he torched a very good defensive Texas Longhorns team for 37 points and dropped back-to-back 30+ games against BYU and Santa Clara.

The Zags WCC schedule was backloaded as they still have road games at San Francisco, BYU, and St. Mary’s left on their schedule. All 3 of those teams project out as NCAA tournament-level squads, which means that Timme is going to get big minutes and will have the opportunity to produce stellar stats. A couple of 30+ point double-doubles against solid competition would be more than enough to get Timme’s name back in the NPOY favorites conversation, so it is best that you get ahead of that trend and lock in your action now before its too late!

Keegan Murray – Iowa Hawkeyes (+1800)

Keegan Murray has a unique case for NPOY, as he came out of complete nowhere early in the season to lead the nation in scoring, but then has seen his production dip a bit recently. Murray picked up the slack left when Luka Garza graduated, scoring 20+ points in each of the first 6 games of the year for Iowa. Through December, Murray was averaging 25 points a game, and Iowa was winning a lot of basketball games.

But in the last month or so, Murray is seemingly running out of gas, and it has really hurt his team. Murray has averaged just 15 points per game in his last 4 games, and the Hawkeyes lost 3 of those 4 contests. For whatever reason, Murray has started to shoot a bunch of 3-pointers, and that just isn’t where he is at his best, which has led to him struggling.

It is easy to focus on the negative on Murray, as things haven’t been great in the last couple of weeks, but this is still a guy that has a real shot at leading the nation in scoring, as he only trails Oral Roberts guard Max Abmas by a point and a half in the race to win the national scoring title. No power conference or even mid-major conference player, for that matter, scores more points per game than Murray, and to be able to get a prolific scorer like that, at a price like this, shows a ton of value.

We will need Murray to find his stroke from earlier this year when he was regularly dropping 25+ points a night, but if he does, watch out, he could come from behind and steal this award. My gut says that the voting committee won’t love giving Iowa another NPOY winner after honoring Garza last season, but if Murray ends the season leading the nation in scoring, he is going to be nearly impossible to deny.

Jabari Smith Jr – Auburn Tigers (+2000)

The final guy that we are going to highlight reminds me a lot of Oscar Tshiebwe in December, as I almost can’t believe the price on Jabari Smith Jr right now! Smith Jr is shooting up draft boards and has positioned himself as potentially the number 1 overall pick for next year’s NBA draft. He is long and athletic, and there isn’t anything he can’t do on the basketball court.

The problem for Smith Jr is that what he does on the floor doesn’t always translate to the stat sheet. His stats line of 15 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal per game does no justice to just how much he impacts the game. He is a rim protector on defense and stretches the floor on offense and makes all of his teammates better. With Smith Jr as clearly their best player and leader, the Tigers have risen all of the way to number 1in the nation in the AP Poll.

There is certainly something to be said for the best player on the best team, and recent winners like Frank Mason and Jalen Brunson were great examples of guys that didn’t blow anyone’s hair back with their stat sheet but were the best player on the best team and took home the award.

Smith Jr is going to need a huge finish to close this gap, but he is absolutely capable of it and shows supreme value at this price. There isn’t a player on this list that has more upside than Jabari Smith Jr, and that makes him a great candidate for a long shot wager at 20-1.

Wrap Up

I know a lot of you are wishing that you had listened to me the first time that we broke down these odds for National Player of the Year, so don’t make the same mistake twice! As the season quickly winds down, these odds are going to continue to plummet for the favorites, and you want to lock in your action now, so you aren’t left wondering what could have been, like those of you that missed out on getting Oscar and Kofi as long shots a couple of months back. Make sure that you stay tuned to TheSportsGeek all season long, where our team of expert handicappers bring you high-value picks on Men’s College Hoops each and every day!

Sub Categories:
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.