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Brunson The Most Outstanding Player Favorite Entering Final Four

Jalen Brunson of the Villanova Wildcats celebrates defeating the Texas Tech Red Raiders

Jalen Brunson has vaulted himself back to the top of the Most Outstanding Player conversation after a great second weekend of play during the NCAA Tournament. Brunson, who is the +240 favorite to win the award, tallied a combined 42 points, eight assists and eight rebounds against West Virginia and Texas Tech, two of the best defenses in the country.

Brunson’s shot has not exactly been there during the last two games – he’s shot 41.3 percent from the floor, including 3-for-10 from deep – but the junior’s aggressive play has gotten him to the line often. Brunson went 15-for-17 from the charity stripe during the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.

The second-best odds belong to Brunson’s Villanova teammate Mikal Bridges (+400). Though the likely lottery pick is not posting gaudy numbers during the tournament, Bridges remains the best perimeter defender still playing while flashing his explosive scoring ability – piling up 16 points in a four-minute span vs Alabama.

The biggest riser has easily been Malik Newman (+750) of Kansas, who wasn’t even listed on the odds to win the MOP ahead of the Sweet 16. The sophomore has struggled to live up to expectations coming out of high school, but Newman has been on fire during the tournament – averaging 25.7 points while shooting 50 percent from the field and 48.1 percent from three-point range in the last three games.

Charles Matthews and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (+1000) have the best odds of any Michigan player to win the award. Matthews has been the main offensive piece for the Wolverines despite his struggles from beyond the arc while Abdur-Rahkman has been arguably the best all-around player on the team.

As for Cinderella Loyola-Chicago, Clayton Custer (+3300) is the favorite to win the MOP among Ramblers players. That being said, picking just one player from Loyola-Chicago is an exercise in futility, as the Ramblers’ entire system is built around team play with different players carrying the torch from game to game.

2018 NCAA Tournament – Most Outstanding Player Award Odds

Odds as of March 29 at Bovada

  • Jalen Brunson (Villanova) +240
  • Mikal Bridges (Villanova) +400
  • Malik Newman (Kansas) +750
  • Devonte’ Graham (Kansas) +800
  • Charles Matthews (Michigan) +1000
  • Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rakhman (Michigan) +1000
  • Moritz Wagner (Michigan) +1200
  • Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova) +2000
  • Omari Spellman (Villanova) +2000
  • Clayton Custer (Loyola-Chicago) +3300
  • Eric Paschall (Villanova) +3300
  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Kansas) +3300
  • Zavier Simpson (Michigan) +3300
  • Marques Townes (Loyola-Chicago) +4000
  • Ben Richardson (Loyola-Chicago) +5000
  • Donte Ingram (Loyola-Chicago) +5000
  • Lagerald Vick (Kansas) +5000
  • Udoka Azubuike (Kansas) +5000
  • Phil Booth (Villanova) +10000

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Through the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, Marvin Bagley III has proven why he is arguably the best offensive player in college basketball this season. Bagley’s performance in Duke’s two games so far has thrust the freshman into the top spot in the odds to win the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Duke has cruised to the Sweet 16 and Bagley (+600) is one of the biggest reasons why, as the forward is averaging 22 points and eight rebounds while shooting 75 percent from the floor. Bagley is an athletic mismatch and he knows how to use that advantage, excelling at creating easy buckets for himself. Are there holes in his game? Yes. But Bagley is too athletic and plays too hard for that to matter on the offensive end of the court.

Jalen Brunson (+700) is close behind Bagley thanks to the Villanova point guard’s steady play. Brunson is averaging 14 points, four assists and 2.5 rebounds during the tournament while hitting five of his nine three-point attempts. The junior simply understands how to run an offense and he is especially aware of what he needs to be for his team at any given time.

Someone not getting the love he deserves is Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+1100). First of all, we know that the Most Outstanding Player almost always comes from the national championship-winning team and Kentucky’s trip to the finals – or at least to the Final Four – seems pretty easy. In addition, Gilgeous-Alexander has easily been the best player on John Calipari’s team, as the freshman has averaged 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and 3.5 steals during the tourney.

2018 NCAA Tournament – Most Outstanding Player Award Odds

Odds as of March 21 at 5Dimes

  • Marvin Bagley III (Duke) +600
  • Jalen Brunson (Villanova) +700
  • Mikal Bridges (Villanova) +750
  • Devonte’ Graham (Kansas) +850
  • Kevin Knox (Kentucky) +1000
  • Johnathan Williams (Gonzaga) +1000
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Kentucky) +1100
  • Grayson Allen (Duke) +1300
  • Jevon Carter (West Virginia) +1600
  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Kansas) +2000
  • Charles Matthews (Michigan) +2200
  • Josh Perkins (Gonzaga) +2200
  • Moritz Wagner (Michigan) +2200
  • Carsen Edwards (Purdue) +2200
  • Wendell Carter Jr. (Duke) +2200
  • Keenan Evans (Texas Tech) +2500
  • Vincent Edwards (Purdue) +2500
  • Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova) +2500
  • Killian Tillie (Gonzaga) +2500
  • Tyler Davis (Texas A&M) +3500
  • Barry Brown (Kansas State) +7000
  • Daxter Miles Jr. (West Virginia) +7000
  • Udoka Azubuike (Kansas) +7500
  • Sagaba Konate (West Virginia) +7500
  • Admon Gilder (Texas A&M) +7500
  • Dean Wade (Kansas State) +9000
  • Dakota Mathias (Purdue) +9000
  • Marcquise Reed (Clemson) +10000
  • Phil Cofer (Florida State) +15000
  • Tyus Battle (Syracuse) +15000
  • Caleb Martin (Nevada) +20000
  • Oshae Brissett (Syracuse) +22500
  • Robert Williams (Texas A&M) +25000
  • Jordan Caroline (Nevada) +27500
  • Cody Martin (Nevada) +27500
  • Clayton Custer (Loyola-Chicago) +42500
  • Donte Ingram (Loyola-Chicago) +42500

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Trying to predict who will win Most Outstanding Player is just as hard as predicting the NCAAB tournament winner. Every winner of the MOP since 1983 has come from the team that ended up cutting down the nets; Hakeem Olajuwon was the last player to win the award despite being on the losing team.

So, if you’re looking to bet MOP, you’re best to double down with whichever team you have winning the whole damn thing. Of course, with the field as competitive as ever this season, neither of those bets is easy.

Jalen Brunson of Villanova has opened as the +700 favorite to win the MOP. Brunson is basically the equivalent of the old guy at the gym who schools every pickup game he plays in. The junior is a pitbull of a point guard who can drive to the net and score when needed (he scored 25-plus points eight times this season), knows when to simply run the offense and competes hard on defense. There is little doubt that Brunson was the best all-around point guard in college basketball this season.

Close behind Brunson is Marvin Bagley III (+800). The Duke freshman may get docked by some NBA scouts for his defensive effort but his presence on the offensive end is more than enough to propel Duke throughout the NCAA Tournament. Bagley averaged 21.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game while demonstrating the ability to shoot over smaller defenders or blow past bigger opponents.

The guy who jumps out at me is Mikal Bridges (+1400) of Villanova. Though Brunson is the straw that stirs the drink, Bridges is easily the most gifted player on Jay Wright’s team. No doubt, Bridges is the best two-way wing in college basketball with the growth of his three-point shot this season. The junior doubled the amount of threes he was taking compared to last year while shooting four percentage points higher as well.

2018 NCAA Tournament – Most Outstanding Player Award Odds

Odds as of March 14 at Bovada

  • Jalen Brunson (Villanova) +700
  • Marvin Bagley III (Duke) +800
  • Miles Bridges (Michigan State) +900
  • Kyle Guy (Virginia) +1000
  • Grayson Allen (Duke) +1200
  • Mikal Bridges (Villanova) +1400
  • Joel Berry II (UNC) +1500
  • Deandre Ayton (Arizona) +1500
  • Devonte’ Graham (Kansas) +1800
  • Trevon Bluiett (Xavier) +2000
  • Wendell Carter Jr. (Duke) +2000
  • Luke Maye (UNC) +2000
  • Allonzo Trier (Arizona) +2500
  • Kevin Knox (Kentucky) +3000
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State) +3000
  • Carsen Edwards (Purdue) +3500
  • Jevon Carter (West Virginia) +4500
  • Moritz Wagner (Michigan) +4500
  • Mohamed Bamba (Texas) +5000
  • Jonathan Williams (Gonzaga) +5000
  • Keenan Evans (Texas Tech) +6000
  • Michael Porter Jr. (Mizzou) +6000
  • Gary Clark (Cincinnati) +6000
  • Landry Shamet (Wichita State) +7500
  • Admiral Schofield (Tennessee) +8000
  • Trae Young (Oklahoma) +15000
  • Collin Sexton (Alabama) +15000