This year’s crop of favorites for the Most Outstanding Player award is packed with forwards.
Prop betting has become increasingly popular part of the $12 billion March Madness market. And you can be sure that picking this year’s Most Outstanding Player (MOP) will be one of the most popular prop bets. Players need to lead their teams deep into March Madness in order to be considered for the award, so only those from top teams made our list of candidates. They are a mix of up-and-coming phenoms and crafty veterans, and proving that size matters, are almost without exception forwards.
Melvin Ejim of Iowa State
• Duke forward Jabari Parker is our favorite to win the Most Outstanding Player 2014
• Four of our seven candidates are fourth-year veterans; the other three being first-year newcomers
• Syracuse boasts two players, Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair, with good chances of winning the award
The fourth-year forward from Nigeria had been a relative unknown prior to this season. He has established himself in a big way, making a statement in a game against Texas Christian University in which he posted a cartoonish stat line of 48 (!!!) points and 18 rebounds. He couples otherworldly strength and athleticism with a burgeoning ability to shoot and handle the ball. He has also led the Iowa State Cyclones to a current #16 ranking. That doesn’t give them a great chance at making the Final Four, but if they do it will be on the burly back of Ejim, who is also one of the top international players in March Madness 2014.
Andrew Wiggins of Kansas
The ultra-athletic first-year forward from Canada has been a bit of a tease this year. While he has led Kansas to some thrilling victories, he has also disappeared in some games. An example: just days after scoring 29 points and leading Kansas to a victory over rival Iowa State, he played terribly in a disappointing loss to Texas. Despite the inconsistency, he is a lock to be in the NBA next year, so this March will be his only chance at the MOP award and national championship. We chose him for two reasons: his incredible talent, which means he can do anything on the court, and the Jayhawks should go very far in the tournament, giving him plenty of chances to impress voters.
Jabari Parker of Duke
That’s right, another forward. The first-year year player from Chicago is considered by many to be the best overall player in the nation. He handles the ball like a guard, rebounds like a center and scores like he should already be in the NBA. His season averages of 19 points and 9 rebounds per game are as impressive as anyone in the country, and his team is poised to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. The Blue Devils are always in the conversation for best team in the country, and stand a fairly good chance of making the Final Four this year, giving Parker plenty of opportunities to show why NBA scouts are drooling over him. When betting on the March Madness MOP 2014, don’t bet against him.
Doug McDermott of Creighton
McDermott turned down a chance at the NBA to play his final season, and Creighton fans are glad he did. The Bluejays are enjoying one of their best seasons ever, and the star forward is currently leading the nation in scoring with 26 points per game. Not only is he is in the running for the tournament MOP, he is a leading candidate for the Wooden Award (best player overall). The only thing working against him is that Creighton may not advance deep enough into March for him to have a good chance at the award. But if they make a deep run, look out.
Tyler Ennis of Syracuse
The first-year guard from Canada (Canada seems to be cranking out great basketball players like never before) has been the catalyst for Orangemen all season long. His game doesn’t jump off of the screen, but his ability to control his team down to every detail makes him arguably the best guard in the country. Syracuse is likely to receive a #1 or #2 seed on Selection Sunday, and oddsmakers are putting them just behind Florida as the favorite to win the national championship. If they get close, Ennis will be in the discussion for MOP.
C.J. Fair of Syracuse
The Syracuse forward is a great player across the board, impacting the game as a scorer, rebounder, defender and passer. He is also playing in his fourth season, meaning that this is last chance to win the most outstanding player award as well as the national championship. Online sportsbook in the US Bovada are giving Syracuse a very high chance of winning, so we know Fair will play in enough games to have a shot at the award. Of course, he’ll be competing against his teammate Tyler Ennis.
Russ Smith of Louisville
Louisville guard Russ Smith was a finalist for the award in 2013 but to the delight of Cardinal’s fans opted to return for his fourth and last year. He led the school to a championship victory in March Madness last year; can he do the same in 2014? He is leading Louisville in points and assists this year, and if they advance far enough, it would be hard to bet against him.