A dramatic weekend in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament full of buzzer-beaters and late-game heroics saw Auburn, Michigan State, Texas Tech and Virginia advance to the 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis.
As the tournament moves to its next stage the March Madness betting lines have been updated accordingly, including the odds on who will be named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Michigan State guard Cassius Winston is the current favorite, listed at +250 on PointsBet. Virginia guard Ty Jerome is second at +400, followed by Virginia teammates Kyle Guy (+450) and De’Andre Hunter (+500), and Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver (+600).
Auburn and Texas Tech are each making its first Final Four appearance. Virginia is in its third Final Four, last advancing in 1984. Michigan State is in its 10th Final Four, last advancing in 2015. The Final Four tips off Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Auburn plays Virginia in the first game, with Texas Tech vs. Michigan State in the second semifinal.
Why Winston is the Favorite
Winston finds himself the betting favorite after he led the Spartans to an upset 68-67 victory over tournament favorite Duke in the East Regional Final on Sunday. Winston had 20 points and 10 assists in a performance that saw the junior point guard do a little bit of everything in securing the win against the top-seeded Blue Devils.
Winston has been the catalyst for the Spartans throughout the season, averaging 18.8 points and 7.5 assists per game. He was named Big Ten Conference Player of the Year. Were Winston to win the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award, he would be the, third Michigan State player to do so. Magic Johnson earned the award in 1979, while Mateen Cleaves won in 2000; both years the Spartans captured the national championship.
Jerome filled out the stat-sheet in the Cavaliers 80-75 overtime win over Purdue in the South Regional Final on Saturday. The junior accounted for 24 points, seven assists and five rebounds. On the season, Jerome averaged 13.3 points and 5.4 assists per game.
Duke’s Loss Costs Zion Chance at MOP Award
Heading into the Sweet 16, Duke’s Zion Williamson had been the bookmakers’ favorite to win the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. The freshman, who was the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and the likely first-overall pick in the NBA Draft should the freshman choose to forgo his college eligibility, was listed +350 by most sportsbooks.
Duke teammate RJ Barrett was second at +850, with Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura having the third-best odds at +950.
However, with Michigan State knocking off Duke and Gonzaga falling to Texas Tech in the West Region Final, that has caused a shift in the odds with Williamson, Barrett and Hachimura having almost no chance of being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, despite Williamson averaging 26 points per game in four tournament games.
Instead, in all likelihood the eventual player named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player will come from whichever team wins the national championship, something to keep in mind when betting the NCAA title game as well.
As only once since 1967 has the winner of the Most Outstanding Player award not been a member of the championship-winning team, with that player being Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon in 1983.
The Cougars lost to North Carolina State 54-52 in the championship game.