When the opening odds for college basketball’s 2021 Naismith Player of the Year were released, Oklahoma State freshman guard Cade Cunningham was the overwhelming favorite to win the award at offshore sportsbooks.
Cunningham, a 6-8 guard, hasn’t disappointed but with a little over a month until March Madness begins the Cowboys star is now a longshot.
Here’s a look at the updated odds to win the 2021 Naismith Player of the Year.
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2021 Naismith Player of the Year – Garza’s to Lose
Also a leading favorite when the opening odds were released, Iowa’s Luke Garza is now in control of the Naismith Award. It is his to lose.
The 6-11 senior is averaging 25.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for the Hawkeyes, who are currently ranked No. 15 in the nation.
Iowa is 13-6 overall and 7-5 in the Big Ten. That’s a testament to how difficult the schedule is in the conference. Seven Big Ten teams are ranked in the latest Top 25 poll. Three of those teams – Michigan, Ohio State, and Illinois – are in the Top 10.
The Hawkeyes are a lock to make this year’s March Madness and with Garza leading the way, they could go deep into the tournament.
Butler Leads Baylor
The No. 2 team in the country is Baylor, which is one of two major programs that is still unbeaten (No. 1 Gonzaga is the other). The Bears are 17-0 thanks to the play of leading scorer Jared Butler.
Butler, a 6-3 junior, averages 17.0 points and 5.2 assists per game for Baylor. He is listed at +850 to win college basketball’s premier individual award and could do so with some more big performances in big games.
Butler scored 30 and had eight assists when the Bears beat No. 9 Kansas on Jan. 18. He had 21 points and four steals when Baylor beat No. 6 Texas on Feb. 2.
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Gonzaga’s Star – 2021 Naismith Player of the Year
It surely helps your cause for the best player in the nation when you happen to play for the nation’s best team. Corey Kispert leads Gonzaga in scoring averaging 19.5 points a game. The 6-7 senior also averages 4.7 rebounds a game and shoots 48.3 percent from behind the three-point arc.
Naismith award winners often come from the nation’s best programs. Obi Toppin won last year when Dayton was ranked in the Top 5 for most of the season. Zion Williamson won the year before when Duke was highly ranked.
At +2500 to be the 2021 Naismith Player of the Year, a small wager on Kispert would pay off big especially if the Gonzaga forward takes the Bulldogs to the Final Four with some big numbers.
The Other Contenders for 2021 Naismith Player of the Year
While Kispert is somewhat of a longshot – as is Cunningham who is now listed at +5500 – Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu is given +1200 odds to win the Naismith. It helps that the Illini are ranked No. 6 in the country. They are 13-5 overall with losses to No. 2 Baylor and No. 10 Missouri.
Dosunmu is an absolute phenom scoring 21.2 points per game and averaging 6.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists. The 6-5 guard recently recorded a triple-double – 21 points, 12 rebound, and 12 assists – in a win over No. 19 Wisconsin.
He’ll have to take the Illini deep into the tournament, but Dosunmu would certainly be worthy of the Naismith Award even if he doesn’t.