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NCAA tournament: Duke's Paolo Banchero emerges as betting favorite for Most Outstanding Player

With schools like Gonzaga and Arizona eliminated from the NCAA tournament, there’s a new betting favorite to win the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.

Entering the Sweet 16, Gonzaga’s Drew Timme stood above the rest in the odds at BetMGM. Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin wasn’t far behind Timme.

Now with the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight in the rearview mirror and the Final Four on the horizon, Duke’s Paolo Banchero is the one standing out above the rest of the field.

Banchero, a star freshman forward who is averaging 18.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in tournament play, is now the favorite at +300. According to BetMGM, Banchero has received 10.6% of the bets and 7.9% of the money.

Behind Banchero is Ochai Agbaji of Kansas at +450. Agbaji struggled with only five points in the Jayhawks’ Sweet 16 win over Providence but he bounced back with an 18-point effort in Sunday’s Elite Eight win over Miami. Agbaji has received 6.0% of the bets and 6.5% of the money,

Duke forward Paolo Banchero celebrates after Duke defeated Arkansas in a college basketball game in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA men's tournament in San Francisco, Saturday, March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Duke forward Paolo Banchero celebrates after Duke defeated Arkansas in a college basketball game in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA men's tournament in San Francisco, Saturday, March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Further down the list is Villanova senior guard Collin Gillespie. A two-time Big East player of the year, Gillispie will have to shoulder an even bigger load than usual for the Wildcats now that Justin Moore is out with an Achilles injury. Gillespie is Villanova’s leading scorer at 15.6 points per game, but Moore isn’t far behind at 14.8. If Villanova can upset Kansas in the Final Four, it will need a huge performance from Gillespie, its senior leader.

Elsewhere, Kansas sixth man Remy Martin is listed at +900, ahead of Villanova’s Jermaine Samuels at +1200 and two North Carolina stars, Armando Bacot (+1400) and Brady Manek (+1600).

Martin, who has received 5.7% of the bets and 7.9% of the money, is the biggest liability for the sportsbook at BetMGM.

Bacot had an incredible performance on Sunday against St. Peter’s, posting 20 points and a whopping 22 rebounds. Manek, meanwhile, continued his hot shooting with a 19-point outing that included going 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Manek is shooting 47% (16/34) from 3-point land during the NCAA tournament.

Other notable players include Duke big man Mark Williams (+1800), North Carolina guard Caleb Love (+2200) and Kansas guard Christian Braun (+2800). All three are capable of big-time performances.

NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player award odds

  • Paolo Banchero (Duke): +300

  • Ochai Agbaji (Kansas): +450

  • Collin Gillespie (Villanova): +800

  • Remy Martin (Kansas): +900

  • Jermaine Samuels (Villanova): +1200

  • Armando Bacot (North Carolina): +1400

  • Brady Manek (North Carolina): +1600

  • Mark Williams (Duke): +1800

  • Caleb Love (North Carolina): +2200

  • Jeremy Roach (Duke): +2200

  • Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke): +2500

  • AJ Griffin (Duke): +2500

  • Christian Braun (Kansas): +2800

  • Jalen Wilson (Kansas): +3300

  • R.J. Davis (North Carolina): +5000

  • Eric Dixon (Villanova): +5000

  • Caleb Daniels (Villanova): +5000

  • David McCormack (Kansas): +10000

  • Trevor Keels (Duke): +12500