Michigan's Trey Burke Favorite at Book to Win NCAA Player of the Year
No University of Michigan college basketball player has won the Associated Press Player of the Year Award since the legendary Cazzie Russell in the 1965-66 season. However, Wolverines sophomore guard Trey Burke could soon join Russell in the club as Burke is the 7/4 betting favorite at Bovada to win this season's honor.
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Burke seriously contemplated declaring for the NBA Draft after being named the Big Ten's Co-Freshman of the Year last season, and he probably will go pro after this year. In leading Michigan to a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Burke has become just the seventh player in Michigan basketball history to score 1,000 points before the end of his sophomore season. Burke might have wrapped up the player of the year award with a steal and dunk with 20 seconds left last Sunday to put Michigan up for good against arch-rival Michigan State. The Columbus, Ohio native leads Michigan in scoring (second in the Big Ten), minutes and assists.
Burke is also the 5/4 favorite to win the Big Ten Player of the Year award, just ahead of Indiana guard Victor Oladipo. The Hoosiers' junior is 2/1 to win the Big Ten honor and also the second-favorite behind Burke at 11/4 to win the national award. Oladipo is the most improved player in the nation this season. He averages 13.7 points and 6.0 rebounds, but statistics don't tell his whole story. Oladipo has been compared to a young Dwyane Wade, a guy that current Indiana coach Tom Crean is very familiar with from his Marquette days.
Oladipo's teammate, sophomore center Cody Zeller, is 7/2 to win the Big Ten award and 12/1 for the national honor. That the Big Ten has three players up for the top player in the country is little surprise as it is easily the best conference in the nation this year. The other national candidates are Georgetown's Otto Porter (9/2), Creighton's Doug McDermott (17/2), Duke's Mason Plumlee (17/2), Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk (12/1), Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart (20/1), Kansas' Ben McLemore (20/1), Miami of Florida's Shane Larkin (20/1) and then the field at 8/1.
Plumlee is the 3/2 favorite to take the ACC Player of the Year award with Larkin at 9/4 and Virginia Tech's Erick Green at 4/1. The Hokies' Green, a senior guard, leads the nation in scoring at 25.0 ppg. Freshmen McLemore and Smart lead the Big 12 POY odds at 2/1 and 5/2 respectively. A Kansas player has won the award each of the past two seasons but a freshman hasn't since Kansas State's Michael Beasley in 2007-08. McLemore, a 6-foot-5 guard, leads the Jayhawks in scoring and could be the No. 1 overall pick in this summer's draft if he declares as expected.
The Hoyas' Porter is the overwhelming 1/5 favorite to win the Big East Player of the Year, followed by Louisville's Russ Smith (4/1), Syracuse's Brandon Triche (12/1) and Notre Dame's Jack Cooley (12/1). Of course none of those four schools will be in the Big East much longer, with the latter three off to the ACC. No Georgetown player has won the award since current Celtic Jeff Green in 2006-07.
Weekend Live Betting Schedule
The final weekend of the regular season has several crucial matchups for conference titles and NCAA Tournament at-large berths and seeds, and the book will offer four games for Live Betting: No. 11 Florida at Kentucky, No. 23 UCLA at Washington, No. 24 Notre Dame at No. 8 Louisville (all Saturday) and No. 2 Indiana at No. 7 Michigan (Sunday).
Kentucky could sew up an at-large NCAA bid by upsetting the Gators. UK's hopes of repeating as national champions essentially ended during the Wildcats' 69-52 loss at Florida on February 12. That was the game in which Kentucky star freshman center Nerlens Noel tore his ACL and was lost for the season and likely his UK career as he is expected to declare for the draft. Kentucky is 3-2 without him entering Thursday's game at Georgia.
Florida hasn't won in Lexington since the 2006-07 season when UF was No. 1 and the defending national champion. The current Gators are tied with Duke as the second-favorites for this year's title at 7/1. Kentucky has risen to 75/1.
The Notre Dame-Louisville matchup is a rematch of arguably the best game of the season. The Irish beat the Cardinals 104-101 in five overtimes on February 9. It was the longest regular-season game in Big East history. Notre Dame was down eight points with less than 50 seconds left in regulation. Louisville hasn't lost since and is the 8/1 fourth-favorite to win the national title.
Indiana remains the 11/2 title favorite at the book, but that's certain to change should the Hoosiers lose at Michigan. IU was stunned 67-58 at home Tuesday by Ohio State, the Hoosiers' second loss in the past three games. A win would have given Indiana their first outright Big Ten title in 20 years, which they can still get with a victory Sunday. A Michigan win could create a logjam for the regular-season crown. The Wolverines, who are 10/1 to cut down the nets in April, were No. 1 in the nation when they lost 81-73 at Indiana on February 2. The Hoosiers have won four straight versus Michigan when both are ranked in the top 10.
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