College Basketball Betting: CBB Player Of The Year

The college basketball season is just about to enter the month of March, which means the races for conference championships, NCAA Tournament bids, and high seeds are going to intensify. What will also become more intense is the pursuit of the Naismith Award as the national player of the year in college basketball. A few names not included on the list below deserve to be kept in mind, so this group of four shouldn’t be seen as the obvious batch of runaway favorites. However, these are the four leaders if one was to choose a top four at this point in time:

Luka Garza, Iowa

The big man is delivering on his preseason promise. With averages of 26 points and nine rebounds (rounded to the nearest whole number), Garza is carrying Iowa to one of its best seasons in many years. Iowa looks like a top-three seed for the NCAA Tournament, holding its own in a rugged Big Ten Conference. Garza’s hopes for the player of the year award likely hinge on Iowa’s performance as a team. If the Hawkeyes finish second or better in the Big Ten and generally maintain their place in the top 10 of the national rankings, yes, Garza has the inside track to the award. If Iowa does begin to wobble and fall off the pace, however, other players on this list could make a push and overtake him.

Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga

The best freshman in the country is averaging 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists on a balanced and deep Gonzaga team. One could make the case that Corey Kispert, Gonzaga’s long-range shooter, has a better national player of the year argument, since his offense spreads the court and forces defenses into playing one-on-one. They can’t double-team the Zags’ other quality players. Yet, Suggs is still the straw which stirs the drink for this team. His dribble penetration and slick ballhandling put teammates in great positions. His speed enables Gonzaga to play up-tempo basketball and get lots of easy baskets in transition. Suggs versus Kispert is a big college basketball drama as far as the player of the year race is concerned.

Jared Butler, Baylor

There is one main challenger to Gonzaga this season: the Baylor Bears. If Suggs is the main engine for Gonzaga, Butler is the main source of production for Baylor, with 17 points, four rebounds, and five assists per game. If Baylor goes unbeaten in a very tough, deep, and balanced Big 12 Conference, Butler’s POY candidacy will receive a massive boost, since the Big 12 is a lot tougher than Gonzaga’s conference, the WCC. If Baylor doesn’t lose against a very strong schedule, it will be very hard to ignore how important and valuable Butler is to his team. If Baylor loses two or three games before the NCAA Tournament, however, Garza and Suggs will finish ahead of him in the POY race.

Justin Champagnie, Pittsburgh

This is the one player on the list who is not on a top-10 team. Pittsburgh is fighting for position in the ACC and is by no means an NCAA Tournament lock. Yet, Champagnie averages 20 points and 12 rebounds. Not many other players in the country are averaging a double-double with at least 20 points per game. If those statistical averages hold up for the rest of the season, Champagnie will have a solid argument to make in the POY race.

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