March Madness MVP 2019 – Top Contenders and Predictions
The 2019 men’s college basketball tournament gets going this week, prompting sports bettors everywhere to start researching teams and players they’ve previously never heard of.
That might be a mild stretch, but seriously, how many Iona games have you watched? How many times have you taken the time to bet on or against Gardner-Webb?
Unless you bet on college basketball every single day, chances are you haven’t come across those teams very much — if at all. And in a field of 64 teams when the first round tips off, the odds are good you haven’t gotten a close look at most of the teams in the field.
When talking about betting on March Madness MVP candidates, however, it probably won’t matter.
You’ll surely want to do all of the research you can handle if you’re eyeing first-round March Madness upset picks, but with the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player almost always coming from the title winner, you’re able to narrow things down a bit.
Seriously, Hakeem Olajuwon was the last player to win the award (back in 1983) without winning the national title. In other words, it’s just not likely, so focusing on players who are on teams with a real shot at being crowned champions makes good sense.
How to Predict the NCAA Most Outstanding Player
The main criteria for correctly gauging who will win the March Madness tourney MVP is that their team wins the title. After that, all bets are apparently off.
That was made official last year, when Villanova sixth man Donte DiVincenzo erupted in the biggest game of the year, playing a big hand in getting the Wildcats their second title in three years.
Most would have argued DiVincenzo wasn’t even the best guard on his team, yet his thrilling performance — and strong play throughout the tourney — earned him the award and even got him drafted in round one of the 2018 NBA Draft.
That may have been an outlier, though.
Most NCAA tournament MVPs are at least starters, and they often turn out to be big stars as well. Regardless, not every Most Outstanding Player is the star of their respective team, enjoyed his team’s best performance over the course of the entire tourney, or even goes on to do big things in the NBA.
For every Kemba Walker and Anthony Davis MVP nod, there are two or three Joel Berry III or Sean May MVP wins.
Stick with a guy from the team you like to win it all and go from there. Trying to narrow things down too much beyond that may make you go crazy.
Top Picks for 2019 March Madness MVP
While most of my efforts will absolutely be geared toward predicting the 2019 college basketball national champion (which will cut out a lot of the competition), I do think there is merit in looking at some stars that could potentially make deep runs and leave a lasting mark.
That list is admittedly not very long, though, while it’s hard to believe the Most Outstanding Player comes from a team that doesn’t at least make it to the Final Four.
This award is going to the best player throughout the entire March Madness tournament, after all. Needless to say, it’s covering the player that could piece star power, longevity, and impactful play together and do so during a legit title run.
You can bet on the Most Outstanding Player winner however you please, and once actual March Madness MVP odds pop up, perhaps things will be a bit clearer. I don’t like to wait for odds before conducting my research, though.
Let’s get a head start on the top March Madness betting sites and start to figure out which players have the best chance to take home NCAA Most Outstanding Player honors this year.
Zion Williamson, F, Duke Blue Devils
The guaranteed National Player of the Year has been transcendent in his first (and surely only) season with the Blue Devils. Duke was a shell of themselves while Mount Zion missed time with an injury, and once he returned, they won the ACC conference tournament.
Nobody should have been shocked by that, and storming through the best conference in college basketball earned Duke the #1 overall seed.
SportsBetting.ag and other March Madness betting websites love the Blue Devils (+225 title favorites) to be the last team standing, so naturally, the best player in the game has a terrific shot at being named tourney MVP.
You can also talk up Cameron Reddish and Tre Jones if you’re looking for the Most Outstanding Player out of Duke, but R.J. Barrett is probably Zion’s only realistic threat.
Of course, bettors need to think about the possibility of Duke not winning the title.
Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga Zags
Brandon Clarke is probably the other main Zags player I’d look at here, but if Gonzaga is going to finally live up to the hype, it should be due to a huge tourney by Rui Hachimura.
Hachimura is putting up 20 points and roughly seven rebounds per game, while he has the ability to take over contests. He slowed down a bit during the WCC conference tournament, but he’ll certainly be needed if the Zags are to make any serious noise in this tourney.
Gonzaga has a #1 seed and has the second-best March Madness odds out there (+500), so they at least are a solid bet to crack the Final Four. That probably wouldn’t be enough, but there’s no doubt Hachimura is in the mix here.
Kyle Guy, G, Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia was bounced immediately in round one last year, but they could be on a revenge tour during the 2019 NCAA tourney. Vegas seems to think so, at least, as Virginia enters March Madness with nice +600 title odds.
The Cavaliers play some of the best defense in all of college basketball, and they also stroke it from long range as well as anyone.
Guy (46% from outside) is a huge reason why, and he’s displayed the ability to take over games in the past. Virginia’s best perimeter asset will probably need to get/stay hot for the Cavaliers to make a deep title run, but if they do, he makes the most sense as their Most Outstanding Player candidate.
Bettors also shouldn’t forget about NBA hopeful De’Andre Hunter.
He’s a better pro prospect than Guy and makes a huge impact at both ends of the floor. I’d rank them evenly due to their impact, but if you think Virginia will be the last team standing, splitting your March Madness MVP betting between these two guys could be wise.
Coby White, G, North Carolina Tar Heels
Much like Duke, the Tar Heels hail from the ultra-competitive ACC and will have a slew of viable contenders for the 2019 Most Outstanding Player during March Madness. They probably need to actually win the title, but given their strong +800 NCAA tourney title odds, that’s a possibility.
You can absolutely also talk up Cameron Johnson and even big man Luke Maye, but the Tar Heels player I’d vote for here is White.
The combo guard is an explosive scorer (16 points per game) and has next-level ability. We often see potential first-round draft picks elevate their game (and team) in clutch moments, and that could be what we see from White during March Madness.
Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans are one of the most balanced teams in the country, so it really wouldn’t be that shocking if Tom Izzo’s crew made a title run. Vegas doesn’t hate Michigan State (+1200 title odds), and they have the outside shooting (18th in the nation) and defense to get the job done.
I certainly feel like the Spartans could win it all, but that probably won’t happen without their best player having a great tournament. Winston is by far Michigan State’s top scorer (18.8 points per game) and also sets their offense up (7 assists per game).
Michigan State is unlikely to go very far if Winston doesn’t come up big. If he does, they could be a March Madness sleeper, and it could very well earn him tournament MVP honors.
Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky Wildcats
John Calipari’s Wildcats are notorious for coasting during the regular season and learning from mistakes before going on wild NCAA tourney runs. That comes from the maturation of their star prospects, and one such prospect — Keldon Johnson — could be the biggest piece to a championship puzzle.
Nobody in Kentucky has blown up statistically for the Wildcats yet. It’s a balanced attack that knows how to score and can defend at a high level. Regardless, someone would have to get the nod if Kentucky won it all, and to me, that’d be Johnson, who is arguably this team’s most talented player.
That being said, if you believe the Wildcats can go the distance, P.J. Washington, Tyler Herro, and perhaps even Ashton Hagans could be fun wagers.
Admiral Schofield, G, Tennessee Volunteers
The Volunteers are floating under the radar to a certain degree, but they seem plenty capable of making a run to the Final Four (9th-best offense in the nation) and have a lot of quality shooters.
Their best offensive asset may be Schofield, who was great in the SEC conference tournament and may need to be big again during March Madness. Schofield is one of Tennessee’s most reliable scorers, while he also connects from the outside at a 41% clip.
If Schofield steps up his game and can get Tennessee to the title game, he’d be a fun sleeper for the 2019 NCAA tourney MVP.
Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue Boilermakers
This is where I start going away from the teams most likely to make a run for a title and start thinking about some of the best March Madness players that could just go off.
Picking the 2019 March Madness Most Outstanding Player surely comes down to figuring out who the champion is, but if the voters consider other teams that go far because of one player, people like Carsen Edwards could be in the discussion.
I don’t know how far Purdue will go in this year’s tournament, but they do have respectable +2500 championship odds, and Edwards (22.9 points per game) is one of the best pure scorers in the nation.
Markus Howard, G, Marquette Golden Eagles
Edwards has a better shot at lifting Purdue to a title than Howard does with Marquette (+5000 March Madness title odds), but I still like this as a flier bet.
Howard finished the regular season as the fifth-best scorer in all of college basketball, putting up 25 points per contest. His Golden Eagles hit a serious wall down the stretch (lost five of their last six), so if they go anywhere, it’ll likely because he plays out of his mind.
Howard is capable of doing just that, seeing as he had a game earlier this year where he scored 53 points. Even if Marquette can’t get to the title game, Howard putting up 1-2 efforts like that could get him the nod.
Ja Morant, G, Murray State Racers
There is also Ja Morant, who is presently projected to be the #2 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He has also been a huge component for Murray State’s offense, which ranks inside the top ten but may not get far without their star point guard.
Morant’s team (+25000) isn’t a good bet to go deep into March Madness this year, but if they have a shot, it’s due to this guy, who averages 24 points and an incredible 10 assists per game.
Morant has proven he has the talent to carry this team. If the Racers can stay hot and run into the right situations, it’s not crazy to think Morant leaves a lasting impression to give him a shot at winning this year’s March Madness MVP award.
Who Will Win 2019 Most Outstanding Player?
How I bet on this year’s March Madness MVP will understandably be impacted by actual NCAA tourney MVP odds when they eventually come out. The top March Madness betting sites generally wait a bit to release those odds, seeing as the winner isn’t going to come from teams eliminated in the first 2-3 rounds.
Still, it’s good to get an early look at who you like and then begin formulating some type of betting strategy based on the best options remaining and the odds provided.
Ultimately, I think Duke is winning the national title this year, so my pick is coming from the Blue Devils. While Tre Jones, Cameron Reddish, and of course R.J. Barrett are all solid options that will offer more value, Zion Williamson is the call.
Williamson just won’t be denied, and he impacts the game at every level. His shot-blocking, interior scoring, dunks, and perimeter shooting combine to make a truly unstoppable presence.
I can’t see Duke getting stopped prior to the Final Four, so even if they don’t win the title, I still think Zion Williamson has a fantastic tourney and wins this award.
As things change, we can calibrate and reassess things. For now, Williamson should open as the favorite to win the 2019 March Madness MVP, and he’s my pick to do so.
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