Heading into 2022, BetMGM is giving Gonzaga’s Drew Timme (+500), Duke’s Paolo Banchero (+600) and Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell the shortest odds to win the John R. Wooden Award, the highest individual honor in college basketball. The odds for this award have shifted all over the place, as impactful transfers have shifted the collegiate landscape and teams are beginning to show their true colors. With that being said, here are my favorite Wooden Award bets, including a frontrunner, value and sleeper.
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When Cockburn decided to return to Illinois, everyone knew he was in store for a huge year. He’s currently putting up 21.8 points and 12.1 rebounds per game, which ranks 5th and 3rd, respectively, among all Division-I players. The Fighting Illini are 9-3 at the moment and Cockburn has seven double-doubles in nine starts this year. Illinois is currently battling COVID-19 issues like so many teams are, but Cockburn is the most dominant low-post big man in the country. Expect the 7-footer to continue to dominate through Big Ten play and at +1600, there’s some solid value in backing him at the moment.
Holmgren has surprisingly not been very consistent to start the year, but has a ton of upside as someone who entered the year as a frontrunner to win this award as the nation’s top recruit. Not only will he pad his stats in conference play, but he’s been a beast on the defensive end of the floor. In 12 starts, he recorded seven games with four or more blocks, which speaks to his elite timing skills as a freshman. If his season averages eclipse something like 16 points, 10 rebounds and 4.0 blocks and Gonzaga remains a Top 10 team, it will be hard to keep Holmgren out of the conversation, especially given the fact that everyone’s already aware of his talent.
The 6’8, 215-pound guard has led the Red Storm to an 8-3 start, is his team’s go-to scorer and rose the occasion individually against his two best opponents: Indiana and Kansas. He dropped 32 points on 12-22 shooting with seven rebounds in a 76-74 loss to the Hoosiers back on November 17 and then 24 points on 7-13 shooting with eight rebounds in his team’s loss to the Jayhawks. He’s converted an elite 43.3% of his three-point shots and if he continues to perform at this level against Big East opponents in conference play, he will start to get noticed more and more.
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