College basketball hit the halfway point of its regular season this week, meaning there are still lots of games to go—not to mention tournament play, as teams bid to reach March Madness and ultimately the Final Four. But if sportsbook odds are any indication, the national Player of the Year race has already become a foregone conclusion.

2023-24 Wooden Awards Odds

Odds to win the POY Award
Player Odds
Zach Edey (Purdue) -300
Hunter Dickinson (Kansas) +1000
Kyle Filipowski (Duke) +2000
R.J. Davis (UNC) +2000
Kevin McCullar (Kansas) +2000
Tristen Newton (UConn) +2500
Tyson Walker (Michigan St.) +2800
Armando Bacot (UNC) +3000
Caleb Love (Arizona) +3000
Tyler Kolek (Marquette) +3500

Purdue center Zach Edey, bidding to become the first back-to-back recipient of the John R. Wooden Award since Ralph Sampson in the early 1980s, is now such a favorite that he’s become a negative moneyline play at most sportsbooks. Odds of Edey repeating as Wooden Award winner are now around -300, which means a sports bettor would have to wager $300 to earn $100 in winnings should Edey claim the honor for a second consecutive year.

Edey, who entered this week averaging 22.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, has gradually tightened his grip on the Player of the Year award as the season has gone on. The Purdue big man opened at odds of around +155. After leading the Boilermakers to the title in the toughest Maui Invitational field ever, those odds moved to +130. Now they’re in negative territory, well ahead of those of No. 2 odds choice Hunter Dickinson of Kansas, who can be found at +600 to +1000, depending on the sportsbook.

Even though the top-ranked Boilermakers suffered their second loss of the season Tuesday night at Nebraska, Edey has scored in double-figures every game this season and has posted nine double-doubles, tied for sixth nationally. He ranks eighth nationally in scoring, 11th nationally in rebounding, and 15th nationally in field goal percentage. While he was held to just two points in the first half against the Cornhuskers, he hasn’t really had a bad game.

And the winning has certainly helped Edey cement himself as Player of the Year odds frontrunner. Now, could that change? Purdue has tough road games at Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio State coming up in the back half of its Big 10 schedule. It would likely take some upset losses, and some of those opponents shutting Edey down—which to this point, hasn’t really happened—for the likes of Dickinson or Duke center Kyle Filipowski to close what’s currently a sizable gap.

The Favorite: Zach Edey, Purdue

Edey has played at a consistently high level against a schedule that to this point ranks as the second-toughest in the nation, according to the analytical site KenPom.com. But conference play is a different animal—opponents are more familiar, and games are more physical—and that contrast has perhaps been evident in Edey, who had totaled 10 points and 15 boards, and then 15 points and seven boards in back-to-back Big 10 games through Tuesday. 

Those are very good numbers, to be certain, but not quite the 28 and 15 he was putting up with regularity back in November and December. The conference grind takes a toll on everybody, and Edey’s hold on Player of the Year frontrunner odds may hinge on whether he can maintain a form that produced double-doubles in 11 of his final 14 games last season.

The Challenger

Who might challenge Edey in becoming this year’s college basketball player of the year?

Hunter Dickinson, Kansas

Kansas has one of the worst cover rates of any team in the Top 25, continuing to win games that are closer than they should be. But that’s not the fault of Dickinson, a Michigan transfer who’s thrived in Bill Self’s offense, where he’s surrounded by great supportive players who can take the pressure off the big man in the middle. Dickinson hit for 30 points and 11 boards in a close win last weekend over TCU, emblematic of the type of contribution he’s making night in and night out.

Dickinson entered the week with averages of 19.4 points and 12.4 rebounds, and double-doubles in seven of his last nine games. He plays well in transition, shoots well from the outside, and can be unstoppable when he gets the ball down low. Dickinson plays in a deeper league than Edeydoes, and has more marquee games against ranked opponents still ahead of him. It will take more 30/11 nights against the likes of Baylor and Houston to make this Player of the Year race more interesting than it is now.

The Dark Horse

If you’re looking at making a big splash on the oddsboard, maybe consider this UConn Guard.

Armando Bacot, North Carolina

Guard R.J. Davis may lead North Carolina in scoring, but it’s big man Bacot who makes the Tar Heels go. The 6-11, 240-pound Bacot has proven an impossible matchup in the ACC, where he’s able to overpower interior defenders and get high-quality shots. In his previous two games entering the week, Bacot had not only notched double-doubles, but also shot 50 percent or better from the field. His averages—14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds—don’t accurately speak to how valuable he is.

But for Bacot to truly wedge his way into the Player of the Year conversation, he’s going to need more of the 25-point games he’s had just once so far this season. With Davis hitting for 20.6 per game, there’s not really the need for that yet in a weak ACC. But this is a thin Tar Heels roster, and UNC is winning largely behind a two-man game. The idea that Bacot could catch fire like he did at the end of the 2021-22 campaign—when his eight straight double-doubles led the Tar Heels to the national title game—isn’t out of the question.

Last 10 Best College Basketball Players Of The Year

Last 10 NCAA Naismith & wooden POY Award Winners
Year Player School
2022 Oscar Tshiebwe Kentucky
2021 Luka Garza Iowa
2020 Obi Toppin Dayton
2019 Zion Williamson Duke
2018 Jalen Brunson Villanova
2017 Frank Mason III Kansas
2016 Buddy Hield Oklahoma
2015 Frank Kaminsky Wisconsin
2014 Doug McDermott Creighton
2013 Trey Burke Michigan

 

Jalen Brunson, the player of the year from 2018, is having a standout year for the Knicks. In his first season with the Knickerbockers after signing on as a free agent, the former Villanova Wildcat is averaging 23.9 points, 6.2 assists and 3.6 rebounds and has pushed the Knicks into a playoff spot. The Knicks! 

If Brunson’s impact continues, New York could see the playoffs for just the second time in the last 10 seasons. 


How To Read Naismith And Wooden Player Of The Year Odds

If this is your first time betting on NCAA College Basketball Player of the Year odds and you aren’t sure about the difference between the Wooden Award and the Naismith Award, don’t sweat it.

They’re essentially the same individual award but the voting structures are slightly different. The Wooden Award is determined before the NCAA March Madness tournament and voted on by over 1,000 sportswriters across the country, while the Naismith Award is finalized by a board of selectors along with fan voting and is announced in April.


Understanding College Basketball Player Of The Year Odds

At your college basketball sportsbook of choice, you’ll see prop odds to win College Player of the Year listed like so:

Zach Edey -150

Jalen Wilson +500

Brandon Miller +600

When there is no clear favorite due to the lack of a minus sign (-), the player with the lowest odds is the fave. In this case, though, there is a minus-money favorite in Edey. The others are considered underdogs.

If you’re loving Edey at -150 and you bet $100 on him, you’d get a payout of $166.67 – your original money is returned coupled with your winnings of $66.67. To see what you’d win based on the odds and the amount you bet, check out our odds calculator.



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