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Top Contenders and Sleepers for the March Madness Most Outstanding Player in 2021

| March 19, 2021 4:57 am PDT

Before you engage in any March Madness MOP betting, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First and foremost, you need to target a player on a team that you believe will be cutting the nets down on April 5th.

The last time the March Madness Most Outstanding Player went to a guy who wasn’t on the championship-winning team was Akeem Olajuwon in 1983. Secondly, you probably want to target a guard.

“The Dream” is one of many big men who have captured the NCAA Tournament’s MOP award dating back to its inauguration in 1939, but the last time a big was honored was Anthony Davis in 2012. It’s been nothing but perimeter players since.

With that in mind, let’s dive into some of the March Madness MOP contenders and sleepers in 2021.

I’ll begin with some of the higher-profile candidates.

Corey Kispert (+475)

  • Team: Gonzaga
  • Position: SF/SG

It’s no secret that the Zags are the heavy favorites to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Perhaps the hardest thing is deciding which one of Mark Few’s All-Americans to pinpoint at the tourney’s MOP.

Drew Timme (+575) and Jalen Suggs (+1300) are worthy of consideration, but Corey Kispert is “that dude.” There’s just so much to like.

Kispert’s a 6’7” 220-pound wing who shoots light-out from everywhere on the floor. You’ll never hear Mark Few speak more glowingly of another Gonzaga player.

““He’s the epitome of a college athlete. He’s a poster child for the term student-athlete, great student, great ambassador for the program, our school and college athletics in general. It’s all because of the work, the time he’s put in, and his growth physically and mentally. He’s just an unbelievable guy.”

For a kid who arrived in Spokane four years ago as a modest rotational piece, Corey’s steady progression has been quite a sight to see. He’s now on the verge of becoming a top-10 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Corey Kispert’s Evolution at Gonzaga
Season Points Rebounds FG % 3P% FT %
2017-18 6.7 3.2 46.0 35.1 66.7
2018-19 8.0 4.1 43.7 37.4 87.5
2019-20 13.9 4.0 47.4 43.8 81.0
2020-21 19.2 4.9 54.4 44.4 89.8

Corey’s goal is to win an NCAA title, although securing the MOP award to go with it would be a nice cherry on top.

Ayo Dosunmu (+400)

  • Team: Illinois
  • Position: PG/SG

When it comes to March Madness MOP odds in 2021, the top dog doesn’t play for Mark Few. The man leading the way is Illinois junior sensation, Ayo Dosunmu.

  • 7 ppg
  • 3 rpg
  • 3 apg

The First-Team All-American propelled the Fighting Illini to a Big Ten Tournament title and the #1 seed in the Midwest. He’ll likely be a lottery pick in June, but the last thing Ayo’s doing is resting on any laurels.

At 6’5” with range and incredible slashing abilities, Dosunmu is going to wreak havoc as Illinois aims to rip through their region. Brad Underwood’s crew is next in line behind Gonzaga as the team most likely to win it all, placing tons of merit into backing Ayo to win the 2021 MOP.

It’s a great way to double down on Illinois being the last team standing. Here’s another.

Kofi Cockburn (+1900)

  • Team: Illinois
  • Position: C

The odds for March Madness MOP portray Kofi Cockburn being on the cusp of being deemed a sleeper. Assessing what the 285-pound seven-foot sophomore brings to the table in Champaign, there’s nothing quiet about it.

Kofi blocks shots, he finishes at the rim with authority, and he was incredibly efficient on his way to posting 16 double-doubles.

17.6 points and 9.6 rebounds are impressive per-game averages, but how about the fact that he’s shooting a video-game-like 65.5% from the floor?

Cockburn dominated Luka Garza in an 11-point win last weekend and hung 33 and 13 on the Golden Gophers earlier in the year.

Given the Fighting Illini’s chances of winning the whole thing, a +1900-price tag is too juicy to ignore.

Jared Butler (+800)

  • Team: Baylor
  • Position: PG/SG

Baylor is a substantial favorite to emerge out of the South Region and land in the Final Four. They’re the one team in the country that could potentially match up eye-to-eye with Gonzaga.

Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague are a couple of March Madness MOP sleepers to keep tabs on, but Jared Butler is the glue that holds everything together for Scott Drew. Joining Kispert and Dosunmu as an AP First-Team All-America, Butler’s trajectory in Waco has taken serious flight as a junior. Up to 17.1 points and 4.8 assists, the combo guard from Louisiana is shooting 42.9% from beyond the arc and leads the Big 12 in steals (2.0/game).

Sharing the spotlight with Teague and Mitchell has curbed his numbers to a degree, but his growing impact on the defensive end of the floor has not been lost on his head coach.

“Offensively he’s always been talented, but his level of defensive intensity and communication have gone to another level.”

Evan Mobley (+6300)

  • Team: USC
  • Position: C

USC has a tough road ahead if they’re going to be crowned as National champs, but one thing is certain. Should the Trojans find a way to get bring a title back to Tinseltown, Evan Mobley is going to win the Most Outstanding Player award.

The 7’0” freshman does it all for Southern Cal. He commands the paint on both ends of the floor and can score from inside and out. His ball-handling skills and intuition are extraordinary for a 19-year-old at that size, hence, he’s a lock to be a top-3 pick whenever he bolts for the league (likely this summer).

The elephant in the room comes back to the Trojans realistic likelihood of winning the title. Scraping their way out the opening round is no guarantee, and then the likes of Kansas and Iowa could be waiting before an eventual Elite 8 meeting with the Zags.

An uphill battle no doubt, but that is why the best March Madness betting sites are letting us in at +6300.

Herbert Jones (+2600)

  • Team: Alabama
  • Position: SF

This senior is firmly established as one of the players that can boost their NBA Draft stock during 2021 March Madness.

Michigan is hurting and Alabama is rising – don’t be surprised if the Crimson Tide represent the East Region in the Final Four. And before you brush Herbert Jones aside because he’s not among Bama’s top-3 scorers, be aware of what he means to this squad.

His 11.2 ppg may rank 4th on the team, but he leads all Alabama players in rebounds (6.5), assists (3.4), steals (1.8) and blocks (1.1). The 6’8” lefty stuffs the stat sheet on a nightly basis and sports a 39.2% clip from outside. And he can throw down thunderous jams with the best of them.

I’m a huge fan of Nate Oats and his attention to detail – I love the way he uses analytics to game plan toward three-pointers and lay-ups. We can peg the Tide are a genuine National Championship contender.

Betting on the March Madness MOP in 2021

Being that USC is one of my five Final Four sleepers, I felt obligated to back Evan Mobley at +6300. Herbert Jones is another dark-horse pick to seriously consider.

As far as the March Madness MOP betting favorites go, I didn’t forget that Luka Garza (+1850) is the odds-on favorite to win the 2012 Wooden Award. Frankly, I just don’t like Iowa’s chances at getting out of a loaded West region.

As covered in the intro, without a trip to the Final Four and most likely a tournament title, you’re probably not going home with an extra piece of hardware.

When in doubt, target Corey Kispert, Drew Timme, or Jalen Suggs if you’re betting on the March Madness MOP. Gonzaga appears to be significantly better than any other team in America.

For more March Madness predictions, check out Jerry Summer’s Final Four projections and Noah Davis’ first round upset picks. My best bets for the opening round are listed below as well.

Michael Wynn

As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.

Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.

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