Longshot Emerges As Target of Sharp Bettors In Wooden Award Market

SI Gambling insider Frankie Taddeo breaks down the college basketball futures market for the Wooden Award winner

As the regular season begins to wind down on the NCAA hardwood, we are quickly approaching the awarding of one of the most prestigious individual accolades of the NCAA basketball season in the John R. Wooden Award. The winner of the 2021 John R. Wooden Award will be presented following the NCAA Tournament in April. Since early December, the betting odds offered by sportsbooks have remained with one prominent name at the top of the betting board. Still, the question is there value in fading the overwhelming favorite?

Iowa's senior big man Luka Garza has been the Wooden futures betting market's clear chalk for months now, despite struggles last month by the Hawkeyes. They refused to adjust their exorbitant number on the nation's best forward. The talented front-line stalwart remains at odds of -2000, clearly distanced in front of the field at DraftKings Sportsbook. Slotting in behind Garza are three players tied at odds of +900: Baylor's star point guard Jared Butler and Gonzaga's talented frontcourt tandem of Corey Kispert and Drew Timme.

However, the question has become: Is there a player who offers significant double-digit value that is being overlooked? SI's Pat Forde recently highlighted one player's name on the list has arrived at his moment to shine.

Editors note: SI learned early Thursday that Ayo Dosunmu will miss tonight’s game versus Nebraska after suffering a broken nose on Tuesday against Michigan State.

Senior - Center - Luka Garza, Iowa Hawkeyes

DraftKings Betting odds: -2000

Frankie Whispers Wooden Award Odds Breakdown: Garza leads the nation in scoring at 24.7 points per game and just this past weekend became Iowa's all-time leading scorer in the school's history in their 74-68 win over Penn State. The elite forward filled up the stat sheet again, pouring in 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

The Hawkeyes have rebounded from a slump last month that saw them lose to Indiana (twice), Illinois, and Ohio State - with four straight wins, highlighted by a 77-62 road win over Wisconsin two weeks ago. Garza is a big reason as he averaged 26.5 points per game and 9.5 rebounds in the school's most recent wins over Wisconsin and Penn State.

Those kinds of numbers are restraining oddsmakers from making any changes in the betting odds. The question is there value in fading a -2000 favorite with only a few weeks left to go?

Final Betting Whisper: Clear favorite but a fade at prohibitive odds of -2000

Junior- Point Guard - Jared Butler, Baylor

DraftKings Betting odds: +900

Frankie Whispers Wooden Award Odds Breakdown: Butler is a fade for me, and it's unfortunate. The reason isn't talent but more to do with his inability to pad his stats because Baylor has only played once since Feb. 2 due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Since those games will never be made up, Butler will be immensely behind the others when it comes down to comparing the final numbers among all of these elite players on this list.

Although he is on the list for the Bob Cousy Award--awarded to the nation's top point guard--Butler is only averaging 17 points, 5.2 assists, and 3.3 rebounds, and I do not see a way that will be enough to earn the award against the others here on this list. 

Final Betting Whisper: Hindered by loss of games due to COVID-19 shutdown

Senior - Forward - Corey Kispert, Gonzaga

DraftKings Betting odds: +900

Frankie Whispers Wooden Award Odds Breakdown: Kispert is easily one of the best shooters in the nation. A rare talent with great size, he plays on arguably the best team in the country in the undefeated No. 1 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs. Kispert is averaging 19 points per game and 4.8 rebounds. His biggest checkmark comes in his accuracy percentages of 56% from the field and 46% from beyond the arc.

Kispert and Timme (who we highlight below) are a lethal duo on the Bulldogs' frontline. However, since they play so well as a pair, this will likely make it very difficult for Wooden voters to choose between the two - virtually canceling out each other's chances of winning. 

Final Betting Whisper: Cancelled out by his own stellar teammates

Sophomore - Forward - Drew Timme, Gonzaga

DraftKings Betting odds: +900

Frankie Whispers Wooden Award Odds Breakdown: The skilled big man will certainly be on the radar of NBA scouts because of his ability to step away from the rim and knock down shots from deep. Timme has posted 19.1 points per game on 64.9 % from the field. Even more impressive is that he leads this dominant team in scoring and rebounding (7.1 rebounds per game). Once again, Gonzaga has the aforementioned Kispert and outstanding freshman Jalen Suggs in their starting five. Nevertheless, with so much talent on the Bulldogs, it will be difficult for voters to decipher which of the amazing trio is the best in Spokane - let alone to be recognized as the best in the country over this field.

Final Betting Whisper: See above

Junior - Point Guard - Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

DraftKings Betting odds: +1500

Frankie Whispers Wooden Award Odds Breakdown: This week, the "whispers" emerged that sharp money was targeting Illinois outstanding point guard Ayo Dosunmu in Wooden markets. We shared with all SI PRO members on Tuesday that Dosunmu was a longshot sharp target. While being offered as low as +500 at some shops, DraftKings Sportsbook still has him listed as the fifth overall betting choice at odds of +1500. Illinois, who has won seven of its last eight games, has catapulted up to No. 5 in the latest AP Top 25 poll and appears likely headed for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A seed on the top line will likely determine whether they can hold off rivals Michigan and Ohio State and take down the Big 10 title.

Dosunmu is the floor general piloting the Fighting Illini train, posting two triple-doubles in recent weeks while also averaging 21.0 points per game, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists on the season.

Final Betting Whisper: At these attractive double-digit odds being offered by DraftKings I am on board.

SI PRO Recommended Betting Play: Ayo Dosunmu at odds of +1500 (0.5 Unit)

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