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NCAA Basketball Rebound; Player of the Year Bets

Cody Zeller

Zeller is the favorite for the player of the year award in college basketball

Quite frankly, I find it hard to believe the college basketball season is already upon us. Seems like just a couple days ago the Michigan was being throttled by Alabama on the opening weekend of the football season but alas, here we are. While there are many storylines to discuss, one of particular interest to me is ‘player of the year.’ With so many players these days showing up for one season before moving on (Kentucky I’m looking at you) it sometimes becomes difficult to really judge just who the top players for this award really may be. Here’s a look, with odds of course, at some of the top candidates and a few long shots for the award.

Cody Zeller, Indiana (4/1) – The Hoosiers are picked number one in the nation for a reason and most of it starts with Zeller. The seven-footer is very athletic and averaged just under 16 points per game last season as a freshman in Bloomington. More mature and more knowledgable, I think the competitive Big Ten will challenge him, but will also make him better. He’s a very good passer for a big man and can knock down the 12-footer pretty consistently as well. Zeller is listed as the top guy for a reason.

Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA (11/2) – The 6’6″ 225lb guard-forward is already expected to provide UCLA with a Pac-12 championship in his very first and perhaps only season in LA. Besides the fact that his eligibility is still in question due to an on-going NCAA investigation into improper benefits, he is now dealing with a shoulder injury. Head Coach Ben Howland says he expects Muhammad to be cleared any day now but his chances of playing in the opener on the ninth are up in the air. I think Muhammad has an excellent chance to be one of the top players in the nation, but because of the injury and potential NCAA issues I’m keeping my money away from him.

Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State (13/2) – The 6′ 7″ season forward from Fort Wayne, Indiana averaged 15.9 points per game for the Buckeyes last season which more than doubled his average from his freshman season. Thomas knocks down about 33% of his three-point attempts and I believe that number will go higher in 2012-2013. Thomas is a decent rebounder and 79% free throw shooter and will be looked heavily upon by Ohio State this season. He’s a nice pick at 13/2 and I like his size for both inside and outside play.

James Michael McAdoo

McAdoo must improve his field goal percentage in order to earn player of the year honors.

James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina (13/2) – The Tar Heels have high expectations for McAdoo who averaged about 16 minutes last season and averaged six points per game. With his field goal percentage around 43% for his career and his free throw average under 70% I have concerns about how many points the 6’9″ forward can score. Both of those percentages will have to improve. Obviously, he’ll see much more time on the court so the numbers will rise. I’m just not sure how much so I’d be cautious with McAdoo.

Doug McDermott, Creighton (8/1) – The 6’8″ 225lb McDermott returns to the Blue Jays after averaging a shade under 23 points per game last season. The knock on him regardless of how well he plays will be the fact that he doesn’t play in one of the power conferences. I think that type of argument flies more in college football than basketball because great players on the court are great no matter who the opponent. McDermott’s field goal percentage is right at 60% while his three-point percentage is a very impressive 50%. He only shoots about three to four per game but making half is still solid. If players ahead of him struggle throughout the season then his chances for the award imporve greatly. I like taking a flyer on this guy.

Long-shot possibilities

Peyton Siva, Lousiville (25/1)

Trey Burke, Michigan (25/1)

Elijah Johnson, Kansas


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