Myles Powell New AP Player of the Year Favorite, But Eight Players at +900 or Shorter

Myles Powell playing for Seton Hall
A contested AP Player of the Year race is led by Seton Hall's Myles Powell, but there are several players worth considering. Photo via @ChrisSHUhoops (Twitter).
  • A heavily contested AP Player of the Year race features nine players with odds between +400 and +900
  • KenPom looks most-favorably upon Iowa’s Luka Garza
  • Follow below for analysis and betting advice

March, and the “Madness” that comes with it, is now only a few weeks away. But with how many times the NCAA basketball rankings have been re-shuffled — due to a boatload of upsets — it feels like spring has come early.

The parity is real in college hoops this year. The same might be said for the race to win one of the top individual awards in the sport, the AP Player of the Year. Seton Hall’s Myles Powell leads the way with the shortest odds, but there are many others hot on his trail.

Here’s a look at the odds.

2019-20 AP Player of the Year Odds

Player Odds at BetOnline
Myles Powell (Seton Hall) +400
Luka Garza (Iowa) +550
Cassius Winston (Michigan St) +600
Markus Howard (Marquette) +700
Obi Toppin (Dayton) +700
Payton Pritchard (Oregon) +700
Jordan Nwora (Louisville) +800
Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke) +800
Malachi Flynn (San Diego State) +900
Filip Petrusev (Gonzaga) +1600

Odds taken Feb. 4

A lot of talented names feature in that table. Numbers alone don’t tell the whole story here, so let’s dive in.

Peering Back At Past Winners

Zion Williamson won the AP Player of the Year in a landslide last year, collecting 59 of a possible 64 votes on his way to winning. That type of dominance doesn’t figure to repeat itself this year.

While each AP Player of the Year race is different, what’s something recent winners shared? Among the past 10 winners, all but one (Kentucky’s Anthony Davis) averaged more than 18 points per game.

Of the 10 players listed above, seven are averaging at least 18 points per game. The ones who are not are: Vernon Carey Jr. (17.8 PPG), Malachi Flynn (16.5 PPG), and Filip Petrusev (17.0 PPG).

Does Winning Matter?

Yes, winners of the AP Player of the year are typically on quality teams, but doesn’t that make sense, in a sport where one individual can take over in certain stretches of the game?

Here’s the thing, though: winning the national championship doesn’t score you any additional points for this award. Only two of the past 10 winners won the national championship (Villanova’s Jalen Brunson in 2018 and Kentucky’s Davis in 2012).

Take Markus Howard, for example. He’s the NCAA’s leading scoring (27.9 PPG) and plays on a quality Marquette team that’s 16-6. But they’re unranked and are not considered a title threat in the 2020 NCAA Men’s Tournament odds. If they miss the tourney entirely, history tells us Howard won’t win AP Player of the Year.

But whether they can/do win a title doesn’t factor in as the award is voted on and announced prior to the Final Four.

Decision Time

It’s too arduous to pore over each competitor’s stats and try to guess the winner based on that. Like the March Madness tournament, this award can be a toss-up in many ways.

KenPom likes Luka Garza the most, according to its current “Player of the Year” standings. But KenPom’s standings haven’t predicted the correct AP Player of the Year winner. Last year’s winner, Williamson, wasn’t even listed in KenPom’s top 10, likely because of games missed to injury.

So, what do you do? Find a player who’s dominant on a good team and carries some value with his odds.

Right now, Iowa’s Garza (+550) looks promising because he’s averaging eight points-per-game more than the next-highest scorer on his team and he leads college basketball in Player Efficiency Rating (PER).

A bit of a dark horse is Dayton’s Obi Toppin (+700), who is ninth in the NCAA in PER and leads the No. 6 Flyers in scoring, blocks, and rebounds.

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