Naismith Finalist Odds Still Favor Dayton’s Obi Toppin to Win Award at +150; Luka Garza +200

Obi Toppin
Obi Toppin remains the favorite to take home the Naismith award. Photo from @Whit24736866 (Twitter)
  • The five finalists have been chosen for the 2020 Naismith Player of the Year award 
  • Dayton’s Obi Toppin is favored to win at +150, while Iowa’s Luka Garza is the second choice at a price of +200
  • Odds for the five finalists and our best bet to win the award can be seen below

The college basketball season abruptly ended last week with the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Thus, none of the five finalists for the Naismith Award, emblematic of the nation’s top player, had a last chance to impress voters.

So, what those players did in the regular season stands as their final resume of the 2019-20 season.

2020 Naismith Player of the Year Odds

Player Odds at BetOnline
Obi Toppin (Dayton) +150
Luka Garza (Iowa) +200
Udoka Azabuike (Kansas) +400
Myles Powell (Seton Hall) +600
Payton Pritchard (Oregon) +700

Odds taken March 18

You can see how the odds have shifted for each player since the pre-coronavirus world we now live in.

Once he was given odds in February, Toppin has remained the clubhouse leader in the Naismith POY odds.

Toppin Tops Field

It is certainly not a surprise that Obi Toppin – ahem – tops the field.

The sophomore forward led the way for Dayton, which finished 29-2 and won its last 20 games. The Flyers also won the Atlantic 10 with an 18-0 record and were ranked third in the final AP poll.

Toppin averaged 20 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots per game while shooting 63% from the field and 39% on 3-pointers. Furthermore, he was third in the nation in true shooting percentage (68.4) and fourth in effective field goal percentage (67.4).

He also turned in an outstanding performance in what turned out to likely be the last game of his college career. Almost certainly bound for the lottery of the NBA Draft, Toppin had 27 points and seven dunks in a 76-51 dismantling of George Washington that capped Dayton’s perfect A-10 run.

Garza 20-Point Machine

Luka Garza did not have quite the same team success with Iowa that Toppin did at Dayton. However, the junior center had a huge season from a statistical standpoint.

Garza finished fifth in the nation in scoring with 23.9 PPG. He also averaged 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while making 54% of his field goal attempts.

One of Garza’s specialties was the 20-point game. He had 16 in a row to finish the season and reached the mark in 22 of his last 24 games.

Iowa went 20-11 and was ranked No. 25 while finishing in fifth place in the Big Ten. It’s hard to imagine the Hawkeyes even being a .500 team without Garza as he took 35.4% of their shots, which ranked 13th in the nation.

Azubuike Rarely Missed

If you are of the school of thought that the best player on the best team should win the Naismith, then Kansas senior center Udoka Azubuike is your man.

The Jayhawks finished the season ranked No. 1 in the nation. They went 28-3 and captured the Big 12 title.

Azubuike was unstoppable when he got the ball in the low post as he topped the nation with a remarked 74.8 field goal percentage. Not surprisingly, his 74.4 effective field goal percentage led Division I and his 68.1 true shooting percentage was fifth.

He also averaged a double-double with 13.7 points and 10.5 rebounds while blocking 2.6 shots a game.

Powell Surprise Finalist

The guard given the best odds of winning the award is Seton Hall’s Myles Powell.

Powell returned for his senior season to try and lead the Pirates to the Final Four. We’ll never know if Seton Hall would have made it to Atlanta, but it did go 21-9, won and share the Big East title and was ranked No. 15.

Powell averaged 21 points per game, down from 23.1 in the 2018-19 season, and shot just 40% from the floor and 30% on threes. One wonders if he would have made this list if he hadn’t play in the New York metropolitan area.

Pritchard Stuffed Stat Sheet

The other guard who is a finalist, Oregon senior Payton Pritchard, had a better all-round season than Powell.

Pritchard was a stat sheet stuffer for the Ducks with averages of 20.0 points, 5.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals a game. He was also an 82.1% free throw shooter.

Furthermore, Pritchard was an ironman for Oregon, which finished 24-7, won the Pac-12 and was ranked 13th, playing 88% of the Ducks’ minutes, which was 50th in the country.

While Toppin is the favorite, the pick here is Garza because of the strength of competition.

The Big Ten had six teams ranked in the final AP poll while Dayton was the only A-10 team to crack the top 25. Furthermore, in the Pomeroy Ratings, 12 of the top 34 teams came from the Big Ten while the Flyers were the lone A-10 team among the top 45.

Simply put, Garza dominated against tougher teams.

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