Jalen Suggs needed 3.3 seconds to put Gonzaga 40 minutes away from the first national championship in program history with one of the greatest buzzer beaters in sports history. His heroics, however, weren’t enough to put him atop the odds for Most Outstanding Player in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Suggs averaged 14 points per game during a true freshman season that began with his arrival as the highest-ranked recruit in program history. He scored only six points in the Bulldogs’ win over Norfolk State in the First Round and, even with 18 points and 10 rebounds against USC in the Elite Eight, entered the Final Four with modest numbers not typical of a Most Outstanding Player. And the odds reflected that; Suggs was buried behind teammates Drew Timme and Corey Kispert and players from Baylor.
Suggs is no longer buried but his buzzer-beater to cap a 16-point, six-assist, five-rebound, one-block effort in the overtime win didn’t push him of Timme. And history says if Gonzaga doesn’t beat Baylor on Monday, neither Suggs nor Timme (or any other Bulldog) will win Most Outstanding Player. Each of the last 35 winners has been on the championship team.
Updated Most Outstanding Player Odds:
Once a favorite, Corey Kispert has fallen into a tie for the sixth-best odds. The All-American played all but one minute in Saturday’s win but had another poor shooting night, hitting two of eight three-point attempts, and is now 5-for-18 from deep in his last two games.
After scoring five points in Baylor’s win over Villanova in the Sweet 16, MaCio Teague had 14 total points on 5-for-17 shooting in their last two games. Twenty-two points in the Arkansas win put him back on the map but barring a performance similar to his 35-point, zero turnover effort against Texas Tech in the regular-season finale, Teague will struggle to earn serious consideration.
“Joel [Ayayi] is always in the right spot,” Suggs told Sports Illustrated last week of Gonzaga’s junior guard.
Ayayi was in the right spot a lot on Saturday, scoring Gonzaga’s first seven points en route to 16 first-half points and a career-high 22 points for the game.
A Third-Team All-American and one of the best end-to-end players in the country, Jared Butler struggled in Baylor’s win over Villanova but had a tournament-high 17 points (on 4-for-5 shooting from deep) against Houston.
As a prominent name with loads of accolades, the Bears’ junior guard carries decent value at +800 into the program’s first national championship appearance since 1948.
Davion Mitchell swept the conference and national defensive player of the year awards but isn’t a defensive specialist. He scored in double figures in 23 of 29 games, including 11 straight games entering Monday. Mitchell’s offensive tournament numbers aren’t eye-popping but he has more steals (11) than turnovers (nine) in 203 tournament minutes.
The last player to hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in the Final Four, Kris Jenkins, didn’t win Most Outstanding Player; Ryan Arcidiacono won the award for Villanova in 2016. If Suggs does it again on Monday, he’ll win. Even if he doesn’t, he’s now the biggest name in college basketball and might have enough star power to catch Drew Timme.
The only remaining player who’s averaging more than 17 points per game in the tournament, Timme (22 points per game) is shooting 64 percent from the field in five games and has scored at least 22 points in each of their last four games. Suggs is atop the world but Timme has been the tournament’s best player by a wide margin.
Listen to High Motor by BetMGM for more news and analysis on college basketball, college football, and the NFL:
Place Sports Wagers at BetMGM
At BetMGM, you can bet on college basketball, the NBA, the NFL, and dozens of other sports. With live betting, parlays, promotions, and teasers, the best online sports betting experience is at BetMGM.
Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else. He has written for Sports Illustrated, HERO Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @DoughtyBetMGM