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As conference play in college basketball starts to pick up, two players from the Big Ten have jumped to the top of the odds board for national player of the year.
And one of those players wasn’t even on the board in early December.
That player is Wisconsin sophomore Johnny Davis, who has tripled his scoring average from last year. As a freshman, Davis averaged 7.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. This year, he is up to 21.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for the Badgers, who are currently 14-2 overall, 5-1 in Big Ten play and up to No. 8 in the rankings.
As a result of this emergence, Davis is currently the betting favorite at BetMGM to win the John R. Wooden Award, which is given annually to college basketball’s most outstanding player.
Davis is listed at +500 at BetMGM. In early December, he wasn’t even available to bet. But he has continued to put up eye-popping numbers for the Badgers. His best outing of the season so far came on the road against No. 3 Purdue on Jan. 3. Davis exploded for 37 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals in a 74-69 win.
At 5-1 in Big Ten play, Wisconsin is tied for second place in the conference standings. The Badgers trail only Illinois, which is 13-3 overall and 6-0 in the Big Ten. The Fighting Illini are led by dominant center Kofi Cockburn, who is just behind Davis on the odds board at BetMGM.
The 7-foot, 285-pound Cockburn, who entered Monday’s action averaging 21.9 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, is listed at +600. Cockburn has posted a double-double in 11 of the 13 games he has played this season, including a 23-point, 18-rebound effort earlier this month against Maryland.
As the Big Ten race continues, both Davis and Cockburn will have plenty of chances to emerge from the rest of the pack.
Who are the other player of the year favorites?
Behind Davis and Cockburn, Gonzaga big man Drew Timme and Duke freshman Paolo Banchero are next at BetMGM at +800.
Timme, who starred in Gonzaga’s run to the national final last season, is averaging 18.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for the nation’s No. 1 team. Banchero, the No. 2 player in the class of 2021 according to Rivals.com, is averaging 17.9 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Blue Devils, who are currently No. 6 in the polls.
Further down the list are Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji at +900, Kentucky big man Oscar Tshiebwe at +1000, Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell and Arizona’s Bennedict Mathuurin at +1200 apiece and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis and Iowa’s Keegan Murray both at +1400.
Agbaji, a senior guard, is averaging 20.6 points per game while shooting a sizzling 47.7% from deep. Tshiebwe, a West Virginia transfer, has been a monster on the glass and a double-double machine. He leads the nation in rebounding, averaging 14.9 boards per game. That includes four games with at least 20 rebounds.
Johnny Davis: +500
Kofi Cockburn: +600
Drew Timme: +800
Paolo Banchero: +800
Ochai Agbaji: +900
Oscar Tshiebwe: +1000
E.J. Liddell: +1200
Bennedict Mathurin: +1200
Trayce Jackson-Davis: +1400
Keegan Murray: +1400
Jabari Smith: +2000
Jaden Ivey: +2500
Collin Gillespie: +3000
Johnny Juzang: +4000
Trevion Williams: +5000
Zach Edey: +5000
Wendell Moore Jr.: +5000
Hunter Dickinson: +6600
Jaden Shackelford: +6600
Alondes Williams: +6600
Chet Holmgren: +8000
Tari Eason: +8000