College Basketball 2021-22 Wooden Award Watch: Hottest New Target & 3 Current Picks
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images. Pictured: E.J. Liddell & Johnny Davis (Ohio State & Wisconsin)
With the college football season now a distant memory, college basketball enters the spotlight.
At the epicenter of the college hoops world is the Wooden Award, and the race for the sport’s most prestigious accolade is heating up.
In this edition of our Wooden Award Watch, we will analyze the favorites, up and comers and I will give my top three bets based on the current market.
All odds via DraftKings
|Drew Timme (Gonzaga)||+900|
|Paolo Banchero (Duke)||+900|
|E.J. Liddell (Ohio State)||+1200|
Timme is the current consensus favorite for the award, and deservedly so. He averages almost 17 points and six boards per game while shooting 61% from the field. Also helping his case is the fact that the Bulldogs have remained a top-ranked team because of his consistent production.
Meanwhile, Banchero — the fabulous freshman — has shown why he was a top recruit in the nation. He uses his elite size and skill to produce in every facet for the Blue Devils.
His talent is undeniable, and the future top-three pick can take home this award as he leads Coach K’s retirement tour.
Finally, Liddell has been a man amongst boys this season for the Buckeyes. His production has been elite, as he averages over 20 points and seven rebounds per game.
Liddell is what makes the Buckeyes go, as he has an astonishingly high 33% usage rate. If his production continues, it will be a surprise to no one if he takes home the award.
The New Hotness
|Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)||+750|
Yes, this man is deserving of his own section as his rise has been meteoric.
Davis has taken a slow, methodical Wisconsin team and turned them into must-see television.
He is fourth in the country in scoring and has made the Badgers a staple in the top-25 rankings.
His hype is well deserved, and if he can keep this up, his spot amongst the country’s elite will be deserved, as well.
|Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)||+4000|
|Keegan Murray (Iowa)||+2000|
The No. 1 overall recruit — Holmgren — was dubbed as “the Unicorn,” as his size, skill and athleticism are truly unique.
Holmgren has begun to adjust to the collegiate game and is now a constant double-double threat with an imposing defensive presence. We know Gonzaga will garner national attention, and it will only be a matter of time before the Holmgren hype reignites.
Meanwhile, it would be a disservice not to mention the nation’s leading scorer.
Murray has been a scoring machine. His 59.5 field goal percentage is highly impressive when considering how he has expanded his range to behind the arc — where he shoots over 36%.
The Hawkeyes will remain a tough out for any opponent, and if Iowa can go on a run, Murray can certainly win the award.
Best of the Rest
|Ochai Agbaji (Kansas)||+900|
|Jaden Ivey (Purdue)||+2000|
|Kofi Cockburn (Ilinois)||+900|
Agbaji has taken a tremendous leap this season, as he has proven to be one of the best pure scorers in the country. He is the middle man of Bill Self’s offensive juggernaut, and if he can take his scoring up another notch, both the senior and the Jayhawks will go a long way.
Flipping over to Purdue, early on this season, the Boilermakers’ hype was very real. However, after a few upset losses, the market has cooled on both Ivey and his team.
Though Ivey is the real deal, he will have the opportunity to prove himself against the gauntlet that is the Big Ten Conference.
He may not be the best bet right now, but if Purdue can win against Illinois, he will start to re-enter the conversation.
Finally, the modern-day Shaq has officially announced himself as the most dominant player in college basketball. Cockburn averages 22 points and 12.5 rebounds per game for the Fighting Illini. He brings the “paign” and is my favorite pick to take home the Wooden Award.
Picks as of Today: Cockburn | Murray | Liddell
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