Wooden Award Betting Odds: Can Anyone In College Basketball Catch Iowa’s Luka Garza?
G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Garza.
When looking at the 2020-21 Wooden Award odds at DraftKings, one thought immediately comes to mind: “How?”
Iowa’s Luka Garza has jumped out to -2000 on the odds board, making him a monster favorite to win the award.
Garza leads the country with 26.4 points — 4.5 more than any other player — and pulls down 8.6 rebounds per game. He's scored at least 20 points in 12 games this season and has eclipsed the 30-point mark six times.
But he's not the only good player in college basketball.
Behind him sits Baylor’s Jared Butler, who's at +350 as the leader for the undefeated Bears. Following Butler is Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu (+1000), Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert (+2000) and Drew Timme (+2000), and Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji (+5000).
Then, there are other intriguing options with longer odds, like Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham (+5000), Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs (+5000), Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis (+10000), and UConn’s JamesBouknight (+10000).
Now, with Garza’s consistency, it’s going to be a challenge for any other player in the country to prove they’re a frontrunner for the Wooden Award.
But if Garza weren't to take the award back to Iowa City for some reason, there are a few players who hold value at their current odds.
I broke down one favorite, one mid-tier player, and one longshot who could make a run for the award if all goes right for them.
Jared Butler, Baylor (+350)
Butler’s +350 odds typically wouldn’t be viewed as very valuable in the Wooden Award race, but considering the frontrunner sits at -2000, it makes +350 look a lot better.
After all, Butler is Garza’s main challenger.
The Louisiana native puts up 16.8 points per game while dishing out 5.4 assists and pulling down 3.4 rebounds.
Despite leading Baylor in scoring, Butler doesn’t necessarily need to score a ton because MaCio Teague (15.0), Davion Mitchell (12.8), and Adam Flagler (10.4) all average double figures.
Four of the Bears’ top-five scorers shoot better than 44% from beyond the arc, allowing Butler to focus on playmaking in addition to his scoring.
But somehow, when the Bears guard scores, he also facilitates.
Butler has dropped at least 20 points on five separate occasions this season, and he’s put up at least five assists in four of those games, including a 30-point, 8-dime outing in a victory over then-No. 9 Kansas.
That’s part of what makes him such a special player, and it’s a big reason why he’d have a chance to upset Garza for the award.
It also helps that Butler plays for one of the two clear-cut top teams in the country.
In each of the past five years, the Wooden Award winner has played on a team that finished in the top 10 in the final AP Poll. Four of those teams ended the season ranked third or better.
Last season, Garza averaged more points, rebounds, and blocks than Dayton's Obi Toppin, yet Toppin took home the Wooden Award after his Flyers finished the shortened season ranked third in the nation.
Butler’s scoring and playmaking — along with the fact he plays on one of the nation’s top teams — gives him a chance.
Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana (+10000)
Jackson-Davis has really rounded into form in his second season with the Hoosiers.
The Indiana big averaged 13.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks last season. This season, those numbers have been upped to 20.1 points and 8.7 boards while remaining steady at 1.8 blocks.
Jackson-Davis’ uptick in production is even more noticeable when realizing he scored at least 20 points only five times last year. This time around, he’s doubled that. And it’s only Feb. 1.
In fact, he’s reached the 20-point mark in seven of his last 10 games, which includes a stretch of three double-doubles.
His Hoosiers even beat Garza’s Hawkeyes on Jan. 21, and while Garza put up 28 points and 12 boards, Jackson-Davis countered with 23 points and seven rebounds of his own.
But that’s Indiana’s best win of the season and its only victory over a ranked team.
Remember how each of the last five players who won the Wooden Award played on a top-10 team — and more often than not played on a top-three team?
That’s not Jackson-Davis.
The Hoosiers have shown flashes at times, but their season-long resume says they’re an average team in the country’s best conference. Indiana boasts a 9-7 record with a 4-5 mark in conference play.
Luckily for the big man, the Indiana program boasts plenty of historical relevance. That can only be a positive in this situation.
Jackson-Davis was named to the Wooden Award’s 25-man midseason watchlist, but so were fellow Big Ten players Garza, Kofi Cockburn, Ayo Dosunmu, Marcus Carr, and Ron Harper Jr.
Of course, it’s incredibly risky to take a player in the mid-tier range. But if you had to take one and are looking for straight value, Jackson-Davis wouldn’t be a bad pick.
Austin Reaves, Oklahoma (+30000)
The reason I included Reaves as the longshot on this list is because Oklahoma certainly has a team that can make a run in March.
The Sooners have won five in a row, with their last three coming against then-No. 9 Kansas, then-No. 5 Texas, and then-No. 9 Alabama. That’s not something to bat an eye at.
Reeves didn’t play against the Crimson Tide due to COVID-19 protocols and he will be out for another ranked matchup against Texas Tech on Monday, but he produced at a high level in Oklahoma’s wins over the Jayhawks and Longhorns.
Reeves dropped 23 points on 46.7% shooting to go along with six rebounds and four assists against Texas after pouring in 16 points with three boards and four dimes against Kansas.
The thing about Reaves is that he will always produce at a consistent level. He’s scored in double figures in all but two games this season, and one of those was the season-opener against UTSA in which he played only 21 minutes, down from his season average of 32.2.
From Feb. 10 through Feb. 16, Oklahoma plays Baylor, Texas, and West Virginia — three opportunities for Reaves to make himself stand out even more against some of the country's best teams.
If he can couple that with a run in March, who knows what could happen?