NCAA Tournament 2013: Breaking Down Tourney MVP Odds Heading into Final Four

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - MARCH 31:  Trey Burke #3 of the Michigan Wolverines drives against Scottie Wilbekin #5 of the Florida Gators in the first half during the South Regional Round Final of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on March 31, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With only four teams remaining in the 2013 NCAA tournament, the field for tournament MVP has also been whittled down to true contenders. 

Although cutting down the nets is the ultimate prize, being named tournament MVP isn't all bad, either. To be named the most valuable player on the grandest stage of them all is one of the highest individual honors in college basketball. 

The winner of the individual award is usually a member of the national championship team, a non-champion hasn't won the award since Hakeem Olajuwon took home the honors in 1983. 

Here's a look at how the tournament MVP race currently shakes out. Note: All odds were obtained from Bovada.

The Favorites: Russ Smith (4/5), Trey Burke (7/2)

It's not surprise that Smith and Burke would be in the lead of the MVP race. 

Both guards have been sensational for their respective teams in the tournament. Neither of their teams would have made it this far if it weren't for the play of Smith and Burke. 

Smith has been the best player in the tournament thus far. He's scored 23 or more points in all four of the Cardinals' games in the tournament and shot 50 percent or better in all of those games except for a 7-of-15 shooting performance against Colorado State. 

If Louisville wins it all, it'll likely be behind the strength of two more 20-plus-point games from Smith. 

Burke hasn't been the pure scorer that Smith has, but his ability to distribute has made Michigan downright scary offensively. He has seven or more assists in each of Michigan's four tourney games. 

Should Michigan and Louisville meet in the championship game it'll set up an epic head-to-head MVP matchup. That's must-see TV right there.


The Value: Mitch McGary (14/1)

If you're looking for a bit of a dark-horse to take home the MVP honors look no further than Michigan big man Mitch McGary. 

In terms of the odds he's in the middle of the pack, but there's no denying his impact on Michigan. He's elevated his play in the tournament and provided the Wolverines with a dominant force in the post. His monstrous 20-plus-point, 14-rebound games in the round of 32 and Sweet 16 stand out. 

Even when his offensive output leveled out against Florida (11 points on 5-of-8 shooting), he made his presence felt with nine rebounds, five steals and two blocks. 

McGary has established himself as a primetime player. If Burke struggles in either the Final Four or championship game and the Wolverines still win it all, McGary could emerge as the tournament MVP.


The Longshot: Cleanthony Early (30/1)

Cleanthony Early's unlikely odds are a reflection of what Vegas thinks about Wichita State's chances against Louisville. 

The Shockers will need Early to be at his very best if they want to counteract the volume-scoring of Russ Smith. If he's able to lead the Shockers to yet another improbable upset, these odds should skyrocket. 

Early has been the offensive backbone for the Shockers in their biggest games in the tournament. He led the way with 16 points against top-seeded Gonzaga, went for 12 against Ohio State and went over 20 in the Shockers opening game against Pitt. 

Early's three-point shooting and versatility as a scorer has created matchup problems for teams throughout this tournament. If the Shockers win it all, Early would be a reason why and your 2013 NCAA tournament MVP.