2010 Final Four: Top Candidates for Most Outstanding Player
After three exhilarating weeks consisting of millions of busted brackets, numerous game winners, and a few too many shots of Ashley Judd, we have arrived at the Final Four.
It's not how most pictured it. We have only one No. 1 seed. There is no Kentucky or Villanova. And Kansas? They've been out for so long, Cole Aldrich had time to declare for the NBA draft.
What we do have are four teams with a bunch of hungry players, desperate to win a national championship.
For four straight games, these athletes fought for every single inch, left everything they had on the court, and earned their ticket to Indianapolis.
Outside of crowning the national champion, the only thing left to do is honor one of these superstars as the most outstanding player.
The following are the most likely candidates to walk out of Indianapolis as the Most Outstanding Player of the 2010 NCAA Final Four.
This tournament, Summers has been the most consistent scorer for the Spartans. If Durrell continues to shoot a scorching 53 percent from three, and the team continues to win close games, he has as good a chance as any to become the most outstanding player.
Odds of Winning: 12 to 1
Despite having a down year statistically, this one-time Horizon League Player of the Year contains the skill set to break out at any time. Look for Howard to take advantage of Michigan State's lack of height.
Odds of Winning: 10 to 1
Jones has averaged better than 15 points and eight rebounds this tournament, both up from his regular season average. His length and athleticism will cause problems for Duke.
Odds of Winning: 10 to 1
If West Virginia decides to sit back in its patented 1-3-1 zone, Scheyer will be licking his lips. Against Baylor's 2-3 zone, Jon knocked down five three-pointers. If he continues to light it up from three, he will be a shoo-in to win this award.
Odds of Winning: 8 to 1
4. Korie Lucious
In the span of a little more than two games, an entire nation of Michigan State fans went from chanting "Lucas, Lucas," to "Lucious, Lucious."
When Kalin Lucas went down to a season-ending injury against Maryland, Korie Lucious was thrust into the spotlight. He was asked to control the tempo of the game and play nearly double the minutes he was accustomed to.
How did he respond? On the biggest stage, he knocked down two of the most impressive shots of the entire tournament, one of which was a last second three-pointer that sent Maryland packing.
I like Lucious's chance of winning MOP over Summers for a few reasons. First, as point guard, he will have the ball in his hands for the majority of the game. With more touches come more chances.
Second, there is the clutch factor. He's proved he can take and make the game-winning shot.
The only reason I don't give Lucious the same odds to win this award as the top three is because of the four remaining teams, Michigan State is the least likely to win the title. When is the last time a member of a non-winning team won this coveted award?
Odds of Winning: 7 to 1
3. Gordon Hayward
The Baby-Faced Assassin is the most difficult member of the Bulldogs to put a leash on. At 6'9", he has no problem mixing it up down low with the bigs, and with a silky smooth jumper, he is equally as dangerous from the perimeter.
Add an above-average handle to his arsenal, and it's easy to see why he is projected to be a first round selection in the coming NBA draft.
The Horizon League Player of the Year has been as steady as they come this tournament. He is averaging 16 points, more than 6 rebounds, and is hovering around 80 percent from the stripe. These numbers nearly match his regular season averages.
It is worth noting that Lucas Oil Stadium being only six miles from where Butler plays its home games is a substantial advantage for the Bulldogs. The players can sleep in their own beds, and the crowd will undoubtedly be pro-Butler.
Odds of Winning: 4 to 1
2. Da'Sean Butler
From the regular season to the NCAA tournament, Butler has been the leader and go-to guy for the Mountaineers all year long.
Da'Sean's tournament was highlighted by an outstanding 18-point performance against the Kentucky Wildcats, where he played the entire 40 minutes and knocked down 4 three-pointers.
There is very little doubt in the minds of WVU fans that Butler will shine on the sport's biggest stage.
From the picture-perfect buzzer-beater that destroyed Cincinnati's tourney dreams to the off-balance runner that gave West Virginia its first Big East Tournament championship, Butler has proven that he is not one to shy away from late-game heroics.
What does he have in store for his first Final Four?
Odds of Winning: 3 to 2
1. Nolan Smith
I've chosen Nolan Smith as the most likely candidate to become the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four for two reasons.
First, during the NCAA Tournament, of Duke's heralded "big three," Smith has been the most prolific.
Where Scheyer went through a mini shooting slump, and Kyle Singler went 0-of-10 from the field against Baylor, Smith has remained consistent. He is right in line with his season average, netting 18 points per game.
Second, Smith plays for the favorite to win the national championship. Duke is the most experienced team remaining, the only No. 1 seed, and most importantly, they have the Duke pedigree. Coach K has been there before, the team knows what to expect, and I can't imagine they will falter under pressure.
Odds of Winning: 5 to 2