Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 3/25/13
The University of Louisville is the 3-1 favorite at  Bovada to win the national championship heading into the Sweet 16. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Cardinals star guard Russ Smith is the 5-1 favorite to take home the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player award. It’s pretty much a guarantee that a player from the team that cuts down the nets will win the MOP award. The last to do so from a school that didn’t win the national championship was Houston’s Akeem Olajuwon (he wasn’t Hakeem yet) when his Cougars were stunned in the 1983 title game by Jim Valvano’s NC State Wolfpack. Louisville’s Smith, a 6-foot-1 junior from Brooklyn, led his team in scoring this year with 18.4 points per game. In U of L’s 79-48 blowout of No. 16 North Carolina A&T in the round of 64, Smith scored 23 points and had eight of Louisville’s NCAA Tournament-record 20 steals. Louisville wasn’t challenged by No. 8 Colorado State in the round of 32 either, winning 82-56. Smith again led the Cardinals with 27 points. The Cards play No. 12 seed Oregon on Friday in Indianapolis and are 10-point favorites. Louisville has won 12 straight since that epic loss at Notre Dame in five overtimes. They would play either No. 2 Duke or No. 3 Michigan State on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four. Louisville reached last year’s Final Four, losing to eventual national champion Kentucky. Smith’s backcourt mate Peyton Siva is 8-1 to win the Final Four MOP. The last Louisville player to win it was freshman Pervis Ellison in 1986. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo (6-1) is the  second favorite to win the award. The Hoosiers are 5-1 third-favorites to win the title. Oladipo, a finalist for the Wooden Award as the nation’s top player, had 11 points and six rebounds in IU’s 83-62 win over No. 16 James Madison in their opening game of the tournament. Oladipo had 16 points and eight rebounds in the Round of 32, a 58-52 win over No. 9 Temple. Teammate Cody Zeller is 8-1 to win MOP. He has totaled 26 points and 10 rebounds in the two tournament wins. Indiana faces No. 4 Syracuse on Thursday. Ohio State’s Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas are each 9-1 to win Final Four MOP. Thomas has totaled 46 points in the Buckeyes’ wins over No. 15 Iona and No. 10 Iowa State. Craft was held to four against the Gaels but had one of the signature shots of this tournament so far, a game-winning three-pointer against the Cyclones. He’s also perhaps the best defensive guard in the country. OSU faces No. 6 Arizona in Los Angeles on Thursday. No. 3 Florida is 19-4  to win the title and the Gators’ top MOP candidate is forward Erik Murphy at 18-1. The senior from South Kingstown, R.I., had 18 points and eight rebounds in Florida’s opening win over Northwestern State and 15 points and four rebounds in the third-round win over Minnesota. The Gators play the Cinderella of this tournament, Florida Gulf Coast, on Friday at Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas. The Eagles are the only No. 15 seed to ever reach the Sweet 16. Their MOP award betting option is leading scorer Sherwood Brown at 125-1. Bracket Buster: Challenge your friends by picking your tournament favorites with Bovada’s Bracket Buster and grab your share of the $25K Prize Pool.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rockies-Diamondbacks game included a broken-bat homer and the longest homer of 2017

Report: Texans wouldn’t take Jay Cutler’s calls

Albert Pujols mocks Rangers pitcher after beef

Top 10 takeaways from the 2017 NFL Draft

Mitchell Trubisky booed at Celtics-Bulls game, for some reason

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Larry Bird's sudden exit adds to uncertainty surrounding Paul George, Pacers

Nationals Adam Eaton out for season with torn ACL

WATCH: Isaiah Thomas talks trash about Bulls on court during Game 6

Jets WR Devin Smith to miss all of 2017 with torn ACL

WATCH: Seahawks use scuba diver to announce 2017 NFL Draft pick

Marshawn Lynch takes out full-page ad in newspaper to thank Seahawks fans

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

Box Score 4/28: NFL Draft gets younger every year

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Marshawn Lynch gives an already-spurned city hometown appeal

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Don't sleep on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The 'Beast Mode as a parting gift' quiz

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Our favorite undrafted players of all time

Kicking it: Orlando surges while the Galaxy struggles

Three Up, Three Down: Madison Bumgarner gets grounded

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker