With only a handful of teams that truly have a legit shot of winning this year’s title (UCLA, North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas and Tennessee) the choices for potential MOPs get even smaller. With all that in mind, here are the best bets to be named the 2008 NCAA Tournament MOP:
Last UCLA player to win MOP – Ed O’Bannon, 1995
You don’t often hear Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony compared to one another, but that could very well change after April 7th. Considered by many to have the easiest path into the Final Four of all the top seeds, the Bruins hope to not go home empty handed from the final quartet for their third straight year. If that is to happen, then Love will have to keep up his double-double ways and get in touch with his inner-O’Bannon. He just has to hope that he has a better NBA career than Mr. O’Bannon.
Last UNC player to win MOP – Sean May, 2005
Like stated in the opener, it isn’t rocket science picking potential tourney MOPs. North Carolina is a good bet to make it to the championship game and Tyler Hansbrough is their best player, if not the best player in the nation. There are few, if any, big men in the tournament that can handle Hansbrough, so a potential NCAA Final of UCLA & UNC would be great to see. With Love & Hansbrough banging each other down low it would resemble a UFC pay-per-view, with the winner of that cage match more than likely walking away with the championship and the MOP award.
Last Memphis player to win MOP – No one
If the Memphis Tigers are to continue their dream season and win the championship, there is no doubt that Chris Douglas-Roberts or Derrick Rose would be the ones grabbing the MOP trophy. As the only double-digit scorers on the Tigers’ roster, they are the only true stars on team.
If the Tigers are to get through potential roadblocks in Pittsburgh, Stanford or Texas, they’ll need Douglas-Roberts filling it up and Rose being the straw that stirs the Tigers’ drink.
Last Kansas player to win MOP – Danny Manning, 1998
On a team full of stars, it is hard to pick the player that will shine the most if the Jayhawks are to win the NCAA championship. However, Rush seems to be a good pick at this time due to many factors. He’s experienced, he seems to have the proper demeanor to not allow the tournament pressure to get to him, and he is on an incredible roll. His 13 three-pointers made in this year’s Big 12 Championship tournament was the second most hit all-time and in the final versus a very good Texas team, he had 19 points, six rebounds, six assists and three blocks. His do-it-all skills makes him an ideal candidate for the tournament MOP, assuming Kansas can get the job done.
Last Tennessee player to win MOP – No one
Speaking of do-it-all players, the Volunteers have their own in Tyler Smith. While senior Chris Lofton seems to have found his mojo again, it is Smith’s all-around game that will be key for Tennessee if they are to cut down the nets on April 7th. If they are to get through North Carolina in the Elite Eight they’ll need Smith to play like he did in the Volunteers last game, the loss to Arkansas, when he was 10-13 from the field and had six boards.
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