Villanova coach Jay Wright’s Wildcats are ranked third in the Associated Press preseason poll. Photo from @NovaMBB (Twitter)
- The opening odds have been released for the 2021 Naismith Coach of the Year Award
- Villanova’s Jay Wright is the favorite at odds of +700
- See odds for all contending coaches, along with our analysis and best bet below
Jay Wright is seemingly a contender for the Naismith Coach of the Year award every season.
After all, Wright has compiled a .722 winning percentage and won two national championships during his 19 seasons at Villanova. He has also led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament in 14 of the last 15 full seasons.
The oddsmakers feel Wright can work his magic again this season. He has opened as a favorite to win the award and his Wildcats are strong contenders to win another national title.
2021 Naismith Coach of the Year Odds
|Jay Wright (Villanova)||+700|
|Scott Drew (Baylor)||+800|
|Mark Few (Gonzaga)||+800|
|Fran McCaffery (Iowa)||+800|
|Tony Bennett (Virginia)||+900|
|Bill Self (Kansas)||+1100|
|John Calipari (Kansas)||+1100|
|Greg Gard (Wisconsin)||+1200|
|Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)||+1200|
|Brad Underwood (Illinois)||+1200|
|Leonard Hamilton (Florida)||+1500|
|Tom Izzo (Michigan)||+1500|
|Bob Huggins (West Virginia)||+2000|
|Greg McDermott (Creighton)||+2500|
|Roy Williams (North Carolina)||+2500|
Odds taken Nov. 13
Wright Has Plenty of Talent
Villanova is ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press preseason poll and has a strong nucleus of players returning, led by guard Collin Gillespie.
Gillespie averaged 15.1 points and 4.5 assists a game last season. The Wildcats went 24-7 and won the Big East regular-season championship in 2019-20 before the remainder of the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collin Gillespie named to 2021 Bob Cousy Award Watch List https://t.co/TxbmfMqE1K
— VU Hoops 🏆🏆🏆 (@VUhoops) November 2, 2020
Two other plays return who had double-figure scoring averages last season in forwards Jermaine Samuels (10.7 ppg) and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (10.5 ppg). That duo also combined for an average of 14.9 rebounds a game.
Wright, who has a record of 472-182 at Villanova, also welcomes guard Caleb Daniels, who sat out last season after transferring from Tulane. Daniels scored 16.9 points per game for the Green Wave in 2018-19.
While Wright is the Coach of the Year favorite at +700, Baylor’s Scott Drew, Gonzaga’s Mark Few, and Iowa’s Fran McCaffery are all right behind at +800.
Gonzaga and Baylor are Nos. 1 and 2 in the poll. Iowa is fifth.
Baylor’s hopes of a first-ever national championship are buoyed by the return of their top two scorers, guards Jared Butler and MaCio Teague. Butler averaged 16.0 points a game last season and Teague was at 13.9.
📰 BREAKING: Baylor is No. 2 in the preseason @AP_Top25❗️
It’s the highest preseason ranking in program history. The Bears received 24 of 64 first-place votes and are 1 point back of Gonzaga.
🔗: https://t.co/9TUXhn6agV#SicEm 🐻🏀 pic.twitter.com/Xjw4vZ6SmP
— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) November 9, 2020
Baylor went 26-4 last season and Drew has a 364-224 record in his 17 seasons coaching the Bears. He has also taken them to the NCAA Tournament eight times.
The expectation for Few and Gonzaga have never been higher as the Bulldogs try to run down their first national title. Few has a .828 winning percentage in 21 seasons at Gonzaga – taking the school to the NCAAs in each full season — and is one win away from 600.
For the first time in program history …
Preseason @AP_Top25 No. 1
📰 Press Release and poll ➡️ https://t.co/2pGoRQPAX1 pic.twitter.com/gfe8GyFAKU
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) November 9, 2020
Forward Corey Kispert and guard Joel Ayayi give Gonzaga a strong inside-outside combination.
Kispert scored 13.9 points a game last season when the Zags went 31-2. Ayayi had a fine all-round year with averages of 10.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists.
The presence of star forward Luka Garza gives Iowa hope of reaching the Final Four for the first time since 1980. Garza, citing loyalty to McCaffery, decided to forego the NBA Draft and return for his senior season.
Garza is the favorite to win Naismith Player of the Year.
Magic. Mount. Isiah.
Names that are synonymous with B1G 🏀 programs.
And since he’s back for more, Luka Garza (@LukaG_55) can cement a similar status with @IowaHoops. 🙌
Full feature narrated by @TheAndyKatz ➡️ https://t.co/ZjNAO7FjQd pic.twitter.com/SWyouuxynT
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) November 11, 2020
Last season, Garza averaged 23.9 points and 9.8 rebounds a game as the Hawkeyes finished 20-11. In years at Iowa, McCaffery has a 194-143 record and four NCAA Tournament appearances.
Keep An Eye On Izzo
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo made headlines this week for testing positive for COVID-19.
However, Izzo has felt only mild symptoms and expects to be on the bench for the Spartans’ opener, which has yet to be finalized.
Tom Izzo on COVID-19: “It is serious and it is invisible.” pic.twitter.com/2hE5IsiYOa
— Larry Lage (@LarryLage) November 9, 2020
Michigan State is ranked 13th. While the Big Ten is loaded with three teams in the top eight – No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 8 Illinois join Iowa – the Spartans have a chance to win the conference.
Stars Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman are gone from a team that went 22-9 but Michigan State believes guard Rocket Watts is ready to become a big-time player. He averaged nine points a game last season as a freshman.
2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker
The Spartans should also get a boost from Marquette transfer Joey Hauser, who sat out last season. The forward averaged 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds for the Golden Eagles two years ago.
Izzo has compiled a 628-241 in 25 seasons. He has guided Michigan State to 22 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, eight Final Four appearances, and a national championship in 2000.
Somehow, it would be fitting that someone who contracted COVID-19 would be the Naismith Coach of the Year.
It’s worth a shot at +1500.
Best Bet: Tom Izzo (+1500)
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.