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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 10:07 AM

The NBA may be off the radar for the time being, but the college basketball schedule is about to get VERY heavy. There are games on the board Wednesday Night. And, a dream showdown this Friday featuring North Carolina and Michigan State from an aircraft carrier in San Diego will be the first big TV game in a month of November that's absolutely LOADED with marquee matchups.

Don't wait until the last second to figure out what you're going to do. BE PREPARED so you can GET THE MONEY!

Let's review the fundamentals of early season college basketball handicapping.

This is your starting point. You can't pick winners based on what you remember from last year. You have to analyze the current teams with their current rosters. Whether you prefer to focus on your local conference, or you like playing as much of the Vegas board as you can…you must run through some newsstand annuals or online previews to determine how many returning starters and key bench players are back for each team. This should go without saying. But, we run into sports fans every year who don't bother to do this legwork. Then, after a horrible start on their own, they start begging for a bailout.

Head coaches have a huge impact in this sport, which means the biggest changes from one year to the next on the college landscape are typically tied to coaching changes. Some programs upgrade with a good hire. Some teams fall apart because their hot young coach was hired away by a bigger program. Some teams are in turmoil because the last guy wasn't any good and they're taking a flyer on a newcomer. THESE ARE THE PLACES where pointspread value resides because oddsmakers can only guess what's going to happen right out of the gate. Be sure you know which teams have new coaches. And, even if you don't like following the whole board, you should at least have a list of new coaches in all the board conferences so you can monitor the first few games for those teams out of the gate.

This becomes more and more important every year because true'superstar' talent only stays in the colleges for one year before heading to the NBA. Read the scouting reports for guidance on who the next Kevin Durant might be, or the next Kemba Walker. Star freshman have an immediate impact on their programs, because there's only five guys on the court at a time. If a team takes a big step forward in one year, and they didn't change coaches…it's probably the result of a high impact recruit exploding on the scene. Be sure you know where the fuses are lit, at least in your local conference.

Some coaches have a'let them play' mentality, which can work well early in the season with a talented team. Others are very strict, and want their athletes running intricate plays that take a long time to learn. That's fine for a veteran team, but a November nightmare with a bunch of newcomers. We've been picking winners a long time here at JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK, so we know which styles are best suited to thriving in November. We're not going to say much more about this particular edge because it will key several plays between now and the end of the month. We just wanted to mention that understanding coaching and playing styles is just as important in November as it is during March Madness. Basketball is always a form of running chess no matter when the games are played.

You regular readers know we're generally contrarians. We don't want you to know the poll rankings as a guide to who to bet on. They're much getter, generally speaking, as a guide on who to fade! Las Vegas oddsmakers often overprice ranked teams early in the season. The general public who loves shortcuts often bet the ranked teams blindly rather than doing any homework. This will give you one or two free points almost every time a ranked team takes the court. In some cases, you're getting five or six free points because an overrated team shouldn't have been ranked in the first place. We strongly encourage you to monitor the ranked teams closely in the first two weeks of the season so you can find some weak favorite to exploit. And, some of those ranked teams will be neutral site dogs in power tournaments…just before getting routed by a real power. Do your best to differentiate the pretenders from the contenders.

We can't say this is important this week, but it will be throughout the month of November once everyone starts playing tournaments. College kids aren't used to playing back-to-backs, or three games in three days. They're also prone to get play tired in the game right after a tournament when significant travel is involved. Don't just handicap the teams and the coaches…handicap the challenges that teams are facing on that particular night. You don't want to lay points on the East Coast with a team who just played three games in Hawaii earlier in the week. You don't want to play points on the West Coast or in the northern Midwest with a team that played three games in three days in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands a few days prior. You've seen in recent football how important letdown or fatigue spots can be. College basketball's unique schedule creates opportunities like this very early in the season.

We'll do what we can here in the NOTEBOOK to keep you abreast of college basketball developments. That's tough to do in November because FOOTBALL IS KING and we're in the heart of the BCS race as the NFL playoff drive is just beginning. We'll have a window of opportunity to really get caught up before the bowls start in December. Then, once college football is out of the way, we're going to be very college basketball heavy from January through March. Hey, if the NBA doesn't play this year…it's going to be wall-to-wall college basketball from the Super Bowl until the start of baseball in April!

Even if we're not talking about basketball on a given day, please remember that BIG JUICY WINNERS will be available in college hoops right here at the website. We may pass on the quiet days. But, the busiest days will definitely inspire some major releases. That means you should be checking in every day this week on the hoops as you monitor the nightly football schedules. Here's a brief look at how the next few days are shaping up:

TUESDAY: MAC football twinbill with Western Michigan at Toledo and Northern Illinois at Bowling Green.

WEDNESDAY: MAC football with Miami of Ohio at Temple…and then four college basketball board games.

THURSDAY: The first NFL game in the NFL Network's Thursday Night series with a huge AFC West matchup between Oakland and San Diego…plus three college football games highlighted by Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech…but no hoops.

FRIDAY: Big East football with South Florida at Syracuse…and a very big college basketball schedule highlighted by North Carolina vs. Michigan State in San Diego in a nationally televised ESPN game.

That's plenty of time to build a bankroll before the monster football schedules on Saturday and Sunday. If you have any questions about our service, or you want to build a combination package…call our office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to check on the latest rates for our TOTAL NOVEMBER TAKEDOWN too.

Football is fun…but basketball helps you pyramid your profits even faster. LET'S HOOP IT UP!



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