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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 7:00 AM

College football has come to an end, which means it’s time for sports bettors to get serious about college basketball. I’ll be talking with you on a regular basis about college hoops on these pages and in my website videos from now through March Madness. I hope you’re as excited as I am about the money-making opportunities ahead.

In today’s first 2013 basketball coursework in my College of Advanced Sports Betting, let’s review the basics for handicapping and betting college basketball…

STAR POWER

You regulars know that I will always emphasize PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS when handicapping a sport. You need to invest in impact players who are going to control what happens on a football field or on a basketball court. Here in hoops, that means:

*Proven scorers, no matter the position

*Star point guards who can score and dish to open shooters

*Defensive forces in the paint

Once you really dig into college basketball, you’ll realize how scarce those three elements are across the sport as a whole. There are plenty of kids who love to shoot. Most aren’t very good at it! There’s a stunning number of point guards who don’t even understand the basics of running an offense. And, defensively, too many teams leave a lot to be desired.

Teams with a clear edge in just one of those categories will be in position to win games and cover spreads. Teams with two of the three will be national championship contenders. Teams with all three will be untouchable against most of their schedules (granting that it’s become hard in modern college hoops for head coaches to have all three in place at the exact same time).

COACHING

College basketball is a coach’s sport. Even though coaching is important in all competition, this is where coaches have the most influence on the scoreboard and on the Las Vegas board. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that handicapping college basketball means handicapping college coaches. They recruit the PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS. They teach them how to play. They make tactical decisions late in close games that often make the difference in who covers the spread.

I strongly encourage you to start keeping notes on every coach. This seems hard at first. But, since many coaches stay in their jobs for years, or stay in the sport even if they change jobs, the notes you take this year will serve you well for seasons to come. I’m STILL winning by taking or fading coaches based on tendencies I noticed more than a decade ago. At the very least, pick your favorite conference and start analyzing the coaches in that league. This is vital if you’re serious about truly being an ADVANCED handicapper and bettor.

SCHEDULE DYNAMICS

More than in any other sport, the dynamics of a team’s schedule influences peak or valley performances that Advanced Handicappers must learn how to anticipate. Who thrives at home but can’t shoot on the road? Who thrives vs. the worst teams in their league but gets exposed vs. the best? Or, conversely, who gets fired up to play the best teams but comes in flat when the juices aren’t flowing? Who is jet lagged because they just played two games far from home in a geographically spread out conference? Who is fresh and laying a value number at home against a worn down visitor?

Be sure you know what each team has had to deal with in their last few games…and if they have a “game of the year” type opponent on deck. You’ve probably heard many longtimers refer to college basketball as “a rhythm sport” for handicappers. You’re trying to get in rhythm with the ups and downs of the teams you study.

If you have difficulty getting started, help is always a few clicks away. My nightly top plays can be purchased at the website with your major credit card. There are just a few football days left, so it’s imperative that you get up to speed in basketball as quickly as possible.

We’ll be talking football again the next time we get together later this week, with keys for handicapping round two of NFL playoff action. I look forward to seeing you again at that time.

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