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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 3:00 PM

It seems like the Super Bowl was just a few days ago…but the month of February has flown by quickly to signal the arrival of MARCH MADNESS on the Las Vegas sports betting calendar. March begins Saturday. And, that means tournaments are just around the corner.

 

*The Horizon League tournament begins Tuesday March 4 at campus sites

*The Ohio Valley Conference tournament begins Wednesday March 5 in Nashville

*The Missouri Valley Conference tournament begins Thursday March 6 in St. Louis

*The West Coast and Metro Atlantic tourneys also begin that Thursday

 

Are YOU ready for the tournaments? If not, these next few days of action are very important. Even if you ignore the mid-majors and focus on the big time TV conferences, you only have two weekends left to get yourself up to speed. Here are keys to focus on as you watch all the marquee matchups that are still ahead.

 

RE-FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS

It’s time to really pin down who the high impact performers are going to be from this point forward. There have been quite a few surprises across the sport this year. Some projected stars have turned out to be mortal. Many “off-the-radar” guys have turned out to be true stars. Your early season evaluations need to be updated!

Along with scouting the top teams on TV, be sure you spend some time researching season-to-date scoring and rebounding stats for prominent players. You don’t want to be handicapping March basketball with what you “thought” was going to happen back in December and January. You want to be in synch with what’s happening right now.

 

REMEMBER TO EMPHASIZE COACHING

SMU hasn’t been a factor in college basketball for years. Larry Brown has them on the verge of being important again. That’s the kind of power great basketball coaches have at this level. Sometimes, that power is for the bad! Some coaches can ruin the postseason prospects of a talented team. Go through your notes and make sure you’ve truly pinned down the coaching angles heading into the postseason.

I would also suggest reviewing March Madness brackets from the past few seasons to refresh your memories about who shines and who doesn’t when the season is on the line. Some of your best Las Vegas bets from this point forward will be based on which coaches you’re going AGAINST. I can already tell you now that we will see a few dozen matchups rated near pick-em on the college basketball board that are virtual coaching mismatches. You’ll win 70% of those if you can find them.

 

STUDY TEAM DEFENSE

As long as we’re talking about who to bet AGAINST, you should also be on the lookout for soft defenses that you want to bet against in the postseason as well. Many teams have hidden porous defenses this year with soft schedules or hot three-point shooting. You can’t hide a bad defense once the tournaments begin. Good teams will make you pay for not guarding the basket.

Evaluate defenses with your “eye test” this weekend, and also study the following stats:

 

*Points allowed per possession (defensive efficiency)

*Two-point shooting percentage allowed

*Turnovers forced per game

 

The internet makes it very easy to find team performances in these categories if you just force yourself to make time to look them up. Every conference has a website with key stat information. The major media sites keep numbers as well.

When games are lined near pick-em…you want to bet on good coaches AND you want to bet on good defenses. Many of those games are mis-lined near pick-em in the first place because oddsmakers don’t pay enough attention to what really matters in postseason basketball.

We’ll talk more about college basketball handicapping all through the month of March. We’ll largely hold off on NBA coverage until after the Dance when the pro playoffs are about to begin. This is always one of my favorite betting months of the year here in Las Vegas. It’s like having the Super Bowl for a whole month! More on that as we work our way through the calendar.

If you believe you’re not ready to go it alone as a do-it-yourselfer, you can always purchase my top releases right here at this very website with your major credit card. Those of you who prefer doing business with a live person can talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters home office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about “rest of the season” packages through the NCAA Tournament or the NBA Playoffs that offer the best value.

See you again early next week for the next installment here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. Welcome back to those of you who took some time off between the Super Bowl and March Madness. I don’t advise that…but I understand that many of you felt you needed to take a break after football. It’s time for you to get serious about sports betting again. Get to work!

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