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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Earlier this week, I talked about keys for handicapping the NIT. As promised, I’m back to go more in-depth for those of you trying to pick winners this weekend in the Round of 64 and Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. The volume of games and the high level of electricity in local sportsbooks makes this the most exciting sports betting weekend of the entire calendar year in my view. It’s even more exciting if you’re making big money!

I won’t re-explain the two main categories that are usually present in my how-to articles. You regulars already know the importance of PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS. If this is your first time visiting the website, be aware that I believe successful handicapping starts with isolating the players who are most likely to win bets for you. More talented teams get the money. Find the talent and support it. You also know the importance of THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. Nobody really lacks motivation in the Big Dance. But, you can definitely find “chip on the shoulder” teams who play over their heads for a few games, as well as “overconfident favorites” who don’t bring enough energy.

Digging deeper…

*GUARD PLAY is always huge in the tournament. If you’re my age, you were making money with that knowledge even before Al Maguire was on TV talking about how critical it was in the tournament. And, Al Maguire was making tournament headlines before Magic Johnson played Larry Bird! This factor is as true now as it’s ever been. Arguably truer since a lot of defenses run traps and presses…and three-point shooting teams need good ball distribution. Evaluate the guards for every team. Bet against turnover prone ballhandlers. Invest in stars who are going to make sure your offense gets points on the board.

*INSIDE DEFENSE typically trumps perimeter emphasis in this event. That was true before Lew Alcindor (prior to his name-change to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Patrick Ewing were blocking shots and intimidating opponents. You saw it again last year with what Louisville and other power teams were accomplishing. Look for shot blockers. Study boxscores to see who’s shutting down opposing front lines and allowing low scoring totals on two-pointers.

Let me stop right there for a second. Those two factors help favorites win blowouts…help underdogs pull upsets…and are usually the difference-maker in games with coin flip endings that go right down to the wire. Whoever wins those usually covers them (particularly in later rounds) because Dance spreads are so low. You are already virtually assured of a won-lost record better than 53% against the number if you’re well versed in guard play and inside defense.

*COACHING is huge in the Dance. It continues to amaze me what a poor job that oddsmakers do of adjusting to this reality. Some coaches have horrible ATS records that weight them down like an anvil. Others continue to get the money because they’re experts at chess and player motivation. Review recent tournaments to remind yourself about who these high impact coaches are (both for better and for worse), and confidently bet that those tendencies will continue. If you want to isolate the key difference between an experienced handicapper and some kid with a computer…the experienced handicapper knows how to exploit coaching dynamics in the Big Dance, while the kid with a computer doesn’t even know they exist.

I can’t talk about specific teams here in my preview article because I need to protect that information for my paying clients. I will have big plays going every session. We want to bet at the right lines! You can bet at the right lines with me by signing up for my personal service. I know many of you our do-it-yourselfers. For those who need additional assistance, you can purchase my daily tournament BEST BETS right here at this very website with your major credit card. If you have any questions, talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. Try to call before the first games tip-off each day so you don’t miss any plays!

I will certainly be back early next week to talk about handicapping the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA’s. I may come back sooner with some “read and react” reports depending on how stories develop in the opening days of action. It’s a busy week for all of us. I can’t make any promises just yet about bonus reports. I can promise you that students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping are much better positioned than the general public to make big money this weekend! Thanks for all of your hard work. I’m very confident it’s going to pay off time and time again through the Big Dance!

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