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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, February 9, 2015 at 5:00 PM

This past Saturday, two early “revenge” game set the tone for the day’s TV coverage. Duke was in a big revenge spot against Notre Dame, and absolutely obliterated them. Villanova also went for the jugular early against Georgetown and coasted to a double digit win that covered the Vegas spread. That avenged their worst loss of the season to date.

Look, revenge can be very big in terms of THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. This is particularly true with good teams. And, too many handicappers forget the concurrent side angle that the winner of the first game is prone to relax too much because they already climbed a mountain. Maybe Notre Dame wasn’t as respectful of Duke as they should have been when travelling to Cameron Indoor. Maybe Georgetown figured Villanova would keep missing their shots.

But, I don’t want any of you students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping to weigh this angle more than it deserves. The fact that it sometimes leads to blowout covers doesn’t mean it’s always going to win for you. Here are some negatives you need to remember.

*Vegas oddsmakers know about revenge, and stack the lines against revengers

*Teams who lost the first meeting often have a real matchup disadvantage

*Teams who won the first game may be in a bounce-back spot, or have other intangibles in their favor on the day of the rematch that trump their opponent’s revenge.

If you’re going to take a high profile revenge team, you may be laying one or two points “too many” in terms of pure talent. A line that should be -4 is -6. You remember the times that the favorite won by 15-20, but forget that…if half the games end below six…they got revenge but you lost money!

If a team lost a first meeting because their weakness was continually exploited by their opponent, it’s far from a sure thing that “revenge” is going to fix that weakness. There are a few decent teams this year that have soft inside defenses. If they lose to a bunch of bruisers the first time, they will still have to figure out how to guard the rim the second time (possibly at an inflated price!). Matchups matter in college basketball, possibly more than in any other sport.

If a team that should be flat in a rematch because they won the first time has OTHER issues in play which could inspire peak intensity…then revenge gets overwhelmed by those other issues. Maybe a star is returning from a short-term injury for the first time winner. Maybe the team was just embarrassed on Wednesday night and there’s no way they’re going to put up two stinkers in a row when they play again Saturday. Maybe that Round One winner has so much hatred for the other program that they’re not going to let down until it’s a series sweep.

If handicapping revenge were simple…everyone would be able to do it. So, yes, a lot of bettors cashed those tickets on Duke and Villanova in two of the most obvious revenge scenarios of the year. I wouldn’t be shocked if many of those same bettors went 4-6 the next 10 times they tried to bet revenge.


For KELSO STURGEON to bet a revenge team, I need:


*The superior of the two defenses

*At least one clearly exploitable matchup advantage

*A “fair market” price that hasn’t been poisoned against the revenge team

*Bonus “intangible” reasons to like the avenger and fade the Round One winner

And, it sure doesn’t hurt to have the superior head coach on your side either. That’s not a 100% rule for me…but it’s a great kicker that may turn a 25-unit play into a 50-unit play…or a 50-unit play into 100-units or more. I’m also much more likely to bet a Dance-caliber team in a revenge spot than I am a mediocre or worse team who just happened to lose a first meeting.

I do think serious college basketball handicappers should know what happened in every first meeting. This can be an overwhelming task if you’re trying to handicap the full board. It’s much more manageable if you’re focused on your local conferences, or your favorite TV conferences. Understand what caused that first result…and see how those issues may help or hurt a revenge performance in the rematch. The more time you can put into this effort, the larger benefit you will enjoy.

Of course, you can always take the easy way out and just sign up for my picks! You can purchase game day BEST BETS right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. This is a good time to get your ducks in a row for the run to March Madness.

See you again later this week for our next class get-together. The length of this year’s NBA All-Star Break virtually guarantees that we’ll be focused on college basketball for the next few classes. The tournaments will be here before you know it. It’s great that we’ll have so much time to really pin down the important fundamentals. Have you been losing with your own picks in recent weeks? Time for you to get REVENGE on the sportsbooks with the Dean of Sports Handicapping!


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