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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Now that college basketball is front and center in your sports handicapping universe (there’s virtually no NBA until a week from Friday night!), it’s time for us to focus on the most important keys to handicapping matchups in college basketball.

First, I believe the single most important thing you can know about a college basketball team’s offense is how often they shoot three pointers. You know THAT, and you know how they attack opposing defenses. You know if they’re a “live by the three, die by the missed three” kind of team. Or, you know that they attack the rim more directly with athletes flying at the basket to get short shots or earn trips to the free throw line.

HOMEWORK: Research your favorite conferences or all teams in your circle of interest to find out what percent of the time they shoot treys. There are a few stat sites out there which have this information. The conferences themselves have gotten very good about running stats. If you’ve been watching a lot of games on TV, you probably have a sense of this already for the ranked powers. Serious handicappers know the numbers for all teams they bet on or bet against!

The second most important thing about offenses, in my view, is their turnover rate. This is incredibly valuable when handicapping games because it’s easy to see when BAD turnovers teams are likely to self-destruct. This most likely happens on the road…in high pressure games…and against any defense that’s great at forcing turnovers. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve won in recent years (once stats became so easily available online) fading bad turnover teams in what turned out to be blowout losses. You’d be surprised how many sloppy teams make the Big Dance every season…before getting embarrassed.

Of course, knowing the good teams is important too. Point guard is the single most important position in the tournaments. You want to bet on teams who avoid turnovers as they work for good shots.

HOMEWORK: Find the offensive turnover rates for all the teams in your scope of interest.

Moving to the defensive side of the ball, there are a variety of stat categories that are helpful. I personally have always looked at two-point defense. You have to remember that I started handicapping way back before the three-point line even existed. If you were studying “shooting percentage allowed” back then, it was all two-pointers. Even with the advent of the arc, knowing two-point defense has always proved to be very valuable. I would encourage you to study this category intensely.

Most “modern” handicappers like to look at “defensive efficiency,” which is points allowed per possession. I like this a lot too. I’m always surprised how much respect “bad defenses” get in the tournaments. Oddsmakers don’t seem to understand that good coaches know how to exploit soft defenses when it’s time to win a game!

HOMEWORK: Find two-point shooting performances on defenses and “defensive efficiency” marks for all the teams in your scope of interest. I can assure you that you’ll be discovering all sorts of edges you had been missing before because you weren’t really focusing on these very important factors.

So far I’ve left out rebounding…something that’s important on both sides of the floor. I do personally keep track of rebound rates. And, I do find it of assistance. I wouldn’t call it a “must-have” in terms of handicapping information because what we’ve talked about already takes you so far. But…rebounding can be a tie-breaker when you have top teams playing each other. And, this DOES happen in the latter rounds of the conference tournaments and the Elite Eight forward in the Big Dance. Maybe I should call this “extra credit” homework!

EXTRA-CREDIT HOMEWORK: Find rebound rates (offensive and defensive) for all the teams in your scope of interest…with an eye toward using them as tie-breakers come tournament time.

I know that a lot of do-it-yourself sports bettors feel overwhelmed by college basketball. There are so many teams on the board. And, matchup handicapping can seem daunting if you’re not used to doing it on a regular basis. Those of you who regularly attend my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping have shown what it takes to thrive in this area. You’re committed to doing a good job. You’re not afraid of a little elbow grease while you burn the midnight oil. Do the work and reap the rewards!

Or, take the easy way out and get my top nightly plays. You can always 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.

I’ll back with you again early next week for more college basketball discussion. Our late report next week might involve the NBA because there are certain edges worth pursuing once rested teams are back in action. I’m still deciding whether I want to put all of that down on paper again while the edges are still in play. I need to protect some of the best spots for my clients! Look for a basketball barrage in the coursework all the way through February and March until baseball arrives in April.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your attendance and hard work. See you again next time.


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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