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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, March 2, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Tournament action officially begins Tuesday night with the first round of the Horizon League event. The Ohio Valley begins Wednesday. Later in the week, the Missouri Valley, Metro Atlantic, Ohio Valley, Colonial, West Coast, and Southern Conference tournaments get underway.

If you’re like most sports bettors, you’ve barely paid attention to any of those conferences. Sure, you know about Wichita State and Northern Iowa in the MVC, and Gonzaga out West. But, otherwise, it’s all a mystery to you. Even longtime veterans sometimes get confused about whether a team is in the Ohio Valley or the Southern Conference.
The best advice for most of you is to PASS these events. Don’t jump in just because the tournaments have started and you want to tell everyone you were there from the beginning. If you don’t know these teams by now, it’s too late to start. But, if you have been following one or two of these leagues because of geographical interest, or because you believe the best edges against the market come in out-of-the-way conferences…I have put together some tips for you to remember.

*First, THE MOTIVATION FACTOR is triggered by the Big Dance. If a conference is only going to get one bid…then the best team in that conference is going to be fired up to get it. That’s a great handicapping scenario…the best team with peak motivation! In the Missouri Valley and West Coast conferences, the best teams are already assured of at least an at-large bid. They may still run the table, but they won’t be as fired up as top seeds in the other events. You don’t want to lay big numbers with teams who may coast to a comfortable but not huge victory. You want value with peak intensity.

*Second, PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS are more important now than ever. You want to bet on teams who have a star player who can take control late in meaningful games. Often, in the colleges, this is an experienced or NBA-bound point guard. Sometimes it’s a post-man who can’t be stopped inside. Regardless, you have to find them! This shouldn’t be hard if you’ve been following that conference even casually during the regular season. Just remember that PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS can trump computer ratings. Decent teams who lack leadership fall apart in tournaments. Teams a few spots further down in the seedings can rise up and play great on the shoulders of their alpha dog.

*Third, COACHES really loom large in tournaments, for better or worse. Neutral site “playoff” basketball is a tactical chess match. Many coaches who are known more for “recruiting” underachieve in these events because they can’t play chess. The smartest coaches use everything in their arsenal to find a way to win. Often, pointspreads are so small in these games that “finding a way to win” is enough to get the cover. Even if you believe you know one of these smaller conferences inside and out, I would encourage you to go back and study tournament results over the last five years. See which coaches flame out early as favorites. See which coaches hang tough year-in and year-out. Also review NCAA and NIT results for the league in question. Finding the great darkhorse coaches that are sprinkled across the landscape is a strategy that wins money year after year. They don’t all cover all of their games. As a group, they cover a lot more than half the time.

Again…the first order of business is to PASS if you haven’t been paying attention to any of these leagues. Don’t force action now. There will be plenty to keep you busy soon enough. But, if you are going to handicap tournaments in leagues you’ve already been following, please keep today’s advice close at hand.

I can’t tell you now how many of these early tournaments I’ll be personally playing. I don’t expect to pass the whole week. But, I will be picky because the major conference schedule is still so busy. It’s great that the West Coast tournament will be played at the Orleans here in Las Vegas. That will give me much better access to important information.

I can tell you that KELSO STURGEON’S clients always get the best options on the board! You can purchase my top nightly plays 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. Please ask about packages that take you through the full NCAA Tournament and/or the NBA Playoffs.

I’ll be back later this week to talk more about the major college conferences. The last weekend is loaded with marquee matchups. Some of those can get very interesting because elite teams are thinking about the tournaments a few days too early! You’ve already seen a slew of major programs suffer upsets in recent days because of that.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your continuing attendance here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. I know that you’ve been working very hard through the regular season. That will position you well to make big money in the postseason. You’re WAY ahead of all the square bettors who are about to hit the market because they don’t bet college hoops until March. When you stand in front of a mirror, you’re looking at the smart money! See you next time.


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

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