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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Excitement for March basketball really begins to build during the first weekend of the month. It’s the regular season finales for the major conferences…and everyone’s looking forward to the conference tournaments that begin next week.

That can cause a headache for handicappers because many of the players and coaches themselves are caught looking ahead to next week. So, you’re often not getting good teams at their best…and you’re often not getting peak defensive efforts because everyone knows REAL intensity should be saved for what’s ahead.

How should YOU handicap this weekend?

The first thing you should do is pull back your tendency to back big name favorites. That’s always good advice anyway unless you have a mismatch in PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS going in your direction, as well as THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. The only real motivation for top teams this week would involve revenge. If they happen to be facing a team that beat them earlier in the season…AND they don’t play again until Wednesday or Thursday….THEN you can think about laying chalk. Otherwise, it’s a true crapshoot regarding who’s going to show up to play hard for 40 minutes and who isn’t.

*Don’t bet the favorites in TV games if favorites are more excited about next week

*Don’t bet marquee teams who have already locked in Dance invitations

*Don’t bet media darlings on a weekend where the media-influenced public finally starts to bet heavily!

There just isn’t going to be value on these teams. Some will cover…but they’ll go about 3-4 over every seven possibilities. Smart bettors don’t stubbornly swim upstream.

The second thing is to focus on bubble teams. They just can’t afford a bad game in their regular season finale because almost all of them will take a loss in their conference tournament. Few bubble teams are even capable of winning a major tournament unless they get some help from somebody else knocking out a league power. Look for bubble teams who are playing well over their last few games to continue that tendency because they can’t let up. Take them as underdogs vs. big name favorites stuck in a look-ahead. Take them as affordable favorites vs. non-contenders who’s ONLY hope for the Dance is to get lucky next week. Note the key word there, “affordable.” I wouldn’t lay big numbers with bubble teams because they’re only looking to win. Lay affordable numbers.

The third thing is to exploit awkward travel situations. I’m not going to get too specific here because I might be taking advantage of this come Saturday. But, the major conferences (and some mid-majors) are so spread out now geographically that we’ll have a few road teams playing far away from home in a game that virtually means nothing to them. This is where road teams NO-SHOW and take a beating. Home teams you normally wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole may now offer real blowout value because they’ll celebrate senior day by routing a disinterested (and jet weary) visitor. The travel headaches across much of the country this week could only help this angle. See if you can find ways to take advantage.

Now, there are some mid-major tournaments going on this weekend. I talked about handicapping those events the last time we were together here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. Please review those notes. Then, see if you can find a few opportunities in matchups that oddsmakers are barely paying attention to. You think they’re going to put up great numbers in a mid-afternoon game in Asheville, North Carolina…or a late night game in Albany? Not when the whole world is betting Duke/North Carolina.

If you’d like some help finding the best options on the Las Vegas 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. My programs are always affordably priced (there’s that word again!)

I’ll return on Monday with the first of two reports discussing how to handicap and bet major conference tournaments. The ACC tourney gets under way Tuesday in Greensboro. The Pac 12 begins Wednesday here in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand. It’s so great having tournaments here in Vegas! (The West Coast featuring Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, and BYU is here at the Orleans this weekend). Wednesday brings the Big 12 (Kansas City), the Big 10 (Chicago), and the SEC (Nashville). Big East fans have to wait for Thursday for the annual affair at Madison Square Garden. We’ll also have mid majors like the MAC, the Mountain West (also here in Vegas), and Conference USA (Birmingham).

The Dean of Sports Handicapping is very confident that you’ll have a great postseason. I know you’ve been working very hard. Some of you since opening tip in November. Others since the Super bowl ended.  Your rewards are waiting…go win them!

 

Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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