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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, March 9, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Tournament Week in college basketball is one of the most exciting times for sports fans, but a very challenging time for sports bettors. You have to adjust your thinking as you try to make smart choices through the events. And, there’s one very logical reason for that.


The very best teams in the country have virtually no reason to go all out this week to try to win their conference tournament. Sure, they want to play well. Coaches want to make sure everyone’s in synch heading into the Big Dance. But, there’s nothing at stake for the GOOD teams.

*They’ve already locked up their invitation

*They already know about where they will be seeded in the Dance

*Where you’re seeded in the Dance doesn’t matter that much anyway!

This is why so many top seeds in the major conferences fail to play to expectations year-in and year-out. There’s just no reason to. The games that matter are all NEXT week and beyond. For most of the top 35 or so teams, this week is just a series of exhibitions. Nobody “wants” to lose. None of the good teams are devastated if they lose. And they play that way.

With THAT in mind, here are some strategies for handicapping the conference tournaments.


*Don’t ask #1 seeds to cover all of their games!

You saw Wichita State lose outright in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley tournament last week. Gonzaga barely broke a sweat when not covering as a huge favorite in the West Coast quarterfinals against San Francisco. The top seeds have a “coast” mentality in these events. You don’t make money backing teams who aren’t focused on playing great THAT NIGHT for you. Sure, they will cover some spreads. But, the percentages overall just aren’t in your favor.


*Look to back teams in the #2-4 range who want to send a message!

The best teams to invest in are those who combine quality with some sort of motivation. Maybe it’s a #2 or #3 seed who got swept in regular season meeting by the top seed and wants to make amends for that this weekend. Maybe it’s a team that closed the season well and wants to keep their momentum going. Maybe it’s a team in that range favored by a relatively local crowd at a neutral site tournament. A “home away from home” gives them an extra 2-3 points per game. I can already tell you up front that my biggest releases this coming week will likely involve quality teams in this seed range who have impressed me with their motivation and intensity. That really matters in neutral court games with short prices. I may have pick-em or dog teams where the line is off by several points…particularly if they’re matched up against a coasting #1 seed who’s just going through the motions.


*Really focus hard on PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS in the tournaments!

In tournament basketball, whoever wins and covers often comes down to who’s making plays in the final five minutes of close games. High impact players loom very large in this scenario. You want your money on proven PLAYMAKERS who are going to get you good looks or trips to the free throw line. I’ve been handicapping tournament basketball for quite a few decades now. I can assure you that THIS is when star players put their teams on their backs and carry them to victories. And, that can even happen for teams seeded in the #5 to #7 range. If an NBA talent is stuck in the middle of the brackets, he can make his team play like a true contender over a short stretch of coin flip games. It’s so inspirational to see these one-man whirlwinds attack the basket against overconfident favorites who are already thinking ahead to next week. More fun if you’re winning money while you watch!

I’m not going to talk about specific teams or players here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping because I need to protect that information for my paying clients. I’ve given you the big picture themes. You need to do the homework (which should just involve “reviewing” your notes for many of you) and find the best situations this week. I’ve told you “what’s” going to happen. You need to find out WHO is going to make it happen.

If you’d like some help finding the best plays in all the day and night sessions, you can purchase my 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. Today’s the perfect time to ask about packages that take you through all of March Madness, or for all basketball through the NBA Playoffs. It’s tournament time!

I’ll be back on Thursday to talk more specifically about day-to-day handicapping through the big weekend. There are certain team characteristics that are favored, or hurt when it comes to tournament basketball. Not all good teams are well-suited to winning three games in three days. Smart handicappers put that reality in their favor. More on that next time.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping is thankful and grateful for your attendance and hard work. Everything you’ve done these past few months has prepared you well for the challenges ahead.  Hopefully, winning bets are just jumping off the page at you as soon as the lines go up. If not, get to work so you can make the most of one of the most exciting weeks in the sports betting calendar! See you Thursday afternoon.


Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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