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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, March 23, 2015 at 1:00 PM

I usually try to wait until the second week of the NIT to talk about handicapping this storied but somewhat downtrodden event? Why is that? Because, the first round is often about weeding out teams who don’t want to be there. Traditional handicapping doesn’t matter if a team doesn’t care. You want to focus on teams who are trying to win. After the first round, everybody playing has a victory under their belt, and is now thinking more seriously about making it to the Final Four in New York.

Here’s the schedule handicappers are dealing with the next few days.

 

Monday’s Second Round

Louisiana Tech at Texas A&M (winner faces Temple in the quarterfinals)

Illinois State at Old Dominion

Murray State at Tulsa (winner of these last two games play each other in quarters)

 

Tuesday’s Start of the Quarterfinals

Miami at Richmond (winner goes to the Final Four in New York)

Vanderbilt at Stanford (winner goes to the Final Four in New York)

Not exactly a murderer’s row this year. Though, the only #1 seed to fall so far is Colorado State from the very disappointing Mountain West Conference. CSU, Wyoming, and Boise State all lost their postseason openers, while San Diego State won a game before getting routed by Duke. A lot of “locals” here in Las Vegas were disappointed by that run!

Anyway, handicapping the NIT obviously starts with my stand by factors…

 

*PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS

We always start here. You regular students of my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping should already have a good read on this for the remaining teams. If not, get to work! There’s no way you should be trying to pick winners in the NIT without knowing which players are going to win money for you.

 

*THE MOTIVATION FACTOR

I said at the top that we’ve weeded out the teams who don’t care. But, that doesn’t mean motivation cancels out from this point forward. There’s still a difference between teams who are interested, and teams who are PASSIONATE about making a statement. This tournament is often won by a team that has something to prove. Maybe that’s a group that got snubbed by the Big Dance (like Temple, or Miami, or Texas A&M…or even Murray State). Maybe that’s a group that is peaking late in the season because it took a long time to gel…and they want to keep that role going.

Study game write-ups and media coverage from the local cities to get a read on this. And, review the prior boxscores from this tournament and the game each team lost in its conference tournament for wider scope. I’m not going to get very specific here because I want to protect my plays going forward. I can assure you that THE MOTIVATION FACTOR will be a huge influence on any major release I have in this tournament.

Other factors to keep in mind:

*Be aware of the home/road splits from the regular season for all second round and quarterfinal games. Those are played at home sites rather than on neutral courts. You don’t want to ask a shaky road team to win on the road for you. You don’t want to buck a great home team either. Make sure home/road tendencies are swimming the same direction you are if they exist. Great road dogs in the regular season are often strong plays throughout the NIT…particularly when festivities move to New York.

*Apply what you’ve learned in the Big Dance about relative conference strengths. Think about how the SEC is performing before making a final decision in a Texas A&M or Vanderbilt game. Temple and Tulsa from the American Athletic Conference are still around as I write this. What did you learn from games involving SMU and Cincinnati (and UCONN early in the NIT)?

*NIT teams are by their very nature, inconsistent. If they were consistently good…they’d be in the Big Dance. If they were consistently bad, they wouldn’t have reached the postseason. Be sure you study earlier round action with an eye on inconsistency. If a team just played way over their heads the last time out, they’ll probably fall back to earth. If a team advanced despite shooting poorly, they’ll probably shoot better the next time out (particularly if they’re facing a mediocre defense).

If you’d like some help picking the NIT in this break before the Sweet 16 in the Big Dance, 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. Call today during normal business hours. With three NIT games on tap for Monday Night, it’s best to take care of business quickly.

Back with you later this week with a handicapping discussion about the Sweet 16 and then what to do with the winners over the weekend in the Elite 8. The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your hard work and attendance. I hope the first big weekend of the tournament went well for you. Thanks to any of you who signed up for Saturday’s 200-unit winner on Arizona over Ohio State. I’m expecting to have another release of that size (or larger) in the very near future. See you midday Thursday.

 

Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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