Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 7:00 PM
Now that the first full weekend of the 2015 NCAA Tournament is behind us, it’s important to note something that is looming very large in this particular event.
It’s amazing how many of the “usual suspects” are still alive in the Sweet 16…even if they weren’t seeded to make it this far. There’s Tom Izzo of Michigan State, back even though his Spartans were only a #7 seed (ridiculous in hindsight, though it was widely blasted at the time too). There’s Rick Pitino of Louisville even though the Cards entered this year’s event as seeming non-entities after a late-season fade. Of course, John Calipari of Kentucky is there as expected. He didn’t cover his spreads…but the Wildcats still look to be clear of the field in terms of cutting down the nets a week from Monday night.
I’m not going to get very specific in this article because I need to protect my selections for my clients. But, I strongly believe that coaching is going to play a huge role in who wins and covers the Sweet 16 games Thursday and Friday night…and then who survives the Elite Eight weekend to reach the Final Four.
Here’s some homework for those of you hoping to make smart bets over the next four days.
*Review the straight up and ATS histories in the Big Dance for all 16 remaining head coaches. You want to know who’s traditionally underpriced, and who’s traditionally overrated.
*Review the straight up and ATS Dance histories in their current favorite or underdog role. Some coaches are poor favorites because they’re too conservative, but great underdogs because they’ll find a way to do the right thing late in a nailbiter. Other coaches are best as favorites because they know how to bully lesser opponents…but don’t really know what to do when they don’t have the horses to bully people.
*Then, based on what you’ve learned, handicap each matchup as a “battle of coaches.” Now, I’m not suggesting you ignore PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS on the floor. That’s always a hallmark category for me. Just put that on the backburner for a moment. Look at each game as a boxing match between head coaches as they’ve performed in their current roles in this event…and form preliminary opinions based on that data. THEN, look at personnel to see if the most important impact players help magnify the coaching advantages/disadvantages you’ve found.
Again, I’m not going to talk about my personal assessments of these coaches. If you do the work, you’ll pretty much figure out my personal assessments of these head coaches! Then, the picks will make themselves.
Other quick keys to consider in the Sweet 16 Thursday and Friday, and then over the weekend in the Elite Eight matchups.
*Depth starts to become important because of mental fatigue, physical fatigue, and the likelihood that foul trouble will become an issue when fantastic athletes are banging into each other with everything on the line. Review Dance and conference tournament boxscores for the remaining rosters with an eye on the minute counts and the overall texture of team scoring. Take note of which teams are worst-suited to an environment where fatigue and foul trouble come into play. (Hint: this could be VERY important Saturday and Sunday!)
*Remember to study DEFENSE! Teams who are soft on defense run into serious trouble at this stage of the Dance because quality opponents will relentlessly attack their weakness. You just can’t hide a weak link at this stage of the tournament. The true BEST BETS over the next four days will involve SMART COACHES unleashing GAMEBREAKERS against vulnerable defenses. You want to invest in the best, deepest defenses. You want to fade the least impressive units who are unlikely to get stops when it matters most.
*Don’t forget to handicap Over/Unders. Certain styles of play tend to magnify each other to create much higher scoring or much lower scoring games than expected. It’s not odd to see final scoreboard totals miss the market price by more than 10 points at this stage of the tournament because of those realities. Can you spot the most likely low scoring “pitcher’s duel?” Can you find the most likely “track meet?” Your preparation in the areas of coaching, gamebreakers/ playmakers, depth, and defense should help you spot at least 2-3 great totals in the Sweet 16, and at least one more over the weekend in the Elite 8.
I’ve told you what you need to know to succeed this weekend. As hard-working students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping, I trust that you’ll take it from there! If you’d like some help picking the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 this weekend, 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 anytime Thursday, and be sure to ask about longterm packages that include the NBA through the Playoffs and/or Major League Baseball (which starts Sunday Night April 5)
Back with you early next week with a discussion that will either review the Dance weekend, or talk about handicapping the NIT Final Four that will be played Tuesday and Thursday in New York. Then, a week from now I’ll talk about handicapping Final Four weekend in the Big Dance. Soon after that, coursework for early season baseball and the NBA’s championship chase. Spring is an underrated stretch of the Las Vegas sports betting calendar. A great time to clean up!
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