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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, May 4, 2012 at 12:59 PM

I’ve talked in the past about the importance of the “incentive factor” when handicapping sports. You should never make a big bet on a team unless you have an edge in incentive in that particular game. Some of you might think that the incentive factor disappears in the playoffs because every game matters as teams battle to win a championship. That’s not the way it works out!

I’ll explain it this way. The BEST teams don’t lose their incentive. They’re always trying to win a championship. But, the WORST teams in the playoffs often lose their will to fight. I call this the “Throw in the Towel” factor. Lesser teams give up hope once things start to go South. They were underdogs in the series anyway. Once the superior team starts pulling away, the series is already over even if there’s another half or another game to play.

Recent examples:

*New York in the fourth quarter of Game Three vs. Miami

*Dallas in the second half of Game Three vs. Oklahoma City

*Orlando in the second half of Game Three vs. Indiana

*Utah for arguably all of Game Two vs. San Antonio

It’s very important for Advanced Handicappers to be aware of the possibilities here because the “Throw in the Towel” factor will trump many time-tested strategies. Once a team stops playing with defensive intensity, they have no hope. Once a team starts launching treys haphazardly because they’ve fallen so far behind, they tend to dig the hole much deeper very quickly. Once the starters are on the bench and the back-ups are on the floor…forget about it!


*Power Ratings don’t matter if the lesser team isn’t going to play to their normal level. “Throw in the Towel teams will play 10-15 points worse than their normal Power Ratings, which is why we’re seeing so many recent playoff games miss their Vegas spreads by a mile. The blowouts aren’t happening because the top teams are “lifting their games.” The blowouts are happening because the lesser teams are giving up and plummeting to new lows.

*Trends won’t matter if a team in a historically favored situation doesn’t believe they can win. Past teams may have shown up and played hard in this spot. Modern players may not think the same way. And, any team can get down in the dumps quickly if they’re facing a juggernaut. Being in a 15-2 pointspread “situation” is irrelevant if your team lacks shooters and nobody’s hustling on defense any more. That trend is going to fall to 15-3 while you suffer a loss.

*Even the classic “zig zag” approach won’t work if the team whose turn it is to win lacks the motivation to zig or zag. I know many of you reading this were disappointed with the efforts of Orlando and Dallas the past few nights. Depression set in early and those teams didn’t do what history suggested they might.

Advanced Handicappers must understand the personnel matchups, the coaching strategies, the relative power of each team, the tendencies of oddsmakers regarding those teams…and they must ALSO develop an eye for when a team is going to throw in the towel. Some of the easiest playoff winners you’ll have, particularly in the first round that we’re experiencing right now, will come when you back an affordable favorite against a team that’s already scheduled its tee times at the country club next week. Some of your worst losers will come on underdogs who make sense on paper but don’t bother to show up for their games.

You’ve already seen some of this. It’s about to become a VERY big deal as all eight first round series draw closer to their conclusions over the next few days.

There are two reasons I’ve brought this to your attention today. First, we already have series that might conclude Saturday and Sunday of this weekend. Second, I didn’t want to say anything about TONIGHT’S games because I’m releasing my first true MONSTER of the 2012 postseason with Friday’s 100-UNIT NBA PLAYOFF “FIRST ROUND” GAME OF THE YEAR!

No hints here as to who it’s going to be. You’ve probably already read on this very website that this game grades out to be a 90% winner straight up and against the spread. That tells you enough. You can purchase it right here with your credit card for just a $50 payment. Or, sign up for the rest of the playoffs for $199 and make this GAME OF THE YEAR your first big winner. Vegas sportsbooks should already throw in the towel on this near-lock…that’s how confident I am of this play.

My next College of Advanced Handicapping coursework will be presented Tuesday. I know some of you are looking for baseball guidance…so I’ll weigh that in mind as I decide between basketball and baseball for that report. I look forward to seeing you then. Enjoy Kentucky Derby Weekend whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or part of the KELSO STURGEON program. With all the great opportunities on the Vegas board in basketball, baseball, and horse racing, I firmly believe this is going to be one of the biggest profit weekends of the entire calendar season!

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