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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, January 18, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Though there are still blowouts that can be found on a daily basis in college basketball, I’d have to say that there’s more true parity this year than I’ve seen in ages. The teams atop the computer ratings and polls just aren’t that much better than everyone else. Given the nuances of talent matchups in this sport…there are some situations where they’re worse!

This can be very tricky for handicappers who prefer betting favorites…and for the general public who could take a real bath if they’re not careful. Ask all the “squares” who thought Duke would bounce back from its loss at Clemson with a big win over Notre Dame. Duke lost again!

With that in mind, here are some things for you regulars here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping to keep in mind now that you’re focusing more intently on college hoops.

*Ignore media hype! I say that all the time…but it’s really important now. The teams that TV pundits are used to hyping are possibly 3-5 points worse than year than in the past. Even if they’re still high up in the polls…and in the computers…they’re not as talented and dynamic as in past years. The field has “condensed” so to speak. It’s just not possible for an ESPN announcer to dwell on big money programs getting worse. You need to see that it’s happening. Being high in the computers or polls means you’re a slight bit better than the field, not a lot better.  

*Remember the rules change about the shot clock! Thus far, this has become an equalizer rather than something that made it easier for powers to dominate. Far too many pundits thought it was going to be a “rich get richer” rules change that would help the powers. Instead, it’s caused powers to get sloppy and force up bad shots. Remember how that brutal weather in Minnesota was an equalizer in the Seahawks/Vikings NFL playoff game? The shorter clock, as least for now, is having the same kind of effect.

*There will be some very good money to be made on the teams who are seen as roughly #20 to #50 in the country. This hunk will be capable of beating more highly regarded teams. A few will make great use of their own home court advantage in a way that oddsmakers will be slow to notice. Those who play top notch defense will be great as dogs or favorite vs. the spread. Let the TV networks hype the same old teams. YOUR JOB is to find good teams who are jealous about not getting hyped. They’ll make some statements in the next few weeks. (Hint…they’ve already been making statements!)

*Three-point shooting will become even more important. Teams who can bail themselves out late in the shot clock will benefit. Plus, inside-out ball movement is vital with the quicker clock. Be sure you’re studying this stat! Look at accuracy, volume, and make a list of the PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS who can win games and cover spreads from long range. It may be that this is the single most important element of the sport for BETTORS from now through March because oddsmakers just don’t pay enough attention to it.

*Because this is an advanced course…you should be ready to do some advanced work. Research the statistical sites to find out which teams have defenses who are great at forcing turnovers…and which offenses are worst about committing them. Getting EASY buckets is the key to winning these days. Turnover forcing defenses get a lot of cheapies on breakaways. Sloppy offenses dig holes that they can’t climb out of. Too many bettors worry too much about average victory margin and Power Ratings, and not enough about the nuts and bolts of what wins basketball games. Get out your screwdriver so you can start taking these teams apart.

If you’ve been struggling on your own in basketball, or you fear you just won’t be able to get up to speed in time to win, The Dean of Sports Handicapping is here to help! KELSO STURGEON’S best bets in football and basketball can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card on game day. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters’ office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.

Thanks again for your attendance and hard work. I’ll be back again midweek with more coursework. Friday, we’ll talk about handicapping the AFC and NFC Conference Championship games that will be played on Sunday. There’s no time to rest in this tremendously busy January!


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

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