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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, February 8, 2016 at 2:00 PM

I know that many of you are just now ready to start paying attention to basketball. To YOU, the basketball season doesn’t start until the Super Bowl is over. Hopefully most of you students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping are already up to speed. For those of you who aren’t…let’s pick up with last year’s Final Four…

*Defending National Champion DUKE isn’t even in the top 25 any more. A focus on recruiting potential superstars has hurt their depth. Then, an early injury helped expose that depth. Duke plays a big game Monday night at home against Louisville. Respected computer rankings currently have Louisville as the superior team. It’s extremely unlikely that we’ll have a repeat champion this year. This current Duke team is one of those versions that’s in serious danger of being knocked out the first time they take the floor.

*Defending Runner-up WISCONSIN has completely fallen off the map. A last-minute coaching change caught the players (and the promoted assistant!) by surprise. Right now, Wisconsin wouldn’t even make the NCAA Tournament if it were being held this weekend. Never forget that coaching is HUGE in this sport.

*National Semi-finalists KENTUCKY and MICHIGAN STATE have been disappointments so far. Last year’s Kentucky team was one of the best ever in terms of regular season performance. They got shocked by Wisconsin in the Final Four. This new batch of talent looks to represent a big drop-off. Though, there have been some promising results recently. Maybe the Wildcats will peak late. Sparty spent a little time at #1 in the polls. A very shaky start in Big 10 play surprised most everyone. This team has a proven history of peaking late under Coach Izzo though. It’s much easier to count the others out than MSU in terms of Dance potential.

*National Quarter-finalists ARIZONA, LOUISVILLE, NOTRE DAME, and GONZAGA have also taken some steps backward. Arizona has been great at home….but so bad on the road that they may not even get a great seed in their own Pac 12 tournament. Louisville just banned themselves from the postseason because of misbehavior involving alleged prostitution. They may have been the team most likely to make it back to the Elite 8! Notre Dame just scored a big upset over North Carolina to stem the tide of what had been a disappointing run. Finally, Gonzaga has really fallen back even though they’re still likely to reach the Dance from the West Coast Conference.

Amazing how many of last year’s powers have taken one or many steps in the wrong direction in such a short period of time. There’s still plenty of time for them to get their acts together. Maybe some friendly officiating will make sure a few of “the usual suspects” go deep again. Most likely though, we’re going to have a WIDE OPEN postseason that will test oddsmakers and “casual” handicappers who started late. The eventual Final Four might feature the fourth place team in the Big 12, the fifth best team in the ACC, the third place team in the Big 10, and a surprise outlier from who knows where.

Quick homework for those of you just your college basketball “season” today…

*Don’t place any bets yet!

*Study the standings in the major conferences

*Study ATS records in the major conferences

*Study home/road splits (straight up and ATS) in the major conferences

*Study the last 5-7 games for each team to get a sense of “recent form”

Maybe you’ll be ready to place some bets by Valentine’s. Maybe you’ll need to wait another week. The WORST thing you can do is to jump in and play hunches based on what you think you know about basketball. Things are topsy-turvy so far in the 2015-16 season. You don’t know diddly if you’re just getting started.

For those of you who have been studying the right things all along…just stay the course. You’re where you need to be…and continuing to monitor reality will keep you ahead of oddsmakers who have been buried with Super Bowl concerns the last two weeks.

Everyone reading this is invited to pursue additional assistance by getting my daily releases. KELSO STURGEON’S top basketball selections can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. 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. Ask about longterm packages that take you through the college tournaments and/or the NBA Playoffs.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back with you in a couple of days to talk more basketball. I’m disappointed that the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton played so poorly in the Super Bowl. They sure weren’t catching any breaks from the officials when the tone of the game was being set. But, many major releases are on the immediate horizon in the baskets. Stay the course. See you again next time.


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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