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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, February 26, 2016 at 1:00 PM

I have to admit I was very impressed with Xavier’s 90-83 win over Villanova this past Wednesday night. I’ll be watching their game with Seton Hall closely on Sunday to see if they can avoid a letdown. Xavier’s one of countless teams this year who are capable of beating anybody…but also capable of getting upset if they don’t bring their “A” game.

Among their highlights Wednesday:

*They scored 90 points against a very low tempo opponent

*They shot 23 of 42 on two-point attempts (55%)

*They earned 33 free throw attempts

*They won the battle of the boards

*They had six different players score in double digits

Now…there may have been some home cooking involved here. Xavier attempted 33 free throws compared to just 13 for Villanova. That was certainly frustrating for people who were rooting for Villanova as a fan or a Las Vegas bettor. But, give Xavier credit for attacking the basket with a passion. The issue Xavier may have down the road is…what’s going to happen if the refs aren’t blowing their whistles like that?

Here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping, you must be prepared to dig very deep into the analytical process to find winners. You’ll often hear March Madness described as a sequence of “rock-paper-scissors” where who you draw in the tournament will play a big role in how far you go. It’s about MATCHUPS!

*Xavier may be great against vulnerable inside defenses

*Xavier may be out of luck against excellent inside defenses

You can’t know in advance how officials are going to call a game. But, you can at least know which opponents are vulnerable inside. Think about how easy it’s going to be to pick winners during the tournaments if you know who all the “Xavier’s” are in terms of attacking the basket…and then match that up against the strengths or weaknesses of their opponents. You won’t win every game. And, sometimes erratic officiating will get in the way of the best laid plans. But, you’ll win a lot more than you lose. And, you’ll be well-positioned to find true blockbusters when your analysis lines up with our standard basics of following PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS and THE MOTIVATION FACTOR.

So, this weekend’s in-depth homework if you choose to accept it is:

*Try to find as many “Xavier’s” as you can on the college basketball landscape. By that, I mean…talented teams with some depth who attack the basket and aren’t afraid of anybody. Teams who casually pass the ball around the arc don’t go on this list. Teams who shrivel up when challenged don’t go on this list. (Xavier just beat Villanova!). Look for teams who earn a lot of free throws and are willing to play PHYSICAL.

*Study two-point defensive performances for at least the teams who are likely to make the NCAA Tournament. You’ll be surprised how big a range you’ll see even amongst quality teams. Some really emphasize protecting the rim. Others emphasize staying out of foul trouble, which means they give up a lot of easy baskets. Handicapping defense has gotten trickier in the three-point era because long range shooting is so fickle. How teams defend in the paint tells you a lot about their character, their toughness, and the quality of their head coach.

This may seem time-consuming to you…particularly if you wanted to watch a lot of games on TV. Do you want to be a winner? Or a couch potato? Look, you can watch some of the games live, and record others. That’s important for scouting too. Make sure you carve out some time for some classic nuts and bolts handicapping. The more you know about the teams who will be prominent in the conference tournaments and the Big Dance, the more winners you’ll pick.

If you’d like some help finding BEST BETS, KELSO STURGEON’S top 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. I know many of you reading this are do-it-yourselfers. But, if you’d like some help…the Dean of Handicapping is just a few clicks or a phone call away.

See you again in a couple of days to talk about how to handicap mid-major tournaments. Some of those will be tipping off THIS week rather than next week. I’ll certainly have my eye on the Missouri Valley tournament. Wichita State has won a few blowouts for us already this season…and I may be on them again in “Arch Madness” in St. Louis. The past few months of coursework is really going to pay off for us from this point forward. Are you ready??


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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