Submitted by Wayne Root on Sunday, February 28, 2016 at 2:00 PM
This past Saturday I released a PINNACLE play on Vanderbilt as a short home underdog against Kentucky. I was confident that the hosts would win that game straight up…possibly as much as 70% of the time. Why could I be so confident?
Because, even though Kentucky has been playing much better of late, this particular group of athletes has limited experience playing CLOSE games vs. quality teams! I knew Vanderbilt would be sky high for this nationally televised affair in front of a rabid crow. At the very least…the game was going to be close. Running up the score on bad teams tells you nothing about how a program is going to do in close games vs. good teams.
*Last week, Kentucky had to go overtime against slumping Texas A&M
*This week, they had to face a Vanderbilt team that was on the rise (now better than A&M in respected computer ratings)
Just common sense…but common sense that ultimately beat the Vegas spread by double digits when Vanderbilt won going away 74-62. If you watched on CBS, you know that Kentucky absolutely FELL APART when the game was close in the second half. The offense kept forcing up bad shots. The defense kept breaking down. In crunch time, these players still don’t trust each other or their coach.
Saturday, Kentucky was basically a one-man team.
Jamal Murray scored 33 points, his teammates scored only 29 combined
Jamal Murray was 6 of 10 on three-pointers, his teammates were 0 of 12 combined
Jamal Murray was 3 of 4 on three throws, his teammates were 7 of 19 combined
Think about that! This is supposed to be a team full of blue chippers. Yet, most of them combined to go 0 of 12 on three-pointers and 7 of 19 on free throws. How are you going to win close games vs. good teams like that? You won’t. And, this is why Kentucky will be on my fade list come tournament time. Maybe they’ll crush soft opponents in the first round of the SEC tournament and the Big Dance. When matched up against other quality…it’s hard to see how this team will perform under pressure unless the other players take up the slack.
Handicapping college basketball can be very tricky because of these situational dynamics. There are spots where Kentucky is clearly a GREAT bet at Las Vegas sportsbooks when favored over teams who can’t hang with them. Coach Calipari loves to run up the score…particularly when he thinks it will build confidence. With this group of youngsters, it’s just tricking them into thinking they’re better than they are. You saw that Saturday at Vanderbilt. As hard as it might be for some of you to believe, Vegas posted a favorite who really was at least 70% to lose the game straight up.
That PINNACLE blowout anchored another winning day for the service. Similar storylines were in play with my winners on Texas (+) over Oklahoma and Gonzaga (+) over BYU. Short underdogs who were likely to win the last five minutes if they had to. Texas dominated the stretch run in a revenge spot. BYU proved they were overrated again by a Gonzaga team that clearly learned from past mistakes made vs. SMU and St. Mary’s. I don’t win them all…but I do my best to find the best betting opportunities for you on the Vegas board.
I wanted to talk about this topic today because a “close game” dynamic is going to loom very large over the coming tournaments. There’s a lot of parity this year…and things tend to stay close on neutral courts anyway. Being able to recognize which teams can execute late in close games, and which are just hoping for the best amongst disorganization could make you rich! Can you figure out who’s going to win the last five minutes of a game near priced near pick-em? If so, the world is your oyster. Saturday proved that you can find UNDERDOGS who are actually positioned to DOMINATE the last five minutes!
Keep that in mind as you watch the big TV games this week…and then as you jump into the deep end of the tournament pool next week. Wouldn’t hurt you to go back and compile close game records for all the Dance-bound programs.
I’m the only man in the sports betting industry with a star on the “Walk of Fame” here in Las Vegas. That’s because I know how to recognize opportunities as they’re arising in every sport. If this was easy…there would be a couple dozen names from this field on that “Walk of Fame.” THERE’S ONLY ONE! I’m always a few steps ahead of the oddsmakers. If an oddsmaker ever gets his own star it will naturally be a few steps behind mine.
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I’ll see you again midweek to talk about the final weekend in the dramatic and surprising Pac 12. Then, my weekend report will discuss how to exploit “distracted favorites” in regular season finales. The month of March is about to begin. That means it’s time for YOU to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!