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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, February 29, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Even though the bulk of the college basketball conference tournament schedule doesn’t get rolling until next week, there are several mid-major events that are just hours away from starting. Handicapping tournament basketball begins THIS week, not next week!

Today in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping, I’m going to talk about how to handicap those smaller tournaments. I’m not going to get into specific teams because I have to protect that information for my playing clients. But, there are some time-proven general principles that smart Las Vegas bettors should be following.

*The first thing to remember is that all of these leagues will only get one bid to the NCAA Tournament…and that bid will go to the winner of this event. That means that the ELITE teams in the smaller tournaments HAVE to show up or their season is over. There’s just no chance these teams will get caught “looking ahead,” which is much more common in the big events. Heck, sometimes head coaches of the #1 seeds in the big conferences like to suffer a loss because it gets the attention of star players just before the Dance. In these mid-majors, none of the good teams are flat!

As a result, you can bet the favorites with more confidence…and you really have to be careful taking flyers on underdogs. THE MOTIVATION FACTOR strongly favors the best teams. The best mid-majors will play their best basketball in their conference tournaments because their season really is on the line…and they’re facing a class of opposition that they already match up well against.

*The second thing to remember is that the atmosphere is very weird for the majority of games that don’t involve the host school or the pre-tournament favorite. There are a ton of empty seats. Some of the starting times are very odd. This favors well-coached teams who emphasize the fundamentals, and really hurts poorly coached teams with bad chemistry. There are going to be some very ugly no shows from bad teams. Some relatively “generic” teams are going to post big results because they focus and execute against disinterested opponents that don’t have a crowd to play to. I’ve really emphasized the impact of head coaches for you this year in our coursework. You’ll see why in many of these smaller tournaments. Take smart, fundamental teams at cheap neutral court prices.

*The third and final key I want to discuss today is the impact of fatigue. Games are clustered together much closer than normal in a tournament. Depending on the bracketing, you’re going to have back-to-backs and teams playing three (or more) days in a row. You must pay close attention to depth, pace, and minutes played by the starters as a tournament progresses. Your strongest bets will come against sturdy mid-paced (or slow) teams who won’t lose their legs, particularly when they’re matched late in the tournament against teams who have emptied their tanks while advancing.

It may be hard for you to find many of these games to watch on TV unless you’re a real hardcore fan. At least read the boxscores to monitor pace (possessions per game) and minute counts. Even though you’ve spent months handicapping this sport, there’s still some critical “on-the-fly” analysis that must be done through each event. The worst bets you can make are on “Cinderella’s” who hit a wall and lose their last game by 20. The best bets you can make are on high quality, motivated, DEEP teams who are well-built for the challenges of a tournament.

It’s hard to know in advance how many games I’ll be personally releasing in these early tournaments this week. The regular schedule is still very busy. I’ll definitely be handicapping the games to look for edges. If you’d like some help finding nightly 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.

This is a great time to get locked in for extended service through the Big Dance or the NBA Playoffs. I know many of you are starting to get excited about the NBA too with all the hype about what’s going on in that league. Even successful do-it-yourselfers can supplement their portfolios with professional advice. It’s very easy to put KELSO STURGEON’S guidance to work for you.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back in a couple of days to talk about the handicapping factors that matter most in March. The next time we’re together…it will be March! Seems like the Super Bowl was just last week. But, February has flown by and it’s almost time for MARCH MADNESS to commence. Thanks again for your attendance and hard work.


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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