Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 at 7:00 AM
Now that March has arrived, this seems like the ideal time to review here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping what matters most during Championship month in college basketball. If you’ve been regularly attending these discussions and doing your homework, you’re already well-positioned to make intelligent picks. But, a quick review of fundamentals that matter most in MARCH is certainly worth your time.
Let me dispense with our usual points of focus right off the top. PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS matter a lot because those are the guys who will be deciding who wins and covers close games. I trust you’re already well-prepared in this area. Also, THE MOTIVATION FACTOR always looms large. Though, it can take a backseat when championships are on the line because everybody should be motivated in March! The main concern here, as we’ve mentioned often in the past, is to look to fade teams who are overconfident, or who otherwise can’t get their juices flowing because of chemistry issues.
Now…on to some more in-depth fundamentals!
I’ve made it a key point of emphasis for us in the coursework this season. You’ve seen why in the games. In a year of parity, it’s often the most well-coached teams who come out on top at the end of nailbiters. And, you’ve clearly seen that it’s the WORST-coached teams who make boneheaded mistakes late in close games. Tactics, adjustments, substitutions, and late-game strategy are going to matter a lot in the conference tournaments and the Big Dance. Be sure you’re studying what the coaches are doing in the games you watch on TV through the month. Be sure you review close-game team performances from the regular season. Bet on smart coaches. Fade those who are in over their heads in high pressure showdowns.
*DEFENSE INSIDE THE ARC
Protecting the rim is vital to success in the month of March. You just can’t string together victories if you’re soft inside unless you shoot lights out the whole month. Nobody can do that! Be sure you’re studying which teams have the best two-point defenses. Stats on this can be found on the internet. If you’re having trouble, just go to the conference websites and subtract three-point shooting from overall shooting to get two-point shooting. I can assure you that you’ll win bets in March because you’ve faded teams who WON’T score in the last five minutes of a close game. And, your buddies will be lamenting their lost bets because their team “was in great shape” until disappearing late.
In the past, I would really emphasize defensive rebounding to my followers. But, these days, it seems like offensive rebounding is just as important. Some would argue it’s more important. That’s because every offensive rebound extends a possession. That gives teams another chance to score. And, late in a close game, it gives them a chance to control the clock and hold for a game-winning shot. This is going to become very clear to you in the conference tournaments. Offensive rebounds determine who wins close games! This is actually a good rule of thumb to remember…defensive rebounds create blowouts…offensive rebounds win nailbiters. Obviously, you should spend some time studying rebounding stats!
You’ll often hear old-timers talk about how “guard play” matters most in March. I’ve been betting basketball longer than just about anyone you know. I’ll agree with that line of thinking to the degree that it’s obviously important. Maybe not “most” important. But, quality point guards are a must-have in March because they help teams make the most out of their possessions. Bad point guards are a DISASTER because they turn the ball over too much. You just can’t win March games if you’re having a lot of zero-point possessions. I believe the work you’ve done on PLAYMAKERS will already have you in good shape in the “guard play” element.
But, what I’m calling “turnover avoidance” involves other players too. So, be sure you look at TEAM turnover tendencies on offense in your homework efforts. Some big men are prone to lose the ball or throw it away when they get it in the post. Some fast break offenses have wings who throw the ball away or travel. Sloppy basketball won’t get it done in March. Some of your best underdog picks will involve fading sloppy offenses. Some of your best blowout picks will involve offenses who protect the ball and find easy looks.
Be sure you’re ready before the major conference tournaments begin. The schedules are too frantic once the action begins for you to “start from scratch” in every matchup. You know even know the second round matchups! The semi-finals in the major tournaments won’t be known until the last second because upsets usually knock over the apple cart. Know team strengths and weaknesses before the action begins. You’ll be busy enough monitoring player minutes and other fatigue issues once the games tipoff.
I’m really looking forward to all that March has to offer. If you find yourself a bit intimidated by the challenge ahead, KELSO STURGEON’S daily 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.
The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back with you this weekend to talk about some specific strategies for the final few days of the regular season. Then, next week we’ll talk more about handicapping the major conference tournaments. There are so many teams capable of winning their league events…this could be the most exciting “prelude to the Dance” that fans and Las Vegas bettors have enjoyed in years. I’m confident you’ll make the most if it.
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