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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, March 7, 2016 at 1:00 PM

The 2015-16 college basketball regular season is in the books, and it’s time to handicap the tournaments. Last week, I talked about handicapping the mid-major tournaments. This week, here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping, we talk about the major tournaments: the ACC, Big 12, Big 10, SEC, and Pac 12 events.

We always emphasize the impact of PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS on these pages. I’m not even going to make that a bullet point. And, honestly, in a lot of these games…that angle is going to cancel out because the teams are relatively even in terms of impact players. This year more than ever, there are a lot of “pretty good” teams, but hardly any true superpowers that are head and shoulders above the rest of the field. This reality is going to be fairly obvious to you newcomers beginning this week. It’s going to matter all the way through the Dance.

 

THE MOTIVATION FACTOR

Though, in this case it can be more of a “lack of motivation” factor for many of the top teams. We see it every year. Highly regarded #1 and #2 seeds in major conference tournaments lose early because the kids just don’t care much about this week’s tournament action. The Big Dance is what matters! That doesn’t start until next week.

The motivation in major conference tournaments goes to bubble teams, teams not even good enough to be on the bubble, and often seeds in the #3 to #6 range who are feeling their oats this week as underdogs against higher ranked teams who beat them during the regular season.

You chalk lovers have to be very careful with favorites who don’t really have anything to play for. The media loves hyping the tournaments they’re covering. The players on a lot of top teams just don’t buy into it. Be sure you can identify some sort of real motivational factor (revenge, and “us against the world” mentality, embarrassment from losing early LAST year) before investing in AP poll powers.

 

THRIVING IN THE END GAME

We’ve already seen it in some of the minor tournaments. Kids just don’t know what to do late in close games when so much is on the line…and too many head coaches do a horrible job of helping them. You want to bet on teams who have established that they can execute on both sides of the floor late in nailbiters. That means getting stops on defense (which most good teams can do these days in the final seconds of a close game), and working for good shots or free throw opportunities on offense (which is a much rarer quality!)

I’ve been emphasizing this point to you all season. Hopefully your research will pay off this week. We’re going to have a lot of games priced near pick-em…and many of those games are going to be tied in the final minutes. Making money this week will be strongly influenced by your ability to recognize which teams can or can’t get the job done late.

 

TEAM DEPTH

In the major tournaments, you have to win at least three games in three days to cut down the nets. Teams in the larger leagues who have to win from off the radar must win four games in four days! You can’t do that without depth, unless you slow every game down to a crawl.

This is probably the single biggest “on court” factor that makes tournaments different from the regular season in the major conferences. You can’t go all out for 40 minutes and then take a couple of days off. You have to come back the next day and do it again…and then the NEXT day to do it a third time. Some quality teams are ideally suited to get regular season results, but don’t have rosters that thrive in a high-fatigue tournament environment. On the other hand, there are “grinders” with deep rotations who are suddenly positioned to play fresh in games two and three vs. tired opponents.

Be sure you’re paying attention to game pace and minute counts. Las Vegas bets strong enough to be considered for 100-unit or even 200-unit ratings can pop up out of the blue in major tournaments because of this single dynamic.

This is one of the most anticipated weeks of the sports betting calendar every year out here in Las Vegas. Sure, more tourists come in for the Big Dance. But, regular college bettors like THIS WEEK even more because the schedule’s more intense and the sheer volume of great matchups is a true thrill. If you’d like some help finding the BEST BETS on the board, 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. Why not lock in NOW for all basketball through MARCH MADNESS or the NBA Playoffs?

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your attendance and all the hard work you’ve put in this season. You regulars are surely prepared for the task at hand this week. I’ll be back in a couple of days to talk more about tournament handicapping. I have no doubt you’ll be getting the best of the brackets all month long. It’s about to get VERY busy…I know you’re ready!

 

Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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