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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, March 11, 2016 at 7:00 AM

The early stages of 2016 conference tournament action were unfortunately a showcase of how badly “towel tossers” can play when they barely show up for an even they don’t care about. The fans here in Las Vegas definitely overpaid for that first day of Pac 12 action! But, that’s not going to be an issue through the weekend. Once teams start winning, they care!

We’ve talked a lot already this season about keys to handicapping basketball (and tournaments). I don’t just want to repeat previous coursework. Let’s talk today about the following very critical issues.

How can you tell when a team is “on a roll” that’s going to continue through the weekend? How can you tell when a team that seems like it’s on a roll is about to hit a brick wall?

Many of the biggest pointspread covers during every Championship Week (going back since the beginning!) involve those two factors. Sometimes a team develops an “us against the world” mentality through a weekend that carries them to a surprise tournament title. More often, a team gets hot for a couple of games before hitting a wall vs. a great opponent and getting blown out.

Too many handicappers lose a couple or a few games in a row figuring “there’s no way this team stays hot.” Others make the mistake of trying to ride all of Cinderella’s coaches when most are going to turn into pumpkins. Some guys will go 10-15 on their picks one way, others will go 10-15 from the other direction. You want to be the guy going 15-10 for 60% winners!

Here are the typical factors helping those “us against the world” surgers:

*Great attitude

*Team Depth

*Helpful crowd environment (games aren’t too far from campus)

*A superstar GAMEBREAKER who opposing defenses aren’t well-suited to stop

You regulars will recognize that this kind of team has PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS plus THE MOTIVATION FACTOR going for them at the same time. That plus enough depth to handle weekend fatigue can push a team like this over the top.

I should also mention that conference tournament Cinderella’s are usually aided by:

*Opponents who are thinking ahead to the Dance

*Opponents who don’t have the depth to deal with all the back-to-backs

*Opponents who are prone to get overconfident after 1-2 wins

Cinderella’s need help to go the distance! They will not beat focused, loaded superpowers. They will beat distracted overrated teams that have an exploitable weakness.

I’m confident the preparation work you’ve already done on PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS, team depth, and other tournament dynamics will help you hone in on the best Cinderella possibilities.

Now, the typical factors for those teams “about to hit a wall” when Cinderella’s seemingly glitzy ride turns into a pumpkin.

*A lack of depth

*A soft defense, that only gets softer with fatigue

*An over-reliance on three-pointers (tough to stay hot all weekend)

*Their own tendency to get overconfident after a big win

I can fairly confidently tell you in advance that any blowouts this weekend will involve those bullet points. Losing teams will cool off from long range just as their own defense has worn down. Put that on the court against a highly regarded opponent, and it’s going to get nasty.

I strongly suggest you print out today’s discussion, then run through these bullet points after each and every game in the conferences you’re handicapping. Watch what you can on TV. Study boxscores from other games, then do you’re very best to anticipate what’s most likely to happen. These keys will help you if you’re following just 1-2 conferences, or the whole college board.  

Tournament handicapping is very different from the regular season because of these day-by-day challenges. If you want to win money, you have to “ride the rapids” with intelligence and confidence. Don’t drown in bad decisions! (And, a gentle reminder again that it’s best to watch games on TV with the volume turned down because media pundits love to hype teams that don’t really deserve the hype.)

If you’d like some help finding the top investments in every tournament session. KELSO STURGEON’S BEST BETS 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. It’s very easy for more casual wagerers to get overwhelmed during Championship Week (or, as ESPN is now inexplicably calling it “Champ” Week). The Dean of Sports Handicapping is here to help you do-it-yourselfers if needed.  

Back with you again early next week to talk about handicapping the NCAA Tournament. We’re coming up on “Selection Sunday,” just after you turn your clocks forward. You’ll be in the right mindset early next week to gear up for the most exciting sports betting spectacular on the yearly schedule.

Thanks for your attendance and hard work. Handicap like a CHAMP this weekend! See you again next time.


Be sure to follow:

Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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