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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 8:00 PM

You’re reading this after the official brackets for the 2016 college basketball Championship Tournament have been announced. You have little time to get ready for the “play-in” games set for Tuesday and Wednesday. But, plenty of time to prepare for the “Round of 64” that begins Thursday. Your homework between now and then is to get ready!

First, review all of your notes from last week and the regular season regarding the qualifying teams. Be sure you know who the PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS are on as many teams as possible. There are obviously several teams in the brackets who you weren’t following during the regular season because they were from such minor conferences. Your two choices there are to ignore their games and focus on what you know…or do start researching those lesser schools!

Personally, I’d rather you stick with what you know rather than taking any flyers on some darkhorse you hear your buddies talking about. But, if you do have time, it is possible to find some smart value bets on those unheralded teams. Remember, oddsmakers don’t know much about those teams either! And, the margin for error with the computers on those squads is very large. I can tell you that KELSO STURGEON will be putting in the additional work, largely because some BLOWOUT possibilities are out there with a few of the truly outmanned opponents. You’re not a professional. I understand if your time is more limited. Play to your strengths.

Second, review last week’s conference tournament results to get a sense of which teams are most likely to play well in their openers. Remember that…

*Teams who climbed a big mountain in their conference tournament are often flat as a pancake in their Dance debut. It’s hard to get “back” up emotionally when you just went all out to cut down the nets. It’s just not smart to lay points with teams who are drained of energy and emotion…particularly those who were a surprise to win their tournaments.

*Teams who lost earlier than expected because they got complacent have had extra time to stew about it and come out breathing fire. Some of the BEST BETS this week will be quality teams with a chip on their shoulder AND several days of rest.

Make evaluations for EVERY tournament team regarding whether they’re set for a peak effort in their debut, or an emotionally tired effort in their opener. Mismatches should be considered very seriously for large Las Vegas bets. Even slight advantages could be worthy of value bets at your local sportsbook.

Third, pay close attention to travel and starting time challenges for every team. It can be very dicey to lay points (or take points) with a team playing out of its comfort zone. Don’t do that with West Coast teams who have to play earlier than usual in another time zone. Or, with East Coast teams who are travelling cross country. There will occasionally be exceptions to this rule, particularly if a decent East Coast team lost earlier than expected last week. They’ll be ready to pound somebody no matter when the game starts! But, I try very hard to keep my selections in synch with this dynamic. I’m not afraid to place BIG bets on good, fresh teams who are playing close to home at a nice starting time. I’m much more conservative with teams who are outside of their comfort zone, particularly if they climbed a mountain last week. They’ll be smarter bets in the Sweet 16 if they make it that far.

I know many of you younger handicappers are quant-minded, and you want to place a lot of weight on all of those computer ratings you see across the media. There’s nothing wrong with using those for context and getting the big picture. But, you’ll notice that today’s coursework involves influences that are very difficult for a computer to grasp.

*Computers don’t understand how one GAMEBREAKER can take over a second half, a weekend, or even a tournament (remember Danny Manning of Kansas back in the day?).

*Computers don’t understand how the emotions of conference tournaments carry over to the Dance for better or worse.

*Computers don’t understand bad body clocks or jet lag.

The NCAA tournament isn’t an imaginary exercise played in cyberspace. It’s a real-world event featuring young adults (and their coaches) who will show predictable tendencies to whoever’s been watching (and betting) this tournament their whole life. Speaking frankly, I will kick a computer’s butt in picking this event as a general rule.

Best of luck to all of you do-it-yourselfers. If you’d like some help, 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. Please take care of business quickly for those extended packages. The schedule’s about to get crazy and you want your ducks in a row as soon as possible.

Back with you midweek to talk more about handicapping the greatest sports betting show on earth. The NFL Super Bowl may be the single biggest sports betting “game”. But, March Madness is the biggest sports betting EVENT! I hope you get the chance to experience that out here in person. Maybe The Dean of Sports Handicapping will run into you at a sportsbook this week!  


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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