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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 1:00 PM

After a short hiatus, sports bettors (including all of you regular students here in my Advanced College of Sports Betting and Handicapping) must make their final decisions in the Sweet 16 games of the 2016 NCAA Tournament scheduled for Thursday and Friday at four different regional sites.

I have to say that the remaining field is very strong. The only mid-major to make it through was Gonzaga. And, this is a very good Gonzaga team that definitely earned its way this far with easy wins over Big East tournament champion Seton Hall and Pac 12 tournament runner-up Utah. (And, don’t forget that Gonzaga reached the Elite 8 last year!) We almost had Stephen F. Austin and Northern Iowa in the last 16. I’m still not sure how Northern Iowa managed the choke job of the century vs. Texas A&M. And, Notre Dame needed some late help from officials and a last second tip-in to take out SFA. The dust has settled…and it’s mostly the usual suspects.

I think the key for you to remember right now is that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN! What occurred over the first weekend is not necessarily predictive of the remaining tournament. We’ve seen time and time again that…

*Power seeds that played very well in the first weekend often get overconfident because things came so easily to them. Teams like Kansas, North Carolina, or Virginia could be in for a rude awakening against fired up, quality opponents with nothing to lose (Maryland, Indiana, and Iowa State in order). Nobody loses THE MOTIVATION FACTOR this deep in such a big event. But, the ARROGANCE factor could take out a power very soon. Last year’s Kentucky team was historically great…but they were lucky to get out of the Elite Eight (two-point win over Notre Dame), and then lost before the Finals. None of this year’s teams are as good as last year’s Kentucky team in raw Power Ratings.

*Teams who barely survived the first weekend often rise up and play their best ball now. They play free and easy because they’re betting with house money. The pressure is off. Texas A&M played terrified through most of the Northern Iowa game. Now, against Oklahoma…what is there to lose? It might not be the Aggies…but somebody who advanced without impressing in their last game just might have a peak season performance Thursday or Friday. And, history has made it clear that at least one or two teams find an extra gear in this round that catches observers by surprise. Look over the brackets…and it’s not hard to imagine several possibilities for such an occurrence in 2016.

*The geography changes in a way that might help or hinder certain teams. North Carolina got to play in Raleigh last week, which is just a short drive from their home campus. Things might not be so easy in Philadelphia…particularly with the tendency for “neutral” fans to root for the underdog. Oregon had relative home cooking in Spokane last week. Anaheim is still in their part of the country…but at least isn’t in their backyard. They almost didn’t get past St. Joseph’s while playing in their neighboring state against an opponent that flew across the country.

Also, I’m happy to report that we don’t have any “domes” in this year’s regional semifinals and finals. The games are in BASKETBALL arenas in Louisville, Anaheim, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Shooters won’t be presented with the kind of awkward backdrops you get in spacious football stadiums. This will at least be different than what you’ve grown used to in past seasons. Teams who need three-pointers to win won’t be at as big a disadvantage.

My most important advice to you is to NOT be overly influenced by what you saw last week. Learn from it…but don’t let those games represent the entirety of your thought process. Those were just two games (per-team) out of 30-plus this season. You surely learned something about how those kids handle “playoff” style basketball. That goes into the mix along with…

*Playmakers and Gamebreakers

*Possible appearance of The Arrogance Factor

*Head coaching quality

*Versatility and depth

*Defending the rim

You longtime students know that I can’t get specific about the teams I’ll be releasing. Our coursework is for do-it-yourselfers. My service is for paying clients! I do think that focusing on the elements I just discussed will go a long way toward putting you on the same wavelength as me heading into this weekend. The work you’ve been doing all season has prepared you for the gauntlet of challenges you’ll be facing the next two weeks. If you’d like to go “full Kelso” through the rest of MARCH MADNESS, it’s very easy!

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. I do have rates for extended packages that take you through the rest of the NIT and NCAA’s. If you like the NBA, be sure to ask about a program that goes all the way through the NBA Playoffs. As these tournaments wind down, pro basketball (and baseball) is about to become front and center.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back with you this weekend to talk about handicapping the Elite 8 games. That’s where potential fatigue comes back into play because the survivors will be playing two very intense high pressure games within three days. Winning “a weekend” can be a lot harder than winning one game…as so many teams learned last week. Thanks very much for your continuing attendance and hard work. See you in a couple of days.


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Kelso Sturgeon on twitter @vsm_sturgeon

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