Submitted by Winning Edge on Monday, March 6, 2017 at 2:00 PM
Last time, I talked about general handicapping principals for the tournaments. If you missed that article, go back and read it! Today I’m going to talk about how to narrow down your options to find the very best choices that are worthy of PINNACLE caliber bets.
I hope you won with me this past Saturday night when North Carolina got the money at -6.5 at home against Duke. Yeah, we had to sweat that one. But, you know what? We had to sweat that one because the refs kept sending Duke to the free throw line all night! That’s not supposed to happen in Chapel Hill! Think about it this way. We covered…despite Duke getting to shoot 35 free throws, compared to just 21 for North Carolina. My pick was a whopping 19 points better if you take out the charity stripe (+22 points on two-point baskets, one fewer trey on two fewer attempts). My PINNACLE release had so much margin for error that we could suffer a very bad break in officiating and still cash. Make the FT attempts even and we coast. The FT attempts should be about even, or even favoring Carolina in Chapel Hill.
There will very likely be a few PINNACLE plays coming up in the busy day-night schedules that begin this week. What will it take for THE KING OF LAS VEGAS WAYNE ALLYN ROOT to put that label on a pick in tournament action?
*I usually want a convergence of factors. Last time I talked about fundamentals like the ability to handle fatigue, the ability to thrive away from home, and the importance of scoring weaponry. If you want to be extremely picky with your bets…or bet really aggressively every so often, you want to find spots where those line up.
If you see that the fresher team has good (or great) road results this season, and has the more varied, dangerous attack…well, that’s got BLOWOUT written all over it. They’re going to score early…and then run away and hide when the opponent runs out of gas. You regulars know that I generally focus more on upset calls rather than favorites with my daily slates. But, I will back favorites big when the stars align. (The stars aligned with Carolina because they had home court, more diverse weaponry, and REVENGE on their minds to boot!)
*It’s okay to bet big for just one factor when that’s a one-sided edge for the underdog. Often many of the key categories will cancel out in tournament matchups…which is why the lines are close to pick-em and so many are ruled “passes” as I put together my final card. But, if the market underdog has a clear edge that will let them win the game…that may become a PINNACLE play.
An underdog with a good full court press facing a turnover prone opponent
An underdog with a good zone defense facing an opponent who’s poor at treys
An underdog that attacks on offense relentlessly against a tired opponent playing in a back-to-back or third-game-in-three-days.
Those are truly live dogs who are capable of getting the win outright. You’ll probably even cover if they lose a heartbreaker at the buzzer.
*Finally, here’s where we throw in intangibles. North Carolina’s revenge was an intangible this past Saturday night. It’s usually not smart to blindly chase double revenge in conference tourneys. That’s been a proven loser in recent seasons. But, if you have a talented, deep squad facing an opponent that could be getting tired...AND revenge is in play…that’s another story.
Among the intangible strategies I look at in the conference tourneys
*Trusting revenge or double revenge for Dance-caliber teams only
*Fading superpowers who may be thinking too soon about the Big Dance
*Backing “us-against-the-world” storylines that develop (usually about 2-3 per year)
*Looking for “partial” home floors based on geographical proximity, particularly if the dog will have a large local crowd and the favorite is far from home
I will very rarely base a selection ONLY on intangibles. But, they’re a nice kicker to have when other factors are pointing to a team. And, they really can be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” when things start going against a choking favorite. We’ve seen so many top seeds lose their mojo when the tide turns against them. They call it a day and get ready for the Dance.
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