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Submitted by Winning Edge on Friday, March 24, 2017 at 11:00 AM

The only game I didn’t have a selection in this past Thursday night in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament was the Arizona/Xavier matchup. As skeptical as I was about Arizona laying a price as high as -7.5 points….it was very tough to pull the trigger on a Xavier team that was due to fall back to earth after playing so far over its head.

I should have pulled the trigger. Xavier exemplified that “us against the world” chip on their shoulder mentality that underdogs have to have in this big event. I can’t say I was shocked that Arizona was exposed as a pretender on the national stage. I’ve been watching them play all season. Beating St. Mary’s was nice…but St. Mary’s is just another West Coast team that’s not ready for the big time.

Thursday I did win with Oregon. But, that was a contrarian play against what had been a red-hot Michigan side. I felt the odds of Michigan -1 were weighed to heavily to recent form. That turned out to be correct, but just barely. West Virginia won for bettors who could find +3.5, as I faded West Coast Conference champion Gonzaga. Most clients take a push. My contrarian play on Purdue didn’t get there. So, 1-1-1 Thursday for most clients, still 18-5-1 in the Big Dance since a week ago Wednesday.

I’m not going to talk about my upcoming formal selections for Friday and Saturday (or in projected matchups for Sunday). That wouldn’t be fair to my paying clients. I will discuss lessons I believe handicappers should have been learning to this point in the tournament.

*First, the more three-point shooters you have, the better! That should be obvious. But, I think it’s pretty clear that when the market gets “surprised” by a team, it’s because that team has been tough to guard outside the arc. And, when the market gets shocked that an expected power fails, it’s because that team got impatient outside of the arc and kept launching up bricks. Arizona was 7 of 27 from three in its loss to Xavier. I’m really mad that West Virginia was 5 of 23 from long range. They shoot their normal percentage and we win that one outright.

As the three-point shot continues to become an even larger part of the modern game, handicappers have to study what’s going to happen on both offense and defense. Which defenses race around to deny open looks? Which offenses have multiple threats who will eventually nail their shots after ball rotations? Start watching these TV telecasts with an eye on that. It will help you make smart picks the rest of the way.

*Free throw shooting matters late in close games….but isn’t as important overall as it used to be. Why is that? Many defenses have learned that its best to back away from contact once the opponent gets the ball inside. You just can’t let your star players get in foul trouble. If the other team gets an easy bucket, you can get that back soon enough. If a star has to sit for the last five minutes of the first half, or during a crucial stretch of the second half, you’re toast.

So, when handicapping tournament basketball, I wouldn’t look at “team” free throw performance. I’d focus on the guards who are most likely to be handling the ball late in close games. If those guys drain their free throws, that provides good insurance on a big bet. If they’re shaky, then you don’t want to be making a serious investment.

*Finally, rebounding is so important late in these close games. Face it, we have a lot of evenly matched teams remaining in the brackets. There are going to be more close games! It’s amazing how many decisions come down to putbacks after an offensive rebound (even off of missed free throws!), or a defender clearing the way to end the drama.

Take notes on rebounding as you watch the closing minutes of remaining action. Study the boxscores to see which teams (and players) are most likely to get the best of it when rebounding matters most.

The only man in the sports betting industry with a star on the Walk of Fame here in Las Vegas is anxious and rarin’ to go for the rest of this big basketball weekend. You can always purchase my BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about which of my services best suits your individual needs, please talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. (Don’t forget to ask about Major League Baseball, which is now just a week away!)

I’m still on that red hot 18-5-1 run in the Dance as I write this Friday morning. Are you doing as well on your own? Even if you’re winning…you’re not winning LIKE THAT! Whether you need to climb out of a hole, or you just want to pile on the profits, it’s time for you to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!

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