Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 1:00 PM
This current college basketball season has challenged many casual sports bettors who are hoping they can pick winners by watching a few games a week on TV. Lotsa luck with that approach!
Teams who were great in November and December are falling back to earth (like West Virginia and Oklahoma, who both lost this past weekend in the Big 12/SEC Challenge). Teams who started slowly are just now getting things figured out (probably at least one in every conference on the board, with some leagues having two or three). Star players are getting neutralized. New stars are grabbing the spotlight. And, a half dozen TV networks have studio shows with "experts" scratching their heads all day and night on Saturdays.
If you're going to stay ahead of the betting markets from now through the end of the regular season, JIM HURLEY says you need to focus on the following factors.
*Look at the last two weeks rather than the last two months! What happened late in 2017 doesn't matter much any more. Conference play is a whole different animal, particularly for teams who rely on one key player or one key style. A tough zone defense doesn't scare opponents who see you once or twice every season, nor does a full court press. Your go-to offensive guy might be easy to contain now that everyone has two months of film on him. A side effect of this is that using "computer" ratings that reflect the whole season will keep leading you astray. Too much old news in those algorithms!
*Teams that rely on a few (or a lot of) freshmen are likely to close the season well. They have learned from their mistakes. They can play at college speed after getting overwhelmed early. If a young team that struggled out of the gate is now playing well...focus on NOW rather than what happened before they figured things out. You'd be helped greatly in your success rate if you spent some time studying the experience breakdowns for the teams or leagues that you like to handicap.
*Fast-paced teams will start to show signs of fatigue, while slow-paced teams will take advantage of that by working for good shots. We saw a lot of that this past weekend, and it's only going to become more pronounced. Up-tempo basketball may sell a lot of tickets, and appeal to a lot of talented recruits. But, it's hard to win a conference championship or a national championship that way. Star players wear down. Tired players miss three-pointers and lose their fight on defense. Do you keep track of pace? Many stat websites do that for you. If you're not paying attention to this angle, you might be 10 years behind the betting market. But, oddsmakers and a few sharps are still slow to adjust for in-season ramifications of pace. Individual player and overall team fatigue is always most important during the final month of the regular season. Guess what we're about to begin in college basketball.
*Injuries have been a big deal this season, and will continue to loom large over day-to-day handicapping. Sometimes, you have to anticipate how a team will perform after losing a starter to injury. Other times, it's the opposite. You have to anticipate what type of lift a team will get when an important player returns from injury. Injuries become more common in February as the wear-and-tear of the season takes its toll...and as intense conference rivalries kick up the physicality factor. Read the injury lists daily. Be sure you understand depth of talent issues on any team dealing with the loss of a starter. Helfpul hint: focus on mid-major conferences and other lesser known leagues, where the lines are typically must slower to adjust to personnel issues.
JIM HURLEY'S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach here at NETWORK is ideally suited to deal with everything we've discussed today. Our SCOUTS AND SOURCES get us up-to-the-minute information on health and fatigue angles. Our COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS can easily swap out names of players in our simulations to determine injury impact. Our simulations are based on skill sets, not old stats! And, our CONNECTIONS BEHIND THE LINE let us know what the smart money is doing on the fly...at a time when that smart money is very much focused on these particular factors.
What JIM HURLEY built has always been the very definition of "state-of-the-art." You're going to handicap by listening to Dick Vitale gush about the same old coaches and the same old programs? This is 2018, not 1998! Hook up with a PROVEN WINNER!
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When we return at the end of the week, we'll outline JIM HURLEY'S thoughts on Super Bowl 52 featuring the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. You surely know that NETWORK is 11-1-1 through the pro playoff so far. WHEN CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE ON THE LINE, you need WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!