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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 9:00 AM

You probably saw the footage from Las Vegas this past weekend of bettors in sports books reacting in horror when Seton Hall nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer against Kansas to cover the spread by half a point. A seven-point loss turned to a four-point loss against a spread of 4.5. I was certainly among those angered by that shot. It kept me from going a perfect 6-0 in the Round of 32!

My selections last weekend were:

50 units on Loyola-Chicago (outright winner)

25 units on Gonzaga (winner)

25 units on Texas Tech (winner)

25 units on Syracuse (outright winner)

25 units on Maryland-Baltimore County (winner)

25 units on Kansas (loser by a half-point at the buzzer)

You can tell I had a mix of dogs and favorites (three of each). You can tell I was with the public on a few spots, against them on others. You can tell I wasn’t focused on one individual conference (my six releases came from five different conferences, and I faded that conference with a different pick). It’s true that I lined up against the SEC (fading Tennessee and Florida) and the Big 10 (fading Ohio State and Michigan State). But those choices were more about the teams involved rather than the conferences.

One the whole, a balanced portfolio that was potent in terms of win potential, while also providing protection against bad surprises. If a conference or a certain part of the country turned out to be very overrated, my slate was largely immune to that. Not too chalky, not too many dogs. A solid fort that could win the war by itself.

Should YOU, as a student here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping aim for such balance? While the answer is obviously yes, I have to admit that we’re getting into areas that may be too advanced for simple course work. I’ll say it this way. If you’re focusing on the proper fundamentals that guide winning handicapping, you’re very unlikely to run into trouble. It’s the bettors who DON’T do that who embrace disaster.

*Let’s say you’re a big fan of a certain conference. If that conference turns out to be overrated, you’re going to be in big trouble. The Big 10, for instance, went 0-4 ATS in the second round. How are you going to earn a respectable profit with something like that dragging down your portfolio? You have to pick up five wins elsewhere just to get your head above water. (If you’re having trouble remembering…Purdue and Michigan advanced despite not covering their spreads, while both Michigan State and Ohio State missed the mark in losses). 

*Let’s say you’re a big fan of a certain style of play. You want to bet run-and-gun teams, or defensive specialists. Many perceived strengths hide a weakness (or two). That becomes much more obvious in the NCAA Tournament because smart coaches find and attack weaknesses.

*Let’s say you love rooting for Cinderella stories. Most of the public bets the opposite of that. But, even contrarianism can go overboard. Loyola got there, but Buffalo didn’t. Nevada cashes, Marshall does not. Syracuse and Florida State scored big upsets as major conference underdogs. Alabama got crushed.

Your homework this week for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 is a simple thought exercise. After you’ve made your selections, ask yourself WHY you made each of those picks. Be honest. Are you playing hunches rather than doing lengthy and productive research? Are you overreacting to what you saw in one game rather than what you learned from a full season’s worth of games? Are you assuming a team that hit a bunch of three-pointers is going to just keep hitting them? Are you assuming a team that played well in a friendly arena (crowd support, short travel) will keep playing well now that its moving to a different part of the country?

Imagine you’re a guest on a radio talk show and you have to explain your pick. Can you make a coherent case that attacks the handicapping challenge from multiple directions? Or are you limited to talking about how great your star player is, or how stupid you think the opposing head coach is?

The Dean of Sports Handicapping can assure you that I had many reasons for each of the selections listed above. At least a half-dozen for why I thought Loyola-Chicago had a great shot at upsetting Tennessee, even more for expecting Gonzaga to bully Ohio State because I got to see that favorite win its conference tournament here in Las Vegas. My 25-unit and 50-unit plays aren’t leans where I cross my fingers. My customers expect the very smartest options. Make sure you don’t have any “cross your fingers” leans in your Sweet 16 and Elite 8 portfolios.

Additional assistance in the form of my daily 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 by calling office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Be sure to ask about extended packages that include the NBA or Major League Baseball. The NBA playoffs will be starting in a matter of weeks. Baseball, in a matter of days! You should be aware that MLB gets under way a week from Thursday rather than on what had been a traditional Monday, or more recently…Sunday night start.

The 2018 NCAA Tournament has been a lot of fun to handicap so far. Many tourists went home sad last week because favorites went 1-7 against the spread on Sunday. Everyone who had a plane to catch Sunday morning went home happier! Do your best to build an attack that exploits weaknesses on the card while protecting you from surprises. That’s the essence of smart investing whether you’re talking about Las Vegas or Wall Street. See you next week at this time for our next class.

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