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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 2:08 PM

One of the reasons I loved my 200-unit monster on Marquette over Murray State so much last Saturday was that I knew the underdog Racers would have no way to deal with Warriors start Jae Crowder. Some pundits have called him the best player in the tournament. There are a lot of good players, so I won’t quite go that far. But, he was the best player on the court in that game…and that’s what mattered to me the most.

Well, that and the fact that Marquette was only a 5-point favorite!

I believed Crowder would dominate the game, and he certainly did just that:

17 points

13 rebounds

3 steals

2 assists

He played 39 minutes out of 40 because he avoided foul trouble in a game where that easily could have been an issue. Players were flying up and down the court. The 6’6” forward flew right with them, committing only one turnover and two personal fouls in a helter-skelter game.

And, that strong effort came on the heels of a dominating performance vs. BYU in Marquette’s opener:

25 points

16 rebounds

4 steals

4 assists

Far too many handicappers have their heads so buried in Power Ratings and historical systems that they don’t ask themselves the simple question of how each team is going to win. It doesn’t matter if Team A is in a great situation if there’s no clear cut way they’re going to get points on the board. It doesn’t matter if Team B has a great power rating when the opposing team has a defensive solution to their strength.

Before each game, follow these simple steps:

*Isolate the key gamebreakers and playmakers for each team

*Determine if the opposing defense has a way to slow them down

A team with an unrestricted star is going to win big and get the money. A team without scoring options is going to go home the loser. This is why I emphasize this key factor so often here in this series of articles about Advanced Handicapping. You’re NOT an advanced handicapper if you’re not focused on what’s actually going to happen on the floor once the ball is in play.

If you’ve been focused on gamebreakers and playmakers in this tournament, you’ve seen:

*Stars take over a game just at the moment it’s needed. Sometimes it’s within a first half surge that builds an insurmountable lead. Sometimes it’s in the second half when the opponent starts to run out of gas. Having a sense for the moment is part of what separates gamebreakers from everyone else. That’s what the word means! They know how to break a game open. If KELSO STURGEON is releasing a 100-unit or 200-unit play, it usually means I’m backing a guy who I think will break a game open.

*Stars perform coolly and calmly in the final seconds of close games. The competitive nature of sport often leads to contests that go right down to the wire. Very little separates top teams from each other. A key component of that separation is that one team has workable options in the final seconds. Either the playmaker scores himself…or draws in the defense to set up a teammate. This is huge in games that are rated near pick-em, -1, or -2 in Las Vegas. These aren’t games where I’m likely to have 100-unit or 200-unit plays, but many of my 5 and 10 unit value bets are keyed by the “insurance” I know I have with playmakers late in close games.

*Stars get respect from the officials. I can’t emphasize how much this matters! They’ll get to go to the free throw line more than others. They’ll get called for ticky-tack fouls less than others. In a game where every point matters, this can be huge. Most importantly, they’ll be on the floor deciding your bet for you because officials won’t take them out of the game.

With only 16 teams left in the Big Dance…with three days between games to prepare…and with two boxscores per team easily available from earlier rounds… each and every one of you reading this now has the tools to determine who the impact players are going to be this week. I strongly encourage you to do your homework so you can make smart choices. Or, keep purchasing my game day releases here at this very website. I’m sure you’ve been reading about my recent hot streak. The fundamentals of Advanced Handicapping are paying off as expected in the NCAA’s and the NIT. Be sure you’re pyramiding your profits by playing the edges each and every night.

I’ll be back again later this week to talk more about the Big Dance. We’re set for some very exciting Sweet 16 games…which will create up a blockbuster weekend of Elite Eight action. Thanks to all of you who make it a point to read every installment of this home study course. The feedback has been great. I’m humbled and appreciative that so many of you have improved your own performance with tips you’ve read in these articles.

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