Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, March 16, 2012 at 11:20 AM
I am not a psychiatrist, a psychologist or even a board-certified phrenologist but I know a lot about the limits of the mind, the human brain, with most of this knowledge coming from a lifetime of dealing with lunatics, con men, preachers, lawyers, psychotic politicians and enthusiastically ignorant FBI agents-all delivering educational lessons.
And, if I might digress a moment, I am warning the next guy who tells me, "you've got it in the bag now", I intend to sucker-punch into the next century. Any bettor with an I.Q. of 57 knows that statement is the kiss of death and it is the reason I try to stay away from sports books during games.
I will address this in detail at a later date but the fact I am a man of my word required this warning, i.e. I will do it. I was working on the speed bag tonight.
Now, back to the world of the mind.
One of the inescapable but hidden elements of handicapping the NCAA Tournament is the physically and mentally draining wear-and-tear factor that compromises and then blows up in a team's face and all but insures it will lose. Teams that are tired lose their focus and that is fatal at this level of play. Tired teams lose their focus early in a game, come unglued and get plucked like the Sunday dinner chicken.
Much was made of the fact BYU came from 25 points down to beat Iona, 78-72 in a play-in game and that Western Kentucky came from 16 points down with five minutes to play to beat Mississippi Valley State, 59-58, in another play-in game. Both comebacks were NCAA records. Before BYU, no team had ever been behind by 25 points in a tournament game and won. Before Western Kentucky, no NCAA tournament team had been down 16 points with five minutes to go and won.
Both wins were fascinating, dramatic and ever-so-stunning and made good media copy for the next 48 hours. Heroic efforts, both, but the wins came with a price. When a team puts in a super-human effort like this to get the win, the collective toll it takes on the bodies and minds of those teams is so severe their chances for winning are almost nil in their next game, especially since they will be stepping up in class and meeting a much better team.
We witnessed that last night as BYU took the floor as a 5 ½-point underdog against Marquette and was blown away by 20 points, 88-68. Western Kentucky was also in action, met Kentucky and as a 26 ½-point underdog and lost by a mere 15, 81-66.
It is all but impossible to bounce right back off performances such as BYU and Western Kentucky turned in Wednesday night and win again. Efforts such as both the record-breaking wins drained BYU and Western Kentucky physically and they arrived less than 48 hours later to face those better opponents while not have a full tank of gas.
Ignore This Factor At Your Own Risk
The wear-and-team factor is going to be in play throughout the NCAA Tournament and those who ignore it do so at their own risk. We will see it in two of Saturday's games-Syracuse (32-2) vs. Kansas State (22-10) and Indiana (26-8) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (29-6)-but in different ways.
Top-seeded Syracuse was life-and-death as a 15.5-point favorite to beat 16th-seeded UNC-Asheville, 72-65, Thursday night while8th-seeded Kansas State was straight as a string to get past 9th-seeded Southern Miss, 70-74. The question is which team is the most drained, a difficult question to answer and one that will require me to take a pass.
Syracuse is a 5.5-point favorite.
As for Indiana and Virginia Commonwealth, we have a game in which Indian just breezed to victory over New Mexico State in a game that was never as close as the final score while VCU was all-in to hold off Wichita State. In other words, we have a fresh team with a full tank of gas meeting one operating on just a partial tank of gas.
The pointspread on this game obviously must be part of the handicapping equation but there is little doubt in my mind Indiana will win the game, with the cover an open question.
Pay attention and weigh in your own way just how draining each game is on each team. Ignore the wear-and-tear factor at your own risk.
I am releasing my first 100-unit NCAA game of the season tonight, using a team that grades out as the straight up winner, despite being an underdog, and you can win it along with four 10-unit NCAA plays for just $50, charged to your major credit card. Tonight's package also includes four additional 10-unit games.
On Saturday it will be my 200-unit NCAA Tournament Game of the Year, a contest I won last year on this Same Saturday of March Madness with Richmond (-4) with its 17-point blowout win over Morehead State, 65-48. I intend to get the money just easily in this one. This package also includes two additional unit-rated games.
On Sunday, it will be my 100-unit NCAA Tournament Upset Game of the Year, a contest I won last year with VCU (+9) in its 18-point 94-76 blowout win over favored Purdue. Just put this one down as the encore. There will be two additional games in this package.
You can get each day's big game plays for just $50 per day, charged to your major credit card, or in a special weekend 400-unit package. The price is always right. The games are also available at my office, toll free at 1-800-755-2255.
My 6-2 NCAA Tournament Record
Thursday, March 15
50 Units...Vanderbilt (-5.5) 79, Harvard 70 (W)
10 Units...Murray State (-5) 58, Colorado State 41 (W)
10 Units...Kansas State (-5) 70, Southern Miss 64 (W)
10 Units...Wichita State (-6.5) 59, VCU 62 (L)
10 Units...Indiana (-6.5) 79, New Mexico State 66 (W)
Wednesday, March 14
10 Units...South Florida (+3) 65, California 54 (W)
5 Units...Vermont (+1.5) 71, Lamar 59 (W)
Tuesday, March 13
50 Units...Western Kentucky (-3) 59, Mississippi Valley State 58 (L)