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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 6:07 PM

As promised, I’m back before the first big day of NCAA tournament action to discuss Advanced Handicapping tips for the Big Dance. Because I’m going to be very busy this week handicapping games, watching games, analyzing boxscores, and making videos for you…this will be my only written coursework through the weekend. Be sure to check those videos for news and updates.

Here are the keys you should follow this weekend in the Big Dance based on my decades of experience beating the number here in Las Vegas.

*You should know the lead. With KELSO STURGEON it’s always about PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS. Identify the best player on the court. Identify the best three players on the court. Be sure you have the edge where it matters in terms of scoring points when points must be scored! There are defensive-minded teams this year who literally have NO offensive starpower. I’ll either be fading those teams or betting Unders in their games.

This particular element is clearly MOST IMPORTANT during this first weekend of play. Once you get to the Sweet 16 or Elite 8, everyone left has some pop, and most everyone has at least one option they can go to late in close games. The PLAYMAKER MISMATCHES will be on display Thursday through Sunday. Be sure you find them and take advantage.

*You should plan on taking teams with short rotations (only 6-7 guys who get minutes) when they first take the floor Thursday or Friday…but then fade those teams after only one day off when they play again Saturday or Sunday.

Short rotations are most dangerous when they’re fresh and fired up. They’re most vulnerable to upsets or blowout losses when fatigue starts to hit over the weekend. The starters miss their jumpshots, and the bench can’t come in to help.

I would not be surprised at all if I had a major release on one team the first time they took the floor, but then a major release against them two days later.

*Conference tournament hangovers sometimes play a huge role in early Dance results. Even though it’s been a few days since teams cut down the nets, it’s not uncommon at all to see teams who celebrated a huge weekend fall flat the first time they take the floor in the Dance. Be sure you have a list handy of everyone who won their conference tournament last weekend (don’t worry about the mid major events from two weeks ago, they’ve had enough time to both celebrate and prepare).

Now, I’m not saying that I’ll never back a conference winner in their first game, or that I’ll go against all of the possible hangover teams. I do account for this factor though…and I’ve had great success in doing so when it lines up with other edges.

*Last week I told you to study road performances of teams as they got ready for their neutral site tournaments. Review that material because it still matters! Be sure to add in whatever happened last week in the conference tourneys. Any team that played well on the road this year is likely to have a good showing in the Dance. Teams with strong records who were great at home but shaky on the road are often the “surprise” losers early on (meaning the losses surprise the media, not me!).

Some would argue this should go higher on the list. Maybe it will next week once the number of playmakers starts to cancel out amongst the survivors, and once there’s no concern at all about conference championship hangovers. I can’t emphasize this enough…teams who showed composure on the road during the regular season will offer great value as underdogs or small favorites. And, they will have true upset potential against powerhouses who come in too overconfident.

*Finally today, I want you to read line moves properly. You know I’ve lived in Las Vegas a long time. Longer than many of you have even be born. This I know for sure. Over the long haul, professional wagerers will make money, and the general public will lose money in the NCAA tournament. If you see line moves that happen immediately after a number is posted, that’s the result of sharp betting. If you see game-day moves after a line has been up a long time, that’s the result of what we call “square” betting from the public. If you respect the sharps, and bet against the squares, you’re likely to earn a profit this year even if you don’t know anything about college basketball!

Well, I do know a lot about college basketball, which you know from my fantastic big play performance this season. I will be using my abilities to read the market, read the talent, read the emotions, and read the energy levels to find the best plays on the board all through the weekend. I believe the tips I’ve outlined for you today will help you do the same thing.

If you’d like to combine my picks with yours over the next four days, log in early and have your credit card handy. My top plays will be available at very affordable prices every morning. And, don’t forget to check out my video updates that will be posted on the home page of this website.

I’ll be back again for another installment from my College of Advanced Handicapping early next week. We’ll have a lot to review and a lot to look forward to. Best of luck to you this weekend.

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