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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 1:22 PM

With all the talk about the NCAA Tournament this week, many sports bettors are losing sight of the big money potential waiting for you Tuesday and Wednesday Nights in the NIT. There are NINE games Tuesday as the famous secondary tournament gets rolling. Then, there are SEVEN more Wednesday night.

Here in Vegas I’m hearing all sorts of talk about what might happen Thursday or Friday once the top teams in the nation take the floor. Hey, I’m ready for those sessions too. But, I’m not going to leave money on the table by sleeping through the first round of the NIT!

These are the keys, in my view, to having success in the NIT:

*First, THE INCENTIVE FACTOR plays a bigger role than anything else. You don’t often hear me say that because I focus on impact players and on-court edges so much. But, in the NIT, caring trumps not caring to an extreme degree.

Some NIT teams could care less about this tournament, and aren’t going to bother showing up. It’s amazing how often you see that in this event…a team that should coast in its opener is so demoralized about not reaching the NCAA Tournament that they don’t bring any enthusiasm at all. Everyone’s on Spring Break already mentally. They wanted to play with the big boys later in the week. This doesn’t interest them.

On the other hand, some of the snubbed teams are so furious about getting left out of the Dance that they show up breathing fire. They dominate their first opponent, and ride that “us against the world” mentality all the way to the Final Four at Madison Square Garden. You can make a lot of money my friends backing talented teams who are playing with a chip on their shoulder. The snubbed teams generally are pretty good because they just missed out on the Dance. Now they’re playing at home with peak intensity against an outmatched opponent. Blowout city.

I strongly encourage all of you to read the local media for NIT teams online, and to do whatever you can to anticipate the incentive factor in Tuesday and Wednesday action.

*Second, now we get to PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS. This is usually first for me. But, usually, motivation in any given game is relatively even, and these guys are the difference-makers. I still make sure I have the edge in talent in all of my picks. Should I post any 100-unit or 200-unit plays in the NIT, it will surely be a combination of athletic star power and motivation backing up the release.

The NIT often has a few teams who are blessed to have one truly great player who’s carried the team all year. That wasn’t enough to get them into the Dance. But, it is enough to cover a couple of pointspreads in the NIT. Be sure you check out the individual player stats from all the NIT entries so you know which key players are poised to go off Tuesday and Wednesday.

*My third step in the process is to look at the ROAD/HOME SPLITS for each team straight up and against the spread. I told you to look at road tendencies for all the neutral site events last week. In the NIT, the first few rounds are played at campus sites. Bad road teams are going to struggle visiting NIT caliber hosts. Good road teams are capable of winning outright. Use whatever tendencies you find to your advantage. Don’t buck the trends even if your gut is telling you that you should.

*The fourth factor I like to look at is REST TIME since the last game. Some NIT teams played grueling, and even heartbreaking games over this past weekend. Others have been off for a long time because their mid-major tourneys were a week earlier. I want fresh teams over tired teams. I want to go against any team that just missed earning a Dance invitation at the last second after a busy weekend.

*Fifth and finally, I look at the convergence of ROAD TRAVEL/HOME COURT ADVANTAGE to try and find edges. The NIT tries to keep things regionalized. But, sometimes you have teams making long flights to hard-to-find places. I personally prefer to take road underdogs who had short trips, and home favorites hosting teams who had long trips. I want to make it clear that I generally must have other reasons for the play. We’re down to fifth on the list! I won’t release a game solely on this factor. But, it’s a nice kicker to have when other edges are on the table.

Today I’ve focused on the NIT. It should go without saying that these same strategies are in play if you also decide to try and handicap the CBI and Insider tournaments involving lesser known teams.

My selections from the NIT and those other events will be available Tuesday and Wednesday right here at this website as we build our bankrolls for the split sessions in the Big Dance Thursday and Friday. Have your credit card handy.

I’ll be back again for another installment from my College of Advanced Handicapping in a couple of days. We’ll talk about strategies for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament at that time. I appreciate all the hard work you’ve put into these home study lessons all season long. I truly believe it will pay off for you dramatically here in the postseason!

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