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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 11:37 PM

Last weekend I talked about the incentive factor in one of my videos that ran here at the website. Today I wanted to devote more time in my College of Advanced Handicapping course to this very important element of late season college basketball play.

Though I’d always suggest that you handicap all elements of a game rather than focusing on just one, I’m fully aware that the Incentive Factor by itself can often determine who’s going to win and cover a game late in the season. If one team cares, and the other doesn’t...the full seasons stats aren’t going to matter. Trends and angles aren’t going to matter. The team that cares is going to get the money against the team that doesn’t care. It’s your job as handicappers to find those incentive mismatches.

Here are some keys to remember:

*In late February, many of the top teams LACK incentive because they’re already locked into the Big Dance. They get overconfident and complacent because they know the games that matter most are still a few weeks away. It’s amazing how many lethargic efforts you see every year from big name programs in the days leading up to the postseason. Now…superpowers generally don’t play two bad games in a row. So, it’s okay to give them credit for incentive if they’re coming off an upset loss. Just don’t assume you’re going to get motivated efforts every time out. Most top teams lack incentive in late February unless they’re coming off a loss, playing in a revenge spot, or facing that program’s biggest rival.

*Many of the bottom teams ALSO lack incentive because they’re already eliminated from the conference race, and their only hopes of playing in the Big Dance come from getting hot in their conference tournaments. The only thing worse than a bad team is a bad team that doesn’t care! Be very careful asking a team that’s below .500 in their conference to play well for you unless there are extenuating circumstances.

*Revenge can be a very big factor late in the season only because it’s the only emotional element in play in some matchups. If both teams have nothing to play for in the big picture, then the team that lost earlier this season will have a motivational advantage. They’ll find a reason to show up with some energy. Their opponent will be unfocused and overconfident. Be sure you make a mark by every team on the schedule that’s in a revenge spot each day.

*The bubble looms large over college basketball handicapping at this stage of the season. Some handicappers will tell you that oddsmakers overrate this angle and move the lines too much. Others will tell you that some of their biggest winners in the past have come with bubble teams in must-wins spots. I believe both schools of thought are right! The “need” to win for bubble teams does get overrated in the line in general because of all the media coverage about the bubble teams. But, if a bubble team happens to line up against a foe that lacks incentive…they can soar past the number. That’s particularly true if they have revenge from an earlier season loss. Don’t post blanket bets on all the bubble teams. That will lose you money over the long run. Look for the handful of spots where the bubble team is facing an opponent that completely lacks incentive. That’s where you’ll make your money.

Let me summarize my advice for you:

1…your BIGGEST plays should be on talented motivated teams facing outmatched opponents who lack motivation. There aren’t many of these…but they do pop up…and I can assure you that some 100-unit and 200-unit plays from yours truly will come from this category over the next several days.

2…any UPSET CALLS should be when motivated underdogs with at least one playmaker are getting points from a disinterested favorite.

3…standard VALUE plays can come from any edge in incentives that you strongly believe are in play, or on underdogs in games where BOTH teams have clear incentives. In terms of my service, I tend to focus only on the biggest and best options. But, there are many winning bettors in Las Vegas who grind out additional profits with value bets. Many logical nominees for value spots come up late in the season if you’re focusing on incentives.

Use those guidelines, and my indicators for incentives, and I’m confident you’ll be very pleased with the results. If you’d like some assistance down the road to March Madness, you can purchase game day releases or seasonal service with your credit card right here at this website.

I’ll be back again for another installment from my College of Advanced Handicapping later this week to talk more about the colleges. There are several blockbuster matchups this weekend that fans and handicappers alike are looking forward to. I greatly appreciate that so many of you are visiting through the season to improve your approach to legal sports betting. See you again soon...

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