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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, February 10, 2012 at 11:14 PM

I’m on a fantastic run with my basketball big plays of late. You know that if you’ve been a regular visitor to this website. I’ve talked about it in past articles, and in my videos that run on the homepage. Be sure you check out this weekend’s new video if you haven’t already.

What I want to talk about in this edition of my “College of Advanced Handicapping” are a few of the keys that explain why cherrypicking the strongest plays on the board has been so easy of late. I’ve said repeatedly that the lines are very tight as a general rule. Yet, I’m still able to make big money for my clients by passing the bulk of the card and focusing on the very best options.

Here are the keys I believe to be most important at this stage of the season…

POWER TEAMS VS. WEAK TEAMS

I referred to this in my weekend video. I want to expand on it here for those of you who are kind enough to read my additional coursework. Oddsmakers have had big problems this year recognizing when absolute slaughters are about to take place. Maybe they’re on the money eight or nine times out of ten in terms of their high spreads. But, they’re missing on the indicators that will allow a double digit favorite to cover by double digits.

*Study the power teams to develop a sense of when they really go for the jugular. For some teams, that’s in big home games. For others, it’s whenever they face a physically outmatched opponent. The last thing I would do is to encourage you to bet ALL big favorites. That would be a mistake. You want to focus on strong teams when they’re most likely to lay a whooping on somebody.

*Study the weaklings to get a sense of when they’re at their worst. Some big ugly dogs actually get fired up when facing top opposition…and they cover those big spreads. Others are doormats who just curl up in the fetal position because they know they have no chance. You want to bet against teams who lose their spirit quickly and just get out of the way.

Some of my best plays this year have come when these two factors lined up. The bullies will cover many of their big numbers. The cupcakes will fail to get the money four times in ten as big dogs. But, when a bully faces a cupcake…it’s almost an automatic cover because the victory margins are so high.

HOME/ROAD DYNAMICS

As I said in my weekend video, you know what you’ve got this deep in the season. It’s now clear which teams can hang tough on the road, and which teams are blowout fodder. It’s also obvious who plays their best ball at home, and who’s badly overrated by Vegas oddsmakers. The basics of handicapping allow for Power Ratings and a generic 3-4 points for home court advantage. Advanced handicapping makes much more accurate adjustments for the quality of the road team’s projected play, and the quality of the home team’s projected play.

Try to take some time this weekend to review how all college board teams have done against the spread on the road or at home. If that’s too tall a task for you, at least try to knock out a few conferences. Once trends are set by Valentine’s Day, they generally hold up through the end of the regular season and in the conference tournaments (bad road teams play poorly in neutral site tournies). This dynamic is at the heart of my annual St. Valentine’s Week Massacre package that you’ve been seeing ads for online. Once you know what you’ve got…you bet what you know!

STRONG BENCHES VS. WEAK BENCHES

We’re at the point in the season now where benches really start to become important. Teams who give the majority of their minutes to their starters hit a wall because they’re so tired from the strain of the regular season…and because March Madness is still a few weeks away. There will be an adrenalin rush that will help tired teams once the tournaments get here. Right now, teams with short rotations are running on fumes.

Conversely, teams with good benches are still fresh…which magnifies the edge they already had by possessing a good bench in the first place! Deep teams have a lot of weapons. Now they have a lot of weapons and an energy advantage.

UNLV is a team I’ve discussed a few times this year in terms of their strong bench. I’m interested to see how their big game with San Diego State turns out Saturday afternoon in Mountain West action. The Rebels could definitely be this year’s mid major to sneak through to the Final Four…building on the accomplishments of Butler and Virginia Commonwealth. 

I can’t stress the importance of these elements enough…power vs. weak…home/road dynamics…and bench strength are areas that will significantly help you find the small handful of pointspread blowouts that are available in this very tight market. If you’re not studying those…you’re probably not sharp enough to beat this tight market! I’ve established that I can and will beat this tight market. My best daily plays are always just a few clicks away. 

I’ll be back again for another installment from my College of Advanced Handicapping early next week. We have a lot to talk about in college hoops and the NBA during this very exciting stretch of basketball action.

I said this last time…and it’s even more true now. Nobody in the world is hotter than Kelso Sturgeon!

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