Staying on top of the Tournaments
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Kelso Sturgeon - Contributing Sportsbook Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - College Basketball's conference tournaments are now in full swing, and handicappers will be challenged to stay on top of all the major developments. You probably noticed that right out of the gate Thursday morning when you were trying to watch Florida State/Virginia on one channel, while trying to stay abreast of Michigan/Illinois, Marquette/Villanova, and maybe even LaSalle/UMASS at the same time.

It's very important that you deal with this challenge intelligently. Here are the WORST things you can do this weekend:

  • Root frantically for your bets
  • Ignore what's happening in games you didn't bet on
  • Try to pick winners later in the day when you're exhausted after rooting for your bets!

    This is how most of the general public deals with Thursday and Friday...and it's why sportsbooks make a ton of money off dumb "social" gamblers who don't understand the dangers of making rash, ill-informed picks when you're too tired to think.

    All of you who are students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping are aware of the importance or preparation. I'm going to assume that you've prepared properly in terms of evaluating teams, coaches, travel scenarios, and the market. Now that the games have started, here's what you should do:

    IGNORE YOUR BETS

    The winners and losers will take care of themselves. This is an important skill to learn, and is the hallmark of professionals. You can't afford to waste energy and brainpower sweating your games. What happens, happens. Your focus now is to find smart bets for tomorrow and beyond. If you spend all day yelling at referees or kids who miss free throws, then I know automatically that you're not a serious bettor capable of earning a long term profit.

    WATCH GAMES TO EVALUTE THE NEXT ROUND

    Pick one or two games you didn't bet on, and try to get a read on how the winners are likely to perform through the rest of the brackets this weekend...and then next week in either the NCAA's or the NIT. You're SCOUTING. We've talked all season about the various strengths and weaknesses you should be focused on, so I'm not going to go into all that again. You know what to look for, look for it!

    READ BOXSCORES AS GAMES FINISH

    I've always believed that the eye test is more important than stats. But, as many in the field of analytics have been saying, the good thing about stats is that they see every game! You can't really do full justice to your handicapping if you're trying to check in on every single game that's being played at a given time. Pick one or two telecasts that will have the most relevance for later action, then let the internet do the rest of the work in terms of providing boxscores. Decide in advance "I'm going to watch FSU/Virginia then just get the boxscore for LaSalle/UMASS." Or, I'm going to watch the games in the Big 12 and Pac 12, then run the numbers everywhere else." Outline an intelligent workload.

    FOCUS ON THE RIGHT BOXSCORE STATS

    You should be looking immediately in boxscores to see if the winner got lucky. Did they shoot lights out on three-pointers? Were they +15 or more in free throw attempts? If you only know the final scores, you're in danger of betting on a team in the next round that's about to fall back to earth after a lucky performance. Luck doesn't hold up in the tourneys as a general rule. You want to back teams who don't need hot shooting streaks to win. Penalize teams who caught breaks. Invest in teams who played great defense, owned the boards, and won convincingly just by playing their normal game.

    MONITOR PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS!

    I always have to emphasize this. Part of your preparation for tournament week involved finding and isolating these key players. Monitor their performance and their healthy as tournament week continues. The cream is about to rise, unless it gets hurt! Be ready to bet accordingly no matter how events unfold.


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