Reactions to the NCAA Tourney

There were some misguided concerns in the sports wagering world that Las Vegas would lose its appeal during March Madness if betting was legal in other parts of the country. Let me assure you, betting on the NCAA Tournament is bigger and better than ever based on energetic crowds jamming sports books all across the city Thursday.

Even with many tourists downloading apps that allowed them to avoid standing in lines, lines were STILL long throughout the day and night Thursday. That's going to continue today as the "round of 64" concludes, and this weekend in the second round.

I wanted to alert you to something I believe will be important moving forward in this event. You heard a lot of talk about the "soft bubble" this season. Many mediocrities were right on the cusp for inclusion. There was a debate about whether or not a team like Belmont should be invited, and whether or not Murray State would have been if it hadn't won its conference tournament.

Let me tell you, to my eyes and on the scoreboard and in box scores, Belmont and Murray State clearly belonged...while "middle of the pack" teams in major conferences are even worse than feared. St. John's was so bad as a #11 seed that was "the last team in," it was an insult to basketball. Nobody on the team knew how to play! Well, outside of driving at the basket and trying to dunk from below the rim.

Does anybody believe Wofford was seeded too well after seeing that relative no-name crush Seton Hall Thursday night? No...these lesser known teams can dominate major conference mediocrities.

I'm telling you this because some of this year's major conference mediocrities got to play each other Thursday (and will Friday), which will launch some pretenders into the weekend. Also, a few more were able to survive despite non-covers against outmanned double-digit seeds. It wasn't just the "soft bubble" from major conferences that was exposed as overrated on Day One. I think a few different #3, #4, and #5 seeds would have lost to Murray State or Wofford Thursday.

It's very important that you avoid money burners. Either fade them, or pass and wait for better spots. Professional bettors were correct a lot more often than they were wrong with their "live dog" bets Thursday. They saw the writing on the wall last week during conference tournaments.

Also, I'd like to encourage students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping to emphasize "recent form" a bit more than I had suggested earlier. This is particularly true for the mediocrities who closed the season with poor results. The selection committee has made a point of emphasizing that "every game matters." So, if a team peaked in December, and slumped down the stretch...they were seeded better than "slumped" should have suggested. St. John's is a good example of this as well. Locally, Nevada was seen back in November as a team that might go undefeated. What were people thinking?!

Your homework today is to quickly review the last 5-10 games for all remaining NCAA and NIT teams. Make a list...then put a "+" sign by teams who played better than prior form during that stretch, and a "-" sign by teams who played worse. When you look at the schedule today and all through next week...

*Try to find spots where a "+" is facing a "-" at an affordable price. These could be absolute gifts based on early returns.

*Consider any "+" as an underdog vs. anybody. They should hang tough even if they can't win the game outright.

*Consider fading any "-" as a favorite vs. anybody. Mistake-prone favorites aren't going to cash tickets at this level. Too many dogs know how to make enough treys to compete.

Using this exercise to supplement our prior discussions on PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS and THE MOTIVATION FACTOR should help you find great opportunities for money-makers, and the occasional 100-unit "Game of the Year" type bet when all the stars have aligned.

I purposely didn't get too specific about teams because I want to protect my selections through the weekend and beyond. Plus, it's not like anybody can fade St. John's any more! I'm very confident that my clients and I will make money this weekend. KELSO STURGEON'S top plays can always be purchased at this website by credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered by calling my office at 1-800-755-2255 during normal business hours. Be sure you ask about combination packages with the NBA and Major League Baseball when you call.

Our next class get-together will be Monday. That will either be a handicapping discussion about the NIT, which will be working toward its Final Four next week during the Dance respite before the Sweet 16...or a follow-up on NCAA Tournament themes based on results between now and then. Who knows what new storylines might develop?!

The Dean of Sports Handicapping is thankful that so many of you have attended this coursework through the years. It's great to have all of you newcomers too, who have just started "legal" gambling in your area as the wave gradually spreads across the country. Let me assure you that hard work and smart analysis does pay off in this field. There are proven strategies that are just as strong now as they were back in the 1970's and 1980's.

Too many people think this is easy. Let me tell you something. When you realize that it's HARD, that's when it starts to get easier. Once you realize you MUST do the work to earn results, that's when you start making money.

Have a great weekend. We'll have more work to do Monday at the usual time.