Focus on Team Weaknesses
It's very easy for handicappers to fall into the trap of focusing on team strengths when handicapping tournament basketball. You know who the star players are. You know who the best coaches are. TV coverage is a virtual commercial for the strengths of all the teams because networks are basically running day-long ads for their corporate partners.
While it's important to know the strengths of all the teams. I'd argue that it's more important for handicappers to know the weaknesses. Your biggest money winners will come from great situations you uncover where weaknesses will be exposed and pounded for 40 minutes.
*Maybe a turnover prone guard will be hounded into mistakes that lead to a blowout loss.
*Maybe a team that can't shoot treys will be forced to launch from outside all game because of tight internal defense.
*Maybe a team that lacks size will get killed on the boards, allowing many second chance points while not getting many of its own.
The list goes on and on, for players and head coaches. There will certainly be games where most things cancel out, and the straight up result and cover will come down to which PLAYMAKER or GAMEBREAKER comes through in the clutch. But, particularly in earlier round action, BLOWOUT results will be triggered by implosions caused by team weaknesses. And, the kind of games that KELSO STURGEON rates as 100-units, 200-units, or 250-units will happen when the strengths of those PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS line up perfectly against an exposed weakness.
*When star scorers get to face a soft defense
*When full court presses run into bad guards
*When a great coach with depth runs into a bad coach who's lost his team
I don't want to give too much away given how big a factor this philosophy is about to be in my personal portfolio over the next few days and the rest of the month. I think you understand what I'm getting at. Let me give you some homework that will help you uncover weaknesses you can exploit.
REBOUNDING: Study "rebound rate" (percentage of possible rebounds grabbed) with an emphasis on defensive rebounding. There are stat sites all over the web that will help you with this. Make note of the bottom 50-75 teams nationally in these categories. Plan to go against them when they face strong rebounding opponents...possibly HARD if those strong rebounding teams also outclass them in other areas. Many routs are triggered by the losing team missing its only shot before running back down the floor to defend. Eventually they get too demoralized to defend.
TURNOVERS: Look at both offense and defense here. You want to know which sloppy offenses commit a lot of turnovers. This only gets worse in high pressure situations. It's not like sloppy teams suddenly learn how to execute for a tournament. They make more mistakes and force more bad passes with so much on the line. Defensively, teams who don't force a lot of turnovers are in trouble against any offense that knows what it's doing. The last thing you want to do in March is invest in a passive defense. You'll be surprised how many teams with glitzy offenses that TV announcers rave about also have passive defenses that don't get takeaways.
FIELD GOAL DEFENSE: This probably leads me to more blowouts than any other single factor. You want to bet against defenses that don't protect the rim. Whenever a soft defense is facing a strong offense led by a PLAYMAKER, that's a recipe for a blowout on a neutral court. The point spreads are so low at centralized sites that it only takes a few buckets to cover. Soft defenses allow a lot more than a few easy buckets. You will often run into scenarios where a soft defense is also in a fatigue disadvantage because it played over its head the day before. Now, they fall back to earth against a superior team, and there's no way for that soft defense to prevent the favorite from running up the score. If you only have time to look at ONE area of study, focus on field goal defense. Understanding the negative synergy of a bad defense getting tired through a tournament will make you a very dangerous handicapper and bettor.
If you don't yet trust your ability to execute and learn from my homework assignments, additional assistance in the form of my daily BEST BETS (Conference Tournament games on a 12-3 run!) can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered by calling 1-800-755-2255. Remember to take care of business EARLY in the day during tournament week because of all the afternoon tips (some of which are morning tips here in Las Vegas.
The Dean of Sports Handicapping appreciates your attendance and hard work. Maybe this is a good time to mention that your handicapping will also benefit from some deep thought about your own weaknesses. Is the oddsmaker getting the best of it against YOU because you have weaknesses he can exploit? Do you fold under tournament pressure? Do you have leaks that continue to drain money out of your bankroll? As you focus on the weaknesses of college basketball teams this week, give that some thought as well. I look forward to seeing you next week at this time to talk about the NCAA Tournament.