Handicapping College Basketball

As promised, our Monday coursework this week will focus on handicapping college basketball. The new season begins Tuesday, and is highlighted by a huge TV doubleheader featuring #10 Michigan State vs. #1 Kansas, and #2 Kentucky vs. #4 Duke. That twinbill is being played on a neutral court in Indianapolis.

Other matchups featuring ranked teams are also on Tuesday's ticket, and the rest of this week's schedule. It's going to be a fun week!

Are you ready? If you're like most bettors, you've been way too busy with football to even think about college hoops. Or, if you like basketball, you already jumped into the NBA pool because of all the interesting storylines in play early in the new season.

My first advice for those of you who want to handicap and bet this sport is to PASS out of the gate unless you've done your due diligence. I understand that a small percentage of you are self-starters who use my coursework to supplement your own process. You're ready to start. I wish you luck. We'll probably be rooting for many of the same sides this week. For everyone else, some quick tips.

*Update all of the head coaching changes from last season. Many previously bad teams will take big strides forward this season because they got rid of a horrible head coach. On the other side of the coin, many "value" programs in the mid-majors had their man hired away to a bigger conference. They're about to fall off the map. You can't make the mistake of betting past "impressions" with college programs because you figure nothing will change with the new coach. Things almost always change with a new coach! Sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

*Find UPDATED material on returning starters from last season. Some newsstand publications have to print so early that they've missed the news on transfers, eligibility issues, or major injuries. It's okay to purchase those for research purposes…but then UPDATE your information based on media reports, and online newspaper coverage of the teams you're most interested in. You don't want to bet a team because they have four returning starters, only to find out just two will be in uniform this week.

*Second, review team stats from last season in the fundamental areas. Even if there's been some personnel turnover, these will help refresh your memories on the preferences of established coaches. For the programs that still have the same coach as last season, they'll probably have the same offensive strengths and weaknesses (maybe good three-point shooting but too many turnovers), defensive strengths and weaknesses (maybe they're soft inside the arc but take the ball away a lot), and the same general rebounding skill sets. Making money in college basketball is often the result of understanding the nuances of particular matchups. You must do the work to be on top of skill sets.

*Third, research the hotshot incoming freshman who are supposed to be PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS from the start. Oddsmakers can only guess about these guys. You should be focusing on which teams are likely to take steps forward because the new star will help fix a problem.

We'll talk a lot more about handicapping college hoops later in the season, particularly once football has come to an end. Today's tips will help you focus on "November" basketball as we transition to a new campaign. If you've been with me in past years, you already know many of the basic tenets.

Those three items probably represent more homework already than many of you will have time to do this week because of football responsibilities. But, if you're the type that prefers the hardwood to the gridiron, here's a quick list of other helpful keys.

*Determine NOW your "scope" of conferences/teams to follow
*Review November straight up and ATS coaching histories
*Monitor quirky schedule sequences for early tourneys
*Study the markets to see who the sharps are betting or fading
*Read box scores every night to see which outliers will regress

I know some pro bettors here in Las Vegas who ONLY bet this sport. They ignore pro football because they believe the markets are too good (they're not, but that's another story for another time), they believe college football is too erratic with all the no-huddle offenses. They believe the NBA is up to the whims of spoiled millionaires who may not be in the mood to play on any given night.

But, COLLEGE BASKETBALL is where the porridge is just right. Hustling kids playing their hearts out to win a game that's reasonably predictable for well-informed and hard-working analysts. This sub-class of bettors has been doing their personnel research since Fall 2018 classes started, and are ready to hit the ground running Tuesday. You should wish them the best…because they'll be the guys moving the lines and teaching you who to bet on this month!

I'll be mixing basketball with football all through November. Congrats to all of you who won my 100-unit play on Fresno State (-26) over UNLV 48-3 this past Saturday night. Sometimes they really are that easy. 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. I realize that many of you are do-it-yourselfers. For those who aren't, professional assistance from a long-time winner is very easy to find.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your attendance and hard work. We return to football Friday in our next course session. I might have a release even bigger than Fresno State next week! Enjoy all the great TV basketball this week. See you again soon.