College Hoops Extravaganza

I decided to devote today's coursework to college basketball. There's a fantastic schedule on Saturday because college football is off except for the Army/Navy game. Many teams you'll be handicapping all through the new year into March Madness will be involved in "playoff style" matchups set up by TV networks.

Among the Saturday highlights:
Michigan State at Florida
Kentucky vs. Seton Hall at MSG
Georgetown at Syracuse
Louisville at Indiana
Wichita State vs Oklahoma in OKC
Wisconsin at Marquette
Creighton at Nebraska
Notre Dame at UCLA

That's not even the full list of interesting games. Here in Las Vegas, we'll be paying attention to  UNLV at Illinois and a few others. But, you get my point. If you're serious about making money in college hoops after football winds need to learn what you can about prominent programs in litmus test situations. Saturday December 8 is the single best day until conference play begins for team evaluation.

Here are the keys I want students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping to look for when watching on TV and reading post game box scores.

*Offensive effectiveness. With the eye test, look at ball movement and the overall team ability to get open looks. In box scores, look at two-point and three-point shooting percentages, and turnover counts. Many insiders are reporting that shooting percentages are trending down this season. Defenses are getting smarter about defending the arc. Offenses have too many "AAU" type players who grown up forcing up their own shots rather than playing team ball. Teams with effective offenses are going to cover point spreads. Teams that waste too many possessions will be particularly bad as favorites. Let ESPN show dunks on their highlight shows. You need to look at overall efficiency.

*Defensive intensity. I mentioned that defenses are getting better about guarding the arc. I should emphasize that I mean "some" defenses. Others are still slow to rotate...or go hard for 10-15 seconds before losing their discipline and giving up an easy shot. You need to know who defends with a passion, and who just fakes it for awhile. Focus on the same box score stats I mentioned earlier, but from a defensive perspective. Which teams force turnovers? Which teams allow too many easy two-pointers because opponents can get to the rim? Knowing this stuff is so much more important than looking up computer ratings or using trends. When push comes to shove...which teams will push and shove opposing offenses away from the rim? Which will fly at long-range shooters to break concentration?

*Late game coaching. Some coaches do a great job of positioning their teams to win late in close games. They don't win them all...but they give their players the best shot. Others are very poor at clock management and general strategy. Any time you see a coach ask his best player to hold onto the ball until the very end then force up a bad've found a "bet against" coach for tournament time. These coaching skill sets can be hidden in all the blowout cupcake games...but really matter in litmus tests. Treat Saturday's schedule as a lab experiment and see what you learn. Obviously, this is mostly eye test. For games you can't watch, read the play-by-play charts at ESPN's website rather than the box scores to see what happened in the final three minutes of close games.

*My last suggestion involves watching the markets rather than the games.  Study morning line moves in all the major matchups to get a read on how the Wise Guys are betting games. The public still isn't very involved in college hoops just yet. Though, the public might cause a few TV favorites to rise. See which dogs are getting interest (almost always informed money), and which non-TV favorites are drawing support. Knowing who the smartest bettors like is never a bad thing. Spending your Saturday mornings "reading" the market is a very good habit to get into. For longtime pro bettors, that's a seven-day-a-week habit. 365 days a year.

Even though college football is quiet until the bowls, this is still a great weekend to be a sports bettor! Are you kidding me? Great college basketball matchups Saturday...then big NFL games like Baltimore/Kansas City, LA Rams/Chicago, and Philadelphia/Dallas on Sunday...followed by Minnesota/Seattle Monday night. I trust you will continue to become a winning bettor, and a well-educated bettor.

If you need some help finding best bets, 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 in the Vegas Sports Masters office by calling my office at 1-800-755-2255 during normal business hours. Many of you are do-it-yourselfers. I understand that. If you're not quite ready to pull that off yet, help is very easy to find.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping is continually humbled by your continuing attendance and hard work. Far too many in this field want it to be easy. They dream of just looking at the big board and knowing the winners automatically. It doesn't happen that way. Those who believe they have a magic instinct for picking winners go broke in due time. Bettors willing to work are rewarded.

Back with you Monday for more coursework. That will probably be an NFL report, though it's possible college football or basketball will earn the day. I try to be responsive to real-world dynamics as seasons unfold. We'll talk about what's IMPORTANT, I can assure you of that.