The Dynamics Of Basketball Handicapping Present Big Challenge But The Winning Continues

The Dynamics Of Basketball Handicapping Present Big Challenge But The Winning Continues  

By Kelso Sturgeon

There were 119 college and NBA games on the schedule Saturday and it was a daunting task to work through them and find a handful that merited a wager. There are but eight games on tonight's schedule - four in college basketball and four in the NBA - and the challenge is just as great. One who picks the pointspread winners of all four college games should at least be in line for a free beer.

That's how tough this game is and from the viewpoint of this handicapper, nothing changes - ever, whether more than 100 games or just four.

The first step in the handicapping process is to pick the outright winner of the game. Nice work, if you can get it but tonight it is not so easy because in only one of the contests - Texas Tech (9-16) at Kansas State (23-4) - is the winner obvious. In the other three games no such declaration can or should be made without a great deal of study and the insight that gathers.

As the evening begins, Kansas (23-4) is a one-point favorite at Iowa State (19-8) while Kansas State is a 19 ½ home favorite over Texas Tech. While 9th-ranked Kansas and 13th-ranked Kansas State compete against different teams tonight the hidden dynamic in the handicapping process is both are tied for first place in the Big 12 Conference with 11-3 records.

Kansas State is 14-1 at home this season and beat Texas Tech in Lubbock, 68-59, February 5 as an 11-point favorite. The Wildcats victory in this can almost be taken for granted. The cover--that is quite another matter. Kansas is 9-3 on the road, beat Iowa State in Lawrence, 97-89, January 9 as an 11 ½-point favorite and now faces a Cyclones team that has won 22 straight home games, including a 72-64 win over these same Jayhawks last season.

In another key game, 8th-ranked Syracuse (22-5) is a 1 ½-point favorite at 17th-ranked Marquette (19-7) and it does not take much imagination to conclude this one is not easy call either. Two special handicapping dynamics are in play in this one. Syracuse is in major positive bounce mode coming off a 57-46 home loss Saturday to Georgetown and it certainly is of note Marquette is 14-0 at home this season and has 23 straight at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The point I am trying to make with these thoughts is that there are literally dozens of dynamics in play, creating a puzzle of many pieces and ruled by the betting line. Winner's put the puzzle together to win most of the time. That requires digging deep throughout the handicapping process looking for every little edge that produces winners in the world of points and half-points.

A cursory glance at a game, followed by a bet, limits one's ability to win when a little extra work would give one second thoughts about one's choice, or seal the deal.

Do the work - it counts.

3-1 On Successful Sunday

My three basketball clubs went 3-1 Sunday, with my Best Bets Personal Investment Club going 2-0, my Chairman's Basketball Investment Club 1-0, while my Personal Best Basketball Investment Club was unfortunately 0-1.

I think it is insightful to share with all readers the thought and the logic it produced in the handicapping process and here is what I had to say about each of the four games I released, reprinted here in the exact form clients received them.

Best Bets Investment Club Basketball

15 Units
Pittsburgh (20-7) -5 ½ over ST. JOHN'S (16-10)
Prediction: Pittsburgh by 11-12
Played at Madison Square Garden (19,763) in New York City
RPI Ranking: Pittsburgh 40th of 347 teams, St. John's 57th of 347.
Strength of Schedule Ranking: Pittsburgh 45th of 347, St. John's 31st of 347.
Enrollment: Pittsburgh (28,766), St. John's (15,766)
Starting Time: 12:05
TV: ESPN
The Results: Pittsburgh 63. St. John's 47 (Win)

Comments:  20th-ranked Pittsburgh stubbed its toe in its last two games, losing at home to 25th-ranked Notre Dame (21-6) on a night in which it did not play well and hit but 34.8% of its field goals and at 18th-ranked Marquette (19-6)  which it 56.5% from the floor in a 79-69 win over the Panthers. Pittsburgh has already won on the road at Cincinnati and Georgetown and should get back on track against a much less-talented St. John's team that slips by the weak teams on it schedule and gets buried by the good ones.

5 Units
Temple (18-8) -1 over CHARLOTTE (18-7)
Prediction: Temple by 7-8
Played at Halton Arena (8,993) in Charlotte, North Carolina
RPI Ranking: Temple 49th of 347, Charlotte 54th of 347.
Strength of Schedule Ranking: Temple 57th of 347, Charlotte 97th of 347.
Enrollment: Temple (27,702), Charlotte (26,000)
Starting Time: 4:00
No TV:
The Results: Temple 71, Charlotte 51 (Win)

Comments:  When these teams met three weeks ago in Philadelphia, Temple, a 9-point favorite, won by a single point, 89-88, in a game Charlotte hit 60.4% from the floor, including 70.0% from 3-point range. It is not a stretch to suggest that if Charlotte could not win with offensive figures such as that, and has almost no chance to repeat them today, that it will have a difficult time keeping up with a Temple team that has a tremendous edge in talent and athleticism. It also is of note Charlotte will be without one of its best players - junior guard DeMario Mayfield - who was the team's leading scorer (11.7 points per game) but who has been suspended for repeatedly violating team rules. Charlotte is 1-3 in its last four games and in its last outing lost at Saint Louis (21-5), 76-58. Temple has won its last two road games - at Massachusetts (16-9), 83-82, and at Dayton (14-11), 72-71, and comes into this contest off an impressive 82-74 win over an excellent La Salle team. The only edge Charlotte has is the home court, where it is 11-1, but that single factor, especially with Mayfield gone, won't be enough to beat the Owls.

Chairman's Investment Club Basketball

25 Units
NOTRE DAME (21-6) -3 over Cincinnati (19-8)
Prediction: Notre Dame by 8-9
Played at Joyce Center (9,149) in Notre Dame, Indiana
RPI Ranking: Cincinnati 41st of 347 teams, Notre Dame 44th of 347.
Strength of Schedule Ranking: Cincinnati 29th of 347, Notre Dame 79th of 347.
Enrollment: Cincinnati: 21,878, Notre Dame 8,452.
Starting Time: 2:05
TV: CBS
The Results: Notre Dame 62, Cincinnati 41 (Win)

Comments:  For openers, no team gets rich playing Notre Dame at home at Joyce Center, where it is 15-2 this season, 50-3 over its last 53 games and 115-9 over its last 124. That means the Irish win 92.7% of the time at home, the second best figure in the NCAA, behind only Kansas that wins 96.0% of the time at home. Cincinnati must be respected but the Bearcats' record is quite deceiving. They opened the season 12-0 but are 7-8 since then and come into this game 1-4 in their last five. There is no question Cincinnati will take its best shot but will find itself outmanned and outgunned on one of the toughest home courts in the country. Offer a little insight into just how good Notre Dame is, the Irish are 4-1 against ranked opponents this season and showed their depth, patience and grit four games ago with a 5-overtime 104-101 win over 10th-ranked Louisville. Yes that game was played on this same home court.

Personal Best Basketball Investment Club

NBA  Blowout Game Of Week
50 Units
NEW YORK KNICKS (32-20) -10 ½ over Philadelphia 76ers (22-30)
Prediction: Knicks by 16-17
Home/Road Records: Knicks 19-8 at home, 76ers 6-17 on road.
Starting Time: 7:05
TV: MSG Cable
The Results: New York Knicks 99, Philadelphia 76ers 93 (Lose)

Comments: The Knicks have lost four straight and five of their last six games but seem to be in a perfect spot to right the ship and protect their one-game lead over the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA East when they take the court against a Philadelphia team that has lost three straight and four of its last five. New York has been playing badly and the team knows it. In those four consecutive losses - two on the road and two at home - the Knicks have given up an average of 104.8 points per game while averaging just 91.3. The drop off on offense and defense is reflected in New York's figures for the entire season, when they have averaged 100.1 points per game while giving up just 96.4. With the Nets breathing down their necks, and with Boston now just 4 ½ games back in the standings, I look for New York to return to its best form in this one and win in blowout fashion over a Philadelphia team that has lost seven straight on the road and that is 2-15 in its last 17 games away from home.

Tonight's Betting Menu

Marquee Monster Monday Set To Be 2-0 Night
My Best Bets Basketball Investment Club went 2-0 yesterday, winning a 15-unit play on Pittsburgh (-6) with its blowout win over St. John's, 63-47, and winning a 5-unit bet on Temple (-1 ½) with its knockout win over Charlotte, 71-57 - and I intend to do it again today. There are but four college basketball games on the schedule tonight - all on national television - and all of them important to at least one team in every game. The schedule finds Kansas 23-4) at Iowa State (19-8), Villanova (18-10) at Seton Hall (13-15), Syracuse (22-5) at Marquette (19-7) and Texas Tech (9-16) at Kansas State (23-4). Two of these games are perfect Best Bet Basketball Investment Club games and I will be releasing one of them at the 15-unit level and the second at 10-units. You can win both these plays for just $20, charged to your major credit card. For the record, my Best Bets club is 8-4 the last six days. Available on this website and toll free at 1-800-755-2255.

Chairman's Club 6-1-1 Last 5 Days, Goes For Another 25-Unit Winner Tonight
My Chairman's Basketball Investment Club has been on quite a roll the past five days, going 6-1-1 on all its plays, including a winning 50-unit side/total parlay with Arizona State and Colorado State last Wednesday - and the winning continues tonight. My Chairman's Club got the cash again last night with a 25-unit play on Notre Dame (-3) with its 21-point, 62-41, win over Cincinnati and I will be releasing another 25-unit play tonight. Get all the cash with me again tonight with this knockout winner for just $25, charged to your major credit card. Available on this website and toll free at 1-800-755-2255.

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