Add Superior Princeton As Your NCAA Basketball Pick Against Columbia

Jason Lake

Thursday, February 25, 2016 7:58 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 7:58 PM UTC

It'll be an Ivy League mismatch Friday night when the Princeton Tigers host the Columbia Lions. The NCAA basketball odds boards are tighter than a funeral drum for this contest.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 24: 7-6 ATS, 1-1 Totals

Welcome to the Ancient Eight. The Ivy League (sometimes called Ivy Group) is the reason why we have college sports – or colleges, or sports. Okay, the conference itself has only been around since 1954, but the member institutions are among the oldest in the United States. That includes the two schools who'll be represented in Friday's game (7:00 p.m. ET) between the Columbia Lions and the visiting Princeton Tigers.

Older isn't necessarily better, though. Columbia (est. 1754) has struggled on the basketball court during the past century or so. Princeton (est. 1746) has been the dominant Ivy League hoops team over the decades; this Friday, the Tigers are laying 9.5 points at home on the NCAA basketball odds board. That line's going to be hard to beat – if we're doing the math right here at the home office.


The Meisner Technique
You don't need an Ivy League degree to figure this one out. Over at Sports-Reference, Princeton (+8.3 SRS) is pegged exactly six points higher than Columbia (+2.3 SRS) on the Simple Rating System. Give the Tigers 3.5 points for home-court advantage, and shazam, there's your 9.5-point spread right there. Even someone who went to Brown could get that one.

Maybe a medical degree will be more useful for Friday's game. Three of the Lions are listed as probable with the flu, including their best offensive player, senior guard Grant Mullins (21.1 PER, +3.9 BPM). The others: senior guard Isaac Cohen (12.6 PER, +1.9 BPM) and freshman forward Lukas Meisner (15.6 PER, +1.7 BPM). That could take some of the starch out of Columbia, although Meisner was the only one reported showing symptoms on Tuesday.


Put a Tiger in Your Tank
Although there's a pretty big statistical gap between the two teams, Princeton (18-5 SU, 7-6-1 ATS) is only one game up on Columbia (19-8 SU, 8-8-1 ATS) in the conference standings. The Lions have played a softer schedule up to this point, enough to leave them at No. 120 overall (No. 69 offense, No. 196 defense) on Ken Pomeroy's efficiency charts. The Tigers are well ahead at No. 55 overall (No. 65 offense, No. 62 defense).


We don't have any totals yet to help us with our NCAA basketball picks, but we're willing to recommend a small wager on Princeton despite what looks like a very tight line. The Tigers have dipped back down to –9 at Heritage, and the trio of sick Lions should only add to that slim profit margin. It's not worth emptying the college fund, though. Princeton needed to scramble to beat Columbia (+3.5 at home) 88-83 in overtime when they met in New York February 13. The rematch at Jadwin Gymnasium could turn out to be just as competitive.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Princeton -9.5
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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