NCAA Basketball bettors are again left with a lean slate of action on Friday night, and that has our handicapper turning to the Ivy League for a couple of previews and free picks.
Welcome to the Ivy League, where the term student-athlete actually applies in college sports.
And welcome to another thin Friday on the NCAA basketball betting schedule, just nine games to pick from on the card and the Atlantic-10 the biggest conference taking part. As is so often the case, the Ivy League has a huge chunk of the slate.
That's certainly the case tonight when each of the Ancient Eight will lace 'em up and hit the hardwood in gyms from Providence to Ithaca. It's not any of the four matchups themselves that stands out on Friday, but how two of them play into a very crucial contest on Saturday, and if there's any extra advantage for college basketball bettors because of it.
Harvard vs. Brown
Harvard sits a game behind Yale in the Ivy League ranks heading into the weekend, and the two rivals will meet for the first time this season on Saturday. That leaves the Crimson and Bulldogs both in dangerous look-ahead spots for their Friday battles.
Harvard will be on the road for a second consecutive weekend, its first stop at Brown to meet the Bears in a 7 PM (ET) tip at Pizzitola Sports Center. The only way to see this one is buy a ticket or subscribe to the Ivy League Digital Network.
Harvard is favored by 9-9½ on SBR's live college basketball odds, the total forthcoming.
Harvard (13-5 straight up, 5-7 against the spread) has owned this series overall with a 95-72 overall record, building a big chunk of that advantage by winning the last 10, five of those in Providence. The Crimson started this 4-game road trip a week ago with a 75-72 win at Princeton, just missing the cover as 4 point road chalk, and followed that up with an easy 63-38 triumph at Penn to easily beat the -8 spread and give them a school record 10 straight conference road wins.
Still five months shy of his 33rd birthday, head coach Mike Martin brings Brown (9-12 SU, 4-8 ATS) into the tussle still looking for win No. 1 on the Ivy League fixture. The Bears are returning to College Hill after three on the conference highway, two of their four defeats coming at the hands of the still-unbeaten Elis.
Harvard will grab the dubya, but I'm going to take the points and the Bears for my free pick in this one.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Brown +9
Dartmouth vs. Yale
Meanwhile over in New Haven, Yale is returning home after winning and covering both of its roadies last weekend, and the Bulldogs get to turn-up for Saturday's scrap with Harvard by hosting the Dartmouth Big Green.
The game gets underway a little past 7 PM (ET) at John J. Lee Amphitheater, those interested in backing Yale with their NCAA Basketball picks requires laying 7½-8 points.
Staying with our theme of playing on the road, Dartmouth (8-10 SU, 2-8 ATS) wraps up a 5-game trek on the Ivy Highway this weekend, a game at Brown on Saturday trailing this stop at Yale. The Big Green's lone league victory was a big upset at Harvard two weeks ago, and they've gone cold from long-range by hitting just 5-of-28 from 3-point land over the last two games.
Yale (15-6 SU, 8-3-1 ATS) has relied on the inside-outside duo of Justin Sears and Javier Duren to get on the top perch of the league ranks. They're averaging better than 40 points per game between them, roughly 59% of the Bulldogs' total output in Ivy League games, and two big reasons I like the Elis to cover for my free pick.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Yale -7½ at 5Dimes
Season: 40-36-1 (+0.4)