Ivy League: Harvard Will Roll As Our NCAA Basketball Pick Over Brown

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, February 12, 2016 2:53 PM GMT

Friday, Feb. 12, 2016 2:53 PM GMT

Brown travels from Providence to Cambridge to face off with the Crimson of Harvard in the third weekend of the annual Ivy League Tournament. Check our free NCAA basketball pick inside.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Harvard -6.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

Brown vs. Harvard 7:00 PM EST
All but Princeton and Penn have played six games as we approach the midway point of the Conference season. Much is as predicted in the league with Yale a perfect 6-0 SU, with Columbia at 5-1 SU, and Princeton at 4-1 SU, closely pursuing the Eli. The big shock of the season is that the Crimson of Harvard are 1-5 SU, tied with Dartmouth for last place. But before I can tell you that story, let’s take a look at the Brown Bruins. 

 

Betting Preview
Little was expected of Brown in the fourth year of the Mike Martin regime. The Bruins have yet to surpass 15 wins in any season, were again predicted in the lower echelon of the league, and have lived down to expectations with a 7-13 SU record, including 2-4 SU in Brain Chain games. The Bruins have taken to the road eight times, and defeated only Bryant in an unlined game. To say the results have been unremarkable would be kind. The Bruins have four returning starters led by Kuakumensah. The senior big man is the only upper classman who sees significant time. He has been a solid contributor with 14/10 this season. He is supported by lead guard Tavon Blackman, who has run the offense since his freshman year. Blackman averages 13 PPG and over 5 APG. But that tandem is no longer good enough for Ivy success. The Bears are young, with six frosh and transfers, and are again suffering through growing pains. The question is whether they are good enough to defeat a Harvard team which has been a huge disappointment. 

Ninth year Harvard HC Amaker knew his Crimson would have a tough time making it six straight league championships. That fact was reinforced when lead guard Siyani Chambers tore his ACL this summer and is out for the year. Plenty of rebuilding would need to be done quickly if Harvard was able to compete with the upper echelon. That rebuilding process was going remarkably well, when in late December Harvard traveled to Hawaii for a holiday tournament. In that event, they defeated BYU, Auburn, and played one of the top teams in the nation, Oklahoma, to the final minutes. Once league play began, however, the Crimson struggled with a record of 1-3 SU, 0-4 ATS out of the gate, beating only Dartmouth at home, while losing to the Big Green in Hanover, before a lost weekend in Cambridge to Cornell and Columbia. Last weekend, however, the bottom dropped out when their best big man, Edosomwan, missed games against Princeton and Penn with a thigh injury.

Clearly the Crimson missed the contributions of the 6’9 big man who was averaging 28 minutes, 14 points, and 11 boards. Without him, Harvard fell by 21 at Princeton and 10 at Penn. Harvard has normally been overpriced under Amaker, but this year they have fallen to 0-6 ATS to drop his Conference record to 47-70 ATS. It is a huge leap of faith to believe that Amaker can put the pieces back together in one week. But that is exactly what he has been asked to do. Okolie, at 6’8, will need to shut down Kuakumensah. Frosh lead guard McCarthy will need to step up his game. Another frosh guard Corey Johnson will have to fill it up from the perimeter, and there will need to be contributions from Corbin Miller and Evan Cummins. This is truly the test of the strength of both Amaker and the Harvard program. In what can only be considered a huge contrary selection, I invite you to put the NCAA Basketball odds in your favor with my NCAA Basketball pick on Harvard tonight, and hope the Crimson do not leave us red faced.

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