Yale and Penn meet in downtown Philly tonight; with a few other Ivy League matchups on the card, who will we pick when Penn is at the bottom of the standings? Do they have what it takes to go against Yale?
Yale (-7-) vs. Penn 7:00 ET
Yale and Penn face off in the fabled Palestra in downtown Philly tonight with the Eli holding a share of the conference lead at 5-1 SU with Harvard. Penn is again mired at the bottom of the standings at 2-3 SU, as they vie with Dartmouth and Brown for the worst team in the Ancient 8; while being listed on the NCAA basketball odds at +7.5. They do hold a pair of victories in league play over Dartmouth on this court as well as upsetting Cornell (71-69) last weekend.
But, this is far from the Quaker team who, along with Princeton, dominated the Ivy League in a 20-year span from the 1980s to the early part of this millennium. Five years ago, Jerome Allen returned to his alma mater in an effort to turnaround their fortunes. Three years ago, it appeared that Allen had the program headed in the right direction with a 20-win season. But, the Quakers slipped to a team with a combined win total of only 17 games in the previous 2 years, including 8-20 SU last year. The strength of their Palestra home court has long ago eroded into mediocrity. In fact, in the last 3 seasons, Penn is just 14-22 SU at the Palestra, including 3-6 SU this season. Already, there have been losses on this court to MAAC teams Rider, by 16 and Monmouth by 15. But, the most telling competitive score would be their 63-38 loss to Harvard on this court on January 10th. That would be a Harvard team that is tied with this Yale team at 5-1 SU for the league lead. There will be little confidence for the Quakers, as they enter this matchup off a 83-56 loss at Columbia last Saturday night. Last year, Yale comfortably defeated Penn by margins of 15 and 7. Penn has the worst defense in the league, allowing 67 PPG. On offense, they score only 62 PPG while committing over 16 TOs per game. Tonight, they face a defensively improved Yale team, who allows just 62/42/33.
Expect no compassion from the Bulldogs, who are hungry after last Saturday night’s home court loss to Harvard, which dropped them into a tie at 5-1 SU atop the Elite 8. That snapped a 6-game winning streak for Yale. Note that after 5 of 6 previous losses that the Bulldogs responded with victories. The precedence for their road excellence in the league has been set with a mark of 3-0 ATS as road chalk at Columbia, Cornell and Brown. The Eli are clearly the most experienced team in the league with all 5 starters returning from last year’s 19 win entity that made it to the CIT Final. Perhaps most importantly is that Yale has arguably the 2 best players in the league in senior PG Duren and his running mate at the wing in Justin Sears, which adds to our college basketball picks for tonight. These two alone are good enough to out-dual the outmanned Quakers. Lone concern is a back door cover by Penn should Yale get caught looking ahead to their meeting at Princeton tomorrow.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Take Yale -7.5 at 5Dimes