Check out our expert handicapper's take on this Ivy League game between Columbia & Harvard. Which team will cover & why? Click here to find out!
Columbia vs. Harvard 6:00 ET CBC TV
Columbia travels to Harvard for this 6 pm ET tip as televised by CBSC TV. These two met twice last year with Harvard winning by 4 in Manhattan but wiping out the Lions 80-47 on this court as 10 point favorite on the NCAA basketball odds. It was the only time in the 4+ year coaching tenure of Columbia HC smith that his lions failed ATS when installed as an underdog of 8 or more points. But, more on that later!
As we enter the 2nd week of Round Robin play in the Ivy’s, Harvard and Yale hold a 2 game advantage over Columbia (3-3) who, in my opinion, is the 3rd best team in the League.
Harvard is the 4-time defending Ivy League champion. Last year, they posted a 27-5 SU mark, including 13-1 SU in the league. They eventually lost to Michigan St. in the NCAA round of 32. Naturally, with 3 RS, the Crimson were considered to be the favorites in the league. A closer inspection of their roster sees that they lost 3 key cogs to that unit. Gone are Rivard (the best 3 point shooter in Harvard history) and a pair of glue guys in Curry and Casey! Returning are Saunders (the Ivy Player of the Year in 2014), along with PG Chambers and a pair of frontline stalwarts in Mondou-Misi and Kenyatta Smith. Yet, the chemistry is not the same without the departing players. The Crimson have but 5 losses but among them is a 70-69 loss as 11 point home chalk vs. outmanned Dartmouth. Three of their recent 4 wins of Ivy League play have come by 3 or less points to Princeton, Brown and Yale. This is clearly not as dominant a contingent as was last year’s unit. Eighth year HC Amaker wins with defense and pace. The Crimson allow just 58/39/32 on defense, but they are scoring only 64 PPG while committing over 13 TOs per game. Coming off a 52-50 win at Yale last Saturday, to tie the Crimson with the Eli for the conference lead, they could be a bit flat against a team they beat twice last season.
Columbia returns 4/5 starters from last year’s 21-13 SU team that made it to the CIT Quarter Finals. At the start of the year, one of their key players Alex Rosenberg (foot) chose to leave the team. Led by Maodo Lo, this remains a veteran team. Their MO under 5th year HC Kyle Smith is to play solid defense and control the pace. The Lions allow less than 60 PPG, only 41% from the field and just 30% from the arc. They have a positive rebound margin and a positive assist/TO ratio. In short, this is an outstanding fundamentally sound Ivy League team. Losses this season have come at home to Cornell, Yale and Princeton. But, the Lions, especially under Smith, have long been acknowledged as an outstanding road team. This is a team that with their great patience actually led Kentucky in Lexington at the half before falling by a count of only 56-46. It was Kentucky’s lowest offensive output of the season. The Columbia program has long been solid this price point, including 34-15 ATS when receiving 8 or more points. That includes 11-1 ATS under HC Smith with the onlyW failure in this role, last year on this court.
With Harvard games being decided by minimal margins and Columbia performing at their best in this role, we confidently make the Lions our college basketball pick in what figures to be a game contested in the 50’s (the opening total was 114). Take the points with the Lions in a game that can go to the final buzzer.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Take Columbia +9.5 at 5Dimes