NCAA Basketball Picks: Columbia Will Keep It Close Tonight Against Princeton

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, February 26, 2016 3:29 PM UTC

Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 3:29 PM UTC

In what can only be termed as the Ivy League Underdog Revenge Game of the Year, the Columbia Lions travel to Princeton, NJ to face the Tigers. See my NCAA Basketball pick for today. 

Columbia vs. Princeton (-7-) 6:00 ET
Columbia currently stands 19-8 SU for the season and 8-2 SU in Brain Chain play with home losses to the Top 2 teams, Yale and Princeton, marring their record. Princeton is 18-5 SU for the season, 8-1 SU in Ancient 8 action and enters tonight on a 6-game winning streak after beating Yale last Friday night to tie the Eli in the loss column. Should each, Princeton and Yale, win the remainder of their games, there will be a 1-game playoff for the NCAA bid. The Lions, however, will have something to say about that, as they visit both Princeton and Harvard the closing weeks of the season. For tonight, no contest is bigger than this for the Columbia Lions.

These teams met two Saturday nights ago in Levien. As the game wound down, Columbia held a 6 point lead with under 30 seconds to play. A trio of triples by Princeton, sandwiched around 3 foul shots by Columbia, tied the contest at 76, sending it into OT. Columbia roared out of the OT gate, scoring the first 7 points and appeared to be once again in command. Princeton responded by scoring the final 12 points of the game to not only win the contest, but cover the 3 point road impost! Today, the scene shifts to Princeton where the Tigers are a perfect 10-0 SU, but just 2-3 ATS as home chalk.

Again this should be a fierce battle between the 2 big Cats of the Ivy League. The Lions have in effect, 6 returning starters, after injured players from last season rejoined the team. They are led by Maodo Lo, the lead guard who stirs the drink. He is joined by Grant Mullins, who is equally crafty from the wing position. The interior is dominated by 5th year senior, Alex Rosenberg, who returned from an injury season to average 14/4 this year. Petrasek and Castlin round out the starting five, who get ample support from one of the league’s deepest teams, including names such as Coby, Meisner, Hickman and CJ Davis. After the loss to Princeton 2 weeks ago, the Lions could have tossed the towel on the season. Rather, they responded with dominating wins last weekend by 14 points vs. Harvard and 19 over Dartmouth. That gives them plenty of confidence entering tonight.


Betting Analysis:
Princeton matches the Lions with 4 double digit scorers of their own in Caruso, Cannady, Weisz and Cook. But, this is not your Pete Carril Tigers of ole. Under 5th year HC Henderson, there are still aspects of the ole Princeton offense and repertoire. But, this is a far more up-tempo group that averages 79 PPG on 46% shooting with nearly 10 triples per game at 38% from the arc. With positives in rebound margin, assist/TO ratio and rebound margin, the Tigers are the real deal! With Columbia also averaging nearly 10 triples per game on 37% from the arc, this may indeed come down to a battle of 3 pointers.

In a game that I can only see being as close as the previous matchup, I invite you to put the NCAA basketball odds boards and line up with my NCAA basketball picks on the Columbia Lions who are a long-term 35-16 ATS (+8+) on the road, including 12-2 ATS the last 6 years under current HC Kyle Smith.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Columbia +7.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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