NCAA Basketball Picks: Princeton To Overmatch Harvard In Tough Battle

Mark Lathrop

Friday, February 5, 2016 12:28 PM UTC

Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 12:28 PM UTC

Trends indicate that this could be a very close game. Our college basketball handicapper has other ideas for his NCAA basketball picks regarding this matchup between Harvard & Princeton.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Tigers -8.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


In a Friday night Ivy League matchup, the Harvard Crimson (9-11, 1-3) travel to meet the Princeton Tigers (12-5, 2-1). Each team is trying to keep up with Yale and Columbia, who are undefeated in conference so far. This matchup continues a full day of nationally televised Ivy League games and can be seen on ESPNU. Princeton comes into this game as a heavy home favorite, favored by 8.5 points at sites such as Heritage. The O/U has come out early, and is at 136 at Bookmaker at time of writing.

Harvard is coming off a buzzer beater loss to the Columbia Lions, 55-54. The Crimson got off to a hot start in the game, leading by as many as 17 points in the first half. It was the third loss in a row for Harvard, unfortunately all in league play. The Crimson’s deep rotation was led by senior forward, Evan Cummins, who posted 11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks on the night.

Cummins leading the team in points for the game is an oddity, as he is not in the top 3 scorers for Harvard this year. Leading the Crimson in both points and rebounds per game is junior forward, Zena Edosomwan. The 6-9, 245-pound junior from Los Angeles is averaging better than a double-double per game at 14.2 points and 10.5 rebounds.

Despite a huge effort from junior forward, Henry Caruso, who put up 26 points on 10 of 19 shooting from the field, Princeton lost to Yale 79-57 in their last game. Caruso leads the Tigers in scoring and rebounds over the year, averaging 16.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game over 27.6 minutes. That loss broke a streak of five straight wins for the Tigers, all since a loss on the road at the then-13th-ranked Miami Hurricanes.

This game features a significant RPI ranking mismatch, as the Princeton Tigers hold a very respectable 67th rank at the current time. On the other hand, the Harvard Crimson hold an RPI ranking of 198. It should be noted that Princeton is 11-0 SU against opponents with an RPI ranking above 100. For those of you without Ivy League educations, Harvard’s rank of 198 is worse than 100.


Betting Analysis
Even though the NCAA basketball odds in this game and the RPI indicators strongly favor the Princeton Tigers, the series trends heavily favor the Harvard Crimson. Harvard has won 6 of the last 7 matchups between these two teams. Harvard is also 7-3 straight up in the last ten meetings in the series. In those three losses, none have come by more than eight points, which is less than the spread being presented for tonight’s matchup.

That last streak is a bit of a problem for me. You see, it’s not that hard to pick out that Harvard hasn’t lost by more than 8 points in the last ten meetings. Yet, there it is, spread set at 8.5 points favoring the Princeton Tigers. Who wouldn’t want to take that NCAA basketball pick, it’s almost a guarantee! Who indeed.

Count me as one of the doubters that Harvard can keep it close. Princeton is 6-0 SU at home this year, while Harvard is 2-7 away from their home court. The recent cold streak against Harvard looks to be an anomaly as well, as Princeton is a solid 19-2 SU at home versus Harvard in their last 21 games. Princeton has faced some stiff competition this year and has enough experience to put the Crimson away, so I’m taking the Tigers -8.5 at Heritage as one of my Friday NCAAB picks.

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