The final Friday of the regular season isn't a strong college basketball betting card, but it's better than usual with several key matches, including a Horizon League Tournament battle.
Yale vs. Harvard
The Ivy League season doesn't officially end until next Tuesday when the Princeton Tigers host the Pennsylvania Quakers in the traditional conference finale. But for all intents and purposes, the Ancient Eight will decide things Friday in Cambridge where the Yale Bulldogs collide with the Harvard Crimson.
That is unless the winner stumbles Saturday in their season finales, which could set up only the second playoff in Ivy League history to determine which school gets the automatic invite to the NCAA tournament.
Let's assume for now that won't be needed, and the oldest rivalry in the game will be renewed for the 190th time with all the marbles on the line. Speaking of the line, the 8 PM (ET) tip at lovely Lavietes Pavilion -- where we could see a crowd in excess of 2,000 -- went out with Harvard laying 4½ on the NCAA Basketball odds. The total for this game, and our other previews, should be available for your wagering consideration shortly.
Let's face it, Yale (21-8 straight up, 13-6-1 against the spread) blew chunks in the first half of the meeting with Harvard (20-6 SU, ATS) about a month ago. We'll give the Crimson defense some credit, but when you only put up 11 in a half, much of the blame has to go to your own offense.
The Bulldogs missed 11 of their first 13 shots in that game, also turning it over four times in the first eight minutes, but at the same time, it's not like Harvard took advantage by scoring only 16 in the initial 20 minutes.
Both of these teams are actually playing pretty good ball, and it's a shame that one of them is going to get left out of March Madness. Yale checks in 71 RPI/82 BPI while Harvard is 57/79 in the two columns, and I'll be taking the points on the visitors for my free pick.
NCAA Basketball Picks: Yale +4.5 at 5Dimes
Bowling Green vs. Buffalo
Meanwhile over in the Mid-American Conference, the Bowling Green Falcons and Buffalo Bulls are each looking for an East Division title and currently two-thirds of the deadlock for first place. They'll tip things off in Chicken Wing City a little after 7 PM (ET) on ESPN3, Buffalo backers required to give up 7 points from the outset.
It has only been a couple of weeks since the teams last saw each other, Buffalo (20-9 SU, 14-12 ATS) registering a 68-56 decision on the road at Bowling Green (19-9 SU, 18-6-1 ATS). The Bulls are streaking with 5-straight wins, three since beating the Falcons, Bowling Green looking to extend an impressive 5-game stretch on the MAC Highway, covering all five and 7-1 in conference road games overall.
In the end, Buffalo is the better team and should cover the touchdown spread at home.
NCAA Basketball Picks: Buffalo -7 at The Greek
Detroit vs. Cleveland State
The Ivy League doesn't have a conference tournament and the MAC is still a few days away from beginning their event, but it's already underway in the Horizon League, second round action getting underway Friday with a good rivalry between the Detroit Titans and Cleveland State Vikings.
If there's an advantage here for Detroit it's that the Titans don't have to face the Vikings on their home floor. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the event are being played in Valparaiso since the Crusaders earned host rights by virtue of the regular season title. Just a shame more conferences don't do that.
ESPN3 carries the telecast starting at 9:30 PM (ET), and Cleveland State is 5½ point chalk after beginning at -5 on the NCAA odds.
The Vikings won their third straight from the Titans at home on January 23, but Detroit (15-17 SU, 15-15 ATS) stopped that with a 66-65 triumph in Motown three weeks later to up their lead in the series to 38-21. The Titans earned this 2nd-round meeting with Cleveland State (17-13 SU, 13-14 ATS) by virtue of a 77-67 win over Youngstown State on Tuesday, using a late run to put away the Penguins as 8½ point favorites.
I'm expecting a total in the low-to-mid 130s for this one, and I'll get behind the 'under' for my final free NCAA basketball picks of Friday evening.
NCAA Basketball Picks: Detroit-Cleveland State Under