Another light Friday college basketball betting schedule has our handicapper looking at the Ivy League for opportunities to be the spreads, plus picking up a Pac-12 game on the slate.
Harvard at Princeton
While most conferences are at least a month into their schedules, the race for the Ivy League Championship is just cranking up. The league will spend the next five weekends engaged in Friday-Saturday back-to-back scheduling, and the first of those finds four of the top teams in the group going head-to-head against one another.
That would include the Harvard Crimson and Princeton Tigers who are set to tangle in New Jersey at 6 PM (ET). ESPNU will provide the telecast from Jadwin Gymnasium, Harvard went out -4 before action drove that spread to -4½; SBR's live college basketball odds have yet to pick up a total.
Harvard (11-5 straight up, 4-6 against the spread) actually got its Ivy League slate going nearly three weeks ago before taking a quick 2-game break from the conference. The Crimson bested Dartmouth on the road in the first league matchup, 57-46, to cover as 5 point road chalk, then split games and covers against Boston College and Bryant.
Tommy Amaker's crew then returned to the Ivy slate last Saturday, laying an egg at home vs. Dartmouth. Harvard was giving up 11½ to the Big Green but turned it over 18 times in the 70-61 loss, Dartmouth's first win in the series in exactly six years. It was the Crimson's second game without center Kenyatta Smith, out indefinitely with yet another leg injury.
It will be just the second league game for Princeton (8-9 SU, 3-6 ATS) who had to rally about three weeks ago to get past Penn in the opener, 78-74. Favored by 8½, the Tigers found themselves trailing by 15 five minutes into the second half before going on an 18-3 run to climb back into it.
This series has belonged to Princeton over the 115 years it has been played, the Tigers owning a 130-42 advantage, but Harvard won both meetings last season, covering double-digit chalk each time. I'm taking the home team plus the points for my free pick.
Yale at Columbia
Another Ivy League rivalry rich in tradition is set for an 8 PM (ET) tip at Levien Gymnasium in the Big Apple where the Yale Bulldogs are visiting the Columbia Lions. Yale went out at -1½, that spread now sitting -2½.
Yale (13-6 SU, 6-3-1 ATS) is seeking its first conference crown since 2002 -- fifth overall -- and is currently in good position to see that through with a 2-0 record. The Elis picked up both wins at Brown's expense the past two Saturdays, easily running past the Bears in Providence before needing a big second half to pull off last week's 69-65 win as 10 point home favorites.
Columbia (9-7 SU, 3-2 ATS) saw most of its chances for an Ivy League run go out the window before the season started when forward Alex Rosenberg was forced to withdraw from school with foot surgery Rosenberg led the Lions in scoring a year ago (16.0 ppg), and they were held under 50 points in both games vs. Cornell the last two weekends.
This one's a toss-up, but I'll get behind Yale for my free pick.
Our final stop for Friday is at Tempe's Wells Fargo Arena the Arizona State Sun Devils and Oregon Ducks are meeting for the second time this season. The Pac-12 Network begins its broadcast at 8 PM (ET), and the Beavers are giving up 6 points.
Both teams were in action on Wednesday with completely opposite results. Oregon (14-7 SU, 8-12 ATS) was clobbered down the road in Tucson by Arizona, 90-56, as six Wildcats scored in double figures to complete a season sweep of the Ducks. Arizona State (11-10 SU, 9-10-2 ATS), meanwhile, was putting a 73-55 beating on Oregon State to more than double-up on covering the -7 that Sun Devil backers were laying.
Oregon won the January 10 battle with Arizona State, 59-56, that saw the Ducks close as 5½ point home favorites, and the road team has been the way to go in the last five matchups. I'm taking the points for my final free NCAA Basketball pick.
My picks: Princeton +4.5; Yale -2.5; Oregon +6