NCAA Basketball Picks Of The Day: Top Value Plays For Friday

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, February 25, 2016 9:19 PM GMT

It's the penultimate weekend of Ivy League action -- no conference tournament -- and Yale, Princeton and Columbia all have title aspirations for the Ivy's automatic NCAA bid. Here are my top three Friday picks on Heritage's NCAA Basketball odds.

Harvard vs. Yale (-13.5)
Harvard (11-15, 3-7) has won the past four Ivy League titles, but that streak is officially over. You know the Crimson would love nothing better than to put a dent in arch-rival Yale's chances at its first NCAA berth in 54 years. The Crimson are off an unlikely 76-74 win at Cornell last Saturday, rallying from 21 down with around nine minutes remaining in the second half.  With score tied at 74, Tommy McCarthy hit a winning floater in the lane with 5.5 seconds remaining. Harvard is a very good defensive team, leading the conference in opponent 3-point percentage (30.6) and ranking  No. 2 in scoring defense (67.2 ppg) and opponent field goal percentage (41.1). But the Crimson struggle on offense, scoring just 67.0 ppg. Yale (18-6, 9-1) leads the Ivy League by a half-game and simply needs to win out and it's in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs had a 12-game winning streak snapped last Friday at Princeton but bounced back with a 79-58 win at Penn on Saturday. Yale has played its past four games without guard and captain Jack Montague, and he won't return this season after he withdrew from school. He averaged 9.7 points and 3.0 assists. Interestingly, Yale and Harvard have won on each other's court the previous two regular seasons. That trend continued on Feb. 13 when Yale won 67-55 at Harvard. Justin Sears led the Bulldogs with 21 points -- that was Yale's 12th straight win. Harvard never got within single digits in the second half.

Harvard at +13.5 NCAA Basketball odds -- only because it's a rivalry game. Yale still wins. The road team is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Harvard +13.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

Columbia vs. Princeton (-8)
We stick with the Ivy League in what could be an elimination game between these schools. Columbia (19-8, 8-2) is a game behind Yale. The Lions close the regular season at Penn and home to Brown and Yale. Columbia easily swept both home games last weekend, beating Harvard and Dartmouth by a combined 33 points. Columbia swept Harvard for the first time in eight years. The Lions' Maodo Lo was named Ivy League Player of the Week on Monday. He averaged 18 points, 4.5 rebounds and three assists in the wins. Columbia is looking for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1968. The Lions are off to their best 27-game start since then. Princeton (18-5, 8-1) is a half-game behind Yale but tied in the loss column. The Tigers handed Yale its only conference loss last Friday to split the season series. Princeton closes the season vs. Cornell, at Harvard, at Dartmouth and home to Penn. Henry Caruso is the Tigers' star as he leads Princeton in scoring (16.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rpg). The Tigers, who last made the NCAA Tournament in 2011, have won 12 of the past 13 meetings with Columbia, including 88-83 in overtime in New York on Feb. 13. The Tigers rallied from a late  nine-point deficit to force OT. Devin Cannady scored 23 points off the bench and hit two 3-pointers in the final 11 seconds of regulation for Princeton.

Princeton. The Lions are 2-5 ATS in their past seven vs. teams with a winning record. Princeton is 7-0 ATS in its past seven after an ATS loss.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Princeton +8
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

 

Valparaiso vs. Milwaukee (+4.5)  
The best team in action around the country on Friday night  has to be Valparaiso, which is 24-5 overall and ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense in allowing just 60.3 points per game. But how much will the Crusaders care here as they already have clinched the Horizon League regular-season title with a 14-2 record? I suppose Valpo would like to win out to improve its potential at-large candidacy for the NCAA Tournament if it doesn't win the Horizon League Tournament as expected. Milwaukee (18-11, 9-7) still could finish in the top four of the conference. The Panthers enter on a two-game winning streak. In Monday's 87-51 blowout of Youngstown State, Jordan Johnson had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, the fourth triple-double all-time in program history and the first since Kaylon Williams did so against Butler on Jan. 3, 2011. Milwaukee lost at Valparaiso 68-56 on Jan. 14. Rebounding was the difference there as Valpo won the battle of the boards 47-22.  The Crusaders have won eight of the past nine meetings overall.

Back Valpo with your NCAA Basketball picks. The Crusaders are 14-6-1 ATS in their past 21 road games vs. teams with a winning record. Milwaukee is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 home games. Valpo has covered seven of the past nine meetings. 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Valparaiso -3.5
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline