Tip-off at John J. Lee Amphitheater is slated for 7:30 PM (ET), and SBR's live NCAA basketball odds opened the Bulldogs +7 on their own floor.
Harvard owns a 2-game lead over the Elis and can wrap up the conference crown with a victory. Yale can keep its hopes alive with a win over the Crimson followed by another victory Saturday against Dartmouth. Should that happen, Harvard would need to beat Brown on the road Saturday to avert a deadlock with the Bulldogs.
The Ivy League doesn't have a postseason tournament, so if Yale and Harvard finish with identical 11-3 conference records, they'll meet next week in Philadelphia for the title and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Yale will take aim at its first season sweep of Harvard since the 2007-08 campaign. The Bulldogs took the first meeting this season, 74-67 in Cambridge where the Crimson were -12.5 chalk.
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Crimson Win Away From 4th-Straight Big Dance
The credit for the turnaround in the basketball program at Harvard (24-4 straight up, 14-7-1 against the spread) in recent years goes to one man. Following stints at Seton Hall and Michigan, Tommy Amaker took over before the 2007-08 season, and guided the Crimson to the CIT Tournament in just his third year with a school-record 21 wins.
They have since broken that mark with an outstanding 26-win campaign in 2011-12, and have been to the NCAA Tournament each of the past three seasons. Harvard recorded its first ever victory at the Big Dance with a 68-62 decision over No. 3-seed New Mexico in the opening round before bowing out in a loss to Arizona.
Since suffering their only Ivy League loss to Yale in early-February, the Crimson have reeled off six consecutive dubyas, spread covers in the last five. Harvard has held its last three opponents -- Princeton, Cornell and Columbia -- to 47 points each, and allowed just 56 PPG in conference play, nearly seven points fewer than Yale's 2nd-best mark.
Will 52-Year NCAA Tourney Drought End For Bulldogs?
Yale (15-11 SU, 11-13-2 ATS) is back home after spending the last two weekends on the road, bookending losses at Columbia and Princeton with victories at Cornell and Penn. A win Friday would not only keep the Bulldogs in the race, but give James Jones his 206th triumph to tie Joe Vancisin for most by a head coach at Yale.
Jones is probably focusing most on Harvard, and next on the visit from Dartmouth Saturday instead of personal record that could come vs. the Big Green. Vancisin was at the helm in 1962 when Yale last went to the NCAA Tournament, and Jones would gladly give up the record to get the Elis back this season.
Yale is a perfect 5-0 at home vs. Ivy League foes, covering all but one of those wins. The offense revolves around sophomore Justin Sears who has scored at least 11 points in all but one conference tilt, and leads the Bulldogs with a 16.3 PPG average as well as in rebounding (6.9 rpg).
I'm tempted to take the points and Yale in this one, but the total intrigues me more. It's not out yet, but should be right at the 130 mark the previous meeting closed at. Though not by much, the past three have gone 'over' in this series, and that's my free NCAA basketball pick.
My pick: Harvard-Yale Over 130
Season: 50-36-4 (+10.4)