The Princeton Tigers travel north to Hanover, New Hampshire to face the Big Green of Dartmouth in an Ivy League clash of teams with far different basketball traditions.
Princeton vs. Dartmouth (-2) 7:00 ET
At 7:00 pm this evening, the Princeton Tigers travel north to Hanover, New Hampshire to face the Big Green of Dartmouth in an Ivy League clash of teams with far different basketball traditions. For much of the last 30 years, in the continuing legacy of Pete Carril, the Princeton Tigers have challenged for Ivy supremacy in most years. At the other end of the spectrum is a Dartmouth team who, by the admission of their own coach, has not had a winning culture with the basketball program since the late ‘50s. This year, Princeton stands 4-3 SU ATS in Ivy League play, while Dartmouth is 2-6 SU ATS in the Ancient 8. An earlier meeting between these two resulted in a 64-53 Princeton victory. No surprise there, as in the last 3+ years (during the time the current players have been in the program), Princeton is 6-1 SU ATS vs. Dartmouth with an average victory margin of 16 PPG. Let’s go inside these programs to get an idea of why the wrong team is favored in the NCAA basketball betting odds.
Paul Cormier was the coach at Dartmouth in the late ‘80s. He recently returned to Hanover with hopes of rejuvenating the fortunes of his beloved Big Green. In the previous 5 seasons, however, Dartmouth recorded a total of just 36 victories. True enough, the 12 wins of last year was their most in the previous 15 seasons. They even had a winning record on their home court for the first time since 2005, as a result of beating both Princeton and Penn at Leede Arena. Another positive was the fact that the Big Green out-rebounded their opponents for the first time in 27 years. It helped them to 68 PPG (their highest scoring output since 1987). With a pair of key starters returning in PG Mitola and interior force, Maldunas, it appeared as if the Big Green was ready to challenge for the upper echelon of the Eastern 8. Those expectations were ramped up when Dartmouth went to Cambridge on January 24th and celebrated a 70-69 road win as 11 point road dog at 4-time defending champion, Harvard. Since that high point, however, the Big Green has come crashing back to reality with a 1-5 SU ATS mark, snapped only by a victory on this court vs. Columbia last Saturday night, when they caught the Lions flat after taking Harvard to the limit on Friday night. Over that span, Mitola is averaging just 8 PPG on 33% shooting. Not sure the Big Green is to be trusted on a Leede Arena court where they are 22-26 SU L3+Y.
The days of Princeton dominating the league (along with Penn) and being an automatic 20 win team have gone by the wayside under 4th year HC Henderson. Slowly, his regime has strayed from the basic principles that were so carefully laid in the foundation built by legendary Princeton HC Carril. The Tigers did manage the CBI Quarter Finals last year, but missed the NCAA Tournament for the 9th time in the previous 10 years. A look at last year’s numbers tells the story. Princeton averaged 71 PPG, while allowing 64 PPG. That is a huge departure from former years, when they were leading the nation in defense and often failing to reach a total of 120 points in their games. This season, the margins are even tighter with the Tigers outscoring foes just 69 to 66 PPG. If you were to watch their games, you would not recognize the more open court offense and permissive defense. Despite those changes, the tradition of Princeton still attracts a higher quality player than the Big Green can recruit. The Tigers are 4-3 SU ATS in league play and vie with Columbia (whom they have beaten in Manhattan) for the 3rd spot in the Ivies behind Harvard and Yale. Coming off a high-scoring loss at home to Yale last weekend (81-73) will bring the Tigers fully focused. Though Princeton is still adjusting to the loss of their best player from last year, TJ Bray, in recent games they have been led by sophomore Spencer Weisz and frosh PG Amir Bell from the local Princeton area. Along with returning stalwarts, Brase and Cook, the Tigers have enough to extend their series stranglehold over a Big Green team, who appears to have reached the pinnacle of their season with that win over Harvard. With this in mind, back Princeton with your college basketball picks tonight.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Take Princeton