Harvard at Princeton Picks and College Basketball Odds
by Alan Matthews - 3/1/2013
Former Michigan and Seton Hall coach Tommy Amaker has turned Harvard into the preeminent program in the Ivy League. Last year, the Crimson won the outright conference title for the first time in school history and reached their first NCAA Tournament since 1946 (losing in the first round to Vanderbilt). Harvard has never been to back-to-back Big Dances but can all but accomplish that feat and another Ivy League title with a win at Princeton on Friday night.
The Crimson (17-7, 9-1) lead the Tigers (14-9, 7-5) by 1.5 games entering this weekend – Ivy League teams always turn around and play again Saturday. Harvard finishes at Penn and then home to Columbia and Cornell, and the Crimson certainly will be favored in all three, so a win in this game pretty much finishes things for Princeton. The Tigers finish at home against Dartmouth before three straight on the road at Yale, Brown and Penn. Princeton should win all of those, so it could perhaps finish in a tie with Harvard for the regular-season title with a win Friday.
A regular-season tie results in a one-game playoff for the Ivy League’s NCAA Tournament bid, still the only conference not to have a postseason tournament. The last one-game playoff was in 2011 between Harvard and Princeton, and it was a classic. YouTube the name Douglas Davis as he hit a buzzer-beater to beat Harvard 63-62 on March 12, 2011 to earn Princeton its Ivy League-record 23rd NCAA Tournament bid..
Harvard at Princeton Betting Story Lines
This isn’t Amaker’s best Harvard team, but it might be his best coaching job. That’s because senior co-captains Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey withdrew from school before the season as they were caught up in a campus-wide cheating scandal (see, Harvard is like other schools). By withdrawing from school instead of being suspended for a year, the two maintained their final year of athletic eligibility. Both started every game last year, with Curry averaging 7.9 points and Casey 11.4 points.
Picking up the slack this year has been sophomore swingman Wesley Saunders, an Ivy League Player of the Year candidate, and freshman guard Siyani Chambers, the lock Ivy Freshman of the Year. Saunders has scored in double figures in every game this season and leads the team and Ivy League at 16.7 points per game. He also leads the team in steals (2.0, first in Ivy) and is second in rebounding (4.3) and assists (3.7). Saunders has been named the Ivy Player of the Week five times this season. Chambers is second on the team at 13.0 points per game and leads the Ivy League with 5.9 assists per game.
Saunders’ lone competition for Player of the Year is from Princeton senior Ian Hummer, who has won a record six Ivy Player of the Week awards this season. He is one award from tying the record for a career, which is nine. Hummer is leads the team in scoring (16.1), rebounding (6.3) and assists (4.3), all of which are in the Top 5 in the conference. With 10 points Friday, he will become the school’s second all-time leading scorer behind Hall of Famer Bill Bradley. Fittingly, Bradley played with Hummer’s father in 1967.
Princeton enters on a two-game winning streak as it routed Columbia and Cornell on the road last week, the Tigers’ first weekend road sweep in conference play in two years. Harvard has won four straight and eight of nine since a nonconference loss at a very good Memphis team in a game Harvard led in the second half briefly after trailing by 20. The Crimson’s only loss since then was a puzzling 78-63 defeat Feb. 10 at Columbia, one of the Ivy’s worst teams. That was a rare Sunday game as the scheduled Saturday meeting was snowed out.
On Feb. 16 in Boston, Harvard beat Princeton 69-57 as a 1.5-point favorite with the total set at 127.5 Saunders and Chambers actually were a bit quiet with 10 and 11 points, respectively, but the Crimson had five players in double figures. Hummer's 18 points led Princeton.
Harvard at Princeton College Basketball Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, Princeton has been opened as a 5.5-point favorite with the total unavailable as of our deadline, which I project around 127. Harvard is 12-9-1 ATS (8-3-1 on road) and 9-8 “over/under” (4-6 on road). Princeton is 10-9 ATS (3-6 at home) and 5-6 O/U (3-2 at home).
Harvard is 4-0 ATS in its past four vs. teams with a winning record. The Crimson are 6-0 ATS in their past six road games vs. teams with a winning home record. Princeton is 1-4 ATS in its past five following an ATS win. The home team has covered six of the past seven meetings. Princeton has covered four straight at home in this series. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings in Princeton.
Harvard at Princeton Picks and Betting Predictions
The Crimson are much deeper than the Tigers, no question. Princeton loses when it doesn’t get any help for Hummer, but Harvard can win if Saunders struggles. However, Princeton has had the upper hand lately in this series, winning eight of the past 12. Harvard hasn’t won at Princeton since 1989. It’s a must-win for the Tigers, while Harvard can still hope that Princeton loses one of those three road games to hand the Crimson the Ivy League title. While I think Princeton probably wins, unless Hummer gets hurt or is in foul trouble, 5.5 points is too many. Take Harvard and the under.
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