Yale at Harvard Picks and College Basketball Odds
by Alan Matthews - 2/1/2013
You have to love the Ivy League. It’s clearly the only Division I basketball conference that truly puts academics ahead of athletics. For one, there are no athletic scholarships available to Ivy League schools. Instead, they give top athletes a lot of financial aid. Most Ivy League schools double the size of grants meant for middle-income families. Also, the Ivy League only plays its conference games on Fridays and Saturdays – thus no disruption of classes. And finally, the Ivy is the only D-I conference without a postseason tournament. The regular-season champ gets the NCAA Tournament bid.
That brings me to Harvard, which last season won the Ivy League for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1946 – former Michigan coach Tommy Amaker has turned the Crimson into the conference’s pre-eminent program. Harvard was one-and-done in last year’s Big Dance, falling as a No. 12 seed 79-70 to fifth-seeded Vanderbilt. Yale has made three NCAA Tournaments but not since 1962. Things aren’t looking too good for the Bulldogs this year, either.
Yale at Harvard Betting Story Lines
This is the first full weekend of Ivy League play, and Harvard (10-6) enters as the lone 2-0 team in conference (Princeton, at 1-0, the only other without a loss). The Crimson played a quality nonconference schedule, winning at Boston College and California and being very competitive in losses at Connecticut, Saint Mary’s (Calif.) and Memphis. Harvard’s two conference games have both come against Dartmouth. The Crimson beat the Big Green 75-65 in their gym on Jan. 12 and then 82-77 in overtime in Boston last Saturday. Harvard trailed that game 57-44 but forced OT on a Wesley Saunders layup with five seconds left. Harvard and Dartmouth combined to score 35 points in extra period. The NCAA record is 45 by VCU and Texas A&M set 13 years ago. The record for a single team’s overtime points is 26 by Vermont in 1998 – Harvard had 20 against Dartmouth. It was the Crimson’s fifth straight OT win dating to 2009 when famous alum Jeremy Lin hit a game-winning three-pointer.
Harvard’s two best players are easily freshman guard Siyani Chambers and sophomore swingman Saunders. The latter leads the team in scoring 16.3 points per game (tops in Ivy League; on an excellent 53.9 percent from the field), steals (2.1, also No. 1 in conference) and rebounds (4.5), while Chambers, the likely Ivy League Freshman of the Year, is No. 2 in scoring (13.2) and tops in assists (6.1, No. 1 in Ivy). He is averaging 21.5 points and 6.5 assists in two Ivy League games, while Saunders is averaging 19.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists.
Yale (7-12) also has played a few quality nonconference opponents, losing by 16 at Saint Mary’s, by 10 at Iowa State and by 21 at Florida. The Bulldogs also have opened conference play with two games against the same team: Brown. Yale lost by 14 in Providence on Jan. 19 and beat the Bears 76-64 in overtime in New Haven last weekend. Yale is led by freshman forward Justin Sears, who is second on the team in scoring (10.6) and No. 1 in rebounding (6.4). The Bulldogs have a deep bench. Their reserves have outscored the other team’s in six of the past seven games and dominated Brown’s in the recent matchup 31-9.
This is the 187th meeting between the rivals. Yale has won 115 of those, the most wins over any opponent in school history. For some reason, the Harvard Web site has different totals (a little Ivy gamesmanship?), with Yale leading 113-71. Harvard swept both games last year (neither was close) and has won three straight in the series at home.
Yale at Harvard College Basketball Betting Odds and Key Trends
Harvard is a 12-point favorite on BetOnline with the total not available as of deadline (I project around 130). Yale is 5-5 ATS (3-4 on road) and 5-1 “over/under” (3-1 on road). Harvard is 8-5-1 ATS (2-4 at home) and 5-4 O/U (3-0 at home).
Yale is 5-2 ATS in its past seven Friday games. It is 1-4 in its past five after a win. Harvard is 2-6 ATS in its past eight after an ATS loss. The Crimson are 0-5-1 ATS in their past six Ivy League games. The under is 4-1 in Yale’s past five vs. the Ivy League. The over is 4-0 in Harvard’s past four vs. the Ivy. Yale has covered five of the past seven at Harvard.
Yale at Harvard Picks and Betting Predictions
This should be a high-scoring game, at least from an Ivy League perspective. Harvard leads the Ivy League in scoring offense (69.9 ppg.), field-goal percentage (.478) and three-point shooting (.403, No. 9 nationally). Yale is No. 2 in scoring (66.4) and leads in rebounding margin (+3.8).
It’s hard to go against Harvard here. It is 26-5 in Ivy League play the past three seasons and 14-1 at home. It has won six of seven overall against Yale, which is 2-9 on the road this year. Take the Crimson and the over.
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