by Chris, the Impaler - 02/03/2006
One time when I was a kid growing up in Westchester County, I got poison ivy on both hands and my arms when I reached into the underbrush to find a poorly thrown baseball (my brother was a lefty). I didn’t realize it and scratched myself in places young men are wont to do. The next morning I was begging my grandmother for her beloved calamine lotion. Right now, no thanks to Columbia and two bad weekends in a row, I feel like I have poison ivy all over my balls once again.
Two weeks ago Yale beat Harvard 82-74 and that loss for the Crimson now looms large as both teams sit atop the Ivy League with identical 3-1 conference records. Last weekend Harvard destroyed Brown 75-58 behind the play of one man wrecking crew Jim Goffredo’s 30 points. Pennsylvania is in second place at 2-0 but still remains as the only undefeated team left in the Ivy League and after this weekend could reclaim first and a 4-0 Ivy League record. With a slim to little chance of catching the Ivy leaders are Brown and Cornell with similar 2-2 conference records while Columbia has dropped to 1-3 and Princeton is 1-1 but will clearly struggle to maintain pace against the conference leaders.
Last weekend we were clearly on the side of Big Red as we played the history card and history did repeat itself. Last year Columbia won the first contest against Cornell, but in the second game Cornell destroyed Columbia by 30 points 77-47. This year a similar result; after dropping their first match against the Lions at home, Big Red went on the road and abused the Lions to the tune of 81-59 behind the hot hand of Adam Gore and his 28 points.
Generally when I am on this winning side I win the bet, however, in our case we relied too heavily on the statistic that Big Red allows 19 points first half of their last two games and that mistake cost us dearly as we dropped 220 Frostys grabbing one point on the outcome of the first half. However, it looked like the bet would cash until the last few minutes of the half when Columbia ripped off a 14-3 run and managed an inexplicable 37 points to close out the first half. The Lions were held to 22 points in the second half to Cornell’s 47!
Looking at our record in the Poison Ivy we see a woeful 3-5 mark against the number and a not insurmountable $940 deficit after four weeks of Ivy League play. While some say this is the best time to fade the Impaler, hang with my gambling brethren as we look to turn this around with a few well placed bet. This weekend we won’t make the mistake of trying to win it all back in one or two wagers. With 9 weeks still left on the Ivy League Card we realize you don’t have to be matriculated at Harvard B-School to know that if we don’t win soon, we’ll have to send the wife out with the 10 th Avenue All-Stars to help settle our debts.
COLUMBIA LIONS vs. Harvard Crimson (-2.5)
The Columbia Lions (8-9, 2-2) look to get back on the winning track when they host Ivy League conference leader Harvard Crimson (11-6, 3-1)as a 2.5 home dog at 7 p.m. on Friday night. The Lions face the Crimson who are coming off a lopsided win at Brown last weekend and will look to extend their conference record to 4-1. And with Pennsylvania hosting Brown this weekend and the likelihood of moving to 3-0, this is a must win for both teams.
In last week’s loss to Cornell, the Lions were led by freshman Jason Gore’s 28 points and 5-8 three point shooting while sophomore John Baumann (12.6 ppg., 5.6 rpg.) recorded 16 points. Unfortunately, Columbia hit offensive dry spells in the second half of the game. It did not help that Columbia continues to lose the ball; the Lions continued the trend of 17 turnovers per session.
Meanwhile, it seems that Harvard has recovered from the shock of losing to Yale last Friday night as they beat Brown on Saturday. The rust was evident in the Crimson’s first conference loss to Yale as the Crimson played in the first game after a two week exam layoff coming off back-to-back wins over Dartmouth . Most likely, though, Harvard suffered from that old bugaboo of underestimating their opponents and taking the Bulldogs lightly. The loss served as a wake up call for the team picked to win the Ivy this year. Sometimes losses are good, but the Crimson will need to keep focus because they can ill afford another loss in the conference if they hope to win it all.
Harvard is led by Jim Goffredo, last week’s Ivy League Player of the Week, and twin tower super-power Matt Stehle and Brian Cusworth. However what should win the game for the Crimson this week is their ability to bury three-pointers. In the Ivy League, teams live and die with the three-play, and with the triumvirate of Goffredo, Stehle and Cusworth, it looks like the Lions are in for a long evening.
The good news for Columbia is that they have owned Harvard at home in the past two years notching a 2-0 record against the spread and winning straight up last year 57-55 as a pick ‘em. The Lions won two years ago as a 8-point favorite 66-57. The combined 123 points never threatened the 143.5 point total.
Columbia ’s sophomore forward John Baumann was named Ivy League Player of the Week award two week’s after his dominating performance at Cornell on January 21. He scored 19 points in the 58-57 road win, Columbia ’s first win at Cornell since the 2001-2002 season. Baumann has played incredibly well for Columbia this year and has recorded double-digit games in 11 of 16 games this season. I look for Baumann to continue his dominating play at home against Cornell.
Gamblers should note that Harvard has been cash money on the road in conference play this year as they have notched a 2-1 record against the spread with their sole loss coming at Yale last weekend.
I believe that Columbia was exposed last weekend against Cornell. While they play well on defense, on offense the Lions are too inconsistent to be trusted. The Lions score in bunches, but lack the ability to score regularly. The Lions have a 1-3 conference record to show for this style of play. The only way Columbia wins is when they are shooting on all cylinders. Tonight’s game against Harvard should be tough on the young defense as Harvard brings too many offensive weapons to the court.
Pick! Harvard -2.5 for $330
PRINCETON v Yale (Pick ‘em)
Jaysus Lord don’t look now but the upstart Bulldogs have put the league on notice with their back-to-back wins over Harvard at home and against Dartmouth on the road last weekend.Tonight Yale brings it’s dog show to southern New Jersey as they try to win their third consecutive Ivy League game against the Tigers of Princeton.
But the real story might be how far the once formidable program at Princeton has fallen. The Princeton Tigers (3-12, 1-1) have managed only three wins this year, with one of those three wins, a 64-68 overtime decision in conference play against the Lions of Columbia at home. However, despite the win, Princeton failed to make one field goal in the final 10:52 of the second half and only made one field goal in OT. The Tigers won the game on fouls shooting as their final points of regulation came on 14-of-16 beyond the charity stripe, and they made 10-of-13 in OT.
If there is any good news for Princeton it is that six of eight losses for the Bulldogs have come on the road, with their most recent road loss coming in Providence at the hands of the Brown Bears 62-67. Otherwise, Yale (11-8, 3-1) has had a good year as last weekend’s win put them over the high water mark for the season with 11 wins as they surpassed perennial power Pennsylvania (10) in the win column.
Against Harvard, Yale benefited from Harvard’s porous perimeter defense as the Bulldogs nailed nine three-pointers on 13 attempts! So Princeton will have to do a much better job guarding against shots behind the arc as Yale has proven deadly accurate when they are given time to shoot.
Yale’s offense is led by Forward Sam Kaplan and center Dominick Martin who lead the team in scoring. However, the real story for the Bulldogs success is their defense-specifically their ability to rebound. The Bulldogs own that statistic in the Ivy League snatching a jaw-dropping 38.2 per game. Conversely, one of the huge problems for the Tigers is they are terrible when it comes to crashing the boards as the Tigers are one of the worst teams in the Ivy League as they have a mere 22.4 rebounds per game on the season.
Princeton is led by their only starting senior, point guard Scott Greenman, who has the ability to dominate in games when he has the support of his team-which has not happened often this season. Sophomore Noah Savage will need to play better than he has recently to help take the pressure off Greenman that will likely be present tonight.
Gamblers should note that while the Bulldogs are 3-1 in the Ivy League and first place, they have not won an Ivy League game on the road this year as they dropped their sole Ivy League road contest at Providence earlier this year. Of course, if Yale hopes to stay competitive for the Ivy League crown this year they’ll have to win on the road. The Eli’s can ill afford a loss tonight as they travel to Pennsylvania tomorrow. If the Bulldogs do not spend too much time looking to tomorrow’s game they should be able to defeat Princeton by double-digits and go into the Quaker (who will most likely be at 3-0 in the conference after tonight’s tilt against the Bears) game with a 4-1 record.
Pick! Yale $550 as a pick ‘em
We'll have our Ivy League picks each week through basketball season at Doc's. Let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's college basketball picks service.