by Chris, the Impaler - 02/25/2006
Ivy League action resumes tonight on the second of back-to-back games this weekend for the teams in the Ancient Eight. The Pennsylvania Quakers survived another scare last night at home against the woeful Harvard Crimson while the Princeton Tigers blew an opportunity to keep pace with the Ivy League leaders as they dropped a crucial home game to Dartmouth Big Green last night.
In the past three games we have seen a chink in Pennsylvania's armor. Indeed, the Quakers almost have two conference losses. Penn lost their first Ivy League game of the season last weekend at Columbia and needed overtime to beat Harvard (who can't seem to beat anyone these days). Twists have been the norm this year in the Ivy League and just when you've got a team figured out, they change on you losing to Dartmouth. With minor trepidation we look at two games this evening that should help stem the tide of recent losses.
COLUMBIA LIONS (-1.5) vs. Yale Bulldogs
Tonight the Columbia Lions host the Yale Bulldogs at Levien Gym in Manhattan at 7 p.m. as the Lions try to win their fourth Ivy League game in a row. Las Vegas Sports Consultants have tabbed the Lions as a 1½-point favorite. The total for the game opened at 125 but skyrocketed to 138 as the betting public obviously sees this as a high scoring affair.
Columbia (11-13, 4-7) plays their last home game tonight against Yale. The Lions defeated the Brown Bears at home by 12 points as Justin Armstrong scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half to lead Columbia to a 68-56 victory over Brown on Friday night. John Baumann helped the cause with his 18 points helping the Lions win three straight conference games for the first time since February 2001.
Lost in last night's 68-64 loss to Cornell at Newman Arena was the news that Yale's (14-12, 6-5) Dominck Martin scored his 1,000th point in college basketball wearing a Bulldog uniform and as a freshman at Princeton. Yale's road woes continued last night at Cornell as their road record fell to 3-10 this season and now the Eli's will have to face a white hot Columbia Lions team. Yale has to shoot well from the foul line as last night's 15-for-24 shooting could have been the difference in the game.
Yale will have difficulty against the Lions if they allow Columbia 44.1 percent shooting for the game. The Lions have been monsters on the board as well, something that surprised Penn last week, and last night the Lions out-rebounded Brown 42-33 while allowing Brown just 36 percent shooting for the game and holding the bears to 9-of-28 from behind the arc.
Gamblers should note that during their remarkable three game home stand, starting with last Friday night's thrilling upset against the Quakers, Columbia has put together a nifty three game home win streak straight-up and against the spread.
Pick! Columbia Lions -1.5 for $440
PRINCETON (-1) vs Harvard Crimson
Princeton will try to build on their 63-60 win last night off a poor offensive performance against Dartmouth Big Green as they host Harvard Crimson on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at Jadwin Gym. Harvard almost pulled a huge upset against Penn last night as they played the Quakers tight for the entire game.
Princeton (9-14, 7-3) has been excellent in the Ivy League games this year, but as I saw last night the Tigers have been prone to mental lapses, poor shooting and missed opportunities. Tonight the Tigers need to win in a big way. They'll need their top scorer's Scott Greenman and Noah Savage to lead the way. Greenman averages 10.8 ppg while Savage is almost the same at 10.5 ppg. Against Dartmouth, the Tigers shot 51.3 percent from the field and connected on 19-of-21 shots from the foul line. Greenman led the way with 22 points, while Justin Conway and Luke Owings both contributed 17 points. Meanwhile, the Tigers' stingy defense which has allowed an average of 56 points per game this season gave up 60 to Dartmouth.
Harvard (12-12, 4-7) is mired in a season high six game losing streak but has played teams tough on the road. Despite another loss last night, the Crimson managed to cover the 11-point spread last night against Pennsylvania behind strong low post play. In fact, Harvard's Brian Cusworth had 22 points and a career-best 16 rebounds before fouling out with one minute remaining in overtime. Matt Stehle was the team second high scorer for Harvard as he notched 15 points. But the Crimson will be coming into Jadwin a bit tired from being pressed all-night by the Quakers. Princeton has already defeated Harvard 60-59 this year at Lavietes Pavilion and I see Harvard in a let down spot after an emotional loss last night. Princeton should be up for a weekend home sweep.
Pick! Princeton -1 for $440.
I have one more play in the Ivy today that I like a lot for one reason and one reason only. I am throwing the stats, as well as reason, out the window on this overtime system play. Last night Pennsylvania played the Harvard Crimson into overtime, ultimately winning by three points, but not covering the 11-point number. Tonight they'll host the Mike Lang and the Big Green as an 18-point 'chalk'. Pennsylvania is 0-3 ATS their last three games and although the Quakers own teams at the Palestra, Penn won at Dartmouth earlier this month 70-51. Dartmouth comes off a strong win at Princeton last night and should be pumped to play the wobbly Pennsylvania Quakers.
Bonus Play: Dartmouth Big Green +18 for $220
Last weekend in this space and another 1-2 weekend as our sole win was Columbia's upset of undefeated Pennsylvania as a 15-point underdog in NYC. The Lions not only covered but won outright and the 2-point margin of victory sent the Quakers packing with their first loss in Ivy League conference play. We earned two bills on the game but our joy was short lived. We went out and while we ran some errands something happened in the Cornell game and the Big Red blew a 10-point lead and lost in double overtime to the Princeton Tigers. Thanks to a fade at the end of the second half, Big Red cost us 440 big ones. But it was sort of my fault here. While I was suspicious of the fact that Cornell had not been favored over Princeton in their last five home games, I was burnt by the old horse player's maxim that warns you should never ask a horse to do something in a race they have never done before. Harvard lost as an 11-point favorite keeping their losing streak alive as the Crimson was soundly trounced at home by the Brown Bears in a game that was never close and cost us three bills.
A glance into the book of horrors that has been true to its name, my record for the penny-loafered posse in the Ivy League this season rests at a cash burning 5-8 mark ATS with $1760 spent helping my man pay for his kids' prep school education-presumably so he can get into an Ivy League school!
We'll have our Ivy League picks each week through college 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.