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Ivy League Basketball Picks

 

1/28/11

 

Ivy League hoops can be fun to watch and profitable to wager on. It's no nonsense, pure basketball. No all stars. No future pro's. Just hoops like you might see on the high school level. Although plenty of Ivy League teams in the past have competed with the big boys. Cornell a year ago going to the Sweet 16 as well as some great Princeton teams. So we'll take a look at the Ivy League twice a week and see if maybe we can't find a few winners along the way.

 

Yale at Penn - Yale has been a surprise this year thus far. They find themselves at 2-0 in Ivy League play and very much a contender. They face a Penn team that will be playing their first league game tonight. We'll know more about Yale's title chances after this weekend as they play Princeton Saturday. Both Penn and Princeton were pre season contenders. Our numbers on this game favor Penn by 6, 69-63, but we are going to go against our numbers here. This weekend presents a golden opportunity for Yale Basketball, one that doesn't come along often. This Yale team beat Boston College on the road earlier this year, so we know they can play. We'll call for the outright upset here, making the points a bonus. Yale +5.5

 

Brown vs. Princeton - Princeton will be playing it's first league game tonight against Brown, already 0-2. Princeton was among the pre season favorites to contend for the Ivy Title and at 12-4 overall on the year and fresh off a narrow loss to #19 UCF, it's safe to say this team has some talent. Brown is overmatched here. Only the margin is in doubt. Brown is a mediocre at best, shooting team at around 42% and just off a 26% shooting performance against Yale. Now they have to face a Princeton team that has long been known for tough defense, but also has 4 players averaging 13 points per game offensively. Our numbers have Princeton winning in blowout fashion, 81-57. While we think it may be closer than that, getting the cover at -13.5 looks likely. We'll take Princeton here to send a message and tip off Ivy League play with a big win. Princeton -13.5

 

Cornell at Dartmouth - A year ago this Cornell team went to the Sweet 16. Fast forward to this year and we see a new coach and all their key players from a year ago gone. But the team still has talent. It's a young team making mistakes all young teams make. That is evident when you consider that Cornell is 1-8 in games decided by 5 points or less. Losing close games, always a signature of inexperience. But that shouldn't be a problem tonight. They face a Dartmouth team which is one of the worst shooting teams in all of college basketball. Already 0-2 in Ivy League play, Cornell needs this game badly. The number here is very reasonable at Cornell -3.5 as we have them winning by 10, 67-57. We'll lay it here. Cornell -3.5 

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Columbia at Harvard - Harvard looks to be the team to beat in the Ivy League this year but they better not take Columbia lightly. Columbia comes into this game also undefeated in Ivy play at 2-0 and 11-5 on the year. We mentioned Cornell losing close games, Columbia is winning close games and just did so on the road by handing Cornell their first home loss in 22 Ivy League games. We get to see how schedule strength can make a difference (perhaps) tonight as clearly Harvard has played the tougher opponents. Only #4 UCONN was able to extend the margin in Harvard's 3 losses. Their other two losses were a 3 point loss to Michigan and a 13 point loss in the first game of the year at George Mason. Harvard has also beaten Colorado and Boston College.

There are very few recognizable opponents on the Columbia dance card other than a 13 point loss to St Johns and an 11 point loss to La Salle. Instead we see narrow wins by a point or two over teams like Maine, Stony Brook, Bryant, Elon, Wagner and so on. We even see a 20 point loss at Longwood. Where? Longwood. Yeah, we aren't familiar with their program either.

Harvard's 2nd leading scorer Christian Webster was listed as questionable but was upgraded to probable this morning. So, a boost for Harvard there. It's tough top lay a big number against a team like Columbia, having such a good year so far, making them a very live dog. Harvard has also had a tendency to play down to their level of competition this year. Dartmouth had Harvard on the ropes by double digits.

Our prediction model has Harvard by 18, 80-62, and while we think it may be a little closer than that, a 13 or 14 point win, in that range, seems likely. Harvard is the much better team here and Columbia, being 2-0 in Ivy League play, should get Harvard's attention. Harvard -10.5

 

 

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