NCAA Lacrosse Betting Preview: Ohio State vs. Harvard Odds & Picks (Saturday, Feb. 26)
BOSTON, MA – APRIL 27: Harvard Crimson Kyle Mullin (50) during the college lacrosse match between Yale Bulldogs and Harvard Crimson on April 27, 2019, at Harvard Stadium in Boston, MA. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
- The Ohio State Buckeyes and Harvard Crimson lacrosse teams clash in a nonconference battle on Saturday night.
- Both teams are undefeated in early season play as the Buckeyes are favorites on a neutral site.
- Hutton Jackson breaks down Saturday's compelling lacrosse match and shares his best bet below.
It doesn’t get much better than a nonconference Saturday night lacrosse showdown. Both Ohio State and Harvard will travel to Naples, Fla. for a neutral site matchup. Both undefeated teams enter the game after dominant wins last weekend. Ohio State looks to continue their three-game win streak after a 20-8 upset over UNC last week, while Harvard looks to secure its second win of the year after beating NJIT 17-4.
Will the eighth-ranked Buckeyes improve to 4-0, or will Harvard pull off the upset?
If you’re an avid bettor who’s new to lacrosse or a lacrosse fan who’s new to betting, check out my guide on how to bet on lacrosse for some tips to use when placing a lacrosse bet.
Ohio State vs Harvard
|Time||Saturday, 7 p.m. ET|
Ohio State Buckeyes
A lot has been written about the Buckeyes’ impressive offensive performances over the past three weeks, and rightly so. Anytime a team puts up an average of 18+ goals per game, the offense is going to get some love.
Yet, Nick Myers’ defense deserves an equal amount of credit for the Buckeyes’ three wins. Ohio State has held its opponents to an average of eight goals through three games. In the team’s three wins, the Ohio State defense has forced an average of 21.7% efficiency for its opponents, according to Lacrosse Reference. Furthermore, the defense went down to Chapel Hill and managed to hold anyone not named Chris Gray to a total of just five goals on 28 shots.
They’ll face a Harvard offense that cruised to an easy victory last weekend and hasn’t been truly tested yet. The Buckeyes defense should continue its trend of bullying opposing offenses against the Crimson this weekend.
We have a much smaller sample size when it comes to Harvard. The Crimson’s first and only game this season was a 17-4 beatdown of NJIT that was all but over before it even got started. The Crimson defense, backstopped by senior goaltender Kyle Mullin, held NJIT to just three shots on goal in the first half and shut out the Highlanders through more than 31 minutes of play. NJIT’s four goals were the fewest that Harvard has allowed during head coach Gerry Byrne’s tenure so far.
Byrne embarks on what should be his first full season as Harvard’s head coach after joining the program in the 2019 offseason and having to endure a shortened 2020 season and canceled 2021 season.
Prior to Harvard, Byrne spent 13 seasons leading a Notre Dame defense that finished among the top five nationally in scoring defense seven times. During that span, the Fighting Irish held their opponents to seven goals or fewer in more than 50.2 percent of their games and limited opponents to four goals or fewer in 19 different games.
Expect this Byrne-led Harvard defense to give Ohio State its toughest test so far this season.
Ohio State vs Harvard Betting Pick
After watching the Buckeyes drop an average of 18.3 goals per game through their first three contests, betting the under in an Ohio State game may be the last thing on bettors’ radar. Yet, those first two matchups were against far weaker opponents in Detroit Mercy and Cleveland State.
While their 20-8 win over the then fourth-ranked UNC was much more impressive, the Buckeyes shot lights out, scoring on 47.6% of their possessions according to Lacrosse Reference. This offense will put up points on Saturday night, but don’t expect them to replicate that type of efficiency against this Byrne-led Harvard defense.
While Ohio State should still win, expect Mullin and the Crimson to give the Buckeyes a harder time than their past three opponents. Even though it’s based on just a one-game sample size, Harvard’s 7.5% Defensive Efficiency ranks second in all of NCAA Division I, according to Lacrosse Reference.
Likewise, Ohio State will be equally tough to get past given their 13th Defensive Efficiency rating. Harvard will likely opt for a slower tempo to try and keep this one close, but at the end of the day, they will be lucky to reach double-digit goals against this stout Buckeyes defense.
The defensive prowess of these two teams should keep this game low-scoring, and I anticipate this total to stay under 26.5 goals.
Pick: Under 26.5
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