Ivy League Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Will Harvard Reach Its Potential?

Ivy League Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: Will Harvard Reach Its Potential? article feature image
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Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Harvard’s Tommy Amaker and Noah Kirkwood

  • The Ivy League Tournament will tip off on Saturday, March 16 in New Haven, Connecticut.
  • Yale, which is playing at home, is the odds-on favorite to cut down the nets at -150, but from a skill set standpoint, Harvard isn't too far behind.
  • The two arch rivals are favored to face off in Sunday's title game.

Ever since Harvard stunned New Mexico 68-62 in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the Ivy League representative has been a dangerous March team.

In the five years since that win, both Harvard (2014) and Yale (2016) have earned first-round NCAA Tournament wins, and on two occasions (Harvard 2015, Princeton 2017) the league representative has lost their opening round game by just two points.

Harvard earned the top seed in this year’s Ivy League Tournament despite finishing tied with Yale. Princeton earned the third seed but will be without leading scorer Devin Cannady, who took a voluntary leave of absence. Finally, Penn has endured a disappointing season but enters the tournament playing its best basketball of the season. The Quakers have won four of their last five games.

Let’s take a look at this year’s Ivy League tournament to pick a winner and identify a sleeper that could become that dangerous representative in the NCAA Tournament.

2019 Ivy LeagueTournament Odds, Format

  • Who: Top 4 teams
  • Format: Two game playoff
  • When: March 16-17
  • Where: New Haven, CT
  • How to Watch: ESPNU, ESPN2
  • Defending Champion: Penn

Who Should Win

Despite Yale (-150) being the betting favorite, the pick is Harvard at +350. The Crimson were the preseason favorite and found a way to stay afloat despite not having leading scorer Bryce Aiken (21.8 ppg) until Jan. 21 due to a knee injury.

The junior has been the best scorer in conference play with 11 consecutive double-digit scoring games. Aiken has scored 33 or more points three times, including a career-high 44 points in the Feb. 8 triple-overtime win over Columbia.

Harvard ranks first in league play in offensive rebounding percentage and 3-point shooting. The Crimson also rank fifth in the country in limiting the opposition on the offensive glass.

With 6-foot-9 Chris Lewis (10.7 ppg, 1.8 bpg) anchoring the interior defense, and defensive stalwart Justin Bassey returning from injury, the Crimson are the most balanced and talented team in the tournament.

With their season sweep of Yale, they are the likely Ivy League Champion.

Potential Sleeper

The hottest team entering the tournament also provides the greatest sleeper betting value.

Penn (19-11) is a substantially harder opening-round opponent for Harvard than short-handed Princeton is for Yale. The Quakers are getting it done on the defensive end, ranking second in league play in 2P% defense. They have held four of their past five opponents to 59 points or less.

Penn also limits its mistakes with the second best offensive turnover percentage in the Ivy League. The Quakers have returned all their key players from a team that gave top-seeded Kansas a huge scare in the last year’s NCAA Tournament.

Junior forward AJ Brodeur (17.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg) has been fantastic all season, while junior guard Devon Goodman (14. 1 ppg, 37.8% 3P) is a strong outside scoring threat.

The winner of this tough first-round battle will have a good chance against an inconsistent Yale team.  Penn is entering the weekend as the hottest team in the Ivy League, which makes its 12-1 odds very appealing.

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