2023 Ivy League Tournament Betting Preview, Bracket & Odds
Pictured: Pennsylvania Quakers guard Jordan Dingle (3). (Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Almost all of college basketball’s conferences give every team a chance to go on a run and win their end of season tournament.
However, it’s no surprise, that the Ivy League is among the holdouts and particularly selective about which teams get a chance to earn the conference crown.
In a way, it’s fitting for the Ivies to be a tad exclusionary, while also creating a tournament that feels traditionalist and quaint.
Only the top four teams from the regular season advance to the tournament affectionately knowns as “Ivy Madness,” which has not disappointed in terms of excitement since its creation in 2017.
This season, Princeton hosts the event. The Tigers tied for the regular-season championship and earned home-court advantage with the league’s NCAA bid hanging in the balance.
Because there are just four teams in the tournament, our preview can be a little more precise about the matchups before diving into the futures market.
2023 Ivy League Tournament Odds
No. 1 Yale vs. No. 4 Cornell
Yale has been the best team in the conference all season, announcing its presence before league play started by testing Kentucky in non-conference play.
The Bulldogs led Kentucky in the second half at Rupp Arena before Oscar Tshiebwe led the Cats to a comeback win.
The Bulldogs had the best offense in the Ivy and led the conference in a host of statistical categories. Every member of the Yale starting five is averaging double figures in scoring, making for a balanced attack.
That offense had been led by junior swingman Matt Knowling, but he’s missed three straight games with an ankle sprain.
Source: Yale's Matt Knowling (ankle) is a game-time decision for today's game against Brown. Has not played since 2/17. Averages 14.5 PPG and 5 RPG.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 4, 2023
He was a game-time decision in the regular-season finale, but wasn’t able to go.
For what it’s worth, Yale did win all three games he missed, including an overtime win at Princeton that essentially decided the Ivy League title.
Yale is tied atop the standings with Princeton, but earned the top seed by sweeping the Tigers in two meetings. That top seed proved crucial as it set Yale up with a game against a Cornell team it recently waxed.
In that game, big man EJ Jarvis had 34 points and 10 rebounds, proving to be far too much for Cornell to handle. The Big Red, who have lost five of their past seven Ivy League games, struggled all season to protect the defensive glass and defend on the interior.
Cornell looks to make up for those misgivings on the other end, playing at the fastest pace in the Ivy and chucking 3s at the highest rate. Greg Dolan and Nazir Williams are two of the most dangerous shooters in the conference.
That high octane attack makes Cornell potentially scary in a one-game sample. Earlier this year, the Big Red hung 94 points — thanks in part to going 13-of-27 from 3 — on Yale.
That feels unlikely to recur, especially against the Yale team content to slow the game down. If Knowling plays, I lean toward Yale as a modest favorite in this semifinal.
No. 2 Princeton vs. No. 3 Penn
Penn is the hottest team in the tournament, having won seven of eight to end the regular season.
The lone loss was a road collapse against Princeton in this same venue. The Quakers led by as many as 19 points, but let that lead evaporate in an overtime loss.
That was a difficult blow for Penn, which had already lost to Princeton at home earlier in the season. Emotionally, this game offers a quick chance at revenge between bitter rivals.
Penn is led by the most dangerous scorer in the Ivy League, junior guard Jordan Dingle. He’s topped 20 points in 21 of 27 outings this year and is averaging 23.6 points per game.
He’s countered on the other side by Princeton’s Tosan Evbuomwan, perhaps the best all-around athlete playing hoops in the Ivy League. The 6-foot-8 beast leads Princeton in scoring and assists and is second on the team in rebounding.
He provides a pivot point at the center of the Princeton offense, daring other teams to double team and leave open shooters on the perimeter.
He’s also the centerpiece of one of the Ivy’s best defenses, which held Penn to just 33% shooting on its home floor back in January.
Princeton having home-court advantage helps here, though I’d be interested in Penn getting any more than 4.5 points in this matchup.
Ivy League Tournament Futures Market
Yale is the listed favorite with little to no value as a future. DraftKings lists the Bulldogs just north of even money at +115, and FanDuel has them at +105.
If you like Yale to win, simply bet its moneyline twice for similar or better value, though I’d be skeptical until we know Knowling’s injury status.
Princeton has the next best odds as both the two seed and the home team. Since the invention of Ivy Madness, the host school has qualified for the tournament three times and has cut down the nets twice — both as the two seed.
History may be on the Tigers’ side, but the value isn’t. Even at +200 (or +230), betting the Tigers to beat Penn as narrow favorites and then to upset Yale in the final would be more prudent.
There was value on Penn when this market first opened, with certain books listing it as high as +650 to win. Those odds are now hovering closer to +450 and are less enticing, yet still the best bet on the board if you’re dealing with futures.
My eyes are more excited for when lines on these games to drop Friday, and I’ll keep a close eye on Penn as an underdog in the semifinals.
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