Friday’s College Basketball Betting Preview: Columbia-Harvard, Princeton-Yale

Friday’s College Basketball Betting Preview: Columbia-Harvard, Princeton-Yale article feature image

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Yale Bulldogs guard Miye Oni (25).

On Friday nights in college basketball season, the Ivy League takes center stage. There are multiple Ivy League teams that have a chance to win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament.

Let’s examine two such teams when we handicap Columbia at Harvard and Princeton at Yale.

Columbia at Harvard

  • Spread: Harvard -12
  • Over/Under: 131
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN+

Columbia (6-12) has struggled this season, especially since losing star guard Mike Smith with a torn meniscus in December. The Lions have been particularly poor on the road having lost six of seven games.  The Lions are 6-7 overall against the spread and 2-4 against the spread in their last six games.

Harvard (10-7) is starting to hit its stride having won four games in a row by an average of 14 points per game. The Crimson are 7-7 ATS and have covered three of their last four games.

Columbia’s offense and defensive rankings are among the worst in the country. The Lions rank 265th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 241st in adjusted defensive efficiency.

Without Smith, the Lions have struggled on offense. They rank second-worst in the Ivy League in turnovers per game. Columbia is also the worst free throw shooting team in the league at 59.5% within league games.

Harvard is getting healthy at the right time. Junior guard Bryce Aiken has returned from a knee injury and has the Crimson looking like the best team in the Ivy League. Aiken played 29 minutes and scored 12 points in Harvard’s 68-47 win over Brown.

The Crimson are shooting 37% from deep on the season, ranking 57th in the country. They are first among the Ivy teams in 3-point shooting and second in effective field goal percentage.

Harvard features five players averaging nine or more points per game led by junior forward Chris Lewis (12.7). He is also the main reason Harvard ranks first in the league in defensive block percentage.

The Crimson cannot afford another loss after getting upset at Dartmouth on Jan. 12. Since defeating Yale 65-49 at home, Harvard looks very much like the team that was predicted to win the league in the preseason. This is a battle of two teams trending in opposite directions.

Lay the 12 points and take Harvard to blowout Columbia at home.

THE PICK:  Harvard -12

Princeton at Yale

  • Spread: Yale -6.5
  • Over/Under: 138
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN+

Princeton (12-5) has won seven games in a row and is a perfect 4-0 in the Ivy League. They are 7-3-1 overall against the spread.

Yale (13-4) has won nine of 10 games and is a perfect 6-0 at home. The Bulldogs are 6-5 overall ATS, but 2-0 in home games.

Princeton has benefitted from an easy league schedule. It ranks 273rd overall in adjusted offensive efficiency and 303rd in 3-point percentage. Within Ivy League games, the Tigers are last in effective field goal percentage and 3-point percentage.

Princeton has enjoyed success as a result of their defense, which ranks 64th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Within the league games, the Tigers rank first overall. However, the Tigers haven’t played Yale or Harvard.

Yale challenged themselves with a difficult non-conference schedule. They played at Memphis, at Vermont, on a neutral court against Miami, and at Duke. They followed up the loss at Harvard with an impressive 21 point win at Dartmouth, the same place where Harvard lost.

The Bulldogs are balanced on both sides of the ball. They rank 38th overall in offensive 2-point percentage and 37th overall in defensive 2-point percentage.

Junior guard Miye Oni (16.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) is on fire, scoring a career-high 31 points in the big win over Dartmouth. With Princeton’s Devin Cannady still suspended, Oni will clearly be the best player on the floor for either team.

Yale has the talent to win the Ivy League but needs to keep pace after the stumble at Harvard. Princeton has won the three games that Cannady has missed, but that ends on Friday night in New Haven. Look for Yale’s balanced offensive and defensive efficiency to provide a comfortable Friday night win.

THE PICK:  Yale -7