Princeton vs Harvard Odds & Pick: Tigers Hold Advantages

Princeton vs Harvard Odds & Pick: Tigers Hold Advantages article feature image

(Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images). Pictured: Xaivian Lee.

Princeton vs Harvard Odds, Pick

Friday, Feb 23
7:00pm ET
Princeton Odds
-115o / -105u
Harvard Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAB odds here.

The Princeton Tigers have secured their spot in the Ivy League tournament, which features the top four teams from the conference in a battle for an NCAA Tournament bid.

One spot remains undecided, and the Harvard Crimson continue putting their best foot forward to get into Ivy Madness.

Check out our College Basketball Betting Hub for more NCAAB previews, predictions, news and analysis.

Princeton Tigers

Princeton became one of three teams in college basketball history to make the Sweet 16 as a 15-seed last season. The other two didn't make the NCAA Tournament the following season, and the Tigers are hoping to buck that trend.

Most people assumed Princeton could struggle after losing three starters — Keeshawn Kellman, Tosan Evbuomwan and Ryan Langborg. Instead, the players who played smaller roles last season are thriving in larger roles.

The players who made the biggest strides are point guard Xaivian Lee and forward Caden Pierce. Lee barely played in Princeton's Cinderella run, but now he's arguably the best player in the conference, averaging 18 points on 47% shooting and 36% from 3. Lee is super shifty and excels at finding driving angles for quick baskets. On the other hand, Princeton doesn't win two tournament games without Pierce's defense and rebounding prowess. Now, he's forming into a reliable offensive player, posting 15 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

The Tigers boast the 28th-best offensive efficiency in the country, with the second-best turnover percentage (12%) and 13th-best effective field goal percentage. Princeton's offensive dominance stems from those impressive numbers.

On defense, Princeton ranks 137th in defensive efficiency and has allowed 70 or fewer points in four straight games. If the defense is just good enough, the offense can guide the Tigers to a winning effort.

Harvard Crimson

The Crimson have never gotten on a consistent winning streak this year. It's been a lot of winning one game followed by losing a couple, while showing occasional promising qualities.

Tommy Amaker has a knack for hauling in notable recruits and found another in Malik Mack. The freshman guard from Baltimore has all but locked up Ivy League Freshman of the Year honors — averaging over 18 points and 4.7 assists per contest. Mack made a name for himself with a 32-point outburst in a nonconference road victory over UMass. Then, Mack missed about a month with mononucleosis, and re-found his form following the lengthy absence.

Mack and big man Chisom Okpara record about half of Harvard's points per game. Okpara uses his physical play style to make plays at the rim, and attempts over six free throws per contest. You won't find many better one-two punches in the Ivy than Mack and Okpara.

However, the other pieces — like Louis Lesmond and Chandler Piggé — need to make their marks against Princeton.

Princeton vs. Harvard

Betting Pick & Prediction

There's a clear hierarchy between the top three Ivy League teams and the best of the rest. If Harvard's lackluster performances against Cornell, Princeton and Yale are indicators of the future, it'll be a long night for the Crimson.

Harvard's defense surrendered at least 1.24 points per possession — including 1.36 PPP against Princeton — in those three losses. They just haven't looked good against the better teams in the conference, and I don't see that changing Friday. Mack is an incredible talent, but Lee matches him, and Princeton holds an advantage in every other starting spot.

Pick: Princeton -6.5 (Play to -7)

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Nick Sterling
Jun 22, 2024 UTC