College Basketball Odds, Picks, Futures: 2023-24 Ivy League Betting Preview

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Futures: 2023-24 Ivy League Betting Preview article feature image
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For those pining for the "good old days" and "golden ages" of college sports, the Ivy League can be a haven.

The conference, which is built more upon academics and geography than athletics, is an outlier in today's landscape. With just eight schools, all huddled within a few hundred miles in the Northeast, the Ivy League feels like a blast from the past.

Don't tell that to the Ivy champs that make the NCAA tournament, though. The winner of this conference has had overwhelming success in recent years, with five of the last 12 Ivy League teams to hit the Big Dance securing at least a first round win.

Two of those five won again, reaching the Sweet 16, including last year's Princeton Tigers.

Those Tigers return a re-tooled roster, which will see plenty of pushback from its Ivy rivals. Of the eight teams in the league, just one has longer than +1600 odds to be crowned conference champs (per Caesars).

Compare that to a modern mega-conference like the ACC, where just four teams have odds shorter than +1600, with nearly a dozen treading water as long shots.


Ivy League NCAAB Regular Season Title Odds

Team NameOdds (Via Caesars)
Yale+160
Princeton+260
Penn+450
Cornell+700
Brown+900
Dartmouth+1600
Harvard+1600
Columbia+2500


The Favorites

Yale Bulldogs (+160)

You can slot the Bulldogs near the top of the Ivy League standings on an annual basis, thanks in large part to head coach James Jones. He's built a program that consistently challenges high-major opponents and keeps the Bulldogs among the Ivy's best teams.

Yale has won or shared five of the last eight Ivy League regular season titles, and the Bulldogs haven't finished lower than third place in the conference since 2012.

Jones, now second all-time in wins among Ivy League head coaches, brings back most of the roster that finished last season 10-4 in conference play. A one-two punch of Matt Knowling and Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Bez Mbeng will make Yale once again the team to beat.

The odds here are just too short to get excited, but on a game-to-game basis, Yale should be a team bettors keep an eye on. Road trips to Kansas and Gonzaga won't tell us much, but critical games against Rhode Island, Colgate and Vermont should.

Princeton Tigers (+260)

The Tigers lose a ton of production from their Cinderella team from last season, largely due to Ivy League rules that don't allow graduate players.

Three Princeton seniors still held NCAA eligibility but were forced to move on, as transfers or pros.

While there may be a vacuum of production, there's plenty of talent ready to fill the void. Two sophomores have a chance to step up and make the level of impact that can spur the Tigers to an Ivy League title.

Caden Pierce was Ivy League Rookie of the Year as a freshman, posting eight points and seven rebounds per game. Xaivian Lee was little used as a freshman but showcased his game playing for Canada at the FIBA U19 World Cup, excelling in that setting.

If Lee and Pierce can play to an All-Conference level, the Tigers have a chance to win the league. If there were a touch more value on the odds, they'd be the pick.

Penn Quakers (+450)

Penn's program is consistently one of the best in the Ivy League, but the hits the Quakers' roster took this offseason might be overwhelming, especially at this price.

Jordan Dingle, the most electric scorer in the Ivy League, is off to St. John's to play for Rick Pitino as a transfer.

Penn's second-leading scorer Max Martz was forced to retire from the sport due to repeated injuries.

Penn is going to need role players and freshmen to step up in a hurry. The Ivy League's late start to conference season — with none on the slate until after the New Year — maybe gives you hope that Penn will have its ducks in a row by then.

However, I'd rather play wait-and-see with the Quakers.

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The Middle of the Pack

Cornell Big Red (+700)

Last season, the Big Red offered both tricks and treats to their fans and bettors. A 10-3 non-conference slate shifted expectations sky-high, with a road win at Colgate and a two-point loss at Miami (FL).

Cornell met those expectations early, starting 5-2 in Ivy play, before shattering back to earth down the stretch.

The Big Red lost five of six in the month of February and were routed out of the Ivy League Tournament with a whimper.

Expectations have boomeranged back to Ithaca, with four returning starters on campus for head coach Brian Earl. This marks the third year where he has re-invented his program, modernizing Cornell's attack to a fast-tempo, run-and-gun style.

Ask Jim Larranaga and his Miami Hurricanes — who allowed Cornell to shoot 36 3s and score 105 points — if Cornell is tough to stop.

I like Cornell at these odds. They don't have the classic success of the three programs priced below, but Earl's high-octane attack should now be second nature to his returning veterans. That gives Cornell a chance to be the most potent offense in the league. That's worth a flier at +700.

Brown Bears (+900)

If you could find a sportsbook crazy enough to offer odds on Ivy League Player of the Year, Brown's Kino Lilly Jr. would be the smart bet there. He dropped 16.9 points per game as a sophomore last season and should top that with more on his plate this year.

It's hard to find enough offensive production other than Lilly to buy Brown as a title contender, though he could certainly lead a trip to Ivy Madness, which Brown is hosting this March.

Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Longshots

Harvard Crimson (+1600)

If you're a believer in statistical regression, Harvard could be worth a look this season. The Crimson ranked 342nd in KenPom's "Luck" statistic, which judges which teams are outplaying or underplaying their record.

Six of Harvard's nine losses in the Ivy League came by four points or fewer.

Regression, however, can only do so much when there's a talent disparity. All-Ivy performer Chris Ledlum will join Dingle and Pitino at St. John's, and Harvard won't return a double-figure scorer.

Dartmouth Big Green (+1600)

The Big Green finished just outside Ivy Madness last year, ruing two overtime road losses that could have been the difference.

Now Dartmouth is expected to slide towards the back of the standings once again. I hate to rely just on prior program results, but head coach Dave McLaughlin has yet to record a winning record in league play.

That's not his fault, considering neither of the two coaches that preceded him did either. In fact, Dartmouth hasn't had a winning Ivy League record this century.

Bringing back a few players from last season is far from enough to shake that hex away.

Columbia Lions (+2500)

Unlike the rest of college basketball — where programs can flash or falter in a matter of months thanks to the transfer portal — there's still a sense of building momentum in the Ivy League.

Columbia went 2-12 in conference play last year, but did so with a team that ranked 347th in D-I experience, per KenPom.

That youth returns, but is still a few years away from being a factor in the Ivy.

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Doug Ziefel
Jun 14, 2024 UTC