Friday College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions: Harvard vs. Princeton Betting Preview
Getty Images. Pictured: Noah Kirkwood #10 of the Harvard Crimson (left); Tosan Evbuomwan #20 of the Princeton Tigers (right)
- Harvard and Princeton will play in a back-to-back set this week. Can the Crimson keep up with the Tigers in either matchup?
- This will turn into a battle between Noah Kirkwood and Tosan Evbuomwan, but the Tigers have more than just Evbuomwan to work with in this game.
- Tanner McGrath breaks down the contest below and details why this still might be the spot to fade the Tigers.
Harvard vs. Princeton Odds
-106o / -114u
-106o / -114u
The Ivy has been fantastic this season.
Three teams currently sit within a game of each other at the top of the standings, including Princeton. The Tigers are 9-2 in conference play and can tie Yale atop the standings with a win Friday.
Meanwhile, Harvard is in fourth place in the conference, although its 5-6 record rules it out of regular-season contention. But Noah Kirkwood heads a Crimson squad that’s highly entertaining.
These two teams will actually play a surprising back-to-back this week. Harvard will play down in Princeton Friday and then Princeton will play Harvard in Cambridge on Sunday.
Do we think Harvard can keep up in either game?
Kirkwood is the heart and soul of the Crimson offense.
He’s by far the highest-usage player and he leads the team in scoring (16.7 PPG) and assists (3.0 APG) while being second in rebounding (5.7 RPG). He also shoots almost 35% from three.
Standing 6-foot-7, he basically plays point forward. Kirkwood splits his minutes between playing on the interior and running the point.
He is an uncharacteristic college hoops player, but he’s really good. Kirkwood has a true shooting percentage above 56 while posting a 107.2 ORtg. He’s also among the top 100 players in steal rate.
Kirkwood can do it all. He’s been awarded Ivy League Player of the Week three times this season for a reason.
— The Ivy League (@IvyLeague) February 20, 2022
However, Harvard is not an offensive-minded team. The Crimson are sixth in the conference in offensive efficiency and fifth in points per game.
Instead, the Crimson rely on a versatile group of defenders to switch everything and defend actively.
The Crimson pace the Ivy in defensive turnover rate and defensive rebounding rate. The defensive eFG% mark is poor, but Harvard is due for negative shooting regression on that end (36.4 3P% allowed) and still allows the fewest points per game (68.4) in the conference.
The Harvard defense may be good, but it hasn’t defended against this Princeton offense.
Princeton can flat out score the basketball. The Tigers are the only Ivy team to score 80 points per game and lead the conference in offensive efficiency, eFG%, turnover rate and offensive rebounding rate.
While Harvard is a one-man show, Princeton is a true team effort. The Tigers have three guys who average exactly 15 points per game and a fourth who averages 11.
The Tigers also move the ball and shoot aggressively. Princeton shoots a catch-and-shoot three 40% of the time, which is 10th nationally. The team is scoring 1.18 points per possession on those opportunities, which is 16th nationally.
Princeton takes 28.5 3PA per game (most in the Ivy) and hits them at a 38.1% rate (also most in the Ivy). It’s no wonder why the Tigers have been overpowering the opposition this season.
Tosan Evbuomwan sets the offense. He’s the Tigers’ highest usage player and leads the team in assists. He also scores 15 points per game, but his main job is to drive and kick. He’s only taken 16 3PA this season but he’s top 50 among Division I players in assist rate.
The 6'7 🇬🇧 wing/forward is a difference-maker at the nail able to drive all the way & find the open shooter/cutter pic.twitter.com/IvTnvRa0IQ
— MaceoBaller (@MaceoBaller16) February 23, 2022
Similar to Kirkwood, he’s more of a point forward. He’s the tallest player on the Princeton roster and will often get played as a forward, but he’s the main ball-handler as well.
Harvard vs. Princeton Betting Pick
This game should devolve down to Kirkwood vs. Evbuomwan.
The two are very similar players running similar offenses. Both Princeton and Harvard have point forwards running the offense and both look for shots either at the rim or from deep — there’s a reason both teams rank inside the top 50 nationally in rim-and-three rate.
Considering how similar the offenses are, I believe this could be a close game.
Princeton has the edge in defensive efficiency, but Harvard is a good defensive team due for positive regression on that end.
Thus, I believe eight points is a few too many for this matchup. Especially considering these two will face off 48 hours after this game tips.
This should turn into a very entertaining, late-season Ivy League matchup. Look for Harvard and Princeton to come down to the wire on Friday night.