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College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Penn vs. Harvard (Friday, January 28)

College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Penn vs. Harvard (Friday, January 28) article feature image

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Dingle.

  • The Penn Quakers and Harvard Crimson meet in Ivy League action on Friday night.
  • Led by Jordan Dingle, the Quakers enter as short underdogs due to a difficult opening schedule.
  • Tanner McGrath breaks down this game and shares his top bet below.

Penn vs. Harvard Odds

Friday, Jan. 28
5 p.m. ET
Penn Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-114o / -106u
Harvard Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-114o / -106u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Princeton and Yale seem to be the two schools favored to come out of the Ivy. However, don’t sleep on Penn or Harvard, as both squads have the personnel and skills to make a run in the brainiacs league.

Penn played an excruciatingly tough nonconference schedule, and so the Quakers are getting a break in January and February. They stand at 4-2 with wins over Dartmouth and Yale.

Meanwhile, Harvard is 10-6 with some surprising results on its resume. The Crimson took both Colgate and Iona to overtime, beating the former, and kept it within seven against Rhode Island.

Harvard is favored by just over three in Cambridge. But is that too many points to give the Quakers?

Penn Quakers

Jordan Dingle is really good.

He isn’t the most efficient, but his usage is off the charts. His 35.7 shot percentage is fifth nationally among D-I players, and he’s dropping almost 19 points per game as a result.

Image credit: CBB Analytics

He basically is the Penn offense, and his inconsistency can be a problem. When Dingle isn’t hitting shots, the Quakers are pretty easy to beat.

For example, these are his last six games:

  • 31 points vs. Yale, Win
  • 9 points @ Princeton, Loss
  • 12 points vs. Dartmouth, Win
  • 9 points vs. Columbia, Loss
  • 17 points vs. Columbia, Win
  • 20 points vs. Brown, Win

A lot rides on Dingle’s performance. So far, however, he should play himself into a first-team All-Ivy League spot.

But don’t sleep on the Penn defense. The Quakers’ season-long numbers have been dragged down due to a devastating nonconference schedule, but the team is second in the conference in defensive efficiency and first in 2-point defense.

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Harvard Crimson

Harvard is in the middle of a brutal stretch.

The Crimson played their last three games on the road and now go on the road for another two after this one. They’ve also failed to cover in four straight games and just dropped a tough game to Cornell.

But in the end, Harvard’s two conference wins are nothing to write home about — at Columbia and at Dartmouth.

Harvard is a complex team. The backcourt seems to carry the weight and is top-50 in both offensive and defensive turnover rate. Harvard also scores a lot from deep, ranking 36th nationally in 3-point distribution (38.6%).

However, all the scoring comes from the center rotation of Noah Kirkwood and Chris Ledlum (they combine for almost 35 PPG). But Kirkwood plays almost all of his minutes either at the center position or running the point. Plus, both shoot almost five 3s per game.

However, when he’s going, Kirkwood is really fun to watch.

Noah Kirkwood is up to 18 points on 7-12 from the field in Ithaca

2H 7:57 | Cornell 64 Harvard 49

📺: #GoCrimson @espn

— Harvard Men’s Basketball (@HarvardMBB) January 22, 2022

Moreover, the two stand only 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-7. Kirkwood is severely undersized on the interior yet massive on the perimeter. This may explain the Crimson’s great offensive/defensive steal numbers but incredibly poor offensive/defensive block numbers.

However, Harvard is a pretty good rebounding team. It’s second in the conference in defensive rebounding rate and top-100 nationally.

To add to this, Harvard has one of the highest rim-and-3 rates in the country, taking 88% of shots either at the rim or from deep (25th).

It feels like positionless basketball even though the Tommy Amaker Crimson offense isn’t really positionless. Here’s a good example of how the offense works from an X’s and O’s perspective.

But is it effective?

The jury is still out. I think the Crimson are due for negative regression on the offensive end (34.5 3P%) and positive regression on the defensive end (38.4 3P% allowed.

All in all, ShotQuality’s metrics have the Crimson positively regressing.

Penn vs. Harvard Betting Pick

Harvard is due for some positive regression, but Penn isn’t due for any negative regression. And I believe Penn is still undervalued given its 7-12 record — especially relative to Harvard’s 10-6 record.

I see these teams as very similar and very evenly matched. Both teams play so small and both will huck it from 3, and I see no real advantages on either side there.

In that case, I’ll take the points.

The Penn defense is waking up, which would be huge for an offense that’s top-150 nationally in offensive efficiency.

This may devolve into the Dingle vs Kirkwood matchup. So, this entire cap may come down to Dingle’s performance, which I’ve mentioned can be shaky.

I believe he’s the best player on the court and will carry the Quakers to a cover on Friday night.

Pick: Penn +3.5 (Play to +3)

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