College Basketball Betting Preview: Harvard Crimson at Princeton Tigers

Harvard Crimson at Princeton Tigers
Friday, March 1, 2013, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPNU
L. Stockwell Jadwin Gymnasium – Princeton, New Jersey
Opening Line: Princeton -6
Current Line: Princeton -6
Opening Total: 126
Current Total: 123
Opening Money Line: Princeton -260 / Harvard +220
Current Money Line: Princeton -260 / Harvard +220

Harvard is a 6 point underdog at Princeton in a key Ivy League battle. Harvard hasn't won at Princeton since 1989.
Harvard is a 6 point underdog at Princeton in a key Ivy League battle. Harvard hasn’t won at Princeton since 1989.

As March is finally here, the Harvard Crimson can pretty much wrap up the Ivy League title and clinch the first official bid to the NCAA Tournament with a win Friday at rival Princeton. The 17-7 Crimson  are 9-1 in conference and the 14-9 Tigers are 7-2. Every other team in the conference has at least 5 losses in the Ivy league.

Harvard would take a 2.5 game lead with 3 games to play with a win. The Crimson would hold the tiebreaker having swept the season series. A Princeton win would put them a half game behind for first, but the Tigers have 5 games to play instead of 4 like Harvard.

Princeton leads the series 128-41. Harvard won 69-57 in Cambridge February 16. In that game, the Tigers were up 26-24 late in the first half but the Crimson closed the half on an 8-2 run and wouldn’t trail in the second half. The went up by double digits for good with just over 5 minutes to go. Harvard hasn’t won at Princeton since 1989.

Harvard is coached by Tommy Amaker. The Crimson have losses at Massachusetts, at St. Jospeh’s, Vermont, at Connecticut, at St. Mary’s (CA), at Memphis, and at Columbia. The Crimson have key wins over Manhattan, Fordham, at Boston College, Boston University, Holy Cross, at California, and Rice. Other than Princeton, all the other Ivy teams are below .500. The Crimson won at Yale Saturday 72-66. Harvard has won 4 straight games. The Crimson are 12-9-1 ATS and the total is 9-8 this season.

Harvard is outscoring teams 70-65 this season. The Crimson are shooting 48.8% from the field and 40.1% from 3 point range. Harvard is in the top 10 nationally in both categories. The Crimson make 71.6% of their free throws. Harvard averages 29.9 rebounds per game, and gives up 26.6. The Crimson are #332 out of 347 teams in rebounding, but #17 in rebounds allowed. Harvard opponents are shooting 44.4% from the field and 34% from 3 point range. The Crimson average 14 assists, 8 steals, 5 blocks, and 14 turnovers.

Guard / forward Wesley Saunders averages 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 2 steals per game. Guard Siyani Chambers averages 13 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Guard Laurent Rivard averages 10.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and a steal. Guard Christian Webster averages 8.7 points, 3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. Forward Steve Mondou-Missi averages 7.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, one steal, and one block per game. Jonah Travis averages 7.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Kenyatta Smith and Agunwa Okolie also get significant minutes.

Princeton is coached by Mitch Henderson. The Tigers have losses to Northeastern, Rutgers, at Syracuse, at Wagner, Drexel, Fordham in Brooklyn, at Akron, Yale, and Harvard. Princeton has key wins at Buffalo, at Lafayette, at Kent St, Rider, Bucknell, and Elon. Princeton won at Cornell Saturday 72-53. The Tigers are 10-9 ATS and the total is 5-6 this season.

Princeton is outscoring teams 64-57 this season. The Tigers are #12 in points allowed nationally. Princeton is shooting 47% from the field and 39.7% from 3 point range. The Tigers are #3 in field goal percentage and #11 in 3 point shooting. Princeton makes 71.6% of their free throws. The Tigers average 31.5 rebounds per game, and give up 26.4 per game. Princeton is #306 in rebounding and #15 in rebounds allowed. Tiger opponents are shooting 41.3% from the field and 31.9% from 3 point range. Princeton averages 15 assists, 7 steals, 3 blocks, and 13 turnovers.

Forward Ian Hummer averages 16.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. Forward Denton Koon averages 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. Forward Will Barrett averages 8.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and a steal per game. T.J. Bray averages 8.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. Hans Brase averages 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.  Clay Wilson, Brendan Connolly, Mack Darrow, and Chris Clement also get significant minutes.

Harvard is 6-0 ATS against teams with winning home records, 4-0 ATS against teams with winning records, overall, and against Ivy League teams, 6-1-1 after a cover, and 7-2-1 in road games. The under is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 at Princeton in the series.

Princeton is 21-5 ATS in Friday games, 13-4 in  Ivy league games, 36-17 against teams with winning records, 2-5 at home after 3 or more straight road games, and 1-4 after a cover. The home team is 6-1 ATS in the last 7 in this series.  Princeton is 6-2 ATS in this series recently and 4-0 at home.

Princeton is a better defensive team, and has more depth. Harvard scores more points. Otherwise these teams are almost statistically even. Harvard has traditionally struggled at Princeton, but I think this is the year they break through and win on the Tigers’ home court.

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