Harvard vs. Penn Prediction: Can the Quakers Snap a Long Road Losing Streak to the Crimson?

College basketball expert Mike Spector offers his best bet for the Ivy League matchup between Penn and Harvard this Friday.
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Harvard vs. Penn Prediction: Can the Quakers Snap a Long Road Losing Streak to the Crimson?

Penn and Harvard is one of the oldest rivalries in college basketball, as tonight marks the 145th meeting between these two elite academic institutions. Harvard has dominated the series of late, winning four of the last five head-to-head meetings. Their dominance has especially been felt on their home court, as the Crimson has won each of their previous eight home games against the Quakers.

Will Penn end their long road losing streak and win for the first time at Harvard since 2011-12? Or will Harvard extend their home winning streak and stay within striking distance of Princeton and Yale at the top of the Ivy League standings? Here are our picks and predictions for the Ivy League matchup between Penn and Harvard.

Harvard vs. Penn Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Friday, January 28

Game Time: 5:00 pm ET

Where to Watch: ESPNU

Click Here for Harvard vs. Penn Odds

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Harvard vs. Penn Line Movement

Harvard vs. Penn Prediction

Penn (7-12, 4-2) has had a hard time generating any momentum of late. They have alternated wins and losses through their last five league games and have not had longer than a two-game winning streak all season. However, the Quakers can build off the momentum of their biggest win of the season in their last game, a 76-68 home victory over Yale, which was the Bulldogs’ only loss in the conference to this point.

Harvard (10-6, 2-2) is 7-2 at home this season, with their only two home losses coming against Rhode Island (64-57) and Brown (84-73). The Crimson are coming off a disappointing 15-point road loss to Cornell in which they had a hard time generating any offense in the lane. Harvard went 12-for-34 from 3-point range in that game, and their 34 3-point attempts made up 60.7% of their shot attempts in the game.

Penn head coach Steve Donahue is one of the most respected coaches in the conference, and the way he handled a 23-day COVID pause and guided his team to consecutive wins over Brown and Cornell following the layoff should not be ignored. Of course, many will be quick to point out Penn’s 1-8 road record and Harvard’s home dominance in this rivalry. However, that homecourt advantage is mitigated by the Ivy League’s rule of not allowing fans in attendance.

While Harvard will likely continue to “live and die” by the 3-point shot, Penn has shown much more ability to get into the lane. A whopping 45.6% of Harvard’s shots come from deep in league play, while Penn is shooting 3-point attempts at a 32.5% rate. Considering the Quakers rank second in the league holding opponents to just 31.7% from 3-point range, that stifling perimeter defense will come in handy against a Crimson squad that likes to let it fly. In addition, Harvard is the league’s worst team at defending the 3-point line (allowing 43.4% in league play), so there should be some positive regression for Penn’s shaky perimeter shooting.

Donahue’s ability to draw up plays that lead to easy baskets will prove vital in this game, while his stingy defense will make Harvard work for everything they get. The Quakers have a great chance to pull the outright upset with a mitigated homecourt advantage for Harvard, but we will take the three points to be safe.

Harvard vs. Penn Pick

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Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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