Harvard vs. Princeton Prediction: Look for the Tigers to Scorch the Nets

Harvard vs. Princeton prediction and pick for this college basketball showdown in the Ivy League on Friday. College basketball expert Mike Spector offers his best bet and breakdown for this one between Harvard and Princeton.
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Harvard vs. Princeton Prediction: Look for the Tigers to Scorch the Nets

The Harvard Crimson is the host team for the Ivy League Conference tournament this season, but they are teetering on the brink of not even being eligible to play in the postseason. Only the top four teams in the league are invited to play in the conference tournament, and Harvard enters the day a half-game up on Cornell for fourth place in the standings. With their next two games (a home and home series) against the Princeton Tigers, it feels like this weekend has a chance to define Harvard’s season.

Will the Crimson earn their biggest road win of the season and knock off one of the Ivy League favorites? Or will Princeton hold serve at home and further position themselves to be the top seed in next month’s conference tournament?

Here are our picks and predictions for the Ivy League battle between Harvard and Princeton.

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Harvard vs. Princeton Betting Line Movement

Harvard vs. Princeton Prediction

Harvard (13-10, 5-6) has followed up a disappointing three-game losing streak (two of those losses against conference-leading Yale) with consecutive wins over Columbia and Cornell. In a nutshell, that has been the story of the Crimson’s season, consistently beating the teams they “should” beat but failing to compete with the upper echelon in the conference. Harvard is 0-4 combined against Yale and UPenn, two of the three teams ahead of them in the standings, while they are 5-2 against the rest of the league. 

Princeton’s (19-5, 9-2) four-game winning streak is the longest current winning streak of any Ivy League team. They have been dominant at home all season, as their 12-1 at Jadwin Gymnasium is the league’s best. The Tigers’ high-powered offense is the biggest reason for their success. They average a league-best 80.6 PPG and are the only team shooting better than 47% from the floor. 

Part of what makes Princeton so difficult to defend is the contributions they have gotten all season from some of the most unexpected places. Senior point guard Jaelin Llewellyn came into the season as one of the frontrunners for Ivy League Player of the Year. And while he has been stellar this season (14.4 pts, 4.0 reb), not many expected Tosan Evbuomwan (15.4 pts) and Ethan Wright (15.3 pts) to lead the team in scoring while also ranking in the top five in the conference. Between that trio and the 20 PPG they get from key returners Ryan Langborg and Drew Friberg, the Tigers are a nightmare to defend. They now face a Harvard squad that allows opponents to shoot better than 38% from 3-point range in their home contests.

Despite a 12-1 home record, Princeton has had some close calls at home, with two-point victories over Cornell and Brown, neither of whom are .500 in the league. However, the Tigers’ most recent home victory was a 45-point obliteration of Dartmouth, where they shot 46.2% from 3-point range.

Princeton ranks in the top 21 nationally in 3-point percentage, 2-point percentage, effective field goal percentage, and turnover percentage. They couple that with a defense that ranks in the top two in league play in many of the most important statistical categories, including adjusted defensive efficiency (per KenPom).

With a rematch against Harvard two days from now, one school of thought is that the Tigers will not show their entire back of tricks, leaving some element of surprise for their next meetings. However, Princeton should be motivated to sweep the Crimson and, in essence, knock Harvard out of their own conference tournament they are hosting.

Harvard has covered just four of their ten road games, while Princeton has covered four consecutive games. In addition, the Tigers have more ways they can beat you offensively, and that is the main reason we expect a huge win by the home team tonight.

Harvard vs. Princeton 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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