Bubble, bubble, bubble… It’s that time of year in the land of college hoops when the “bubble-talk” begins to ramp up in earnest. Another familiar tourney face put themselves in precarious position; quite possibly “ended” rather than “damaged” their at-large bid hopes last night when the Butler Bulldogs fell on the road to lowly Youngstown State 62-60.
The win was only Youngstown State’s second in Horizon conference play (2-10), but the school more famous for spawning Jim Tressel, football coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, than it is for playing basketball, dealt a mighty blow to the defending National Runners-Up.
Trouble is also brewing in Manhattan, East Lansing and Blacksburg, where three preseason Top Ten teams are more in need of a late win-streak to make the Tourney than any of their fans anticipated before the season.
Friday is a light load, but does feature a few sneaky good games, including a dynamite showdown in the Ivy League. The game is even more important as the Ivy League is the only conference that awards their automatic bid to their regular season champ rather than staging a post-season tournament.
Must See: This crazy sports betting system includes NCAAB picks.
Today’s Free College Basketball Picks:
Harvard Crimson @ Princeton Tigers -1.5
It’s always fun when the two best teams in any mid-major conference hook up. It’s doubly important in the Ivy League where jockeying for position means an automatic birth in the Field of 68 (still feel weird to type “68”…)
Harvard enters the game at 15-3, including a win over Boston College for the second straight season. Their three losses are all very reasonable, if not sparklingly competitive. George Mason, @Michigan and @UConn are three losses you wouldn’t be stunned to find on a decent BCS conference member’s resume. They are a perfect 4-0 in league play and haven’t been pushed too severely, winning by an average of 10ppg (by 9 twice, and by 11 twice – so consistent as well).
Harvard doesn’t have many wins to brag about either, aside from Boston College and Colorado they haven’t faced another decent opponent – but heck their non-conference schedule is no worse than Cincinnati and they’re in the Top 25.
Princeton is also unblemished in Ivy League play, though they have only played twice and both were at home including a 67-63 win over Yale. Their losses are a mixed bag; losing at Duke is an obvious given and the losses to James Madison and UCF aren’t awful (though the bottom has fallen out for UCF, currently 14th of 14 teams in Conference USA). The loss to Presbyterian is pretty rough. Like Harvard, they have two decent non-conference wins; Rutgers and @Tulsa. Those aren’t as strong as BC and Colorado, but it does illustrate the Tigers can play a little bit of basketball.
When all things are equal, which they appear to be by nearly all statistical measures and schedule analysis, I tend to favor the home team. It’s no different tonight. Give me Princeton in one of the nation’s oldest rivalries tonight in their home gym.
PICK: Princeton Tigers -1.5 (-110) @ Bookmaker.com (compared to -2 at most books)
Cornell Big Red @ Yale Bulldogs -4
Nearly an identical situation in the second Ivy match-up on the slate, only a slightly larger disparity between the teams.
Cornell has some residual name recognition from last year’s Sweet Sixteen run, however coach Steve Donahue is gone, and so is seven-foot Adam Foote. What is left is a pretty bad team. The Red enter the game at 4-14, and 0-4 in league play
Yale on the other hand trots out one of their better ball clubs in recent history. Their overall record is just an even 9-9, but they are 2-2 in conference play with both of their losses competitive and on the road. Yale has also been tested a little more than Cornell, with games against Providence, Illinois and Boston College – the last of which was a big win. Note to Ivy League AD’s – Schedule Boston College!
I like Yale at home in a line that is a little closer than it should be due to the temporary inflation surrounding the “Cornell” brand. Take the Bulldogs on their home floor and gladly lay the four points.
PICK: Yale Bulldogs -4 (-110) @ Bookmaker.com (compared to -5 at some books)