NCAA bubble-team Yale drawing attention of bettors

Is Yale a “bubble” team if it doesn’t earn the Ivy League’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament?

VSiN promised to keep tabs on the Bulldogs after they dominated the point spread to the tune of 14-3 through the end of January. Betting markets have since caught up. Yale is just 3-4 against the spread in February.

Some indicators suggest the Bulldogs would be on the bubble if they don’t win the Ivy League tournament featuring the league’s top four finishers scheduled for March 14-15 at Harvard.

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Yale projected as a No. 12 seed this week. That line in the brackets typically features some of the “last teams in.” Auto-bids fill up slots 13-16.

Market-respected computer rankings from Ken Pomeroy ( showed Yale at No. 50 entering Thursday. That’s also right at the cutoff point for serious consideration. Yale ranks higher at KenPom than some other teams projected to be safely in.

The Bulldogs did play a reasonably tough schedule pre-conference. But, surprising blemishes have started to show in recent Ivy League action:

  • Yale (-6) lost at home to Harvard, 78-77. Harvard is considered second-best in the league this season. That’s a flunked litmus test … against the school drawn to host the 2020 conference tourney.
  • Yale (-5) lost at Penn, 69-61, a service break that missed the spread by 13 points. You’ve seen conference favorites across the national map lose focus in February. Yale doesn’t have that luxury in what is historically a one-bid league.
  • Yale (-12¹/₂) had to go overtime to win at lowly Cornell, 81-80. This should have been a bounce-back spot immediately after Penn, but was instead another bad result.

The Bulldogs did regain form last Saturday in an 83-65 win at Columbia, laying 10¹/₂ points. They hope to build off that at home this weekend versus Penn and Princeton, before finishing the regular season next weekend at Dartmouth and Harvard.

It’s very easy for the selection committee to cull small-conference teams that don’t impress down the stretch. For now, Yale probably isn’t a bubble team if it doesn’t win the Ivy League tournament. That would mean an additional badly timed loss.

Yale won’t be a smart bet until it shows more consistency against what are now premium prices on the betting board. The element of surprise is gone.

Other recent Ivy League ATS trends:

Harvard is just 2-9 ATS in its last 11 games, with one of the covers coming in that road upset of Yale. … Princeton has covered three straight, and is 8-3 ATS since mid-December. … Up-and-down Brown hasn’t done anything (cover, or non-cover) more than twice in a row all season … Penn is 7-2 ATS in its last nine, including a stellar 3-0 ATS mark vs. Harvard and Yale. … Dartmouth is 5-10 ATS in its last 15 games … Cornell is 3-3 ATS in its last six, but the three covers were all by double digits … Columbia is 2-6-1 ATS in its last nine games, 6-14-1 ATS in its last 21.

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