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Big East highlights college hoops betting

A pair of top seeds debut in conference tournament betting on Thursday as the Pittsburgh Panthers take the floor in the Big East and the Kansas Jayhawks gets things going in the Big 12.

The Panthers begin their Big East Tournament ride against the No. 9 seed Connecticut Huskies. The Huskies' tournament began on Tuesday with an opening-round matchup versus DePaul. UConn was a 14.5-point favorite in the game and was able to cover the spread in a 97-71 rout. Kemba Walker led the Huskies with 26 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, while Alex Oriakhi chipped in with 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Next up for the Huskies was No. 8 seed Georgetown in the second round. Despite being seeded lower than the Hoyas the Huskies were a 3-point favorite and easily covered in a 79-62 win. Walker dominated for Connecticut again with 28 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

Taking out the Panthers won't be so easy for the Huskies. Connecticut hasn't beaten Pittsburgh since 2008 and is riding a four-game losing streak against them. That includes a 78-63 loss at Pittsburgh earlier this season as a 7.5-point underdog. In that game it was Walker and not much else for Connecticut as their star guard put up 31 points while no one else on the team scored in double figures.

Ashton Gibbs led the Panthers in that win with 21 points and seven assists, while Brad Wanamaker added 14 points. Pittsburgh will be favored on Thursday at sportsbooks like Sports Interaction, and even though they have a history of rolling over the Huskies lately they're far from a sure thing in the tournament. In the last two Big East tournaments the Panthers were a No. 2 seed, but they fell in their first game in upset losses.

In the Kansas Jayhawks' Big 12 Tournament opener they've drawn what looks like an easy opponent in No. 9 seed Oklahoma State. The Cowboys survived the first round by the skin of their teeth, edging Nebraska 53-52 as a 4-point underdog. Keiton Page scored 16 points and hit some key three-pointers for the Cowboys, and the team's leading scorer Marshall Moses was held to 10 points.

When the Jayhawks and Cowboys met up during the regular season it wasn't even close. Behind a 27-point effort from Marcus Morris Kansas destroyed Oklahoma State 92-65 as a 17-point home favorite. Markieff Morris added 15 points and seven rebounds as well, helping the Jayhawks dominate the glass and out-rebound the Cowboys 37-24. Moses led the Cowboys with 27 points in a losing effort.

The Cowboys may have been throttled by the Jayhawks earlier this season but they pulled off a surprising upset against Kansas last year. Oklahoma State was a 6-point home underdog when they topped Kansas 85-77 last season.

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