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Coaches vs Cancer Betting Odds

The 2010-11 NCAA basketball season starts Monday night with the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs Cancer. Perennial Big East powerhouse Pittsburgh opens at home against Rhode Island as an 11.5-point favorite (7:00 p.m. ET). The over/under is set at 136.5 at most books.

After defying expectations last year following a major exodus of talent, Pittsburgh roared to a 25-9 record. This season, the Panthers are ranked fifth in the country. They expect big things from Ashton Gibbs, the Big East’s most improved player.

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The Panthers don’t get an easy opponent to start the Coaches vs Cancer Classic. Rhode Island was 26-10 a year ago and returns 10 starters. Senior forward Delroy James, who averaged 13-plus points per game last season, hopes to take Rhode Island to its first NCAA tournament since 1999. [View Matchup]

Maryland hopes to open its season with a rout over Seattle in the Classic as a 21-point favorite (8:00 p.m. ET). The Terrapins were 24-9 last season but have a bit of an uphill climb this year considering their top three scorers, Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes, are all gone. They’ll need Jordan Williams to step up his play this year. The big center could average a double-double per game this season.

Seattle is fresh off a 17-14 season and is NIT eligible, but not NCAA tournament eligible. The Redhawks are a reasonably competitive team but not in the same class as Maryland; they’ll have trouble covering the 21 points. [View Matchup]

Illinois is also expected to romp in its opener, favored by 21.5 points at most books in its matchup against UC Irvine (8:00 p.m. ET). The Fighting Illini were 21-15 last season and reached the third round of the NIT but hope for an NCAA tournament bid this year. They’ll rely on guard Demetri McCarney, who led the team in scoring and set a team record for assists last year, to be their leader.

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UC Irvine has a star to rely on in Eric Wise, who had 12 20-point games last year, but this is still a 14-18 team in tough on the road.

In the last game of the night (9:00 p.m. ET), the storied Texas Longhorns are 26-point favorites over Navy. They’re hoping to bounce back after a frustrating 2009-10 season in which they started 17-0 only to lose 10 of their last 17 games and lose in the first round of the NCAA tourney.

Coach Rick Barnes has a tough challenge considering Texas lost Damion James, Avery Bradley and Dexter Pittman to the NBA draft this year. Still, with new prospects like Corey Joseph and Tristan Thompson getting their shot to shine against a suspect Navy defense, Texas has a good chance to cover the 26.5 points. [View Matchup]