The Panthers really know how to take down those Huskies, it has been a four game winning streak for Pittsburgh over Connecticut and today they meet again in the Big East Quarter Finals, New York.
No. 3 Pittsburgh looks to extend its winning streak against No. 21 Connecticut to five games when the two teams meet in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Pittsburgh Panthers (27-4, #1 Seed in Big East)
The Pittsburgh Panthers have won four straight over the Huskies by an average of 10.8 PPG, including a 78-63 home victory in the Big East opener on Dec. 27. Ashton Gibbs (16.4 PPG, 46.6% three-pointers) led four Panthers in double-figures with 21 points in that game, while Brad Wanamaker (11.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.2 APG) added 14 points. Pittsburgh shot 52.1% from the field (25-of-48) and led by as many as 17 points. For the third straight season, the Panthers earned a double-bye in the Big East tournament.
But that hasn't been a good thing because in the previous two seasons, they lost the first tournament game they played in. Pittsburgh posted two straight double-digit victories to finish the regular season, which included a 60-50 win over Villanova on March 5. The Panthers rank third in the nation in assists (17.5 APG), sixth in rebounding (40.3 RPG), 27th in field-goal percentage (47.2%) and 51st in points (74.1 PPG), but they've scored 67 points or less in six of their final seven regular-season contests, and have gone 11 straight games scoring 71 or less.
UConn Huskies (23-9, #9 Seed in Big East)
Kemba Walker (23.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.3 APG, 35.2% three-pointers) has scored 16.0 PPG in four career matchups with Pitt, but is winless (0-4) in those contests. Walker had 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting in the Huskies' second straight Big East tourney victory, a 79-62 blowout of Georgetown on Wednesday. He had 31 points in the first meeting with the Panthers, but was just 10-of-27 from the field. Walker was the only UConn Huskies player with more than nine points in that game, as the Huskies shot 31.7% from the field (19-of-60) as a team. Connecticut lost four of its final five contests to end the regular season, but it has rebounded nicely by winning two games in the Big East tournament for the first time since 2004, the last time it won the postseason title. After scoring 63.0 PPG on 41% FG in the final five regular-season games, the Huskies have averaged 88.0 PPG on 55% FG in the first two games of the conference tournament.
Head to head and Betting Trends
Pittsburgh and Connecticut met in three straight Big East tournament title games from 2002-04, and the Huskies won two of those three matchups. But the Panthers own a 26-12 record (.684) at Madison Square Garden since the 2001-02 season. This season, they are 14-12 ATS and 11-7 ATS in conference play, while UConn is 15-11 ATS overall, but only 9-11 ATS against Big East foes. Although the Huskies’ offense has been clicking in the two Big East tournament games, they will now be facing an excellent defense. UConn is 0-8 SU and 1-7 ATS against the Top 6 seeds in the Big East this season, and expect these trends to continue Thursday against the Panthers. This NCAA betting trends also likes Pittsburgh to win and cover the spread.
Play On - A favorite (PITTSBURGH) - a good offensive team (74-78 PPG) against a good defensive team (63-67 PPG), after allowing 55 points or less. (99-47 over the last 5 seasons.) (67.8%, +47.3 units. Rating = 3*).