Conference Tournament Best Bets for Thursday: Big 12, Big East Quarterfinals Begin

Conference tournament action marches on Thursday with a full slate of games across the major leagues. There are two in particular that we're focused on: Kansas State vs. Iowa State in the Big 12 and Providence vs. Creighton in the Big East.

The stakes are quite similar in these two matchups as the Cyclones and Bluejays have already made their cases to the Selection Committee and are now looking to make runs all the way to their respective conference tournament championship games. Meanwhile, the Wildcats and Friars are still auditioning for the field of 68 with big opportunities on Thursday to get off the bubble and stay alive.

(Odds via FanDuel.)

Big 12 Tournament Quarterfinal

No. 10 Kansas State vs. No. 2 Iowa State

Game Info: 7 p.m. ET | ESPN2
Spread: Kansas State +6.5 (-110) | Iowa State -6.5 (-110)
Moneyline: KSU (+220) | ISU (-275)
Total: 132.5 — Over (-115) | Under (-105)

Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger

Charlie Neibergall/AP

The Wildcats upset the Texas Longhorns 78–74 on Wednesday to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Entering the Big 12 tournament, Kansas State (19–13, 8–10 Big 12) was on the bubble in Kevin Sweeney's latest bracket projection and a win over Texas, a projected No. 7 seed, is a nice addition to its resume ahead of Selection Sunday. A second win against the Cyclones (24–7, 13–5 Big 12) in less than a week would be huge for the Wildcats after they upset Iowa State 65–58 in the regular-season finale.

Kansas State erased a 10-point halftime deficit against the Longhorns thanks to Tylor Perry's 21-point performance. The Wildcats have relied on their defense for much of the year, but it was their offense that propelled them to the quarterfinals. Kansas State had five double-digit scorers and consistently got to the free throw line.

Saturday's game between the Wildcats and Cyclones was much more of a slog. Iowa State allows the fifth-fewest points in the nation (62.1) and its defense largely limited the Wildcats, except for Arthur Kaluma and Cam Carter, who combined for 44 points. The Cyclones' 58 points were their second-fewest all year, a testament to the Wildcats' defense and ISU's issues on offense.

The Cyclones had four full days of rest since their last game while Kansas State has to play 24 hours after mounting a massive second-half comeback to stay alive. Iowa State also defeated the Wildcats 78–67 in Ames earlier in the year behind 19 points from Milan Momcilovic and has the 10th-best point differential in DI (+13.6). Coach T.J. Otzelberger's team has been one of the best to bet on all season with a 20–10–1 mark against the spread and their defensive prowess will carry them to cover against Kansas State.

Bet: Iowa State -6.5 (-110)


Big East Tournament Quarterfinal

No. 7 Providence Friars vs. No. 2 Creighton

Game Info: 7 p.m. ET | FS1
Spread: Providence +7.5 (-110) | Creighton -7.5 (-110)
Moneyline: PROV (+255) | CREI (-320)
Total: 141.5 — Over (-105) | Under (-115)

Josh Oduro goes up for a shot Wednesday night in Providence's Big East tournament win over Georgetown.

Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports

The Friars took care of the Georgetown Hoyas 74–56 on Wednesday to advance to the Big East quarterfinals against the Bluejays. Providence, like Kansas State, is currently on the bubble and a victory over lowly Georgetown isn't going to move the needle come Selection Sunday. A second win against Creighton, a projected No. 2 seed, could carry some weight, though.

The Bluejays (23–8, 14–6 Big East) are 7–1 since they lost to the Friars in February, including an 85–66 win over then-No. 1 UConn. After the Huskies, Creighton has the next-best odds to cut down the nets this week at Madison Square Garden. Greg McDermott's team is an elite offensive unit, averaging 80.8 points per game and making over 10 three-pointers per game. The Bluejays have three players — Baylor Scheierman, Trey Alexander and Ryan Kalkbrenner — who average better than 17 points per game and they're stout on defense to boot.

Providence (20–12, 10–10 Big East) is not nearly as complete an offensive team as its quarterfinals foe, but it flashed potential in that 91–87 overtime upset. Josh Oduro scored a season-high 32 points and Devin Carter added 28 in that game. Against the Hoyas, that duo led the way again as Oduro finished with 20 and Carter added 19. The Friars showed off their defensive chops on Wednesday and they were also on display in a 69–60 loss to the Bluejays earlier in the year.

Providence has been up and down over the last few weeks, handing out double-digit defeats but also on the receiving end of some lopsided losses. The Friars are, however, 18–13–1 against the spread and they covered both times against Creighton. Those games counted toward their impressive 9–4 record against the spread as an underdog. On the other hand, the Bluejays are 17–14 against the spread and they've been hot, winning seven of eight — three by 20-plus points. Still, Providence has played Creighton tight twice now; take the points.

Bet: Providence +7.5 (-110)


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