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Expert handicapper Chris Smith has two college hoops picks on Saturday including predictions for Clemson vs. Alabama

Clemson vs. Alabama

BET: Clemson ML @ +120

Trevor Lawrence against the vaunted Alabama defense should be a...wait, what’s that? Oh yeah, this is actually the Tigers against the Crimson Tide on the hard court, but still a fantastic matchup nonetheless. Both of these teams are off to nice starts this season with Clemson posting quality wins over Purdue and Maryland en route to a 4-0 record. Alabama meanwhile, bounced back from an early season loss to Stanford by collecting double digit victories over UNLV and Providence.

Bama coach Nate Oates was in the news this week for being the first of what turned out to be several fellow coaches taking not so subtle shots at Coach K over his comments about potentially shutting down the season. Beyond the splashy headlines is a solid team that can put points up in a hurry. Jahvon Quinerly leads a balanced attack from the point position while John Petty Jr. and Jaden Shackleford are both averaging 14 points per game for the Crimson Tide. This will be their biggest challenge to date however, as Clemson has held opponents to 50.1 ppg so far and boasts the 7th ranked team in terms of defensive efficiency according to Kenpom’s numbers.

Brad Brownell’s bunch is balanced and deep with several lockdown defenders who may neutralize some of the Alabama scoring threats. I’ll take the elite defensive team over the up-tempo team 99% of the time and getting +110 on the Tigers to win outright seems like exceptional value in this spot.

Illinois vs. Missouri

BET: Illinois -3 @ -102

I just can’t seem to stay away from this Illinois team. This will be the third time I’m on the Fighting Illini over the first month of the season. This is the first time I’m taking them against a team that’s not currently ranked in the top ten nationally, although this is a rivalry spot against a talented Missouri team.

The Tigers are undefeated and poised to enter the national rankings with an upset win over Illinois. Senior guard Mark Smith is averaging 17 points per game and defensive stalwart Jeremiah Tilmon will not be intimidated by Kofi Cockburn down low. That said, I just think Illinois has the advantage in overall talent in this one. Ayo Donsunmu is an absolute stud who could have easily entered the NBA draft this past spring. While I don’t necessarily expect Freshman sharpshooter Adam Miller to be as hot from long range as he was against Duke this past week, I think the Illini have enough offensive firepower to outlast Missouri in this one and disrupt the Tigers two game win streak in this series.


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