Neither the Clemson Tigers nor the Gonzaga Bulldogs have been tested to this point in the 2012-2013 college hoops season. They'll finally face a challenging opponent on Thursday: each other. We preview the game before making our NCAA basketball picks.

College basketball odds makers currently favor Gonzaga by -12. The total is 131.

The Tigers can win because… 

GonzagaTheir opponent is unproven – especially away from home. Gonzaga has begun the season with three cushy games. Yes, one of them didn't figure to be easy, but Gonzaga dispatched West Virginia with a noticeable lack of drama. West Virginia shot under 25 percent from the floor in the first several minutes of play. The Mountaineers, with a substantially reworked roster that includes three transfers in its main rotation, did not have the talent level or the poise to keep up with Gonzaga. It's true that the Bulldogs looked really good in that game, but Gonzaga's enjoyable outing was far more the product of its opponent's weaknesses than the Bulldogs' strengths. 

Gonzaga is a team that, over the past several years, has typically flourished at home while struggling on the road or in neutral-site environments east of the Rocky Mountains. The Bulldogs lose their composure in road environments. Their low-post players have usually folded under pressure. A program that used to get everything out of its available stash of talent has generally underachieved in recent seasons. The Zags are not what they used to be, and this is why Clemson has such a good chance to win this game, one of four opening-round contests in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. Clemson might not have a lot of talent in its own right, but head coach Brad Brownell generally gets his players to perform with a great deal of dedication at the defensive end of the floor. This tenacity is exactly what can short-circuit Gonzaga's offense. 

The Bulldogs can win because… 

They're more skilled than Clemson. Even though Gonzaga's win over West Virginia was aided by the Mountaineers' struggles, it was still worth noting that the Zags received the kind of balanced production that has eluded them on many occasions over the past five years or so. 

Everyone contributed for Gonzaga in that 84-50 win over a Bob Huggins-coached team. Four of five starters notched at least one assist and at least one steal. Four of five starters grabbed at least one rebound and nine of eleven Gonzaga players snapped down at least one board. The team shot 52 percent from the field and over 50 percent from three-point range. The Zags committed only 12 turnovers and exhibited the discipline that has not always characterized their halfcourt offense since 2007. Five players scored in double figures, giving head coach Mark Few the diversity his team needs if it wants to make a deep tournament run this season. If Gonzaga can perform anywhere close to that level against Clemson, it should be able to win against a team that won't be able to match the Bulldogs' level of depth. 

Outlook & NCAA Basketball Betting Prediction: 

This is going to be a nail-biter but Gonzaga's additional offensive options should probably prove decisive. The Zags will own the last two minutes and scratch out a narrow victory in the state of Florida. 

NCAA Basketball Picks: Gonzaga