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ESPN and CBS basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli made 2,400 free throws over 24 hours in May of 2019 at the Mount Pleasant Town Hall gym to raise money for South Carolina Special Olympics. This week she attempts to beat Post and Courier columnist Gene Sapakoff and other Pigskin Picks contestants as a VIP picker. File/Staff

Debbie Antonelli gets put to the ultimate Pigskin Picks test this week:

  • She’s the VIP picker the week of The Game of the Year — LSU at Alabama
  • As one of the top college basketball TV analysts in America — Antonelli has worked over 80 games a season for ESPN and CBS from her Mount Pleasant base, including the last three men’s NCAA Tournaments — she is well aware that this is the first week of football/basketball overlap.
  • She played basketball at N.C. State (as Debbie Mulligan) but her son Frankie attends Clemson, which makes for an interesting Textile Bowl pick. 
  • More pressure: Antonelli’s three sons and her husband Frank expect a lot of these Pigskin Picks.

Antonelli was the Director of Marketing at Ohio State when a quarterback walked in and said, “I think I would like to analyze football on radio and TV.”

She pointed Kirk Herbsreit in the right direction with suggestions for network connections.

And now both the basketball expert and ESPN College GameDay mainstay are making picks for Week 11:

Clemson at N.C. State

“Obviously, the hardest pick,” Antonelli said. “Not only is my blood, sweat and tears at Clemson with Frankie, my money for tuition is there as well!”

Debbie Antonelli pick: Clemson

Gene Sapakoff pick: Clemson

Appalachian State at USC

An intuitive pick. Or another tuition pick: Antonelli’s son Joey graduated from South Carolina.

Debbie Antonelli pick: South Carolina

Gene Sapakoff pick: Appalachian State

Hampton at CSU

“Hampton averages 36 points per game,” Antonelli said, “not sure Charleston Southern can score enough.”

Debbie Antonelli pick: Hampton

Gene Sapakoff pick: Charleston Southern

Howard at S.C. State

“S.C. State won’t lose two in a row at home and Howard has one win all season,” Antonelli said.

Debbie Antonelli pick: S.C. State

Gene Sapakoff pick: S.C. State

LSU at Alabama

I like LSU – and the points. Antonelli likes the Tigers outright: “Joe Burrow big-time on the road.”

Debbie Antonelli pick: LSU

Gene Sapakoff pick: Alabama

Missouri at Georgia

“Georgia is still playing for a big-time bowl game,” Antonelli said. Indeed, the Bulldogs are better positioned for the College Football Playoff than Penn State, Oregon, Utah or Oklahoma.

Debbie Antonelli pick: Georgia

Gene Sapakoff pick: Georgia

Tennessee at Kentucky

“Tennessee has dominated the overall series,” Antonelli said. “First road win of the year.”

Debbie Antonelli pick: Tennessee

Gene Sapakoff pick: Tennessee

Notre Dame at Duke

“Notre Dame was scared by Virginia Tech last week but no worries on the road at Duke,” Antonelli said. “Always pulling for (Notre Dame walk-on and Bishop England High School graduate) Leo Albano!”

Debbie Antonelli pick: Notre Dame

Gene Sapakoff pick: Notre Dame

FSU at Boston College

Florida State within a few days lost to Miami by 17 points at home, fired head coach Willie Taggart and lost sack leader Marvin Jones to a season-ending hand surgery.

“BC running game too tough,” Antonelli said. “FSU floundering.”

Debbie Antonelli pick: Boston College

Gene Sapakoff pick: Boston College

Louisville at Miami

“Miami wins out the rest of season, finishes 8-4 and becomes bowl eligible with win vs. Louisville,” Antonelli said. The Hurricanes finish with road games at Florida International and Duke.

Debbie Antonelli pick: Miami

Gene Sapakoff pick: Miami

VIP picker Langston Moore last week: 8-2

Gene Sapakoff last week: 8-2

Gene Sapakoff season record: 71-29

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff

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