Thursday, April 18, 2024
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March Madness 2024 according to CBS Sports analyst Clark Kellogg, including his Final Four selections

Few faces and voices are more synonymous with the NCAA Tournament than that of CBS Sports analyst Clark Kellogg. The former Ohio State star and ex-Indiana Pacers forward first appeared on the network over three decades ago as a game analyst before quickly rising to become a fixture of March Madness with his wisdom and insights into college basketball.

The sport has changed dramatically in recent years with the advent of name, image and likeness compensation for players, conference realignment, the proliferation of transferring and more. But through all the evolution, fans can always count on Kellogg to offer thoroughly researched and well-reasoned analysis.

In fact, Kellogg played in the Big Dance twice himself with the Buckeyes, which gives him a firsthand understanding of the pressure and excitement that players will experience when the tournament officially begins with First Four action in Dayton. Ohio, on Tuesday.

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Kellogg took a few minutes to speak with CBS this week to offer his takes on some of the top teams and storylines entering the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Here is Kellogg’s view on where things stand entering Selection Sunday.

DC: What are the chances that any combination of Houston, UConn and Purdue can keep up this level of dominance?

CK: “I think the chances are good. They’ve been exceptional all season long and very consistent. They’ve got all the championship ingredients you want. Houston had a couple of guys in their reserve rotation go do down due to injury. Depth is great, but it can be a touch overrated in the tournament because you do typically shorten your rotation and have a little bit more latitude with timeouts and their duration. Those teams have been really good. I think they all have a really good chance.

“If I had to pick, I would be most confident in UConn and Purdue getting to the Final Four. But I might pump the brakes on that based on which of their brackets Kentucky is in.”

DC: You’re pretty high on Kentucky?

CK: They are so, so explosive. They’re volatile, they’re not great defensively. But boy, oh boy, are they talented. They are scary. Championship teams know they’re going to have to beat good teams. But there will be sleepless nights for those who might end up facing the Wildcats.”

DC: Causal fans might be surprised to hear that you believe in Purdue as a potential Final Four team. What makes you think this year could be different for the Boilermakers?

CK: They’ve constituted their roster differently. They’ve added a transfer in Lance Jones, who is a really dynamic two-way guard. He’s an excellent shot-maker and defender. The sophomore guards have grown up and become better. Braden Smith has been an All-American caliber player at point guard. They’re a different team. They’re deeper, more versatile, they’re tougher. They have some elements in this group that they’ve not had in the last few years.

“I understand people will still wait to see it before they believe it. But this team is a different kind of team. We also know the tournament is a different animal with the one-and-done format and the pressure that comes with being the favorite. But I believe they’re much better constituted to make a tournament run.”

DC: What’s your evaluation of North Carolina? Like Purdue, the Tar Heels are also seeking redemption after a disappointing ending to their 2023 season. 

CK: With North Carolina, they’ve got a couple of key guys who were part of that team that got to the Final Four in 2022. So they clearly have some experienced guys, and then they added two really good transfers. The biggest thing is that they’ve been much more consistent defensively. They’ve been able to win a few more games during the regular season from a defensive standpoint. That typically travels pretty well, and they’re still potent offensively.”

DC: Kentucky seems like an exception to the norm these days with how many freshmen they use. But you’re still a believer in the Wildcats?

CK: “Well, there’s a caveat in that Antonio Reeves is one of those older guys and he’s playing great. He’s had an All-American type of year. He gives them a stabilizing, anchoring, scoring and defensive presence. Tre Mitchell is also a graduate transfer. So they have two guys in that rotation that are part of the trend in college basketball with the transfers and COVID years. They have a nice mix of youth and enough quality experience.

DC: Outside of the big-name schools and highly seeded teams, who do you like as a sleeper or Cinderella?

CK: Whoever comes out of the Ivy League is really good and worthy of keeping an eye on. I love the McNeese Cowboys. I’m actually going to ride the Cowboys pretty hard because they are good. They’re deep and pretty athletic. They’ve got a star player in Shahada Wells. They’ve got athleticism, they defend and it’s a really good team. They’ve won 30 games, and that puts them with just a handful of teams in that territory. So I’ve got my eye on them. 

“I think Florida is really intriguing as a middle-seed type of team. I still think FAU is a team that is very capable because of all those guys that got to a Final Four. They’re back, and they know they can do it. They won close games this year and last year, so I’ve still got my eyes on Florida Atlantic. St. John’s seems to be in the field based on bracket projections, and that’s an intriguing and exciting story because of who is coaching them [Rick Pitino]. I think Colorado is also an interesting team that could be scanning their ticket.”

DC: It’s a grind, but what’s the best part about this time of year for you?

CK: “The people. All of the folks who are a part of our team, everybody who is on the air in front of the camera and everybody that’s behind the camera. It’s an energizing environment, despite the length of the days. I would probably put that at the top, just being part of something that is so special. It’s exciting and unpredictable and we get to do it together in our respective roles. It’s fun and it’s just long enough to where it doesn’t completely zonk you.”

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