Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Clark Kellogg, former Ohio State Buckeye and the current lead college basketball analyst for CBS. Kellogg is also on the board of advisors for the Capital One Cup. We talked about that, Syracuse, the ACC, why he doesn't like top 25 polls, and more.
Check it out:
Michael Burke: What exactly is the Capital One Cup, and what's its purpose?
Clark Kellogg: The Capital One Cup is a race to determine the best in college sports...Division I programs compete to earn points in the race for the Capital One Cup based on their top 10 championship finishes in fall, winter and spring sports. The winning men's and women's athletics programs earn the Capital One Cup trophy and a combined $400,000 in student-athlete scholarships at the end of the spring athletics season...Every sport has bragging rights whether it's on the football field or the basketball court. In my opinion, the Capital One Cup represents the ultimate bragging rights in college sports.
MB: Syracuse obviously lost a lot of talent from last year's team -- not only Tyler Ennis, but also C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant, among others. Given that, how successful do you think the Orange will be this season?
CK: I think they'll be fine. Jim Boeheim has been one of the very best head coaches for decades. Even when it appears Syracuse is reloading, they do a good job of developing players...This season, the older guys -- Trevor Cooney and Rakeem Christmas -- need to step up. Michael Gbinije, too. And then it comes down to the new guys, the freshmen. I think Syracuse will struggle a bit early, but won't fall off far. Can they finish in the top four in the tough, rugged ACC? I don't know. But they'll be competitive.
MB: Do you see a favorite in the ACC?
CK: Duke will be good. They have a lot of new guys, so they're sort of hitting the restart button...I like what Virginia has, coming off of an ACC regular season title and an ACC Tournament title. They have some changes but they have their usual fabric...Louisville will always compete for a title regardless of which conference they play in. And of course there's North Carolina. So I think it comes down to those four teams, but I don't have a particular favorite yet.
MB: Syracuse is 23rd in the AP Top 25 and 24th in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Overall, what do you think of the polls to this point?
CK: This might sound strange to you, but I actually refrain from looking at the polls, because I don't want to be biased in my thinking...It's impossible not to see any of the rankings. But I actually didn't know where Syracuse was ranked until you just mentioned it...I like to make my own rankings based on what I think and see, and what I already know.
MB: Any freshmen in particular to watch -- not just in the ACC, but in the country?
I'm intrigued to see the guy in my backyard. I live in Columbus, and the Buckeyes have D'Angelo Russell, who people are excited about. I'm also looking forward to watching the kid at Arizona -- Stanley Johnson...And of course Okafor for Duke.
Unprompted, Kellogg also urged me to watch out for two teams he believes will be flying under the radar this season: the Utah Utes and the Texas Longhorns. So if either of those teams makes it deep in the tournament, especially if it's Utah, remember that you heard it first from Kellogg.