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Kellogg Expects "wild ride" in NCAA Tourney

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

March 8, 2011

With the approach of Selection Sunday, Clark Kellogg shifts gears. The Pacers' Vice President of Player Relations and TV analyst immerses himself in college basketball in preparation for his role as the lead analyst for CBS and its coverage of the NCAA Tournament. He expects March Madness to live up to its moniker.

"I'll be surprised if it isn't a wild ride," Kellogg said. "I'll be surprised if we don't have some topsy-turvy turbulence as we navigate our way through this thing."

Indiana programs should figure prominently in the tournament. Purdue and Notre Dame both could be highly seeded. Butler, even without a win in tonight's Horizon League tournament championship game, will have to fight its way up from the bottom half of the bracket but has the experience and confidence of last year's run to the title game.

What will it take for Purdue to make a deep run?

"Their stars, meaning JaJuan Johnnson and E'twaun Moore, have to be up to par and maybe occasionally beyond par in their performances," Kellogg said. "Lewis Jackson has to be good, which he's been most of the last 10 games or so in running the show and being a good on-ball defender and making decisions.

"And then the role-players have to contribute in a positive way. That's really what Purdue can control and if those things are in place then they've got a chance in a year where there's not really a dominant team out there, they've got a chance to make a deep tournament run."

With Tyler Hansbrough's younger brother Ben emerging as perhaps the leading candidate for Big East player of the year, Notre Dame has put together a surprisingly strong year and like Purdue harbors legitimate hopes of a No. 2 or 3 seeding.

"I've enjoyed watching them play," said Kellogg of the Irish. "They're a tight-knit group, they're tough-minded. Hansbrough has been fantastic. But everybody's contributed. They're athletic and versatile – they're a good, solid basketball team that can really shoot it so that makes them dangerous.

"It's a bit surprising that they've fared as well as they have but there's no reason to think they can't continue to do that. And there's also reason to think they could get stopped early which is the case for a lot of the field this year."

Given up for dead a few weeks ago after a loss to Youngstown State, Butler hasn't lost since and is very much in the tournament picture regardless the outcome of tonight's game against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

"I think, personally, there's been enough done there for them to be in the tournament. I think they're in pretty good, solid shape," Kellogg said. " Certainly, they've got enough pieces. (Matt) Howard is experienced, Shelvin Mack's a really good player and they've got some other pieces that are solid so it becomes about matchups.

"We know they've got a coach that knows how to get ready and they've got kids that will play hard so I would not completely sleep on them if they're in the field."

Though Kansas and Ohio State are obvious No. 1 seeds, Kellogg doesn't see any team entering the tournament as a dominant favorite, which opens the door to the possibility of surprises.

"There's not a dominant team out there," he said. "Any of these teams -- Arizona, Butler, Notre Dame, UConn, Washington if they get in, Kansas State, Florida, Syracuse – there are a lot of teams that could put together a four-game run and get to Houston.

"That's the reality. Even Ohio State, Kansas, they look to me to be the two best teams but they're not significantly better than the rest of the field."