Clark, you've been around Big Ten basketball for a long time now, and I'm sure you've had the chance to see the Illini play many games this year. Today they looked a little sluggish. Why do you think that was? Do they sometimes play to their level of competition?
No, I really don't think that's the case at all Kedric. You look at a 30 game schedule and a 16 game conference schedule – you're not going to always be at your best. Sometimes you're just not going to play at your highest level. Good teams will find different ways to win and that's what Illinois can do. There's no team out there that plays its best every game. There's always going to be a fluctuation. The key is that when you do play a sub-par game according to your standards, you find a way to win. Every team goes through a tough stretch on how they are playing. February is a tough month - the tournament is still out there a little bit, school, and all those things. The days seem longer and the length of the practices. But good teams have to find a way to work through that. However, I didn't find anything bad. I mean it wasn't as exciting as some of the games they have played. You are going to have bumps on the road.
With Illinois being ranked #1 in the nation for as long as they have been, what does this say about the conference?
Oh, it puts a major spotlight on the league. It's the best team in the country. Right now Illinois is well deserving of their number one ranking. They have played the highest level against the toughest schedule of anybody in college basketball, so clearly they deserve to be ranked #1. Not only are they a strong favorite to get to the final four, but they have a good chance to win it. But the league itself benefits whenever teams in the league do well.
Most picked Deron Williams as the team's best player. Dee Brown has had a great year along with Luther Head. Which guy do you think is the real MVP and why?
Well, I would probably tip my hat toward Deron because he controls the ball so much and he's such a smart player in terms of helping get guys shots and he's a terrific perimeter defender. Deron is so versatile on the defensive end of the floor; he can play anyone that's on the perimeter and do a good job on them. Right now I would just have to give him the slight edge because of all the things he brings. All three of them are good at both ends of the floor; they just don't contribute offensively either. Dee's an excellent defender. Luther is a very good defender, but I don't know if either of those two guys could run the show the way Deron runs it. That's why I would give him that nod.
Okay Clark, if you had to pick today, who would you pencil in for your Final Four? I know that's a tough question at this point of the season with so many games left.
Yes, Kedric, that is a tough question. I don't have four. I wouldn't have any trouble penciling in Illinois and probably North Carolina. They seem to me to be the two strongest chances to get there. After that, in my opinion, you still have eight to 12 or 13 teams that could fill out those other two spots.
Clark, thanks for your time this afternoon.
Sure Kedric, anytime. Thank you.
Photo courtesy of CBS Sports
Kedric Goes One-on-One with Clark Kellogg
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