CBS Sports analyst Clark Kellogg gets paid for his college basketball insight, but as a former professional athlete, he was asked for his thoughts on San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland. One of the top rookies in the NFL last season, Borland has retired due to concerns about the effects of head trauma.
There are those calling Borland, 24, a quitter – and Kellogg couldn’t disagree more.
“That’s a mislabel, clearly,” Kellogg told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It’s a personal call. Mr. Borland has the right to choose how he’s going to journey through life, and if there’s some things he’s concerned about from a health standpoint, then I applaud him. Because it’s not the easiest thing to do when you’ve got the ability to play at the highest levels to earn a living doing that and to be able to say, ‘Hey, this is not in my long-term best interest’ and to move forward. That’s a courageous step. Even if it is necessary, it’s not the easiest thing to do. Not knowing every circumstance and all of the background on the story, that’s my initial take. Those who would call it whatever they choose to call it are out of bounds and misguided, in my opinion.”
It’s hard to disagree with any of that.
All right, let’s move to college basketball, shall we? Many people believe that Kentucky – the top overall seed in the tournament – has received an extremely favorable draw. The Wildcats would face No. 8 Cincinnati or No. 9 Purdue in the Round of 32; potentially No. 4 Maryland or No. 5 West Virginia in the Sweet 16; and, if all goes according to seeding, No. 2 Kansas in the Elite Eight.
Kentucky (34-0, 18-0) beat Kansas, 72-40, in November.
So, when might the Wildcats encounter some actual resistance in this tournament?
“I think Purdue could offer some resistance just because they’ve got a big guy in A.J. Hammons,” Judge said, surprising Amendolara. “They’ve actually got two big guys. (Isaac) Haas comes off the bench, and he’s a really big guy. A young guy, but big.”
Haas, a freshman, is listed at 7-0, 297 pounds. Hammons, a junior, is 7-0, 261 pounds.
“A.J. Hammons is really skilled in the low post,” Judge said. “Matt Painter does a terrific job coaching his team – and they’ll play without fear. They’ll be aggressive. They got a couple of shot-makers. I think they could offer some resistance.”
To be fair, Purdue wouldn’t be the first team to do that this season. Ole Miss took Kentucky to overtime. Texas A&M took Kentucky to double overtime. LSU took Kentucky to the final seconds.
So yeah, it’s happened.
“Teams have offered Kentucky some resistance throughout the season,” Judge said. “But at some point, resistance has to be sustained for more than 20 minutes or 27 minutes or 32 minutes. You have to be able to do it for almost 40 against Kentucky, and that’s where the difference lies.”
Kellogg also addressed the Murray State conundrum. The Racers (27-5) ended their season with 25 straight wins but were kept out of the tournament because they lost the Ohio Valley Conference Championship by one point. Murray State’s resume wasn’t great by any means, but it wasn’t great, in part, because a lot of name-brand programs refuse to play them.
“Yeah, it’s stacked against them, unfortunately,” Kellogg said. “And I think that’s partly the blame of the bigger schools or the power-conference schools. I think there should be more of an effort made for them to play the Murray States and the mid-major programs in home-and-home situations. There’s no reason for them to do it financially, I understand that. And that’s part of it. But for the good of the game, I would love to see more teams (do it).
“There are some teams that will do it,” Kellogg continued. “I know Michigan State will do that on occasion. I know North Carolina (will do that on occasion). There are some programs (that do it). But not enough. Not enough play the Murray States in home-and-home situations. And that’s our loss. I think that’s the game’s loss, and it obviously is the smaller programs’ loss. I’s unfortunate that’s the way the deck is stacked.”