Exclusive Q&A: Clark Kellogg discusses the Final Four

Coach Calhoun Breaks Down Syracuse Vs. UNC
Coach Calhoun Breaks Down Syracuse Vs. UNC

In its sixth year, the Capital One Cup is awarded annually to each of the best men's and women's Division I college athletics programs in the country, with Capital One giving a combined $400,000 in student-athlete scholarships and the Capital One Cup trophy to the winning schools in July.

Fans can find out more at capitalonecup.com or follow the program on Twitter and Facebook @CapitalOne.

Clark Kellogg, touring on behalf on the popular initiative, had the chance to sit and hang out with AOL Sports on the eve of the Final Four.

Q: Once again, the Capital One Cup is in a heated race. How cool has it been to be a part of once again?

A: It's been terrific. You look at the Capital One race, and you see Syracuse has a chance on the men's side to vault to No. 2 spot with 60 points with a win in the tournament. And then the Syracuse women are also in the Final Four. It's happened before, I know UConn has done it before, but it's exciting and we're looking forward to it. I'm really looking forward to seeing how things shake out.

Q: What is the most fun part?

A: The Capital One Cup combines excellence with support for students and scholarship funds. You have $400,000 in scholarships. I was college student-athlete grad from the Ohio State University, so I know what it's meant for my opportunities. Other kids, I know how much these opportunities have meant to them, not just professionally, but personally. I know what healthy competition can do for kids, too. Interacting with other people, discipline, -- it's all transferrable. Six years ago, this program came to highlight all those things. Student-athlete scholarships are awarded to the winning team and it impacts young people. Anytime we can do that, whether individually or with others, it's an investment worth making. We're a part of something uplifting -- and education is the ultimate way to transform lives.

Q: What was the most surprising part of March Madness so far, for you?

A: Well, I thought Kansas would prevail against Villanova, first off. And Syracuse has surprised. They've earned it, though. Theres no disputing that -- particularly over the last two games against Gonzaga and Virginia. They're confident and playing at a good level.

Q: What about the most surprising game?

A: Most surprising game has to be Middle Tennessee beating Michigan State. They did it wire to wire, so it wasn't like they held on and then won at buzzer. I mean, there could be something that supersedes that, with three games left. But I also got to think of Yale beating Baylor, Northen Iowa beating Texas. We've had plenty of dramatic moments in journey so far.

Q: What should we look for with Syracuse on Saturday against UNC?

A: They have to rebound. They can't give Carolina second shots and they've got to keep them out of transition, out of easy full-court scores.

Q: What about with Oklahoma and Villanova?

A: It's a pick 'em. It's part of my job on TV to pick and I haven't yet. Oklahoma is terrific offensively. Villanova has been really good defensively, so it'll be interesting to see if they can do with Oklahoma. Both teams are different, but Villanova might not be good enough to get past a really good Oklahoma team. Collective excellence is noteworthy, but Buddy Hield has been the star of stars throughout the tourney all year.


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