Does any team have a better one-two punch in the SEC right now than UK with Meeks and Patterson?
"Before Chris Warren (of Ole Miss) got hurt, you might have made a case for him and David Huertas. But right now, for my money, it's Meeks and Patterson. Billy can rely on their contributions. Patterson leads the league in field-goal percentage and Meeks is an impressive 14th. And the thing you have to love about Meeks is that he's not a one-dimensional scorer who leans too much on the jumper. He's taken 94 free throws, second in the SEC only to A.J. Ogilvy of Vandy, who makes a living at the line. And Meeks is shooting 89 percent to 76 for Ogilvy. If there's an off-guard in the country having a more efficient, productive season, I'd like to watch him play.
"As far as Patterson, he's off the charts in terms of manliness! Tough, tough kid who competes every night, loves to board, knows what to do with the ball in the paint, can run a lane in transition, has a face-up game. What's not to like?"
What would be your biggest concern about Kentucky at this point?
"I still think the Cats have a tendency to get a little fast and loose with the rock. And sometimes they forget they've got a beast in the paint like Patterson. I've seen UK a bunch on TV, and I think some games you could make a case that he's under utilized."
Do you still consider Tennessee the team to beat for the league championship?
"I'll stay with my preseason pick on that one. The Vols appear vulnerable to some, but if you look at the teams they've played against, their record is about where it should be."
Which SEC team has surprised you the most in a good way to this point?
"I think Arkansas has exceeded expectations. Taking out Oklahoma and Texas were big. Cortney Fortson might be the best freshman in the league, and Michael Washington is finally living up to his huge high school billing, though in his defense, he didn't ask for any of that. He put two monster games together last week and deservedly won SEC player-of-the-week honors."
Which SEC has been the biggest disappointment to you to this point?
"I think Georgia has underperformed a bit, though I'm not sure why. I thought perhaps that SEC Tournament magic from a year ago might have carried over, but I think the Dawgs miss the big-play making ability of Sundiata Gaines. Ole Miss is not where I predicted it would be, but then again I didn't predict the Rebels would have three players go down for the year with ACL tears. I can't remember a more injury-plagued team in all the years I've covered hoops.
Will the SEC end up being better this year than originally thought, or even what it looked like a month ago?
"I think there was signs of life in the latter stages of the non-conference season. Arkansas beating No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 7 Texas was huge. South Carolina gutted out a big win over a ranked Baylor team, on the road no less. I think the league's got a big upside with a lot of talented young players who can develop.
"But there's no question the Big East is the best league in the country this year. The Big Ten isn't too shabby, either."