The folks over at ESPN have had plenty to say today about our beloved Cats as the opening tip on the season looms. First, the college basketball experts staff submitted their power rankings for the opening week of the season. Although completely arbitrary and pertinent to nothing, these rankings can be a good way to keep tabs on how the talking heads (or, in Pat Forde’s case, talking ass) feel about the Wildcats. You can see the full ballots here and here but here is how they each ranked Kentucky:
Jay Bilas – 5th Joe Lunardi – 4th
Pat Forde – 3rd Dana O’Neill – 4th
Fran Fraschilla – 7th Mark Schlabach – 5th
Doug Gottlieb – 3rd Dick Vitale – 2nd
Andy Katz – 7th Jay ‘Don’t call me Jason’ Williams – 2nd
Yes, you read that correctly. Pat Forde, Doug Gottlieb, Dick Vitale and an evil Dookie ranked us higher than any of the other writers. Where am I?
Obvious hater Fran Fraschilla also highlighted some individual matchups he can’t wait to see and Kentucky, as usual, found their way into the column:
Jarvis Varnado (Mississippi State) vs. Patrick Patterson (Kentucky)
Both teams have myriad options inside. But at some point in the game between the Wildcats and the Bulldogs, the league’s best inside scorer (Patterson) will meet the league’s best shot-blocker (Varnado) somewhere near the rim. Who wins that battle could determine the champion of the SEC this season.
Patterson, the 2009 SEC Player of the Year, will get a ton of opportunities to score inside when John Wall and Eric Bledsoe attack opponents’ defenses in the dribble-drive motion offense. In fact, scoring chances will come easier this season without three guys draped on him like in the past. Varnado, meanwhile, is on pace to become the NCAA’s all-time leader in blocked shots. In his last two games against Kentucky, he’s swatted away 17 shots.
But wait…there’s a bonus matchup!
Bonus matchup: Devan Downey (South Carolina) vs. John Wall (Kentucky)
Name two quicker players in college basketball. It’s not easy. The 5-9 Downey, a fifth-year senior, will lead the upstart Gamecocks at least twice against Wall and the Wildcats. But while Downey has been a defensive pest in the SEC since he arrived, Wall will give him everything he can handle when they meet up. I’d buy a ticket to see these two guys attack each other.
Okay Frannie. I’ll give you Varnado against Patterson. I won’t even mention how Cousins and Orton will also be around to help destroy Varnado. You said individual matchup, and as an individual matchup, Patterson vs. the NCAA’s all-time leading fouler is top-notch. But Downey vs. Wall? Really? I mean, Downey has been a menace to Wildcat society in the recent past. He’s quick, and lethal, and, if you find the right google images, his coach bears a striking resemblance to the killer from American Psycho. All of these things make him a great player. Still, in this life, there are a few things I know to be true. Barbers can’t contain Matt Jones, the Dark Side can’t contain Fake Gimel, and Devan Downey ain’t containing John Wall. Oh, and also, the melting point of magnesium is 923 Kelvin, but that doesn’t really apply here.