SEC basketball: Tennessee, Mizzou and the nation's most mysterious Power 5 conference

Victor Bailey Jr. and sixth-ranked Tennessee are off to a 6-0 start as SEC play opens Wednesday. Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Even in a college basketball season of unprecedented uncertainty, the degree of mystery that still enshrouds the SEC stands out as exceptional. Is Tennessee truly a national championship contender? Does Missouri belong in the top 15 or possibly even the top 10 nationally? Is Kentucky actually as bad as it has looked?

The first two questions are tough to answer because of the relatively small number of minutes the Volunteers and the Tigers have compiled thus far against quality opponents. The last query is challenging because the Wildcats' degree of futility to this point is so out of character for the program.

What do we know about the SEC on the cusp of 2021? Let's consider (what we think is) the top tier of the league in a quest for answers: