Each Monday through the Final Four, our own Robbie Buckets -- known in some circles as Rob Snyder, associate producer at CSN -- will take a look at the world of college basketball: Games to watch each week, players who might be on the Celtics' radar come draft time, what's going on locally . . . and, of course, power rankings (which will eventually morph into bracketology). Enjoy!
It's been two weeks since we last spoke because I released the first edition of the Buckets List five days prior to the opening of the season. I wasn't going to have any fine points to go through after three days of action, but now, in the wake of a phenomenal week, there's plenty to talk about. Great games all around (see: Indiana vs. Kansas, Arizona vs. Michigan State and Duke vs. Kansas, to name a few). Unfortunately, not the best week for New England. I'll get to that later.
1. Kentucky (4-0) -- Their youth will eventually give them some problems, but right now, the 'Cats are far ahead of where John Calipari thought they'd be. The coach who expected them to "pee down their leg" against Michigan State (his words, not mine) ended up with a 21-point victory instead. Malik Monk is the real deal.
2. Villanova (5-0) -- Fun fact: Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds have never lost a November game in their four-year collegiate careers. 'Nova would be No. 1 this week except for some defensive lapses. I fully expect those to be fixed, but for now, they'll end up here.
3. North Carolina (4-0) -- They haven't really been tested, but the Tar Heels have done what they're supposed to do: Destroy everyone. The talent they have has shown up big time, and the combination of Joel Berry, Justin Jackson and Isaiah Hicks is a force to be reckoned with.
4. Indiana (3-0) -- Huge leap. I could put Duke or Kansas here, but I firmly believe in "You beat 'em, you stay ahead of 'em." Indiana has been offensively ridiculous and James Blackmon is leading the way. The overtime win over Kansas was impressive.
5. Kansas (2-1) -- Speaking of the Jayhawks, they're just a few defensive slipups from being a few spots higher. Oh, and by the way, they followed up that loss to the Hoosiers with a win over short-handed Duke. And Frank Mason looks like a man on a mission.
6. Duke (4-1) -- I know they'll be better once they get everyone back, but I can't judge teams based on how they MIGHT be later on in the season. I can only go off what I have in front of me. The Blue Devils will be fine and have played great considering they've been without any depth whatsoever. One concern: Grayson Allen has been bad.
7. Virginia (3-0) -- Tony Bennett threw Austin Nichols off the team in a surprise move this week. Virginia, however, went right back to doing what Virginia does: Suffocating opponents with the pack-line defense and winning by massive margins.
8. Xavier (5-0) -- The Musketeers are undefeated, but they've let their opponents hang around in virtually every game. They aren't getting enough out of their front line and are depending solely on Trevon Bluiett, Edmond Sumner and J.P. Macura to do virtually everything.
9. Arizona (3-0) -- For about two TV timeouts I was right about these Wildcats. But then they came back big time and beat Michigan State in their opener. Sean Miller deserves a ton of credit for keeping this program together in tough times.
10. UCLA (4-0) -- Freshman Lonzo Ball may literally be the best player in the country. He is putting up insane numbers (see below) and is drawing comparisons to Russell Westbrook. The Bruins' offense is putting up scorching numbers, but the defense needs to improve.
11. Creighton (4-0) -- Speaking of high-octane offense, Creighton has put up over 100 points in each of its past two games. The backcourt is as dominant as advertised, and the Bluejays are reminding a lot of people of the team Doug McDermott played on. Oh, and by the way, they beat Wisconsin.
12. Syracuse (3-0) -- So many "experts" had Syracuse ranked low in the ACC this year. Not the case, folks. This team is legit again, and -- despite some experimenting with man-to-man during the preseason -- the zone is back in business and as good as usual.
13. Oregon (2-1) -- The Ducks really missed Dillon Brooks last week. It showed big time in a loss to Baylor in which they failed to hit the 50-point mark. Luckily, Oregon was able to follow up the loss with a nice win over Valpo.
14. Wisconsin (2-1) -- The Badgers will still be solid in the Big Ten, but proved they still aren't a top 10 team when they were eaten alive by Creighton. As I said in my previous Buckets List: You can return everyone from a team that earned a 6-seed, but it doesn't automatically turn you into a 2-seed.
15. Gonzaga (3-0) -- It was tough picking the last team here but I have to go with the Zags. I wasn't overly high on them coming in after they lost their two best players, but they proved me wrong with a dominating win against San Diego State.
Just missed: Louisville, Purdue, Saint Mary's, West Virginia, Iowa State.
Rhode Island -- The Rams will be just fine. On Sunday, they lost to Duke by 10 points in a game where they really shot the ball poorly. It's a shame, because Duke had basically only five guys and it was the Rams' best shot to steal one. But they'll still be fine. A really nice comeback win over Cincinnati showed us that.
UConn -- Um . . . so I'm not as confident that this team will be fine. I was very wrong about assuming all the Huskies' new players would mesh together. They're 1-2 after opening the season with losses to Wagner and Northeastern (not a misprint). And if it wasn't for some clutch trips down the floor in their third game against <sarcasm>powerhouse Loyola-Marymount</sarcasm>, the Huskies would be bageled after a week-and-a-half. Kevin Ollie needs to turn things around quick.
Providence -- All right Friars fans, I'm here for you. It will be up-and-down all year for this team, but so far I'd be encouraged. The Friars are getting some big-time production from Rodney Bullock and Emmitt Holt, something they desperately needed after losing Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. If it wasn't for a close loss to Ohio State, PC would be looking at a 3-0 start.
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK:
Maui Invitational: Potential semifinal games
Oregon vs. Wisconsin
UConn vs. North Carolina
POTENTIAL FUTURE CELTICS TO WATCH:
Lonzo Ball (UCLA) -- 16.3 PPG, 9.0 APG, 6.3 RPG are his numbers through four games this season. That's insane for college hoops and even more insane for a freshman playing in his first four games. The kid is an athletic, ball-dominant guard with great ups and a relentless pursuit of the basket.
Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) -- This guy could be a very valuable late first-round, early second-round power forward. He has NBA size at 6-foot-9, 270-ish and surprising range as he's been hitting 3s early on this season. He's averaging over 20 PPG & 13 RPG, so keep your eye on the Purdue big man.
Follow me on Twitter @RobbieBuckets for college hoops musings and off-the-cuff sports takes.