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!
Another thrilling week of non-conference tournaments will give way to maybe one of the best non-conference weeks in college basketball. There are some huge games coming this week that could tilt the power of college hoops in multiple directions. It's the perfect way to keep the excitement going before finals week and winter vacations slow down the schedule near the end of December.
1. Kentucky (6-0) -- Held serve this week by scoring triple digits in back-to-back games. A tough test awaits on Saturday: A matchup with UCLA, bringing Malik Monk and Lonzo Ball together on the same court. Must-watch TV.
2. Villanova (6-0) -- 'Nova won yet another early season tournament, putting away UCF in Charleston. However, this team looked a little lazy doing so. Fun fact: Assuming 'Nova beats Penn on Tuesday, Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins will finish four years of college having never lost a game in November.
3. North Carolina (7-0) -- You could make a very good case that the Tar Heels actually are the No. 2 team in the country right now. They're blowing out everyone, including a rout last week of Wisconsin, which was previously in the Top 15. Kennedy Meeks is finally reaching his potential.
4. Kansas (5-1) -- Another team lacking early season energy, but still has a big win over Duke on the resume. The Jayhawks' only blemish is an overtime loss to Indiana.
5. Virginia (6-0) -- The Wahoos are moving ahead of Duke because I'm fairly certain they'd beat them right now. Virginia just beat Providence, which mustered only 52 points in the loss. Incredibly, that's the most points UVA has allowed in a game this season.
6. Duke (6-1) -- It's getting kind of weird how badly the injury bug has bit this team. I'm starting to worry about Duke's three freshman, who Coach K continues to rule out week after week. Grayson Allen is also banged up, although he's been putrid. Even so, Duke is rolling.
7. Xavier (6-0) -- The style points haven't quite been there, as this team is still trying to gel. Even so, the Musketeers have yet to lose and just beat a pretty good Northern Iowa team twice. The good sign: They beat them much more handily the second time around.
8. UCLA (7-0) -- The Bruins crushed a slew of bad teams to start the season, and looked like an offensive machine. They finally got tested on Sunday against Texas A&M, and once again answered the call. And guess what? Their defense stepped up.
9. Creighton (6-0) -- The Bluejays just keep pouring on the offense and they're doing it with a backcourt that's living up to the hype. I thought maybe they'd need time to gel, but not so. They're rock solid and this team will be virtually unbeatable at home this season.
10. Gonzaga (6-0) -- Another team I underrated to start the season. Stupid me; I figured losing their two best players would undo the Zags at least a bit. Instead, a couple of transfers and Mark Few's winning system have them cruising over big competition. They already have wins over San Diego State, Florida, and Iowa State.
11. Butler (6-0) -- That's right, folks. Four Big East teams in the Top 11. Butler just finished its week by beating Vanderbilt and Arizona. The Bulldogs' front line is very legit and their guards do a great job of avoiding mistakes.
12. Baylor (6-0) -- A surprise team. The Bears aren't just beating good competition, they're mauling them inside. They could easily be higher, but I'm keeping them here because I'd like to see better offense from their guards. They have wins over Oregon, Michigan State and Louisville, so maybe I shouldn't be so picky.
13. Indiana (4-1) -- The bad news: The Hoosiers lost to Fort Wayne this week in what was a colossal upset. The good news: They responded with a win and get a chance at UNC this week. The Hoosiers will be okay.
14. Louisville (5-1) -- I still don't love 'em, but I was a little unfair to them not putting them in last week. Also, losses from Oregon, Wisconsin, and Syracuse gives the Cardinals a spot here despite their loss to Baylor.
15. Arizona (5-1) -- The loss to Butler isn't that bad, and the Wildcats proved they can get over the hump in their other games. Saint Mary's could easily be in this spot, but I want them to prove it against good competition first.
Rhode Island -- Nice response after losing to Duke, as the Rams came back with a win over Belmont. URI is still the class of the A10 right now, and should continue to be unless VCU or Dayton really get hot.
Providence -- I really like what I've seen from the Friars so far, as different players are stepping up. They really played hard against Virginia. Keep your eye on this team in a very, very good Big East. If they can pull off some signature wins in conference and stave off upsets, they could really push for a tournament appearance.
UConn -- Losing to Oregon isn't the worst thing in the world, but the Huskies are now 2-4. They don't have an identity yet. They have to hope they can pull it together in conference and hopefully make a run at the American title.
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
- Tuesday, November 29: Syracuse vs Wisconsin; Michigan State vs Duke.
- Wednesday, November 30: Purdue vs Louisville; UNC vs Indiana.
- Saturday, December 3: UCLA vs Kentucky; West Virginia vs Virginia; Xavier vs Baylor; Gonzaga vs Arizona.
POTENTIAL FUTURE CELTICS TO WATCH
Saturday! Just watch Saturday! You will get these names:
You won't be disappointed . . .
Follow me on Twitter @RobbieBuckets for college hoops musings and off-the-cuff sports takes.