Conference play is quickly approaching. Already this month, a couple of conferences (like the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12, among others) are playing a league game or 2.

Before the end of the month, the SEC will play its first conference games, so coaches are finalizing rotations and making strategy tweaks so their teams hit their strides later in December.

That doesn’t mean we have to wait to see more big-time games, though. Kentucky just went to London and beat Michigan over the weekend. This Saturday has some intriguing matchups in store, too.

Before we get there, though, let’s take a look at this week’s SEC men’s hoops power rankings:

14. Vanderbilt (4-4 overall, Last week: 14)

Beating Wofford at home by 3 isn’t going to move the needle much for the Commodores, especially after a midweek loss at VCU. With Pitt coming to town this Wednesday night, Vanderbilt is in danger of falling to below .500 on the year. We’ll see if Jerry Stackhouse can get this team trending in the right direction before SEC play starts.

13. South Carolina (4-4, LW: 13)

The Gamecocks split the week against 2 “George” teams. First, they got absolutely demolished by George Washington in DC, losing that game 79-55. They then returned to DC over the weekend and beat Georgetown 74-71 in overtime. GG Jackson showed why he was a highly coveted recruit, dropping 22 points and grabbing 8 rebounds against the Hoyas:

Watch him while you can. He’s almost certainly going to be playing in the NBA next year.

12. Texas A&M (5-3, LW: 9)

The Aggies are one of the most inconsistent teams in the SEC. The talent is there, but sometimes they go cold shooting. On Saturday, the Aggies got trounced in a neutral-site game against Boise State in Fort Worth 86-71. They made only 5 of their 21 3-point attempts (23.8%). If that doesn’t improve, Texas A&M will find it tough to beat Oregon State this coming Sunday.

11. Ole Miss (6-2, LW: 10)

After a 6-0 start, the Rebels have dropped their last 2 games, against Oklahoma and Memphis. Like the Aggies previously, Ole Miss struggled from the 3-point line in the loss to the Tigers, making only 5-of-20 from deep (20%). Kermit Davis and company should get back on track this week against Valparaiso before UCF comes to town next week.

10. Georgia (7-2, LW: 11)

Mike White has the Bulldogs playing competent basketball this year, which is an upgrade from last season. But we’ll learn a lot about the Dawgs over the course of their next 2 games. First, they make the short trip to Atlanta on Tuesday to take on rival Georgia Tech. Then, on Dec. 18, they play Notre Dame, also in Atlanta, in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event. Will Atlanta be as kind to the Georgia men’s hoops team as it has been to the Dawgs’ football squad?

9. Florida (6-3, LW: 12)

Florida has gotten back on track a bit after a rough trip out to Oregon over Thanksgiving. The Gators dominated FAMU and Stetson over the past week, but a major test looms large on Wednesday for Todd Golden’s squad. That’s when No. 5 UConn comes to Gainesville. Keep an eye on the matchup between UConn star big man Adama Sanogo and Florida’s Colin Castleton. Two heavyweight fighters in the post going head-to-head? What’s not to love?

8. LSU (7-1, LW: 8)

A 4-point win over UT Arlington in Baton Rouge isn’t exactly a great sign for the Tigers, but a win is still a win. Better to learn lessons from a victory than a loss. We’ll see if they can clean things up, particularly on offense, ahead of an intriguing game against Wake Forest in Atlanta on Saturday for the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

7. Mississippi State (8-0, LW: 7)

Mississippi State being at No. 5 in the first NET rankings of the season seems … high. Really high:

The Bulldogs’ best win was either against Marquette or Utah, both of which came in the Fort Myers Tip-Off. But Chris Jans has his squad winning games convincingly. We’ll see if the Bulldogs can take the show on the road this Sunday when they head to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers.

6. Kentucky (6-2, LW: 6)

Kentucky had lost to both decent teams it played this year, falling to Michigan State and Gonzaga. But on Sunday, the Wildcats took their talents to London and pulled off an exciting win over Michigan, 73-69. Freshman Cason Wallace continues to develop into a leader for this team. He tied with Jacob Toppin to lead the Wildcats with 14 points on Sunday, adding 8 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and a block. Look at the confidence he showed on the game-clinching 3-pointer:

Kentucky faces 8-1 Yale on Saturday. That matchup might be more fun than it seems on paper.

5. Mizzou (9-0, LW: 5)

The Tigers have given up the most points in the SEC through 9 games, allowing opponents to score 664. But they’re undefeated because they have scored the most points in the SEC so far this year, too – a whopping 837 of them. That’s more than 100 more points than Florida, the team with the second-most points in the SEC currently. Say what you want about the Tigers, but they are certainly playing an exciting brand of basketball right now under Dennis Gates. Rival Kansas comes to Columbia on Saturday. If Mizzou can pull off that upset, fans might be ready to build a statue of Gates.

4. Auburn (8-0, LW: 4)

Auburn’s offense looked as good as it has all year in a 93-66 rout of Colgate on Friday. But now the Tigers will face perhaps their toughest competition of the year on Saturday when they head to Atlanta to play Memphis in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event. Memphis has already beaten Vanderbilt and Ole Miss out of the SEC this season. The Tigers will look to keep Memphis from improving to 3-0 against the league.

3. Arkansas (7-1, LW: 3)

Nick Smith Jr. appeared in his second game of the season on Saturday in a 99-58 beatdown of San Jose State. This game went much better than his first. He played 24 minutes and scored 16 points to go with 5 assists. His shooting and play-making ability is elite:

That’s a superstar in the making. The Hogs play UNC Greensboro on Tuesday night before heading to Tulsa for a game against Oklahoma on Saturday. We’ll see how much of an impact Smith makes in those contests.

2. Tennessee (7-1, LW: 2)

The Vols defense is elite. If the offense can continue to improve, Tennessee is a legit national title contender. Last week, the Vols demolished Alcorn State 94-40. They’ll host Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday night and then things get really interesting. Saturday, the Vols play No. 13 Maryland in Brooklyn. Then, next Saturday, they head to Tucson to face a tough Arizona team. Those games will have a very March feel to them.

1. Alabama (7-1, LW: 1)

Alabama is the No. 1 team in these power rankings for the second week in a row. The Tide have already taken down 1 No. 1 team this year, beating North Carolina out in Oregon over Thanksgiving. On Saturday, the Tide will head to Houston to take on the current No. 1 team in the Cougars. Can Nate Oats and company add another huge win to their NCAA Tournament résumé?