Is it too early for a bracket projection? Is it ever too early? Hoops season gets underway this week, so the initial bracket of the season is now posted.
The top of the bracket is heavier with contenders than usual. Typically, two or three of the No. 1 seeds are easy to spot and it gets a little murkier after that. This year, there are at least five solid top seed candidates. Louisville is the one that doesn't make the cut in this bracket, but don't be surprised if that changes as the season goes on. Kentucky, Michigan State, Duke and Kansas are No. 1 seeds in the first projected bracket of 2013-14.
Some of the bracketing rules regarding conference separation have been changed, but that didn't stop me from having to do a seed swap. Purdue was a true 11-seed, but there was a Big Ten team in that quarter of the bracket in each region already. Even with the relaxed conference separation rules, the Boilers didn't fit anywhere, so they were dropped to a 12 and Akron moved up. However, you will note that Arizona and UCLA are bracketed to meet in the round of 32. Because they are only scheduled to play each other once this season, that is allowed under the new bracketing rules.
The other seed swap in the bracket was the result of BYU not being able to play on Sunday. The Cougars were dropped from 10 to 11 to find a Thursday-Saturday pod and region. Iowa State moved up to make room.