Bracketology: Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky and Kansas are No. 1 seeds in early NCAA Tournament bracket prediction

It's a tradition like no other. The Bracketology pre-preseason NCAA Tournament bracket projection is now posted. Yes, it is early, but we don't let little things like a calendar stop us. That is why we call it a pre-preseason bracket. We also do not have breaking news – like revealing the still secret NET formula – standing in our way.

You will see some very familiar names at the top of this bracket. Michigan State is the overall No. 1 seed, followed by Duke, Kentucky and Kansas.

Top seeds in early Bracketology

  • The Spartans are fresh off a Final Four appearance last season and look well equipped to not only make another run like that, but finish it off with coach Tom Izzo's second national championship. Guard Cassius Winston, the Big Ten Player of the Year last season, decided to forego the NBA Draft and return for another season. Joshua Langford also returns after missing most of last season with a foot injury.
  • Duke lost three first-round picks in this year's NBA Draft, but it doesn't matter. The Blue Devils have another top recruiting class coming in, featuring Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt, and point guard Tre Jones returns to run the show. Duke will once again be the favorite in a top-heavy ACC.
  • Kentucky lost out on the SEC regular-season title to LSU, but will be the favorite to reclaim that title again the season. Ashton Hagans returns, but will be joined by the No. 2 recruiting class, which has three five-star recruits. Coach John Calipari is rivaled only by Mike Krzyzewski in getting the most out of a highly regarded freshman class.
  • Kansas had its 14-season streak of Big 12 regular season title snapped last season in what was a disappointing and troublesome campaign. Center Udoka Azubuike returns from injury along with Devon Dotson to form the core of the team this season. The addition of Iowa transfer Isaiah Moss will help and we will finally get to see Silvo De Sousa return to the court as well. The Jayhawks figure to start another streak of winning Big 12 titles.

Things could get interesting for Kansas and some other schools depending on NCAA investigations. NC State has already received a notice of allegations from the NCAA and Auburn has said that it expects to receive one as well. It was reported in June that the NCAA will soon be notifying six programs of the findings of investigations related to the proceedings in Federal Court due to the corruption and bribery scandal in college basketball.

Memphis could make a move

One of the more intriguing teams to watch this season is Memphis. Coach Penny Hardaway has done what everyone thought he could do – recruit. He has the top-rated recruiting class in the country this year, including five-star players James Wiseman and Precious Achiuwa. What many observers have wondered is whether he can coach a group like this up and win a national championship. We will get our first look at what Hardaway can do with a talented but young team this season. The Tigers are a No. 4 seed in the early bracket projection.

Site selection scenarios

One of the more hard-and-fast rules of putting a bracket together is that a team cannot play games on its home court or at a site where it is the host institution. For example, USF cannot play a first-round game in Tampa even though the games are being played at Amalie Arena, which is not its home court. USF is the host institution for that site though, so it cannot play there. However, it is OK for Gonzaga to play in Spokane, Washington because it is not hosting at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

The two exceptions to that rule are the Final Four, hosted by Georgia Tech this season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and the First Four, hosted annually by Dayton and played on the Flyers home court. This projected bracket has Dayton in the First Four and the Flyers would play at home if that happened. It has already happened once before. In 2015, Dayton beat Boise State 56-55 in the First Four.

If you do not like this bracket, it's OK. It is a little over seven months until Selection Sunday. It will probably change a few times  between now and then.

Check out Jerry Palm's Bracketology and see his complete projected field of 68 teams.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Jerry Palm started writing about sports on the Internet right after Al Gore invented it. He was the first to bring RPI out in the open and is one of the pioneers of predicting the March Madness bracket.... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories