Duke, Kentucky, Villanova and Kansas are No. 1 seeds in way too early Bracketology
The ACC has nine teams in Jerry Palm's first 2017 NCAA Tournament bracket projection.
All the fireworks have exploded, so that means it's time to start thinking about the 2017 NCAA Tournament and a pre-preseason bracket. This one is loaded at the top with teams from the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12, which make up the bulk of the top 16. This may be one of those seasons where the top separates itself early. Virtually everyone will agree on the top two teams. After that, let the arguing begin.
|2.|| Michigan State || North Carolina ||Virginia||Oregon|
|4.||UCLA|| St. Mary's ||Purdue||Louisville|
|5.||Gonzaga|| West Virginia ||UConn|| Rhode Island |
|6.||California||Creighton||Maryland|| Florida State |
|7.||Cincinnati||Butler|| Texas A&M || Iowa State |
|8.||Michigan||Dayton|| Virginia Tech ||Texas|
|9.||VCU||Oklahoma|| San Diego State || NC State |
|10.||Valparaiso||USC||Monmouth|| Seton Hall |
|11.||Baylor|| Oregon State ||SMU||Vanderbilt|
|12.||Miami / Iowa||MTSU||Syracuse / Florida|| Wichita State |
|14.||Texas-Arlington|| Stephen F. Austin ||UC Irvine|| Tennessee State |
|15.||IPFW||NMSU||Lehigh|| Weber State |
|16.||LIU / UNH|| Texas Southern ||FGCU||Winthrop / Hampton|
- Duke and Kentucky have the two top-rated recruiting classes, with three possible NBA first-round draft picks each. You could combine their rosters into a pretty good NBA D-League team. Duke gets the edge over the Wildcats for now because their class joins returning stars Grayson Allen and Amile Jefferson.
- Kansas is the lone Big 12 rep in the top 16, which means the Jayhawks figure to be heavily favored to win its 13th straight conference championship. No team has been more consistent in the regular season than the Jayhawks. The NCAA Tournament itself has been more hit-and-miss.
- Villanova loses Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu, but return the rest of its starters, including its top two scorers (Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins). That kind of returning talent is unusual for a defending champion. In fact, no defending champion since Florida in 2006 has returned so much.
- There are four Big Ten teams in the top 16. Michigan State is top-rated and a No. 2 seed. Indiana and Wisconsin, which had Thomas Bryant and Nigel Hayes respectively decide not to leave for the NBA, check in as No. 3 seeds. Caleb Swanigan's decision to return to Purdue boosts the Boilermakers to a No. 4 seed.
- North Carolina and Virginia figure to be contenders again in the ACC, although look to be just a step behind the Blue Devils. Both are No. 2 seeds in the early bracket. Louisville, assuming the Cardinals are eligible this year, is projected as a No. 4 seed.
- The Pac-12 may not be quite as well represented this year as last, but Oregon is still in the bracket as a No. 2 seed, with Arizona as a No. 3 and UCLA, bolstered by the addition of Lonzo Ball, is projected as a No. 4 seed.
Don't like this bracket? The preseason bracket projection is only four months away!
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