Too early for Bracketology? Don't be ridiculous and enjoy end-of-July Madness

What better way to celebrate college football media days than settling down with a good summertime NCAA Tournament bracket to consume? For college hoops fans, it's really never too early. Before we get to it, there's a 6-foot-10 caveat which could change everything by preseason bracket time: Marvin Bagley III. Should the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2018 reclassify and play this upcoming season, these seeds will be jumbled. 

Until then, let's whet your appetite with a little end-of-July Madness. There are a lot of familiar names at the top of the bracket, but there is a lot of balance across these schools.

Your never-too-early 2018 projected NCAA Tournament bracket, broken down by region:

CBS Sports Original by Mike Meredith

West top seeds

No. 1 seed: Arizona

The Wildcats are loaded with talent and experience -- thanks to the return of  Allonzo Trier  and  Rawle Alkins , who toyed with entering the NBA Draft. Add 247Sports' No. 2-ranked recruiting class, paced by 7-footer and future NBA lottery pick DeAndre Ayton, and the Wildcats again will be tough.

Regular-season outlook: First in Pac-12 

No. 2: Villanova

The Wildcats figure to be the favorite in the Big East again, despite the loss of  Josh Hart  (taken No. 30 overall in the NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz).  Jalen Brunson  and Mikel Bridges return and will be joined by a couple of guys who missed last season in  Omari Spellman  and  Phil Booth .

Regular-season outlook: First in Big East

CBS Sports Original by Mike Meredith

East top seeds

No. 1 seed: Kansas

The Jayhawks return a lot despite the losses of national player of the year Frank Mason and  Josh Jackson  (Mason was taken No. 34 overall by the  Sacramento Kings ; Jackson No. 4 overall by the  Phoenix Suns ), who are plying their trade in the NBA. Devonte Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk are back, along with  Malik Newman  -- among the Class of 2015's top recruits who transferred from Mississipi State. So Bill Self looks like he's remade the recipe for a 14th consecutive Big 12 championship and deep tournament run.

Regular-season outlook: First in Big 12

No. 2: Louisville

Donovan Mitchell  is gone to the NBA (taken No. 12 overall by the  Utah Jazz ), but the Cards still return some talent, notably  Deng Adel  and  Quentin Snider . They are joined by a couple of top 25 recruits from 247Sports' No. 6 recruiting class in  Malik Williams  and Brian Bowen, who was a late addition. The top of the ACC will be tough as always, but  Louisville Cardinals  will be in that mix.

Regular-season outlook: Fourth in ACC

CBS Sports Original by Mike Meredith

Midwest top seeds

No. 1 seed: Michigan State

Tom Izzo's squad was also boosted by the surprise return of  Miles Bridges , an NBA-caliber talent who felt that he had unfinished business in East Lansing. The Spartans were slow to gel last season, but will be ready to hit the ground running this season.

Regular-season outlook: First in Big Ten

No. 2: Wichita State

The Shockers are predicted to win American Athletic Conference in their debut season. After  Markis McDuffie  and Shaq Morris withdrew their names from the NBA Draft, everyone is back from a 31-5 Missouri Valley championship team -- one that played a relatively soft schedule and landed a No. 10 seed. The conference change will help the schedule, and this team again could win 30.

Regular-season outlook: First in AAC

CBS Sports Original by Mike Meredith

South top seeds

No. 1 seed: Kentucky

Nobody has more Five Star talent, with Kevin Knox leading the 247Sports' top-ranked recruiting class. And nobody does a better job with that talent than John Calipari. Hamidou Diallo , coming off a solid FIBA U-19 World Cup after sitting out last season, is primed for a big season as NBA types salivate.

Regular-season outlook: First in SEC

No. 2: Duke

Grayson Allen had a miserable junior season when considering preseason national player of the year expectations (his scoring average dipped from 21.5 ppg in 2015-16 to 14.5 ppg last season), though he did play through some injuries. He returns for what he hopes is a senior season of redemption. While he won't see a lot of familiar faces, Allen will be joined by three top 20 recruits -- Wendell Carter , Trevon Duval and Gary Trent Jr. -- who will help the Blue Devils challenge for an ACC title and a spot at the top of the bracket.

Regular-season outlook: Third in ACC

Last four in

Creighton Bluejays

Marcus Foster (18.2 ppg) leads a team that finished 25-10, but will be missing Justin Patton , who opted for the NBA Draft (No. 16 overall by the Chicago Bulls ).

St. Bonaventure Bonnies

Matt Mobley was fourth in the Atlantic 10 in scoring (18.5 ppg) and led all Division I players in minutes per game (38.3) on a team that finished 22-10.

Vanderbilt Commodores

Matthew Fisher-Davis (13.9 ppg) and Riley LaChance (10.5 ppg) lead the Commodores, who snuck into the NCAAs last season and had Northwestern Wildcats on the ropes before Fisher-Davis' unfortunate foul miscue undid Vandy.

Florida State Seminoles

Leonard Hamilton has 247Sports' 14th-ranked recruiting class and returners CJ Walker , Trent Forest and Terance Mann , but will miss Jonathan Isaac (No. 6 overall to the Orlando Magic ), Dwayne Bacon (No. 40 overall to the New Orleans Pelicans ) and Xavier Rathan-Mayes .

First four out

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Big man Ben Lammers (14.2 ppg, 51.6 FG pct) has a shot at the NBA and leads a squad that finished 21-16 last season.

Central Florida Knights

Seven-foot-6 Tacko Fall (10.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 71.5 FG pct) and B.J. Taylor (17.4 ppg) lead the way for the Knights, coming off an NIT semifinals run in Johnny Dawkins' first year in Orlando.

Dayton Flyers

The Flyers have made four straight NCAA tourneys, but lost four key seniors. More important, they lost Archie Miller, who took the Indiana Hoosiers job. Anthony Grant, who went 117-85 in six seasons at Alabama Crimson Tide , will have his hands full.

Arizona State Sun Devils

Guards Shannon Evans and Tra Holder will be the backbone for the Sun Devils in Bobby Hurley's third season at the helm in Tempe.   

Conference breakdown

  • ACC (8) Duke, Louisville, Miami,  North Carolina Tar Heels Notre Dame Fighting Irish Virginia Tech Hokies Virginia Cavaliers Florida State Seminoles
  • Big Ten (7) Michigan State,  Purdue Boilermakers Minnesota Golden Gophers Wisconsin Badgers Northwestern Wildcats Michigan Wolverines Maryland Terrapins
  • SEC (7) Kentucky,  Florida Gators Alabama Crimson Tide Texas A&M Aggies Missouri Tigers Arkansas Razorbacks Vanderbilt Commodores
  • Big East (6) Villanova,  Xavier Musketeers Seton Hall Pirates Butler Bulldogs Providence Friars Creighton Bluejays
  • Big 12 (5) Kansas,  West Virginia Mountaineers Texas Longhorns Baylor Bears TCU Horned Frogs
  • Pac-12 (4) Arizona,  Southern California Trojans UCLA Bruins Oregon Ducks
  • American (3) Wichita State,  Cincinnati Bearcats Houston Cougars
  • Atlantic 10 (3) Rhode Island,  VCU Rams , Saint Bonaventure
  • WCC (2)  Gonzaga Bulldogs , Saint Mary's
  • America East: Vermont
  • Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast
  • Big West: UC Davis
  • Big Sky: Weber State
  • Big South: UNC Asheville
  • Colonial: Charleston
  • C-USA: Middle Tennessee
  • Horizon: Oakland
  • Ivy: Princeton
  • MAAC: Iona
  • MAC: Akron
  • MEAC: Morgan State
  • Missouri Valley: Illinois State
  • Mountain West: San Diego State
  • Northeast: Saint Francis
  • Ohio Valley: Belmont
  • Patriot: Bucknell
  • Southern: East Tennessee State
  • Southland: Stephen F. Austin
  • Summit: Omaha
  • Sun Belt: UT-Arlington
  • SWAC: Texas Southern
  • WAC: New Mexico State
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

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