Too early for Bracketology? Don't be ridiculous and enjoy end-of-July Madness
Some familiar names dot the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds as Jerry Palm fills out his NCAA Tournament bracket
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 will be in that mix.
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.
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.
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.
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 . 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.
Last four in
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.
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 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.
The Flyers have made four straight NCAA tourneys, but lost four key seniors. More important, they lost Archie Miller, who took the Indiana job. Anthony Grant, who went 117-85 in six seasons at Alabama, 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.
- ACC (8) Duke, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Florida State
- Big Ten (7) Michigan State, Purdue, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan, Maryland
- SEC (7) Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, Texas A&M, Missouri, Arkansas, Vanderbilt
- Big East (6) Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall, Butler, Providence, Creighton
- Big 12 (5) Kansas, West Virginia, Texas, Baylor, TCU
- Pac-12 (4) Arizona, USC, UCLA, Oregon
- American (3) Wichita State, Cincinnati, Houston
- Atlantic 10 (3) Rhode Island, VCU, Saint Bonaventure
- WCC (2) Gonzaga, 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
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