It might be surprising to some of you, but this is the reality: Per KPISports, college basketball has already completed 28 percent of its slate for the season. It's all moving pretty quickly and I can't believe we are past the quarter-pole mark for 2016-17. In terms of nonconference games, more than 60 percent of out-of-league outcomes have been determined.
So it's entirely reasonable to look at where we are, see which teams have made their mark and assess who's leading at the quarter-turn when it comes to the race for NCAA Tournament bids. I've looked through the rÃ©sumÃ©s of every team ranked in the top 50 of KenPom, CBSSports' RPI and the always-helpful KPI, and here are the 10 best dossiers in the sport as of Thursday morning.
For the purposes of this post, I'm evaluating teams' rÃ©sumÃ©s based on this criteria: Who did you beat and where did you beat them, how many good teams have you played/defeated and what is your overall strength of schedule? From there, sorting out the top 10 gets much more clear.
The logical way this would break down right now, if the NCAA Tournament started today, is teams ranked Nos. 10 and 9 would be No. 3 seeds, teams ranked Nos. 5-8 would be No. 2 seeds and teams ranked Nos. 1-4 would be No. 1 seeds. Also, note the poll rankings -- rÃ©sumÃ©-building doesn't correlate to teams' placement in the polls. Always interesting to see the difference.
Current AP Top 25 ranking: 7th
A 60th-ranked nonconference schedule (which is higher than most teams on this list) sneaks UNC into the top 10, thanks in good part to the win over Wisconsin in the Maui title game. UNC is 1-1 vs. teams ranked in the top 50 of KenPom, and it does have a semi-road victory (Tulane). UNC also has decent wins over Oklahoma State, Davidson (which came Wednesday night) and a Chattanooga squad that could be a chic upset pick come March.
Current AP Top 25 ranking: 12th
Repeat after me: road wins, road wins, road wins. The committee does and should value teams who are willing to play on the road -- then give them even more credit when they actually win. Saint Mary's is only six games deep into its schedule, but it won at Dayton (maybe the best team in the A-10 when fully healthy) and stole a win at Stanford over the weekend. The Gaels also rank as the No. 11 team in KenPom and have a SOS at 91.
Current AP Top 25 ranking: 3rd
Bill Self's team could make a case to be even higher, in fact. Look at the rÃ©sumÃ©: UMKC is the only sub-200 team KU has faced. The neutral-court win over Duke at the Champions Classic is what has KU on this list, though. The team's second-best W is a neutral-court victory against Georgia (not bad), followed by a win over Stanford. Out-of-league strength of schedule was 47th, but the UMKC game dropped it to No. 64. It will get a big bump overall when Big 12 play starts.
Current AP Top 25 ranking: 10th
The work that has been done so far by the top four teams in the Big East is going to pay off when it comes to seeding down the road. Creighton is a great example. It hasn't lost and it won three neutral-court games. The Bluejays are 1-0 vs. the top 50 (defeated Wisconsin), but there's a good chance the NC State win ages well. With the win over Nebraska on Wednesday night, CU now has a road win on its docket as well. The Bluejays have a home win over Akron, which is probably the best team in the MAC. Strength of schedule: 107.
Current AP Top 25 ranking: 11th
Louisville is 2-1 vs. the KenPom top 50, including a road win at Grand Canyon over the weekend. And don't sleep on Grand Canyon! That home-court advantage is real; Rick Pitino called the rager environment even tougher than a game at Duke or Kentucky. Louisville's only loss is a good one: neutral court vs. a Baylor team that we'll get to shortly. The Cards have wins over Wichita State and Purdue, and the strength of schedule checks in at No. 55 right now. They're not perfect, but I think they're doing better than some realize. That looming home game against Kentucky is a massive opportunity.
Current AP Top 25 ranking: 8th
No road games yet for Mark Few's team, but it is 3-0 vs. the top 50 at KenPom. The Zags have wins over Florida, Iowa State and Arizona, which all should be tournament teams. Strength of schedule is at 158. They are winning almost every game by double digits, and half their games have come away from their home arena. Firmly at No. 5. The best No. 2 seed, in other words. They absolutely demolished Washington -- winning 98-71, and could've put up 110 if they wanted -- on Wednesday night.
Current AP Top 25 ranking: 9th
Tom Crean's team has the stain of that quasi-road loss at Fort Wayne. (The game was at Fort Wayne's secondary/bigger arena, but the building was mostly Indiana fans; the committee should take note of this when it assembles the bracket later this season). Yet no team in America has a better pair of wins than IU's neutral season-opening victory against Kansas and its home-court conquest of North Carolina. Step back further, Indiana is 0-1 on the semi-road, 2-0 vs. the top 50 at KenPom -- but has a strength of schedule clocking in at 318. Giving IU the final No. 1 seed here because OG Anunoby was sick for the second half of the Fort Wayne loss, and that should be taken into account. If he's in the whole game, IU probably wins and has a case for the No. 2 rÃ©sumÃ© in America.
Current AP Top 25 ranking: 2nd
The undefeated Bruins own the most impressive win of the season, a 97-92 clear-cut victory at Kentucky, which was the No. 1 team in America when the game happened. In terms of win difficulty, KPI ranks UCLA's victory at No. 3 this season (West Virginia over Virginia and Tennessee State beating Middle Tennessee were more unlikely upsets). UCLA is 2-0 vs. top 50 teams and has played four of its nine games away from Pauley Pavilion. Strength of schedule comes in at 216 overall. I do believe if the committee assembled today and formed a field of 68 (this would be ridiculous, but indulge the ridiculousness!), UCLA would be the No. 3 team on the 1-68 ranking.
Current AP Top 25 ranking: 1st
The reigning national champions are off to the best start possible. Not only are they still undefeated, but they've been rolling teams. VU is in good position because it is 2-0 on road, including a win against a very good Purdue team (a top-six win of value this season, per KPI). What "hurts" Villanova is the fact that Purdue is the only top-50 team the Wildcats have played. But given that Villanova is beating teams by an average of 18.3 points and has two road games to boot, it's an easy call to slot them here. Its non-con SOS comes in at 78th.
Current AP Top 25 ranking: 4th
The Bears' only flaw is they've yet to play a road game. But beyond that, they have five wins against teams ranked in the top 50 at KenPom. That includes victories over Oregon, Louisville and Xavier, all teams that could easily wind up as No. 4 seeds or better come March. The other two wins of note are against Michigan State and VCU, both hampered teams but still clubs with very good outlooks for making the field of 68. Baylor's strength of schedule ranks 29th. There's so much season to go, but at this point, to me, the Bears are the clear-cut No. 1 overall team in terms of rÃ©sumÃ©.
Two notable rÃ©sumÃ©s outside the top 10
Duke Blue Devils: They are 9-1 with their only loss coming by two points at Madison Square Garden against a team on the list (Kansas). So they're close. The win over Florida on Tuesday night was big. Duke is 3-1 against top-50 competition. The problem? No road games, and the other two top-50 wins have come against Michigan State and Rhode Island, teams that combine for a 12-7 record. Duke's non-con SOS is at 128. The Blue Devils were slotted at No. 12, right behind Southern California.
Kentucky Wildcats: The 8-1 Wildcats' rÃ©sumÃ© would earn them a No. 4 seed at best right now. Their only top-50 win is against Michigan State. No road games played. A non-con SOS of 195. It has only two top-100 wins, the second coming Wednesday night at home against a good Valpo team, but Valpo ranks 80th at KenPom right now. The Wildcats just don't reasonably belong in a conversation for a top-10 rÃ©sumÃ© at the moment. But that's going to change in short order. UK plays vs. UNC in Las Vegas as part of the CBS Sports Classic on Dec. 17, then plays at Louisville on Dec. 21. Winning both of those will be tough, but if it happens, Kentucky would unquestionably have a top-five rÃ©sumÃ©.