With the college football champion now crowned, let's take a first look at how the national championship tournament in March might be seeded.
When the season began, Duke and Michigan State were thought to be the two best teams, and I think that's still an accurate assessment. I know, I know – they both lost last weekend, but the Blue Devils and Spartans have been exceptional on other occasions throughout the first half (more or less) of the season.
Joining those two on the top line are 2016 champion Villanova and West Virginia (undefeated since losing their opener to Texas A&M in Germany). The Mountaineers have won home games versus both Virginia and Oklahoma.
The Cavaliers and Sooners, nevertheless, are both on the second line. UVA is once again among the best defensive teams in the nation, while the surprising Sooners are led by sensational freshmen guard Trey Young.
Wichita State returns all five starters from last year's 31-5 team, and they'll almost certainly receive a high seed for March Madness. The other team on the second line is Purdue, a team which starts four seniors and hasn't lost since the Thanksgiving weekend.
Two major surprises, Arizona State and Texas Tech (which defeated Kansas in Lawrence), are on the third line. Speaking of Kansas, the Jayhawks have stunningly lost two other home games, but I still think KU rates a three spot, as do the Xavier Musketeers.
The last four teams in the Sweet 16 of seeds are comprised of Seton Hall and three perennial powers (Arizona, Kentucky, and North Carolina) which could easily rise in regard as the season progresses.
The SEC is very strong in roundball this season, and I was tempted to put "SEC Champion" on the fourth line, but decided to go with the Wildcats. As with Arizona and UNC, I think it's too early to count out UK.
Those are my 16 teams, and they could be arranged regionally like this:
East – Villanova, Virginia, Kansas, Arizona
South – Duke, Oklahoma, Xavier, Kentucky
Midwest – Michigan St., Wichita St., Texas Tech, Seton Hall
West – West Va., Purdue, Arizona St., N. Carolina
In late January or early February we'll revisit the seeding process. In the ensuing weeks, happy hoops.
(Chuck Cleveland is a guest columnist who writes about college basketball)