Bracket Watch: Kansas, Xavier, Villanova, Oklahoma are the No. 1 teams now

Despite an upset loss to Iowa State on Monday, there's no reason for Oklahoma to panic.

Charlie Neibergall/AP

Welcome to my first mock bracket of conference season. I’ll be coming to you with new ones every Tuesday and Friday for the rest of the regular season.

As the 2016 tourney field starts coming into focus, it’s remarkable how different the top of the bracket looks from just a year ago. Six of the eight No. 1 or 2 seeds in 2015 currently sit no higher than a fourth seed, most of those even lower than that.

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That includes defending national champion Duke, usually an annual fixture near the top of the bracket. Mired in their first three-game losing streak since 2007, I currently have the Blue Devils as a No. 7 seed. Were that to stand, it would be the lowest for a Mike Krzyzewski team since 1996.

Of course, it could be worse. The team Duke beat in last year’s title game, Wisconsin, is nowhere to be found here.

In general, the top of the bracket is much more fluid this season, as evidenced by the fact Oklahoma on Monday became the fifth AP No. 1 team to lose this season already. I still have the Sooners as a No. 1 seed, but behind Big 12 rival Kansas for the No. 1 overall seed. At the other end, the bubble is largely indistinguishable at this early stage. I could replace the last eight at-large teams with the first eight out and you’d barely notice a difference.

NOTES: The current first-place team in each conference is designated as the automatic berth (*). In the event of ties, I use the highest-ranked RPI team.

The Midwest winner will play the East winner in the Final Four and the West will face the South.

Midwest Region (Chicago)
Seed
Team
Location
1
Kansas*
at Des Moines
16
Hampton*/Houston Baptist*
8
Utah
9
Michigan
4
Kentucky
at Spokane
13
William and Mary*
5
Providence
12
Arkansas-Little Rock*
6
South Carolina
at Providence
11
Valparaiso*
3
Virginia
14
UAB*
7
Duke
at Des Moines
10
Alabama
2
Iowa*
15
UNC Asheville*