Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, and with two full weeks of games in the books, here are a few leftovers to digest:
Top two: We've seen nothing from Kentucky (5-0) or North Carolina (4-0) to suggest their Dec. 3 meeting at Rupp Arena will be anything other than a national championship preview. And the Wildcats, considering their freshman-heavy roster, have plenty of time to get even better.
Top line: We're batting .500 on our other preseason No. 1 seeds. Ohio State (5-0) remains No. 3 overall, but Duke (7-0) has eclipsed Syracuse (5-0) for the fourth spot after an impressive Maui Invitational championship. The Orange haven't done anything wrong heading into tonight's Preseason NIT title game, it's just that the Blue Devils have taken advantage of their many opportunities to date. Of course, someone figures to drop Tuesday after Duke visits Ohio State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Final Four: My pseudo-sleeper pick of Wisconsin (4-0) to reach New Orleans is looking pretty good. We'll know a lot more, though, after the Badgers visit Chapel Hill on Wednesday in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. My other non-traditional Final Four pick, Pitt (3-1), has struggled with a home loss to Long Beach State and a near-loss to La Salle. I'll see the Panthers later today against Penn at the Palestra and will try to figure out what is wrong there.
Rock chalk: Kansas (3-2) is the best two-loss team in the country. In a high-level loss to Duke in Maui, the Jayhawks proved again that -- even when they're reloading -- the road to the Big 12 title goes through Lawrence. Belmont (2-2), Michigan State (3-2) and Memphis (2-2) are solid runners-up in the "best team with two losses" category.
Going up: Some other teams that look even better than we thought they would include Missouri, Purdue, Marquette, Florida State, Georgetown, Saint Louis and Michigan.
Going down: On the opposite elevator (for now) are UConn, Vanderbilt, Pitt, Baylor, West Virginia, New Mexico and Memphis. But let's not be too harsh on any of these teams. Suspensions and other absences have played roles in many of the so-so performances from this group, and it's worth remembering that all were highly ranked in the preseason for a reason. It's still not even December and, in the old days, most teams would be playing their openers this weekend.
Don't know yet: A lack of action and/or exposure to date has given us little or no chance to get a read on, among others, Indiana, Gonzaga and Xavier. That's about to change in a big way for the latter two. The Zags will soon take on Notre Dame, Illinois, Michigan State, Arizona and Butler. The Musketeers have Georgia, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Butler and Cincinnati on their slate. The two Jesuit powers then close the calendar year against each other on New Year's Eve.
If forced to do an NCAA bracket today, the protected seeds would look like this:
A few of these teams will be facing off against one another in the next few weeks, and the complexion of the top four seeds could see major changes by the time we hit Christmas.