Now that the laughable joke known as the College Football Playoff has concluded its charade and accomplished its financial goals, it’s on to the real college-sports annual tournament worth watching: March Madness.

Much like our projections for a 16-team football tournament, we will make this a weekly exercise until the official field of 68 is revealed later this winter on Selection Sunday (March 15). Unlike college football, however, college basketball has a legit process (albeit still not transparent enough) to determine an official NCAA champion.

So, check in every Tuesday to see how we would rank and seed the top 16 teams in the country, regardless of conference, for March Madness. The top four seeds in each regional are the key ones, as those teams project into the Sweet 16. Of course, lower-seeded teams always sneak into the fray, and that’s the beauty of the sport and its annual festivities.

(For what it’s worth, we ignore the Associated Press poll, because like football, it’s still got way too many credibility issues.)

Here we go … our Top 16, in order:

  1. Duke
  2. Kansas
  3. Baylor
  4. Gonzaga
  5. Butler
  6. Michigan State
  7. Dayton
  8. West Virginia
  9. San Diego State
  10. Auburn
  11. Louisville
  12. Florida State
  13. Maryland
  14. Seton Hall
  15. Oregon
  16. Ohio State

On the cusp: Purdue, Kentucky, Villanova, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan, LSU

There you have it. These rankings are based on data analysis, actual performance, and advanced sabermetrics. Here is how we would seed these 16 teams regionally, based on the upcoming regional sites for the 2020 tournament, with the top seeds getting geographic advantage(s):

New York: No. 1 Duke, No. 8 West Virginia, No. 9 San Diego State, No. 16 Ohio State
Indianapolis: No. 2 Kansas, No. 7 Dayton, No. 10 Auburn, No. 15 Oregon
Houston: No. 3 Baylor, No. 6 Michigan State, No. 11 Louisville, No. 14 Seton Hall
Los Angeles: No. 4 Gonzaga, No. 5 Butler, No. 12 Florida State, No. 13 Maryland

Right now, we see these two teams being the strongest contenders for the national title, based on efficiency ratings: Duke and Kansas. No other team has performed consistently well enough to be considered a favorite right now.

This is subject to change, of course, as we get deeper into the season, but right now, it’s the Blue Devils and the Jayhawks—and no one else, really.

Stay tuned every Tuesday of the season for updated projections!