Final Four Most Outstanding Player Joakim Noah of Florida says he may come back for another season of college basketball. Same for LSU's thick-and-thin duo of Glenn "Big Baby" Davis and Tyrus Thomas. The big three underclassmen at Texas -- LaMarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson, and P.J. Tucker - also are talking about the chance to cut down the nets in Atlanta next April.
It's hard enough to figure out an early 2007 NCAA Tournament bracket without knowing the eventual plans of these and other non-senior stars. It's even harder to measure the impact of newcomers such as Ohio State man-child Greg Oden or the heralded recruiting classes of North Carolina and Duke. The 2006-07 season will also be the first in a long time in which the nation's top prep players will be spending at least one season at the college level.
So we make educated guesses about who is coming back at UConn and Michigan State, if Kyle Lowry is returning to Villanova and if John Calipari can keep his young Memphis nucleus together. We're already assuming co-player of the year Adam Morrison is gone from Gonzaga after three stellar seasons. And it's not exactly going out on a limb to think Oden could do for Ohio State what Patrick Ewing did for Georgetown a generation ago.
The 2007 bracket we offer here is one part logic and several parts conjecture. We will update it at several keys points during the offseason, especially near the dates when NBA draft decisions are made (either to declare or withdraw). Any resemblance to the actual bracket next March might be completely coincidental.
Or not. Last year at this time we had Duke, UConn and Villanova as No. 1 seeds. Really.
Joe Lunardi is the resident Bracketologist for ESPN, ESPN.com and ESPN Radio.