Let’s get one thing straight right from the start.

Choosing the top 16 NCAA Tournament seeds in mid-February is basketball’s answer to announcing the top 4 College Football Playoff teams in early November.

They’re both as irrelevant as the number of social media followers you have.

Because the seedings are coming directly from the committee that will actually select the field, they at least have a tad more substance than those put out there by a certain bracket guesser hyped by a certain sports network.

Even so, as anyone who went to college before the Internet and remembers the tagline on the bottom of a parlay card will understand, they’re for entertainment purposes only.

But what fun is click bait if you don’t actually click?

So here goes.

There can be no argument with the top 3 teams. No. 1 Purdue, defending national champion UConn at No. 2 and No. 3 Houston have clearly separated themselves from the field. At least for now. So however you rank them, they’d all be seeded on the top line of their regional bracket if the Tournament started tomorrow.

That 4th and final No. 1 seed, however, is a matter up for discussion. And plenty of disagreement.

Any one of the remaining 13 teams announced by the selection committee Saturday could make a legitimate case, depending on which day you’re setting the rankings. That’s how quickly things can and have changed this season.

Kansas looked like the real deal for a while. Then came losses to Kansas State and Texas Tech in a 3-game stretch.

North Carolina had Final Four written all over it when it blew Duke out of the Smith Center for its 11th win in 12 games before looking like a potential opening week casualty by stubbing its toes twice – against Clemson and Syracuse. (If you’re interested in sports betting in North Carolina, the Tar Heels certainly are worth a look.)

That means it’s Arizona’s turn to be the flavor of the week.

Just like the Jayhawks and Tar Heels before them – and potentially No. 6 Tennessee, No. 7 Marquette, No. 8 Alabama and the bottom half of the current top 16 after them – the Wildcats have all the elements necessary to still be on the top line in March.

But with a blemish like their loss to Pac-12 bottom feeder Oregon State already on their resume, there’s just as much of a chance they’re due for a plunge.

So what do we make of all this other than that we’ve reached the dog days of the season in which the top teams must all be on alert to avoid getting caught peeking too far into the future? Conference tournaments no doubt will help shape the final rankings.

The only absolute conclusion that can be made with a full month to go before Selection Sunday, also known as the day the only seeds that matter are announced, is that there is no 1 dominant team or conference in college basketball this season.

The Big 12, as expected, has the most entries in the early top 16. But the gap between it and everyone else isn’t nearly as wide as some would like you to believe. Its 4 teams are only 1 more than the SEC and Big Ten. And 2 more than the ACC and Big East.

In fact, the current top 5 all come from different leagues.

That balance, combined with the fact that the team currently occupying the top spot in the rankings has a rich history of creating more Cinderellas than Disney, promises to make the month of March even more volatile and entertaining than usual.

Twice in the past 3 years, Purdue has made a 1st-round exit as a top-2 seed, falling to 15th-seeded St. Peter’s in 2022 and No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson last year. And the rest of the Big Ten hasn’t been much better.

Wisconsin, which holds down the 16th and final spot in the initial rankings, is already in free fall. The Badgers’ loss to Iowa on Saturday is their 4th in the past month.

If there’s anything resembling a clear-cut favorite, it’s the team that won it all a year ago. UConn is 24-3 and hasn’t lost since before Christmas. The Huskies looked every bit the part of a champion in their emphatic beatdown of Marquette on Saturday, a victory that extended their winning streak to 14.

But let’s not get those Sharpies out just yet. Everyone knows that if you leave the cap off them for too long, the tip dries up and they won’t write anymore.

That’s the danger of projecting Tournament seeds this far out from the Tournament.

Especially an NCAA Tournament in which you can’t even rely on chalk to be a reliable writing instrument.