A national champion won't be crowned until April, but contenders are already beginning to emerge during early-season tournaments and out-of-conference battles.

Based on the first month of play, here are five teams that could be cutting down the nets in Atlanta.

Duke

Last season could be characterized as one of Mike Krzyzewski's more notable failures at Duke, as a roster featuring stars Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones crashed out in the Elite Eight. In truth, however, that wealth of talent never meshed with Krzyzewski's style. This year's squad, led by Jones, could be more up his alley.

While the template is similar to last season with up to four freshman starters, Jones leads a more balanced offense and defense that includes Vernon Carey Jr. and Matthew Hurt up front, and Cassius Stanley in the backcourt. Hurt and Stanley are affirmatively answering questions about whether they can be a threat from the perimeter.

Despite a stunning loss to Stephen F. Austin, there could be a variation of the "Ewing Theory" at play come March, so don't sleep on Duke.

Kansas

The Jayhawks are a popular pick to capture coach Bill Self's second national championship this spring, led by Preseason All-Big 12 honorees Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike. Experience counts in college basketball, and so far Self's primary eight-man rotation has featured no freshmen.

It's still early, but Dotson especially has been dominant. He's leading the Big 12 in scoring, hitting 87% of his free-throw attempts, and is a beast in transition. If Azubuike can stay healthy all season, the Jayhawks will be a force to be reckoned with.