Introducing the Elite Eight. Well, the December version, anyway.

They are the last unbeatens after one month of college basketball, from Michigan State atop the polls to unranked Little Rock — an octet with a combined record of 71-0 at the close of business Sunday, and all of them Dallas or east. They all understand it’s early. One month? Barely two legs in the water. It is a treacherous world out there, full of parity and threats. There are 28 teams with only one defeat.

"I hope it doesn’t make us that sassy, we’re not that good yet,’’ Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said of life as a perfect No. 1. “What it does is, it gives other teams ammunition to come in here and play at a different level.’’

So as the season chugs toward conference play and 2016, here’s a snapshot of eight teams -- alphabetically -- with nothing on the right side of the hyphen.

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IOWA STATE (9-0)

Why the Cyclones are unbeaten . . .
Balance and efficiency. Five different players average at least 12 points and five have topped 20 points in a game at least once. Iowa State is shooting 51 percent as a team, and the three leading scorers – Georges Niang, Monte Morris and Jameel McKay – are at 56 percent. The Cyclones went seven consecutive games scoring at least 83 points. Plus, this is Steve Prohm’s inaugural run as Iowa State coach, and you never want to have to beat him in a new job. He started 23-0 in his first season at Murray State.
Best moment so far . . .
No-brainer. Coming from 19 points back in the final 15 minutes to beat Iowa 83-82, a perfect night.
Coming attractions . . .
Northern Iowa should get the Cyclones’ attention Saturday. So should a trip to Cincinnati on Dec. 22. And just over the horizon is the Jan. 2 visit to Oklahoma.

Little Rock Athletics

LITTLE ROCK (8-0)
Why the Trojans are unbeaten . . .
They might not have the national reputation, but they have the numbers. The 53.3 points allowed are lowest in the nation. The 81.3 free throw percentage is second best, the turnover margin of 7.0 is fourth best. They’re holding opponents to 36 percent shooting. Put all that together and Little Rock is off to its best start ever, and getting its first votes in the Associated Press poll since 1988. Not a shabby way to start for Chris Beard, in his first season as a Division I head coach.
Best moment so far . . .
Only five non-conference visitors have won at San Diego State since 2005.  Make that six. The Trojans committed but six turnovers and beat the Aztecs 49-43. More scoring this season? Not that night in San Diego.
Coming attractions . . .
They’ll be just like a lot of other holiday travelers. Four of the five next five games are on the road, the most notable Dec. 22 at Texas Tech.

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MICHIGAN STATE (11-0)
Why the Spartans are unbeaten . . .
Denzel Valentine showed up this season as Magic Johnson. He is averaging 18.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists. For future reference, nobody in Division I basketball has finished at 18-7-7 in nearly 20 years. The Spartans are their usual beasts on the boards, leading the nation with a 16.9 rebounding margin. They’re also tops with 22.7 assists a game. They had 18 assists on 21 field goals last weekend against Florida.
Best moment so far . . .
Lots to choose from, but riding Valentine’s triple double to beat Kansas in Chicago would be hard to beat. Though Providence, Louisville and Florida are worthy efforts, too. No wonder Michigan State is No. 1.
Coming attractions . . .
Wins over Northeastern and Oakland would give the Spartans the best start in the history of the program. Then the serious conference business starts at Iowa Dec. 29, when the Hawkeyes can try to get even for how that Big Ten football championship game turned out.

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OKLAHOMA (7-0)
Why the Sooners are unbeaten . . .
Good luck trying to stop them. The Buddy Hield-led attack is putting up 87.9 points a game and leading the nation in 3-point shooting with 48.7 percent – nearly two points ahead of second place. Hield is scoring 22 points a game. They’re not bad at the other end, either, holding opponents to 34.0 percent shooting, third best in Division I. No surprise then, they’ve won by an average of 24.9 points a game. Oklahoma is relentless, starting the same lineup all seven games.
Best moment so far . . .
Did you see the whipping the Sooners put on No. 9 Villanova? Try 78-55. The pride of the Big East shot under 32 percent. The 17-point thrashing of Wisconsin was impressive, too.
Coming attractions . . .
The Villanova game was in Hawaii, and Oklahoma is going back for the Diamond Head Classic. Where else would you prefer to visit twice in the same month? The Sooners should enjoy the islands, because look what they’re coming home to: Iowa State and Kansas in the first four days of 2016.

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PURDUE (11-0)
Why the Boilermakers are unbeaten . . .
There’s the 33.3 field goal percentage allowed, which is lowest in the nation. Since Purdue uses two 7-footers – Isaac Haas and A.J. Hammons – as well as 6-9 freshman Caleb Swanigan, offense against them is like trying to shoot in a forest. They’ve won every game by double figures – and an average of 25.8 points -- and are outscoring the opposition in bench points by a rather staggering 416-158. They’re also ninth in the nation in assists per game.
Best moment so far . . .
Purdue did its part in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge by going to Pittsburgh and crunching the Panthers 72-59. It is the only loss so far for Pitt.
Coming attractions . . .
So much for the warm-up acts. Purdue gets Butler, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin by the end of the month. We’ll know more by the time old acquaintances should be forgotten.

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SOUTH CAROLINA (8-0)
Why the Gamecocks are unbeaten so far . . .
It comes with the territory. The women are ranked No. 2 and 9-0, making South Carolina the only Division I school with both teams unbeaten. Call it gender equity. For more tangible reasons, there is the all-senior, multi-national – not to mention multi-syllabic – front line of Mindaugas Kacinas and Laimonas Chatkevicius of Lithuania and Michael Carrera of Venezuela. Together, they average 40.4 points and 17 rebounds, and shoot 57 percent. Just consider the oddity for a moment. The SEC has one unbeaten, and it’s not Kentucky.

Best moment so far . . .
The 83-75 win in over Tulsa to take the Paradise Jam was nice. But how about the South Florida game, with Gamecocks coach Frank Martin going against Orlando Antigua? It was, according to the South Carolina notes, the first Hispanic-American coaching matchup in Division I history.
Coming attractions . . .
Not easy. The in-state match with Clemson this Friday. Resurgent St. John’s Dec. 22. Then Memphis, then the SEC. But no Kentucky until mid-February.

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SMU (7-0)
Why the Mustangs are unbeaten . . .
Larry Who? With Larry Brown still serving his suspension for two more games, Tim Jankovich has come out of the coaching bullpen to keep SMU moving. The 14.1 rebound margin is fourth in the nation. Seven players average between 15.0 and 8.4 points a game. They must be entertaining. Among the recent spectators have been Dallas Cowboy Tony Romo, and former President George W. Bush, whose library is across the street from the arena.
Best moment so far . . .
The 82-58 thumping of Michigan suggested how SMU deals with its opponents – a 45-20 wipeout in rebounding.
Coming attractions . . .
Ineligible for the postseason, the Mustangs will have to get all their goals accomplished before mid-March. They’ll be in Las Vegas for a tournament next week, and travel to Tulsa to start conference play Dec. 29.

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XAVIER (10-0)
Why the Musketeers are unbeaten . . .
They’re at it from the start. They have won every opening tip this season. They don’t let off much after that, either, with six players averaging in double figures and the 13.2 rebounding margin tied for seventh in the nation. Only one team has come within single figures of Xavier, and that was Miami (Ohio) in the opener. This matches the best start in school history.
Best moment so far . . .
A 10-point win over Cincinnati must always be toward the top. At the moment, the Musketeers pretty much own that neighborhood rivalry. But a more impressive flexing of muscle was a 29-point crunching of Dayton to win the Advocare Invitational.
Coming attractions . . .
Auburn this weekend, then a trip to Wake Forest. And what a New Year’s Eve gala for the Musketeers; a trip to Villanova, where the Wildcats will not have party hats or noisemakers.