College Basketball

Andy Katz's Tiers: Late-season shake-ups

February 18

By Andy Katz
FOX Sports College Basketball Analyst

The top 16 gave us a look into how the men’s basketball selection committee is viewing this season. 

But the teams selected were based on the numbers prior to last weekend’s games. 

By the end of the Monday, we knew this: Missouri was struggling without a full roster, Wisconsin wasn’t as close to the 4-line as originally thought, Michigan was a lock to be on the 1-line, and Florida State is really, really good — better than Virginia

The tiers this week aren’t set at four teams each. There is movement, and some tiers are larger, while others are thinner. 

Let's dig in.

TIER 1: The top rung

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs are rolling and will be — yes, book it — undefeated entering the NCAA Tournament. 

Baylor: The Bears are on an extended pause and will probably not be able to make up all the missed games in the final two weeks. 

Michigan: The Wolverines entered Tier 1 status with the win at Wisconsin after 23 days away from the floor. 

Ohio State: The Buckeyes have answered every challenge and are this season’s biggest surprise. 

TIER 2: In hot pursuit

Illinois: The Fighting Illini survived two scares at Nebraska and against Northwestern. But they have the best closer in college hoops in Ayo Dosunmu.

Florida State: The Seminoles sent a serious message to the rest of the ACC with their drubbing of Virginia. 

USC: Evan Mobley is playing like a National Player of the Year candidate of late, and he is the leader in the clubhouse for Pac-12 Player of the Year. 

TIER 3: On the come up

Oklahoma: Lon Kruger is mounting a Big 12 Coach of the Year candidacy. 

Alabama: The Tide have held serve at the top of the SEC. 

Creighton: Marcus Zegarowski served notice to the rest of the Big East by leading the Bluejays past Villanova.

Villanova: The Wildcats dropped down after losing at Creighton, their second road loss in the Big East.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes are clipping at a high offensive rate with Joe Wieskamp knocking down shots. 

West Virginia: The Mountaineers have a stud who has delivered in big moments in Miles McBride

TIER 4: Sleeping giants

Virginia: The Cavaliers were rocked in Tallahassee, but I’m not ready to give up on Tony Bennett’s crew yet. 

Texas Tech: Mac McClung has been everything Chris Beard wanted/needed since transferring from Georgetown.

Kansas: The Jayhawks have been on a tear of late. Does anyone count Bill Self out? 

PREDICTIONS

UConn at No. 10 Villanova
1 p.m. ET Saturday, FOX

A week ago, this looked like a walk for the Wildcats. But James Bouknight is back, and so are the Huskies. If UConn can beat Nova, which it can, book a bid for the team from Storrs. But I have a hard time picking against the Wildcats for a second straight weekend. Pick: Villanova

No. 15 Texas Tech at No. 23 Kansas
2 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN

The Red Raiders were clipped at home by the Jayhawks. Since then, KU struggled mightily until 10 days ago. Kansas has found its rhythm, and that’s not good news for the Red Raiders. Pick: Kansas

No. 3 Michigan at No. 4 Ohio State
1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS

This is the game of the year in the Big Ten so far. The matchup is Hunter Dickinson and EJ Liddell in the middle, but the sharpshooters of Duane Washington for Ohio State and Isaiah Livers for Michigan should deliver as well. Still, Michigan has defended better, has more options and is playing just a tad better — even with a long, three-week pause. Pick: Michigan

Andy Katz is a longtime college basketball reporter, analyst and host. He can be seen on FOX Sports and Big Ten Network platforms, as well as March Madness and NCAA.com, and he hosts the podcast "March Madness 365." Katz worked at ESPN for nearly two decades and, prior to that, in newspapers for nine years.


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