College Basketball

Andy Katz's Tiers: Don't Sleep on the Sleepers

February 4

By Andy Katz
FOX Sports college basketball analyst

We're officially into February. And in college basketball terms, all that means is we're almost to March.

There is not much change at the top – what's new? – as Gonzaga and Baylor continue to dominate.

And even though Michigan hasn't played in a while, and Villanova lost on Wednesday night, I won't dock either of them too much. 

But we do have some new names and jerseys in the secondary tiers. 

Let's dive in.

TIER 1: Alpha dogs

Gonzaga: The Zags continue to destroy the WCC competition. They searched for a top 10 opponent this weekend but couldn’t find any takers.

Baylor: The Bears continue to roll the Big 12 — at home and on the road. The diversity of scoring and lockdown defense shows up every game.

TIER 2: Here to stay

Michigan: The Wolverines are still on pause and are going to remain the team to beat in the Big Ten when they come back.

Villanova: The Wildcats lost their first Big East game — at surging St. John’s. That’s not enough to suddenly drop Nova down.

TIER 3: On the podium

Illinois: The Illini are peaking at the right time, besting Iowa, and then winning at Indiana.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes are still one of the top offensive teams in the country and have the best player in Luka Garza.

TIER 4: Sleeper city

Virginia: The Cavaliers ultimately may be the best team in the ACC — yet again.

Alabama: Still the team to beat in the SEC.

Texas Tech: Could end up as second best in the Big 12.

Oklahoma: The Sooners are one of the most underrated teams in the country.

Texas: The Longhorns have immense talent and will be a tough out in March.

Missouri: The Tigers are primed for the showdown with Alabama.

TIER 5: Secondary sleepers

West Virginia: The Mountaineers will fight to the end and will show no quit.

UCLA: The Bruins are still the class of the Pac-12 (with USC closing fast).

Wisconsin: Not ready to give up on the Badgers.

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are back to being what we all projected — a tough out.

PREDICTIONS

No. 10 Alabama (15-4) at No. 18 Missouri (12-3)
Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN

The SEC showdown no one saw coming. The Tigers have as much experience as the Tide. Home court doesn’t mean as much, but Missouri has done a better job finishing games in the past week. I’m going Tigers here. PICK: Missouri

No. 6 Texas (11-4) at Oklahoma State (11-5)
Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, ABC

Both teams will be desperate after losses. The Longhorns have the rim protection and ability to fluster the Cowboys a bit more. So, I’m going with the road team here. PICK: Texas

North Carolina (11-6) at Duke (7-6)
Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN

Neither team is ranked for the first time since 1960. Both teams need this game. They are both coming off disappointing, frustrating losses. But the experience and depth favors the Tar Heels. There will be no Cameron Crazies. I’m going with the Tar Heels on the road. PICK: North Carolina

Check out Andy Katz's full breakdown below:


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