College Basketball

Andy Katz's Tiers: Rounding into 2021

December 31, 2020

By Andy Katz 
FOX Sports college basketball analyst

As we turn the page on arguably the most trying year in an American century, 2021 hopes to be better in all facets of life. 

And in our little corner of the toy department, the 2021 chase to the NCAA title is starting to take shape. We can see there are clear favorites, a conference that could produce multiple Final Four teams – if not dominate the entire bracket with as many as 11 teams – and a number of teams still determining where they stand. 

The postponements and cancelations are a major disappointment and frustration for everyone involved, but I still believe the conference games will be made up and rescheduled between New Year’s and early March. 

Here’s hoping we have better days ahead for all. Stay safe and enjoy our last tiers of 2020, as we look ahead to 2021. 

TIER 1: Entering 2021 as favorites 

Gonzaga: The Zags have handled every challenge. They are an offensive force. They are the favorite.

Baylor: The Bears need to be tested. They haven’t been yet.

Tennessee: The Vols dominated Missouri in Columbia and served notice that they are a real contender.

Villanova: The Wildcats are on pause, but they are a Final Four contender.

Kansas: The Jayhawks aren’t going anywhere but toward a possible deep run.

TIER 2: The Big Ten’s best 

Illinois: Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn will be must-see all season.

Wisconsin: Experience matters and will keep the Badgers in play. 

Iowa: Luka Garza and Jordan Bohannon can deliver a title.

Rutgers: They can win without Ron Harper Jr. or Geo Baker — that means this team is high-level.

Northwestern: The Wildcats are not a fluke.

Minnesota: Marcus Carr is an All-American who can single-handedly keep the Gophers in contention.

Michigan: Hunter Dickinson and Mike Smith are two of the most important newcomers.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes are just scratching the surface of their potential.

Michigan State: I’m not ready to give up on the Spartans' potential, even as they struggle.

TIER 3: Best of the rest 

Texas: Greg Brown is going to be something special by season’s end.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers are loaded up front and will be in games because of it each time out.

TIER 4: Wait and see

TBD: The ACC champ the Pac-12, champ, and the Big East second place finisher – there is still time for someone to emerge from these three pools of teams. 

PREDICTIONS

No. 11 Creighton at Providence
Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, FOX

The Friars have a star in David Duke and blistered Butler in the second half. They are ready for the Bluejays. Pick: Providence

No. 8 Texas at No. 3 Kansas
Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2

This is a major test for the Longhorns. They’ve got the personnel, and they will win big games this season. I just don’t see this one at Phog Allen. Pick: Kansas

No. 10 Iowa at No. 14 Rutgers
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Hawkeyes are back to making threes, but the Scarlet Knights have figured out how to win, even without their stars. Pick: Rutgers

No. 20 Duke at No. 18 Florida State
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Duke hasn’t played in two weeks. The Seminoles have stumbled a bit lately, but this is always their Super Bowl game at home. And the Seminoles will be ready. Pick: Florida State


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