In order to win a championship, everyone thinks guard play is necessary. That is true, but a team won't win without a solid frontcourt. If you have a post player that will get you a basket with the clock winding down, it gives you an advantage over smaller, guard-laden clubs. Rebounding and defensive stops down low will come easier if you have a good group of players in the paint. The best backcourts in the country will falter early in March without a solid duo or trio on the baseline. Who has the best frontcourts headed into the season? Starters in italics
1. North Carolina (Tyler Hansbrough, Deon Thompson, Marcus Ginyard, Danny Green, Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller): Yes, the Tar Heels have the best backcourt and frontcourt in the country. Hansbrough is the best player in the nation; Thompson and Ginyard are excellent; and Green might be the best sixth man in America. Oh, Davis and Zeller are five-star recruits, too.
2. Louisville (Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, Samardo Samuels, George Goode, Terrence Jennings): Williams and Clark are match-up nightmares for opponents due to their versatility and ability to score both inside and out. Samuels might make the most impact of any freshman in the country.
3. Connecticut (Jeff Adrien, Hasheem Thabeet, Jonathan Mandeldove, Gavin Edwards, Nate Miles*, Ater Majok*): If Miles and Majok are able to play this season, the Huskies will have the best frontcourt in the country. Adrien is a beast in the paint, while Thabeet is a defensive menace.
4. Pittsburgh (Sam Young, DeJuan Blair, Tyrell Biggs, Gilbert Brown): Young and Blair form one of the best frontcourt duos around, as Young is tough to defend and Blair is simply relentless. Brown has an opportunity to make a real impact on the wing, while Biggs provides depth inside.
5. Duke (Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek, Miles Plumlee, Olek Czyz): The deep Blue Devils have a lot of options up front, but it all starts with Henderson and Singler. They form an outstanding forward tandem, and will carry the offense this year. Thomas started last year, but will need to fight to retain his spot.
6. Arizona (Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Jamelle Horne, Bud Withey): Budinger and Hill are two of the best in the country at their respective positions, and will need to have an even bigger role in the offense this season. Withey is a freshman who just might start immediately at center.
7. Michigan State (Raymar Morgan, Goran Suton, Delvon Roe, Marquise Gray, Idong Ibok): The Spartans have a real shot to make a deep run in the Big Dance this year, and Morgan will be the go-to-guy. Suton is an underrated inside player, while Roe will make an immediate impact as a freshman.
8. Wake Forest (Al-Farouq Aminu, James Johnson, Tony Woods, Ty Walker, Chas McFarland, Jamie Skeen): Based on potential, Wake Forest could be in the top-three. Johnson is an outstanding talent, while Aminu might be the most skilled player in the ACC. Woods and Walker are also five-start recruits.
9. Texas (Damion James, Connor Atchley, Gary Johnson, Dexter Pittman, Clint Chapman, Alexis Wangmene, Matt Hill): The deep Longhorns will need more production from their frontcourt than they got last year. James is nearly impossible to guard, while Atchley can do a variety of things. Johnson also has a chance to start at power forward.
10. Oklahoma (Blake Griffin, Taylor Griffin, Ryan Wright, Juan Pattillo): Griffin is one of the best players in the country, while he and his brother, Taylor, form one of the better frontcourt tandems in the Big 12. Wright, a transfer from UCLA, could also start in the frontcourt. Pattillo might make an impact.
11. Syracuse (Arinze Onuaku, Paul Harris, Kris Ongenaet, Rick Jackson, Mookie Jones): The Orange lose Donte Greene, which could be a blessing in disguise. Harris will have more room to operate at forward, while Onuaku will get more opportunities. Furthermore, Ongenaet and Jackson will help defensively.
12. Virginia Tech (A.D. Vassallo, Jeff Allen, Cheick Diakite, Victor Davila, J.T. Thompson, Lewis Witcher): An underrated group, Vassallo can really shoot the ball from the perimeter, while Allen is one of the best inside players in the ACC. They are an outstanding duo. Davila can score inside, and Thompson is versatile.
Others to Watch:
Notre Dame: Luke Harangody gets all the attention from this group, but Zach Hillesland and Ryan Ayers are very solid players.
Xavier: Derrick Brown is an outstanding athlete, while C.J. Anderson has big-time scoring potential. Jason Love provides rebounding inside.
Missouri: Three of the better offensive forwards in the Big 12 reside here, led by DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons. Matt Lawrence can really shoot.
Georgetown: Despite the loss of Roy Hibbert, the Hoyas still have DaJuan Summers creating match-up problems. Greg Monroe will be a star.
Tennessee: The Volunteers are filled with match-up nightmares for opponents, starting with Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have their best talented team ever, led by the supremely skilled Austin Daye and Josh Heytvelt.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers have an outstanding group of forwards, starting with returnee Da’Sean Butler and freshman Devin Ebanks.
Texas A&M: Josh Carter needs to find his shooting stroke again, but Bryan Davis has a chance to breakout this season.
Memphis: Robert Dozier will get the opportunity to really dominate this season, while Shawn Taggart needs to step in for Joey Dorsey.
Saint Mary’s: One of the most underrated frontcourts in the country, Diamon Simpson and Omar Samhan are dominant defensively.
LSU: If Tasmin Mitchell returns completely healthy, the Tigers will be very tough up front. Chris Johnson can block shots with the best.
Washington: The Huskies are looking to return to the Big Dance, led by forward Jon Brockman and Quincy Pondexter.