With Tuesday night’s matchup between Kentucky and LSU (7 p.m. EST, ESPN) featuring a battle of two of college basketball’s best frontcourts, I figured it was a good time to provide my full set of rankings. Which group of players is most difficult to stop in the post? Which team boasts the best rim protectors? Which provide matchup nightmares due to their ability to hit from long distance?
My picks are based around production per 40 minutes, and overall impact of the frontcourt on team success. Depending on the program’s particular style of play, small forwards could be included.
Let’s now take a look at the top big-man groups in the game today.
Kentucky has as deep and talented a frontcourt as there is in college basketball. It all starts with freshman Karl-Anthony Towns. If you look at his production per 40 minutes, he would be averaging better than 18 points, 12 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game. But what stands out is Towns' versatility. He’s a 6-foot-11 center who can catch it on either block and score as well as finish over either shoulder. You can put him in ball screen, pick-and-pop situations, and he can shoot it from 3-point range. Towns also has terrific hands and a great feel for the game.
Willie Cauley-Stein is one of the nation’s most versatile defenders. He can guard anybody, from a 2-guard like Providence’s LaDontae Henton to post players. The junior gives UK the ability to switch ball screens in late-game situations.