With the emergence of ball-screen and dribble-drive offenses, many teams are going to lineups with three guards. That's why for this ranking I decided to focus not just on the nation's top backcourts but on the teams with the best perimeter games -- including each team's third guard or small forward. (I omitted the North Carolina Tar Heels from the list, for now at least, due to P.J. Hairston's legal issues.)
The following programs -- between their returning players and incoming freshmen -- are my early top 10 picks for the country's best perimeter games.
John Calipari will once again have an elite backcourt. The combination of freshmen Andrew and Aaron Harrison along with James Young and sophomore Alex Poythress makes the Wildcats' perimeter exceptional. This season's Kentucky backcourt will be big, athletic and physically mature.
Andrew Harrison has the size and strength to play through contact as well as create for his teammates. Aaron Harrison is a capable shooter, though he must let the game come to him. Young is a rangy, big-time shooter who will excel in the dribble drive. Poythress is a hybrid slashing wing who has improved his shot-making since arriving in Lexington. He shot 58 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range last season.
Quinn Cook did an excellent job of running the Blue Devils offense last season. Sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood form an athletic set of wings. Tyler Thornton is a lockdown defender and has improved his shooting. He shot 39.2 percent from the beyond the arc last season. Alex Murphy and freshman Matt Jones add depth to Duke's perimeter.
I expect Mike Krzyzewski to open the floor and attack with one of the more athletic groups he has had in recent seasons.