Best backcourts in college basketball

Markel Brown and Marcus Smart help form one of the most prolific backcourts in college basketball. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Although every title contender needs a strong interior presence, it’s equally important to have an elite backcourt that can be counted on each night. Take last season, for example. Louisville coach Rick Pitino relied heavily on veteran guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith to run the offense efficiently and play lockdown defense on the perimeter. Their performance was a major factor in the Cardinals winning the national championship.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 10 backcourts in college basketball at this point in the season.

1. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Everyone knows about sophomore Marcus Smart, arguably the best player in college basketball. But senior Markel Brown is the most improved over his career as a Cowboy. Brown is an athletic shooting guard who has improved his field goal (50.5), 3-point (43.2) and free throw percentage every season along with his points (16.2) and assists (3.2) per game.

Coming off the bench for Travis Ford's team are two players who add different dimensions. Sophomore Phil Forte is one of the best long-range shooters in the nation, hitting 53.2 percent to start the season, and he leaves driving lanes open for Brown and Smart.