In basketball you can't win without great guard play. And without a good point guard, things can get ugly, especially in college hoops, with its 35-second shot clock and heavy use of zone defenses. Just look at the point guards on recent national championship winners: Louisville (Peyton Siva), Kentucky (Marquis Teague), UConn (Kemba Walker), Duke (Nolan Smith), North Carolina (Ty Lawson) and Kansas (Mario Chalmers). And every single one of them was drafted.

So which college teams have got the talent at this key position coming into this season?

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  • Marcus Smart, Sophomore, Oklahoma State

    Smart might be the <a href="" target="_blank">best player in the country</a>. He is an incredibly powerful athlete who can do it all, but really excels in the transition game. Along with Creighton's Doug McDermott, he was one of two collegians to be invited to the Team USA mini-camp.

  • Jahii Carson, RS Soph, Arizona State

    Carson is a smaller guard who uses his sensational quickness to put pressure on defenses, and he can really score. He recently dropped 40 on UNLV.

  • Shabazz Napier, Senior, UConn

    Napier, a former McDonald's All-American, is a consistent defender, and had 17 points per game as a junior last season. He is prone to errant shots and turnovers, but Napier is a quality two-way performer for the revamped Huskies. He doesn't need to score to take over a game.

  • Semaj Christon, Sophomore, Xavier

    Christon is a big-time, two-way player who uses his 6-foot-3 frame to body up other guards. With another productive season, Christon could be a top 20 pick in the NBA draft.

  • Keith Appling, Senior, Michigan State

    A former McDonald's All-American, <a href="" target="_hplink">Appling has had a solid career</a>. He can certainly run a Tom Izzo offense. But the pressure is on: If Sparty fails to make the Final Four this season, Appling and his teammates will be the first Izzo group to come up short.

  • Aaron Craft, Senior, Ohio State

    Craft went from being a low-level recruit to the <a href="" target="_blank">best on-ball defender in the country</a>. He is the heartbeat of this team and never seems to slow down.

  • Spencer Dinwiddie, Junior, Colorado

    At 6-foot-6, Dinwiddie fits the new mold for towering point guards who can see over the top of defenses. His speed is unremarkable, but he can really defend and loves the pick-and-roll game.

  • Bryce Cotton, Senior, Providence

    Bryce Cotton is one of the best true lead guards in the nation. He probes the paint as a facilitator and consistently find teammates. While he's never been a high-percentage shooter, Cotton thrives in pick-and-roll and always seems to make a play.

  • Joe Jackson, Senior, Memphis

    Jackson was the Conference USA Player of the Year as a junior, when he made the most of his <a href="" target="_blank">terrific quickness and ability to score in the paint</a>. He's not exactly a lead guard, but the Tigers can only go as far as Jackson takes them.

  • Jake Odum, Senior, Indiana State

    Odum may fly under the radar, but he is a stat-stuffer who can really play. Indiana State's tourney aspirations may rest on his shoulders.

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