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Top 10 matchup nightmares for 2013-14

10/29/2013
Louisville Cardinals guard Russ Smith is relentless at attacking the basket. Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports

In putting together the preseason edition of my matchup nightmares -- the 10 most difficult players to defend in college basketball -- I took into consideration the new rules that will prohibit defenders from hand-checking and using arm bars to impede offensive players' progress and, in essence, eliminate the charge from the college game.

Skilled players who have great athletic ability and can attack the defense off the bounce will be nearly impossible to defend without fouling. The same can be said for big-bodied frontcourt players who can play both in the post and on the baseline.

One note: I'll wait until some games have been played to incorporate freshmen into these rankings.

Here are the 10 players opposing coaches and players will least want to defend this season.


1. Russ Smith, G, Louisville Cardinals

There are few players in the country who come at the defense harder or faster than Smith. This, combined with his ability to stop and elevate, puts the defense on its heels. His ability to see holes in the defense is second to none, and he takes the ball right to the nose of the defense, which results in him getting to the line. With the new hand-checking rules, Smith will be impossible to contain in ball screens. He will attack the hedge defender's top leg and create contact. In transition, no player in the nation has more different layups and ways to finish than Smith.