Originally Published: November 20, 2013

Daily Word: Marcus Smart vs. the freshmen

By ESPN.com

Every weekday, Andy Katz leads a panel of our college hoops experts in a discussion of the biggest issues, trends and themes happening in and around college basketball.

1. If you're an NBA general manager, are you taking a closer look at Marcus Smart after last night's 39-point performance, or is it still all freshmen all the time?

Andy Katz: Umm, yes. Smart has a legitimate shot to be the No. 1 pick. He's NBA-ready strong right now. The choice could be Smart versus Jabari Parker versus Julius Randle more than Andrew Wiggins. If you have a top-four pick in this draft, you'll be more than fine.

Dana O'Neil: If I'm an NBA GM and I wasn't already looking closely at Smart, I ought to be fired. He would have been a lottery pick last year, so why in the world would he be anything less this year? The NBA loves to draft on potential and the freshmen clearly are overloaded with it, but it's not as though Smart is 29 with his good years behind him.

Myron Medcalf: I think Smart's effort against Memphis confirmed what NBA GMs already know. He's the best guard in college basketball and he's worthy of a top-five pick. But if he can hit 3s the way he did against the Tigers (5-for-10) and cut down on turnovers as the season progresses, he'll have a realistic shot at securing one of the top two or three slots in the 2014 NBA draft.

2. Iowa State is a road favorite to beat BYU. Does Fred Hoiberg's team have what it takes for a rare win in the Marriott Center?

Katz: Of course, and if BYU's Tyler Haws isn't healthy enough to play at full strength, the Cyclones should win. But Iowa State isn't always the same away from Hilton Coliseum. This is one of the few elite home games for the Cougars and they must take advantage. The pressure is much more on BYU to beat a ranked Iowa State at home after a stellar first week of the season.

O'Neil: With Melvin Ejim in the lineup, and Tyler Haws potentially limited for BYU, the Cyclones definitely have the ability to win at the Marriott Center. More, Iowa State needs to win there. Hoiberg's teams have been terrific at Hilton Coliseum but shaky away from it, so the Cyclones need to prove they have the toughness to win on the road.

Medcalf: That's such a tough venue for visitors. And Haws is expected to play after missing a pair of games with an abdominal strain. At full strength (see the return of Melvin Ejim), however, I think Iowa State can play with most of the teams in the Top 25, so BYU shouldn't be a problem.

3. Which team -- New Mexico, UMass, Nebraska, Georgia, Clemson, Davidson, Temple or UAB -- has the most to gain in the Charleston Classic beginning Thursday?

Andy Katz: UMass. The Minutemen are off to a terrific start and wins over Nebraska and New Mexico to get to a final where they should be favored will land the Minutemen in the Top 25 and on their way toward building an NCAA tournament résumé.

O'Neil: This is big for UMass. This is the year it's supposed to come together for Derek Kellogg's team, but the Minutemen need some good quality wins out of conference to prove their worth. Playing against this field allows it. Chaz Williams could turn some heads in Charleston.

Medcalf: I think it's UMass because the Minutemen began the year with three wins, including a victory over SEC sleeper LSU. In the second round of the Charleston Classic, UMass might get a shot at New Mexico. A win over the Lobos would boost UMass' NCAA tourney résumé and push the program into the Top 25, assuming they win the tournament's championship too.


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