- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. Gonzaga coach Mark Few said on the ESPNU college basketball podcast that Florida coach Billy Donovan called him the day after the Zags lost to Butler. He told Few to tell his team "make sure Butler doesn't beat you twice." It was good advice. Gonzaga hasn't allowed a hangover since then -- I'm not counting a squeaker at San Diego since the Toreros have consistently played the Zags tough under former Gonzaga assistant Billy Grier. Few also had high praise for Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart. Few, Donovan and Shaka Smart coached him this summer with USA Basketball. Few said Marcus Smart took a "bunch of strangers," and molded them into a team. He added that he has a "ton of innate leadership,'' and simply called him a winner.
2. Villanova coach Jay Wright said on the podcast that the toughest part of the potential Big East seven split is not knowing what the nonconference schedule will be like for the next two seasons. The Wildcats have traditionally played Temple in the Big Five as a nonconference game. Unless the seven somehow leave early next season, the two teams will play a conference game or two against each other. But Wright said he's not sure, so the schedule will still be an unknown in February -- whereas in years past it would have been done already. Villanova knows who its six other conference members will be, but the seven will likely bump to 10 whenever it forms a new league. The top two choices will be Xavier and Butler out of the A-10. Questions remain about the third. The seven is likely going to stay private, and not necessarily Catholic. The question will be does the league go south or further west? Don't be surprised if Georgetown influences the decision and tries to get Richmond -- a scholarly school that has a decent hoop tradition and is geographically close enough to the others.
3. There is plenty of nostalgia from coaches as BracketBusters heads toward its final weekend Feb. 22-23. Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said the event has helped the Gaels make the NCAA tournament. Last year it helped turn their season around even in a road loss at Murray State. Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said he has had great experiences while head coach at Winthrop and Wichita. The chore for these schools will be to commit to playing each other and actually playing true home-and-home series. A Creighton-Saint Mary's game is good for both teams. The same can be said if Indiana State could schedule Akron, or Belmont could get Wichita to play a home-and-home series. These guaranteed games are a huge plus and should continue in some form.