- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. The Big East will announce its conference schedule on Thursday and according to at least one source the league will end the season as it should -- with its highest-profile series between Georgetown and Villanova in Philadelphia. The Big East has a few historical rivalries and the chance to build a few long-term matchups like Creighton-Marquette and Butler-Xavier. The Big East has the opportunity to maximize its traditional teams, especially rivalries and now has a real chance to bookend its first season as a 10-team league with quality games. The Big East and its television partner Fox had already announced a New Year's Eve opening day of five games -- St. John's at Xavier, Seton Hall at Providence, DePaul at Georgetown, Villanova at Butler and Marquette at Creighton. The conference is making the right call in highlighting its two highest-rated teams for television on the final game of the regular season.
2. Nebraska coach Tim Miles said his players were "stunned" when they walked into the Cornhuskers’ new 15,147-seat Pinnacle Bank Arena. "The new facility is off the charts,'' said Miles. "Every seat is sold for men's basketball games, for every concert.'' Miles needed a home opener that popped. He said he thought immediately of Florida Gulf Coast after watching "Dunk City" in the NCAA tournament. "Once they exploded, nobody wanted to play them so they were an easy pick,'' said Miles of the Nov. 8 game on BTN. "I told [new FGCU coach] Joe Dooley that you're getting an $85,000 [guarantee] check to go 0-1. The Big Ten put us on the road for the first two games [at Iowa and at Ohio State after a nonconference game at Cincinnati] but gave us a great opener in Michigan (Jan. 8, ESPN2) with our students in session. The story is our arena, our practice facility. The team, we'll see. We're young.''
3. Miles' former assistant and successor at North Dakota State, Saul Phillips, got a five-year extension to stay with the Bison last week. Phillips is that rare breed who loves where he is at a level out of the limelight and doesn't look at his gig simply as a stepping stone. Phillips took the team he built with Miles into the 2009 NCAA tournament in their first season eligible in Division I. So, why stay? "I have too many winter coats that would go to waste if I moved,'' said Phillips in jest. "I love my AD here. That's a big part of it.'' Phillips would like to see the Bison get a new arena, something MIles is enjoying at his new gig. "We've raised 30 million privately on a 34-million-dollar arena,'' said Phillips. "We get that done and we can be a good mid-major year in and year out.''