Even though college basketball has just begun and March remains a distant four months away, NCAA Analyst Steve Smith already has his opinion on Villanova's postseason plans. Head Coach Jay Wright better have his bags packed in advance.
And to add to his statement, Smith also said the Wildcats resemble another team. This one, however, is no where near the Big East Conference.
"Villanova and Jay Wright will be [in the NCAA Tournament] at the end of the season," Smith said during a teleconference for this weekend's Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclay's Center with fellow CBS Sports broadcaster Greg Anthony and Turner Sports' Craig Sager.
"They remind me of Tom Izzo and Michigan State. I think some of the individual [Big East] coaches are still great. I expect Villanova to be in the tournament."
Though it may be a bit premature, Smith knows and has always played around talent. Smith was a two-time first team All-American during his junior and senior seasons at Michigan State when Izzo was an assistant coach and is the Spartans all-time leading scorer with 2,263 points. He led Michigan State to a Big Ten Championship and a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 1990 and is in the college's Hall of Fame.
But not playing in the Big East hasn't stopped Smith from holding the historic conference in high regard. However, his stance on the conference following last season's changes, has changed drastically.
"It's so hard to look at the Big East conference as a whole," Smith said. "Down the line, to be perfectly honest, you could talk about these teams with your eyes closed before the move and changes. After in-conference play we can assess them a little bit better."
Anthony chimed in, but he did admit that he hadn't been paying much attention to the 10-team conference this season. And there is a reason for the analyst missing a few games. He said rather simply that the conference "just isn't what it use to be."
"I still see this as a conference that will have multiple teams in the tournament," said Anthony, who finished his college career with a national championship in 1990, was a two-time Honorable Mention All-American and the all-time Assists leader at UNLV in 1991.
"Some of these schools will benefit from playing in the tournament as far as recruiting. John Thompson III and Buzz Williams are great coaches. But the Big East was the best basketball conference of all time. Period. You can't say that anymore."