- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. The Presidential Medal of Freedom award for former North Carolina coach Dean Smith was an honor well deserved. The recognition by President Barack Obama, like those before him since President John F. Kennedy created the award, is meant to be for individuals who have set themselves apart in their chosen field, but not always for simply the craft that made them so successful. Smith did so much more than simply coach and win basketball games. He wasn't afraid to be active in the world in which he coached in the 1960s. He set a high example for himself and the program. North Carolina coach Roy Williams said in a statement Thursday, "But more than basketball, it was his social conscience that has left even greater marks on our society and will be paying dividends for generations.'' Smith has been battling memory loss over the past few seasons. No one knows if he'll be able to attend the ceremony at the White House when the date is announced. But let's hope he can make an appearance. His family deserves to see him praised publicly. That's what makes the timing right, so those who love him can celebrate his life's accomplishments with him.
2. The Sun Belt played its conference tournament title game on the Monday of Championship Week last season. But the Sun Belt wanted to have more exposure and a significant platform. The league announced it will host its title game on Selection Sunday on ESPN2. This is great news for exposure for the league. But it could cause another headache for the selection committee and possibly for the winner. The committee can't control when conferences schedule title games but if it were up to them there wouldn't be title games on Sunday. The committee has to deal with too many scenarios on Selection Sunday with winners and losers possibly affecting seeding and bracketing. The Sun Belt has gained exposure, but we'll have to wait and see if it sacrificed its seed by forcing the committee to hold a spot for the winner or a possible at-large team.
3. The Big 12 made the right call in having Kansas and Oklahoma State play on March 1 -- in Stillwater -- in what should be one of the best atmospheres and showdowns next season. KU and OSU should dominate the landscape on that day. This would give the focus to the Big 12 with Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart headlining the game. Like it or not, Duke-North Carolina the ensuing weekend usually draws a lot of attention. If KU-OSU were opposite that game there's a good chance it would still be the game of the day based on preseason projections. But this way there is no debate with Kansas and Oklahoma State on a separate weekend.