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In today's Sprint:
- 🏀 Texas-sized showdown
- 📺 Content wars
- 🏈 5-star transfers
In the history of the NCAA men’s basketball AP Poll, only one state has ever boasted four teams in the top-10 during the same week. Which state can claim the impressive feat?
- North Carolina
The Sprint has developed quite an affinity for the Oklahoma basketball team. Here’s why:
- Won 4 games over top-10 teams in January (first team since NC State in 1974)
- Moved from #24 to #9 in the latest AP Poll (ties largest jump since 1990)
- Won 3 straight regular-season games against top-10 opponents (first since Michigan in 2014)
But that was before yesterday’s showdown in Lubbock…
(12-5) #13 Texas Tech 57 vs (11-4) #9 Oklahoma 52
- Both teams struggled offensively until Tech’s Terrence Shannon Jr (15 pts, 3 reb) came off the bench to get the scoring going. If Tech can win when Mac McClung plays poorly, then this team becomes far more dangerous.
- Reminder: Oklahoma was missing its best player Austin Reaves (15.8 ppg, 5.1 rbp, 5.1 apg).
(11-4) Louisville 74 vs. (8-6) Georgia Tech 58
- David Johnson and Samuell Williamson combined for 44 points and 28 rebounds as Louisville manhandled Georgia Tech.
The big one: (16-0) #2 Baylor vs. (11-3) #6 Texas - Tues. 7:00 ET on ESPN
- The battle for basketball supremacy in the state of Texas is also huge on the national stage. These are two teams with national title hopes, and a win tonight goes a long way to locking up a #1 seed in March.
(12-3) #11 Tennessee vs. (8-8) Ole Miss - Tues. 7:00 ET on ESPN2
- After an emotional win over Kansas, the Volunteers get back to SEC play to chase Alabama for the conference’s top spot.
(11-5) North Carolina vs. (10-5) Clemson - Tues. 7:00 ET on ACCN
- Talk about two teams on different trajectories. Clemson, after climbing to #12 in the rankings, has since gone an abysmal 1-4 with the average loss by 24.5 points. Meanwhile, UNC has won 3 in a row, turning its season around.
The last few weeks featured a slew of announcements foreshadowing the future of how sports content will be both purchased and viewed.
The culprits: Following in ESPN’s footsteps, Sports Illustrated announced a paywall will be placed in front of ‘premium content’ starting today, February 2nd. This affects signature articles like Monday Morning Quarterback.
Elsewhere, NBC announced the discontinuation of the NBC Sports Network effective at the end of 2021. Currently, NBC Sports is home to Sunday Night Football, the Premier League, and the NHL.
The strategy: For Sports Illustrated, it’s an opportunity to directly monetize its most loyal followers. However, it doesn’t (on the surface) have a package deal to offer like Disney did with ESPN+, Disney+, and Hulu.
Meanwhile, NBC’s plan is simple - push its sports content (and thus more users) to Peacock, the company’s fast-growing streaming service.
Zoom out: Sports media (print and video) is following the entertainment industry headlong into the subscription-based ‘freemium’ business model. Generally, the free version includes ads while the paid version gets rid of the ads and includes higher quality, branded content (think the new show Stephen A’s World on ESPN+).
At a point in the near future, end-users will be paying more for subscriptions than they ever did for cable.
Maybe the door is opening for sports media companies that figure out how to do ads in a better way while producing quality content...just saying :)
WATER COOLER TALK
- ⚾ Dustin Pedroia retired from baseball. He ends a likely Hall of Fame career with an absurd trophy collection: 1 AL Rookie of the Year, 1 AL MVP, 4 Gold Gloves, and 3 World Series titles.
- 👟 Nike unveiled its latest project, a hands-free shoe: the Nike GO FlyEase.
- 🏈 Two Chiefs’ players, WR Demarcus Robinson and OL Daniel Kilgore, were placed on the COVID-19 list. It is unclear whether they will play in the Super Bowl.
- 🏈 LSU star tight end Arik Gilbert transferred to the University of Florida. The mass exodus from Baton Rouge continues while UF lands its next Kyle Pitts.
- 🤾 Denmark won the 2021 Handball World Championship. The tournament featured 600 handballers from 32 nations in over 100 matches scoring over 5,500 goals.
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B. Texas, which accomplished the feat just last week. The four teams were; #2 Baylor, #5 Texas, #6 Houston, and #10 Texas Tech.
*Rankings from Jan 25th AP poll.