Welcome back to Stock Up, Stock Down, where I look around the college basketball landscape in Texas and see who is trending up and down.
Except this week, the "who" for trending down is less of a team/player and more of just a rant about big college games getting stuck in inaccessible places. Let's get to it.
Stock Down: Marquee matchups behind paywalls
I have no problem with paying for streaming services to watch sporting events. ESPN+ is one of the only reasons I can do this job, and the $5 per month to get access to women's basketball games is worth every penny.
But there's a difference between me having to pay to watch the games airing on ESPN+ on Tuesday, for example, and having to pay to watch top 10 teams play. I don't expect Longwood vs. Sam Houston to be televised. I'd love to be able to turn my television on and see Oklahoma and SMU playing, but most people are not me. That's fine too. The ESPN+ paywall is cheap, and even if it wasn't as cheap as it is, I'd still understand, because a game like Morehead State at Baylor wouldn't be easily accessible if not for streaming.
Even Baylor/Houston being on a completely different streaming service isn't the end of the world. It would have been nice to see Baylor and Houston play, but if you squint, even that game fits in the "niche-enough-to-be-a-streaming-exclusive" game, even if I wish it had been on a more accessible streaming service.
But defending champion Stanford played No. 4 Indiana and No. 2 Maryland this week and those games were only available on FloHoops. Matchups between top 10 teams need to be a little more accessible, right? The huge viewership for a noon game on a Monday between South Carolina and UConn shows that people want to see these huge games.
And I get it — those top 10 matchups are going to get diehard fans of those programs to pay FloHoops for them. But it's not going to expand the game. It's not going to get needed eyeballs on top contests. There's got to be some middle ground. If ESPN had the rights to Stanford/Maryland, it would have at least been on ESPN2. Instead, hardly anyone got to see that game, as well as a lot of other big matchups.
Stock Up: The Aggies keep winning
Texas A&M might not be getting the respect it deserves yet in the AP poll, but the Aggies are 7-0, ranked 17th in the country, and winning despite the fact that the team is seemingly starting a new lineup every night.
A&M still seems like it's trying to figure out the frontcourt rotation. Jada Malone, Aaliyah Patty, and Sydnee Roby have all started games, but no pure big on the team is playing more than Patty's 17.5 minutes per night. Per CBB Analytics, the team's most-used lineup for A&M (which has only played 35 minutes) has Roby at the five, then is essentially a four-guard lineup around her of Hoppie, Nixon, Pitts, and Wells. Is Kayla Wells a four now? Maybe!
That lineup has a +53.7 net rating, by the way. We might need to investigate this situation in more depth soon.
Stock Up: NaLyssa Smith and Alecia Westbrook
Smith was this week's Big 12 POTW and was the MVP of the Mayan Division at the Cancun Challenge. She averaged 19.0 points, 15.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks this week.
Westbrook was the Southland POTW. She averaged 15.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.3 steals per game, though the Islanders were 0-2 at the Denver Classic, including a 10-point loss to Tulane, which I bring up only to mention that Moon Ursin had 22 points and 13 rebounds in that game.
Stock Up: Abilene Christian
It's always tough to judge a team like ACU early in the year because two of its first three games were against Southwest (New Mexico) and Angelo State. Heck, last year I thought this was a team that could battle SFA for the Southland, but in retrospect, a non-conference schedule that featured wins over Howard Payne, Midwestern State, UT Permian Basin, Mary Hardin-Baylor, and UT-Tyler was pretty meaningless when it came to projecting.
But this season, the Wildcats just beat Little Rock and Arkansas State in the ORU Thanksgiving Tournament. Little Rock is a solid Sun Belt squad. ASU is a less solid Sun Belt team, but is still a Sun Belt team.
It's also always interesting to see where production comes from on this team. The Wildcats always feel deep. Against Little Rock, the team got 16 points off the bench from Jamie Bonnarens, a Colorado State transfer who started her college career at Cameron. Against Arkansas State, it was Madi Miller leading the way with 18 points and seven assists, while Kamryn Mraz added 16 points and seven assists.
Julie Goodenough's team looks really solid. Sure, they lost pretty substantially to Kansas State, but ACU is a team whose absolute ceiling is likely third-best team in the WAC behind SFA and Cal Baptist. A team with that ceiling isn't going to beat many power conference teams, but if they keep beating other Division I foes from better conferences than the WAC, that'll say something.