WBB Watch Guide 12-15: It's Holiday Season!

Photo by John Hamilton

Sometimes, it seems silly to do a weekly article highlighting upcoming college basketball games, because COVID-19 has made the college basketball calendar such a mess.

Let's take this past Sunday, for instance. If you look at last week's Watch Guide, you'll see that we had seven games originally scheduled. Two of them — Incarnate Word at UTSA and Tennessee at Texas — were canceled due to COVID concerns, while another game between UT Arlington and St. Edward's was added to the calendar at the last minute after the Lady Mavs had had multiple games canceled due to COVID.

So, with that said, here's this week's tentative Watch Guide. Game times might change. Streaming availability might change. Some of these games won't happen. That's where sports are at right now.

We've also got a handful of holiday events this week. The South Padre Island Classic hosts five teams from the state, while Abilene Christian heads to Florida for the Hatter Classic and Tarleton goes to Vegas for the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic.

 

Tuesday, December 15th

 

Sam Houston State at No. 10 Texas A&M at Noon
ESPN+

The Aggies did a pretty thorough job this past week of beating one of the top Southland teams with an 18-point win over Abilene Christian. Sam Houston State might match up a little better with them due to the Bearkats scoring, though Sam Houston's also played just one game against a Division I school at this point, allowing 98 points to New Mexico. Still, any chance to see the Aggies against an in-state opponent is a chance you should take.

UT Tyler at Abilene Christian at 5:30 p.m.
ESPN+

Northwestern State at UTSA at 7 p.m.
CUSA.TV

 

Wednesday, December 16th

 

McNeese State at Prairie View A&M at 2 p.m.
PVAMU Sports Network

It looks like Prairie View will finally start its 2020-21 season, making them the final Texas school to tip off. There's a lot of newcomers on this team, with only four players returning from last yar, but new addition Tamiracle Taylor should lead this Panthers team to a solid season in the SWAC. McNeese is 0-5, so this should be a chance for PVAMU to get off to a quick start.

Louisiana at Rice at 2 p.m.
CUSA.TV

Rice comes into this one at 3-0, with Lousiana at 1-2, though that second loss was in a close one to LSU. Rice has to stay out of foul trouble — Lousiana's Skyler Goodwin was 10-for-10 from the free throw line against the Tigers — if they want to move to 4-0. Both of these teams play at slow paces, so expect a close, tight one.

Southern at No. 7 Baylor at 2 p.m.
ESPN+

Eastern Carolina at SMU at 3 p.m.
ESPN+

Stephen F. Austin at Auburn at 6 p.m.

Auburn is 4-1, with that one loss coming against Houston. Its wins haven't come against great opponents, even if two of them were by huge margins. Auburn's defense hasn't played well, which should offer opportunities for the trio of Zya Nugent, Stephanie Visscher, and Aiyana Johnson to get some buckets.

Texas State at Texas A&M Corpus Christi at 7 p.m.
Islanders Digital Network

Cincinnati at Houston at 7 p.m.
ESPN+

We learn a lot about the Cougars this week. At 3-1 with three good quality wins, they next face a 1-3 Cincinnati team that's coming off consecutive 20-win seasons. The Bearcats aren't the same team they were last year, but IImar'I Thomas is a dangerous scoring threat, so Houston should try not to look past them.

 

Thursday, December 17th

 

UTEP at Northern Arizona at 7 p.m.

Kansas at No. 22 Texas at 7 p.m.
Longhorn Network

Considering both teams have had games canceled due to COVID concerns in their programs in the past week, we should probably be at least a little cautious about this one happening. The Jayhawks have been on the upswing over the past few years and are 4-1 right now, including a 42-point win over A&M Corpus and 41-point win over Oral Roberts. They also lost by 17 to Ole Miss, so Texas shold still be favored here, though they'll need to make sure they pressure Holly Kersgieter and keep her from making her shots like she's been doing.

 

Friday, December 18th

 

Northwestern State at No. 7 Baylor at 2 p.m.
ESPN+

UT Arlington vs North Texas at 4 p.m.
WAC Digital Network

One of my favorite games of the week, UT Arlington's had a season that's been interrupted by COVID, but they currently sit at 2-1, with both wins over non-DI schools and a 79-57 loss to SFA, which is to say that we really don't know a lot about this team yet. Shyia Smith is averaging 17 points per game on 66.7% shooting. Katie Ferrell is averaging just 3.3 points per game, but her 7.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game show how important she is.

We also don't know a ton about UNT, who are 2-1 with wins over Tarleton and Lousiana and a big loss to Texas. Quincy Noble is averaging 19.7 points per game on 52.5% shooting, making huge strides from when she last played for New Mexico in the 2018-19 season. I tentatively think the Mean Green can be a problem for Conference USA -- we'll know more by Friday about how true that might be.

UTSA at Sam Houston State at 6:30 p.m.
Bearkat Sports Network

Prairie View A&M vs. UTRGV at 7 p.m.
WAC Digital Network

 

Saturday, December 19th

 

Abilene Christian vs. UAB at Noon

ACU is coming off its first loss of the season, but considering it was against A&M, it probably didn't teach us a lot. And unless they lose to UT Tyler somehow on Tuesday, they'll be 6-1 entering this game and will arguably be the most mysterious 6-1 team in the country. UAB is a mid-pack Conference USA team, so we'll see how the Wildcats operate when they aren't either facing a non-DI school or an elite team.

Prairie View A&M vs. North Texas at 1 p.m.
WAC Digital Network

UT Tyler at Stephen F. Austin at 2 p.m.

TCU at Texas Tech at 2 p.m.

A year ago, this would be a marquee matchup, as both teams had strong campaigns. This year, neither team is expected to be competitive for a top spot in the Big 12, with TCU losing big to Iowa State in its conference opener and then Tech losing big to Baylor on Monday. But this is a matchup of two of the best players in the state in TCU's Lauren Heard and Tech's Vivian Gray, so even if this game doesn't have many implications in the postseason picture, it should be fun.

Houston Baptist at Grand Canyon at 2 p.m.

McNeese State at No. 7 Baylor at 2 p.m.
ESPN+

Lamar at Texas State at 4 p.m.
ESPN+

UT Arlington vs UTRGV at 4 p.m.
WAC Digital Network

I'll skip talking about UTA since I just did above, but the UTRGV portion of this matchup presents some compelling storylines too, especially Amara Graham, the team's leading scorer at 16 points per game. Her shooting struggles from deep probably need to get cleaned up for the Vaqueros to beat teams better than UTSA or A&M Corpus. Will that be what we see happen on Saturday?

Houston at No. 23 South Florida at 7 p.m.
ESPN+

Here's the game that I've been waiting for. Houston plays a fast-paced offensive game behind Britney Onyeje and Dymond Gladney, but South Florida is really, really good. They almost beat Baylor, and even with that lost rank 30th in average margin per game thanks to dominant wins over Jacksonville and Stetson. They also too down Mississippi State. Willl Houston have an answer for a defense with a 92nd percentile defensive rating? Can they stop Bethy Mununga in the midrange or Maria Alvarez from three? This is one of the most complete mid-major teams in the country. I can't wait to see if the Cougars can hang with them.

 

Sunday, December 20th

 

Abilene Christian at Stetson at 10 a.m.
ESPN+

SMU at Temple at 1 p.m.

Angelo State at Texas A&M Corpus Christi at 2 p.m.
Islanders Digital Network

Rice at No. 10 Texas A&M at 2 p.m.
ESPN+

The Aggies and their frontcourt duo of N'dea Jones and Ciera Johnson are going to have their hands full against Nancy Mulkey, one of the top centers in the country. The problem for Rice: how they matchup at every other position.

Tarleton vs North Alabama at 2 p.m.

 

Monday, December 21st

 

Southern at Texas Tech at 1 p.m.

Texas Southern at Stephen F. Austin at 2 p.m.

This will be just the second game this year for Texas Southern, but if its opening game against UTRGV is any indication, this is a team that can win the SWAC. They won that firat game 85-64, behind 24 points from Ataiya Bridges and 21 from Niya Mitchell. That duo should have the Tigers set to be a strong team both inside and outside, and they'll be a tough matchup for SFA. Hopefully this one ends up being shown on ESPN+, because it'll be a great battle of two teams that stack up well against each other in theory.

Tarleton vs. Eastern Michigan at 2 p.m.

No. 22 Texas at Kansas State at 7 p.m.

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