The biggest game of the upcoming week, a battle between UConn and Baylor in Waco, was canceled on Tuesday after Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey tested positive for COVID-19. But there are still a lot of great games this week, headlined now by a pair of ranked contests involving Texas A&M.
Here's what I would have said about Baylor/UConn, by the way:
No games on Tuesday, January 5th or Monday, January 11th this week, but we have five days of basketball in-between for you. Let's take a look at the highlights in this week's Watch Guide.
- 1/6: Northwestern State at Incarnate Word
- 1/7: UConn at Baylor
- 1/9: Incarnate Word at New Orleans
- 1/10: Kansas State at Baylor
Wednesday, January 6th
Tulane at Houston at 3 p.m.
Call this a nice warm-up game for the Cougars as they prepare to end the week against American favorites South Florida. Houston's coming off a tough loss to UCF in a game where the Coogs weren't able to get out and play at the fast pace they like to employ. Tulane's also a well-rounded team that wants to slow the game down, so it will be interesting to see if UH can adjust in this one. They kept things close for most of the game against UCF.
Oklahoma at Texas Tech at 6 p.m.
Oklahoma State at TCU at 6:30 p.m.
Fun fact: Oklahoma State is 3-0 in conference play and 7-2 overall on the year. We spent so much time talking about Texas and Iowa State as the primary challengers to Baylor atop the Big 12 that we forgot the Cowgirls exist. They probably shouldn't be this good considering Vivian Gray and Bryn Gerlich left for Texas Tech, but it says a lot about how good Natasha Mack is that this team is still winning. Mack is a first-round prospect in this year's WNBA Draft and is averaging 16.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game. She's one of the best — if not THE best — pure post players in the country. TCU is going to have its hands full inside.
Southeastern Lousiana at Sam Houston at 6:30 p.m.
Bearkat Sports Network
SELA are 2-2 on the year and 1-0 in conference play. Last year, they finished 12-17 and 9-11 in the Southland. It's too early to know if the Lions are really about to make a run at being in the second tier of Southland teams behind SFA and ACU, but this game will help us figure some stuff out. Sam Houston lost a close one to Nicholls State to open conference play, but I'd like to think that was a fluke and that the Bearkats are still the third-best team in this conference. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but SHSU does have the third-best offensive rating in the conference and the fourth-best net rating. The defense has been an issue for them.
Nicholls State at Lamar at 7 p.m.
Texas A&M Corpus Christi at Stephen F. Austin at 7 p.m.
Thursday, January 7th
No. 10 Kentucky at No. 8 Texas A&M at 7:30 p.m.
THURSDAY NIGHT BASKETBALL IN CENTRAL TEXAS.
The Aggies are undefeated and are really not getting enough attention for that. They eviscerated Florida on Sunday in Gainesville and are one of the most complete teams in the country. They can win inside. They can win outside. They can win with defense. For more on A&M, check out this recent piece I wrote over them.
As for Kentucky, the big name you need to know is Rhyne Howard. The junior is already the favorite to be selected first overall in the 2022 WNBA Draft. She's averaging 18.8 points per game this year and is shooting 41.1 percent from three. She ranks in the 90th percentile or better in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game. Howard can do it all on a basketball court and she'll be the toughest test all season for this Aggies team.
Friday, January 8th
UTEP at Rice at 1 p.m.
Arguably the top two teams in Conference USA's Group B this season, the fact that we get two days of UTEP and Rice facing off this week is a real treat. UTEP is led by the perimeter duo of Katia Gallegos and Dejanea Roebuck. Rice has Nancy Mulkey inside plus a lot of great shooters surrounding her. I'm expecting a lot of offense and while Rice should be favored, the Miners have the personnel to make these games incredibly fun.
Texas State at Arkansas State at 6 p.m.
Arkansas State's metrics are really good. A 98th percentile net rating, in large part because its 72.1 defensive rating is in the 99th percentile nationally. But the Bobcats aren't slouches on defense either, with their 85.6 defensive rating being the third-best mark in the Sun Belt. If you like watching some hard-nosed defensive basketball, make sure you tune into Friday or Saturday's games between these teams. There's also the fact that all of Arkansas State's wins but one have been against non-Division I schools. I actually have Texas State as slight favorites here.
Lousiana Monroe at UT Arlington at 6 p.m.
UTSA at North Texas at 6:30 p.m.
Tarleton at Grand Canyon at 7 p.m.
Tarleton's first year in Division I hasn't gone so well, as its only wins are against non-Division I opponents. But the Texans are learning and growing, and they'll get the chance to continue that growth during a weekend series against one of the WAC's top three teams.
Saturday, January 9th
Abilene Christian at Texas A&M Corpus Christi at 1 p.m.
Islanders Digital Network
UTEP at Rice at 1 p.m.
Sam Houston State at Central Arkansas at 1 p.m.
Lamar at Houston Baptist at 2 p.m.
Lamar has really struggled this year, but you know who isn't struggling? HBU. After opening its season with a blowout loss to Rice, the Huskies played Texas Tech tight, lost a close one to Grand Canyon, and then reeled off convincing wins against Prairie View and Northwestern State. Sure, those aren't great teams, but the Huskies are 5-3 right now after winning just eight games all of last year. This team might be rounding a corner. A sizable win against Lamar will help cement their status as the surprise team of the Southland.
TCU at Oklahoma at 3 p.m.
St. Mary's at UTRGV at 3 p.m.
UTSA at North Texas at 3:30 p.m.
Texas State at Arkansas State at 4 p.m.
Louisiana Monroe at UT Arlington at 4 p.m.
No. 17 Texas at West Virginia at 5 p.m.
West Virginia has quietly put together a solid campaign, with a +16.9 net rating that ranks in the 82nd percentile nationally. Texas, though, has a 93rd percentile net rating and has been strong on both ends of the floor. Their superior defense should give them the edge in this one.
Tarleton at Grand Canyon at 7 p.m.
Houston at No. 18 South Florida at 7 p.m.
South Florida is the best team in the American. Houston shouldn't win this game, but the Cougars have shown some real offensive firepower at times this season. The problem? Can they find the defense to slow down USF and its dominant post player, Bethy Mununga?
Sunday, January 10th
Iowa State at Texas Tech at 3 p.m.
I don't really think the Lady Raiders have the firepower to keep up in this one, even though they have Vivian Gray on the team. But I've said it once and I'll continue to say it all year: if you have the chance to watch Iowa State and Ashley Joens play basketball, you should take that opportunity.
No. 8 Texas A&M at No. 13 Arkansas at 3 p.m.
The week ends with another top-25 matchup involving the Aggies. Whew, the SEC is tough.
Arkansas has already beaten Baylor, so we know they can win tough games. They've got one of the best guard duos in the country with Chelsea Dungee and Destiny Slocum. They have some great shooting with Amber Ramirez.
The thing that A&M should be able to exploit is Arkansas's defense. They actually have the third-worst defensive rating in the SEC, and the Aggies have so many weapons. This will be a high-scoring game, but A&M's the more well-rounded team.
Monday, January 11th
Texas Southern at Prairie View A&M at 5 p.m.
PVAMU Sports Network
Even though Prairie View hasn't been as good as expected this year, any matchup between them and Texas Southern is a must-watch. The Panthers are on a four-game losing streak but have been competitive in all of those games. They just need to put together a full game and get some threes from Kennedi Heard and Tamiracle Taylor to start dropping more consistently. Diana Rosenthal is off to a hot start though. As for Texas Southern, they've played just two games this year, beating UTRGV convincingly and then losing to a really good Stephen F. Austin team. Ataiya Bridges and Niya Mitchell are such a good duo and should give the Tigers a chance to win the SWAC. This will hopefully be a competitive game, but we should be looking to see if TSU can pull away late.