This upcoming week of college basketball features some really great games across the state of Texas.
The state's two ranked teams — No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 8 Baylor — face some stiff competition, while a dominant Stephen F. Austin squad might finally have some close games against conference foes, as it faces Abilene Christian and Sam Houston.
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the country, which has led to the cancelation of this week's Rice/UNT series, which was a two-game set of top Conference USA teams that was going to be some must-watch basketball.
Below is this week's Watch Guide. All times are Central.
Tuesday, January 26
TCU at No. 9 Baylor at 7 p.m.
TCU appears to be on the upswing, winning two of its past three games with Aja Holmes being named the Big 12's Freshman of the Week this past week. The Horned Frogs struggled early in conference play, but behind the strong play of Lauren Heard and Michelle Berry, this team is showing promise. Of course, a road match against No. 9 Baylor isn't the kind of game that TCU is going to win, but expect this team to fight hard.
Wednesday, January 27
Tarleton at UTRGV at 1 p.m.
WAC Digital Network
Stephen F. Austin at Abilene Christian at 5:30 p.m.
This was one of the games I was most looking forward to all season and I still am, but it also feels like SFA is rolling at such a high level right now that even a really, really good Wildcats feels like serious underdogs. SFA has won every Southland game they've played by at least 30 points. ACU is 3-1 in conference play, with a couple of really close wins. This will be a test for the Ladyjacks, but with how they've been playing, it should be a test they pass.
No. 24 West Virginia at Texas Tech at 6 p.m.
The only ranked team in the Big 12 right now that isn't Baylor, the Mountaineers will head to Lubbock to take on a Lady Raiders squad that's 3-6 in conference play. Can Vivian Gray and the rest of this Tech team find a way to win a tough game? They managed to beat Texas last week, but WVU's defense has the ability to stifle this team.
Houston at Tulane at 6 p.m.
Tulane has won four of its last five, including a 76-62 win over Houston back on January 6th. The Cougars were cold from deep in that one, connecting on just six of their 27 threes. Could some better shooting help turn the tide against the Green Wave? Or will Tulane's defense continue to cause issues for the Cougars?
Lamar at Houston Baptist at 6:30 p.m.
HBU Sports Network
Texas at Oklahoma State at 6:30 p.m.
The Longhorns are going through an uneven period right now. They were destroyed by West Virginia and lost to Texas Tech, but then had a relatively easy 11-point win over Iowa State. The big matchup against Oklahoma State will be in the post, as two of the best bigs in the Big 12 — if not in the entire country — face off in UT's Charli Collier and OSU's Natasha Mack. Mack's defense could get Collier out of rhythm, and we've seen that this Texas team is in trouble when Collier isn't dominating. But if Collier can use her shooting range to put Mack in some bad positions defensively, the junior center could lead Texas to the win and further cement herself as the top player in the Big 12.
Thursday, January 28
No. 8 Texas A&M at Auburn at 7:30 p.m.
Considering the Aggies have won all their games against ranked teams but lost to unranked LSU, we shouldn't take any game for granted during an intensively-tough SEC schedule. Auburn hasn't won a conference game yet, but they played Kentucky really close last week, losing by just five. The Aggies will need to slow down Auburn's really, really good post player, Unique Thompson, but as long as they can do that, they should get another victory.
UTSA at UTEP at 8 p.m.
After a pretty rough start to conference play, UTEP has won its past three, including sweeping a good Louisiana Tech team last week. The Roadrunners, meanwhile, are still searching for their first conference win. They've been competitive at times, but Mikayla Woods is struggling with her shot and Adryana Quezada has been the only consistent threat for UTSA. On paper, this shouldn't be a close one, but don't be surprised to see a competitive game.
Friday, January 29
Texas State at Lousiana at 6 p.m.
I really love the Sun Belt matchups this week. Texas State is coming off back-to-back wins over Lousiana Monroe and have been getting some great production from Da'Nasia Hood and Lauryn Thompson. The Ragin' Cajuns are 4-1 in conference play, but that one loss came on New Year's Day to Texas State, when Thompson and Hood combined for 47 points. This Bobcats team doesn't have many sources of offense beyond that pair, but the duo gives them a shot to win every time out.
Arkansas State at UT Arlington at 6 p.m.
Meanwhile in Arlington, we get another good Sun Belt game. UTA has a couple of conference losses to Little Rock, but the defensive-minded Mavs have slowed games down and ground out some victories. The Red Wolves are a better offensive team that UTA but a worse defensive squad, which should mean another hard-fought battle.
Saturday, January 30
UTEP at UTSA at 1 p.m.
Nicholls State at Houston Baptist at 1 p.m.
I bet no one would have guessed that these two teams would both be in the top-five in the Southland standings, but here they are. Of course, the Huskies have played just one conference game so far, so maybe we should temper expectations a little for this team. We'll know more after Wednesday's Lamar game if HBU is going to be competitive going forward, but if they can get the win in that one, it'll set up this game on Saturday which actually has some real meaning!
West Virginia at TCU at 1 p.m.
McNeese at Lamar at 2 p.m.
Two Southland teams are undefeated in conference play (and have played more than the one game that HBU has played). SFA, who have just bulldozed everyone, and McNeese, who are 4-0 after an 0-7 non-conference schedule. Maybe playing extremely tough opponents like Ole Miss and Baylor helped prepare this team? Of course, they haven't gotten to the tougher parts of their schedule yet, but Saturday's game against Lamar will be a good test. The Cardinals played SFA tougher than anyone has in the Southland.
Sam Houston at Stephen F Austin at 2 p.m.
Maybe not as much of a high-profile game as it would have been last year, the Bearkats are still a very good team despite a 3-2 start to Southland play (including an overtime win over Lamar). This game features two of the best players in the conference in SFA's Stephanie Visscher and Sam Houston's Amber Leggett, plus a lot of good role players on both teams. This is a tough week schedule-wise for the Ladyjacks.
Alabama A&M at Prairie View A&M at 3 p.m.
PVAMU Sports Network
Texas State at Lousiana at 4 p.m.
Arkansas State at UT Arlington at 4 p.m.
Alabama State at Texas Southern at 5:30 p.m.
In a world where so many games are being pushed back because of COVID, it's hard to know what to make of some team's records. Texas Southern was supposed to be one of the top teams in the SWAC, but have played just five games all season and sit at 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the SWAC, with the only win being a close one against a Prairie View team that has really, really struggled. After some not-close losses to Grambling and Jackson State, what is this team? Alabama State is sitting near the top of the conference, so if the last two games for TSU weren't indicative of what this team can be, then we should be in for a good one.
Texas Tech at Texas at 7 p.m.
In a rematch of a game that the Horns lost earlier this month, we'll see if that was a fluke or if the Lady Raiders have something on Texas. In that first game, Vivian Gray was unstoppable, scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Texas couldn't keep Gray from getting inside. Texas also got just a 2-for-12 shooting night from Charli Collier and 3-for-13 from Audrey Warren. Texas kind of goes as Collier goes, so they're going to need her to find a way to impact this one.
Sunday, January 31
No. 7 Baylor at Iowa State at 3 p.m.
Iowa State has a two-game winning streak over Baylor. That...can't be extended to three, right? The Lady Bears have really struggled to contain Ashley Joens, one of the country's best scorers. They're going to need DiDi Richards to play as much as she can to help slow down the Cyclones, while they'll need some perimeter scoring from Moon Ursin to help keep up in what should be a game where every point matters. Baylor should win this, but they also should have won the last two times these teams faced.
No. 22 Georgia at No. 8 Texas A&M at 4 p.m.
Another top-25 matchup for the Aggies, who have done a really good job in these kinds of games so far. But Georgia has been one of the best defensive teams in college basketball, with a 76.4 defensive rating that ranks in the 99th percentile. The 13-2 Bulldogs have allowed over 70 points just twice, so A&M is going to have to figure out how to win a defensive battle. They have the personnel to do so, but this is going to be one of those gritty, slow-paced affairs.
Monday, February 1
Alabama State at Prairie View A&M at 5:30 p.m.
PVAMU Sports Network
Alabama A&M at Texas Southern at 5:30 p.m.