February has arrived and it's a month you may know best as the last full month before the NCAA Tournament and as a time where the games really start to heat up.
In some conferences, the standings are starting to solidify. SFA is winning the Southland. Baylor is probably winning the Big 12, although West Virginia is on fire right.
But questions remain in other conferences. Anything could happen in the SEC or Conference USA still. This week's games will help us figure out some of these questions.
Note: Texas A&M Corpus Christi has postponed both games this week due to COVID-19. All game times are Central.
Tuesday, February 2
Little Rock at Texas State at 6 p.m.
Tarleton at Grand Canyon at 7 p.m.
WAC Digital Network
Wednesday, February 3
Houston at Tulsa at 12 p.m.
Lamar at Abilene Christian at 5:30 p.m.
ACU came closest of any Southland team to taking down SFA, but the Ladyjacks pulled away in the fourth, dropping the Wildcats to 3-2 in conference play. That means they're tied with Lamar in the SLC standings. On paper, Abilene Christian and its 3-point shooting make them the favorites, but the Cardinals play some solid defense and could have a shot if they can get ACU off rhythm early on.
Kansas State at Texas Tech at 6 p.m.
Houston Baptist at Sam Houston at 6:30 p.m.
Houston Baptist is third in the Southland! Of course, the Huskies have only played three games, so it's still hard to know exactly just how good they are. This will be a great test. Sam Houston struggled against SFA, but still have one of the best players in the conference in Amber Leggett, and their offense has been among the best in the country. But the Huskies have averaged 71 points per game in conference play with the second-best margin of victory in the SLC. This will be fun.
Texas at Oklahoma at 7 p.m.
It's Red River Showdown time, women's basketball edition! The Sooners have coupled a really good offense with one of the worst defenses in the country, with a 102.6 defensive rating that ranks in the bottom 25 nationally. Texas has struggled to play consistent basketball this year, but this is the kind of game where Charli Collier can feast.
Thursday, February 4
Kansas at No. 8 Baylor at 7 p.m.
LSU at No. 7 Texas A&M at 8 p.m.
The one issue with A&M's resume this year? A 65-61 overtime loss to the Tigers back on January 14th. Jordan Nixon and Kayla Wells combined to go 0-for-5 from three, and LSU got 20 points off the bench from Tiara Young. Those are things that shouldn't happen again, and the Aggies have the clear talent advantage here. A&M should get its revenge here, though there are never guarantees in sports.
Friday, February 5
Rice at Southern Miss at 6 p.m.
FIU at UTSA at 6 p.m.
UT Arlington at Louisiana Monroe at 6 p.m.
Texas State at Little Rock at 6:30 p.m.
North Texas at Louisiana Tech at 6:30 p.m.
Because of COVID postponements, UNT hasn't played since a loss to UTEP on January 16th. So, you might have forgotten since then that the Mean Green have been really good ever since their loss to Texas. Quincy Noble has been incredible in her first season with the team, while UNT's depth has been among the best in the conference. The only real concern here is when they face a team that's got elite size up front. They might struggle some with Anna Larr Roberson, but this Lady Techsters team isn't really built to beat North Texas.
UTRGV at Grand Canyon at 7 p.m.
WAC Digital Network
UAB at UTEP at 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 6
Houston Baptist at Northwestern State at 1 p.m.
Abilene Christian at Lamar at 2 p.m.
Oh hey, a rematch of the game from earlier in the week!
Texas Tech at Iowa State at 2 p.m.
Even though Krista Gerlich's first year in Lubbock hasn't been the best, Tech is capable of playing competitive basketball on any given night. This game also features a battle between two of the conference's top players with Tech's Vivian Gray and Iowa State's Ashley Joens. Readers of this piece each week will know I have a strict "watch Ashley Joens" policy.
Nicholls State at Sam Houston at 2 p.m.
There are five teams in the Southland with a positive net rating on the season, with Sam Houston ranking among those teams. But of the teams with negative net ratings, Nicholls has been the best of them, and after struggling in non-conference play, the Colonels have improved since Southland play started, including beating the Bearkats on January 2nd. Sam Houston let Chelsea Cain put up a 29 and 13 in that one, but the Bearkats were also in major foul trouble in that game. Things should be different this time.
SFA at New Orleans at 3 p.m.
Rice at Southern Miss at 4 p.m.
North Texas at Louisiana Tech at 4 p.m.
Texas State at Little Rock at 4 p.m.
FIU at UTSA at 4 p.m.
UT Arlington at Louisiana Monroe at 4 p.m.
UAB at UTEP at 5 p.m.
Prairie View A&M at Texas Southern at 6 p.m.
TSU Sports Network
The second meeting of these two teams this season should be a good one. While neither team has been as good as they were expected to be, with TSU in particular disappointing after looking like conference contenders before the season. But the first time these teams played, it was a three-point win for the Tigers. Niya Mitchell hasn't played since December with an apparent knee issue, which has really impacted what TSU can do. The scoring duo of Ataiya Bridges and Te'Aire Hambrick is tough to slow down, while the Panthers will look to establish Tiffany Tullis inside.
UTRGV at Grand Canyon at 7 p.m.
WAC Digital Network
No. 21 West Virginia at Texas at 7 p.m.
The Mountaineers — barring a loss on Wednesday to Iowa State, which definitely could happen — are poised to enter this game on a nine-game winning streak. They've been excellent on both ends of the floor, especially when they faced Texas earlier in the year. They won that one 92-58 behind 24 points from Kysre Gondrezick. Meanwhile, Charli Collier was held to five points and Texas shot 40 percent from the field. This is the exact kind of team that presents nightmares for Texas.
Sunday, February 7
No. 8 Baylor at Kansas State at 1 p.m.
TCU at Kansas at 1:30 p.m.
No. 18 Tennessee at No. 7 Texas A&M at 2 p.m.
This game was supposed to happen back in December, but we've had to wait a bit. Before that game, I expressed concern about Tennessee having not played a tough schedule yet. Well, since then they've defeated two Top 25 schools, Arkansas and Kentucky. In both games, their defense held strong teams in check, and that's what they'll look to do to the Aggies. The matchup to watch here is Tennessee's Rennia Davis vs. whoever she's matched up with on both ends of the floor.
Monday, February 8
UT Arlington at Lousiana at 4 p.m.
The only game in the state on Monday is also one of the best games of the week. The top two teams in the Sun Belt's West Division face off after their first two meetings were postponed. But while win/loss record has this as a close one, the advanced stats seem to favor UTA. The Mavs have a +12.4 net rating. The Ragin' Cajuns are at +3.9. The big difference is that UTA has been the better team defensively this year, with the conference's best defensive rating. This might be one of those grind-it-out battles, though UTA also has some really good shooters in Shyia Smith and Terryn Milton who could help them pull away.