Tahlequah Daily Press

March 17, 2014

Tournament hopes up in the air for OU women


— It’s not a give-away, only an indication, and still it paints a picture that really hasn’t been in play since Sherri Coale’s Oklahoma women’s basketball teams began attending NCAA Tournaments.

It arrived in an e-mail announcement that Coale and selected players would meet the media at 7:45 p.m. today, after the program learns of its latest March Madness fate.

“The team’s watch party will be a private event,” the announcement read.

The program had been inviting media to that same watch party for years and years and years. But not this year. And what’s different about this year?

The Sooners don’t know with certainty that they’ve made it.

The selection show for the women’s tournament begins at 6 tonight on ESPN.

According to ESPN’s own women’s tourney bracketologist Charlie Creme, the Sooners are in the field as one of the last four at-large berths.

Good news for Sooner fans, perhaps, looking at Creme’s bracket, OU appears to be the first or second of the last four to make it into the field.

After the Sooners, Creme’s last four include Florida State, Florida and Vanderbilt.

Creme has the Commodores as the 10th seed in the Lincoln (Neb.) Regional, the Gators the No. 12 seed in the Lincoln Regional and the Seminoles the No. 11 seed in the South Bend (Ind.) Regional.

He has the Sooners as the No. 10 seed in the Stanford Regional, playing Dayton in Durham, N.C., this coming Saturday or Sunday.

By Creme’s estimation, both Florida and Florida State, with Nos. 11 and 12 seeds, are more vulnerable than OU.

The NCAA’s very own RPI, however, tells a different story. It has Florida State No. 39, Vanderbilt No. 43, OU No. 59 and Florida No. 63.

Also, for comparison purposes, Creme’s “first four out” and “next four out” — Minnesota, South Florida, South Dakota State, Bowling Green, Rutgers, Creighton, Southern Miss and St. Mary’s — carry RPIs, in the same order, of Nos. 44, 56, 42, 26, 53, 62, 36 and 47.

If any of those teams begin popping up in brackets before OU’s name is called this evening it could be very bad news for the Sooners.

Going 9-9 in the Big 12 actually bodes well for OU, as Baylor, West Virginia, Texas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State are all overwhelmingly believed to be headed to the tournament.

Also, OU took (RPI) No. 8 Louisville to overtime, outscored No. 4 Duke by 10 points in the second half, fell to No. 11 West Virginia by a single point and played No. 10 Baylor within seven points twice.

There was a little doubt in 2005 when a 17-12 Sooner team was awarded a No. 9 seed. There would appear to be a little more this around.

The waiting may be the hardest part.