NORMAN — Tonight, huddled at coach Sherri Coale’s far east Norman home, the Oklahoma women will find out whether they’re headed for the NCAA tournament.
And, while the Sooners have no reason to fear being excluded from the Big Dance, where they’ll be dancing remains anybody’s guess.
Last season, OU had to believe it would be sent home and was, yet Lloyd Noble Center is not hosting the first two rounds of the tournament this time around.
Oklahoma City is hosting a regional, but the Sooners likely won’t receive a No. 4 seed or better, thereby failing to give the tourney selection committee reason to give them a geographic favor.
Still, even if the committee was so inclined, OU could still go anywhere, because while opening round sites have been determined in advance, what regional each site lines up with won’t be determined until the field is determined.
OU would appear to be in line for a No. 6, No. 7 or No. 8 seed in any of the four regionals: Oklahoma City, Norfolk, Spokane, Bridgeport.
The Sooners are not ranked, but are No. 28 in the NCAA’s very own Rating Percentage Index (RPI). RPIratings.com, which produces an independent RPI list, ranks OU as No. 30.
Among Big 12 teams, the Sooners trail No. 1 Baylor and No. 24 Iowa State in both the NCAA and RPIratings.com RPI lists.
Yet another interesting tidbit, RPIratings.com also computes an independent conference RPI in which the Big 12 ranks No. 1 in front of the Big 10, SEC, Big East and ACC, even as Baylor remains the Big 12’s only ranked team.
ESPN women’s college basketball bracketologist Charlie Creme has placed OU as the No. 8 seed in the Bridgeport Regional, meeting St. Joseph’s in the first round, with the winner to meet the winner of Connecticut and Navy.
The Sooners want no part of a No. 8-seed (or a No. 9), because that would mean playing a No. 1 seed — Baylor, Notre Dame, Stanford, Connecticut or Duke — in the second round.
If OU gets stuck as a No. 8, it’s not so hard to figure out where it’s going: Waco (Baylor), Columbus (Notre Dame), Storrs (Connecticut), Palo Alto (Stanford) or Durham (Duke) — where the No. 1 seeds (and one No. 2 seed) are expected to be sent.
If OU receives a higher seed, the rest of the bracket opens up. The remaining 11 sites for the tourney’s first and second rounds: Louisville, Spokane, Baton Rouge, Boulder, Knoxville, Newark, College Station, Queens, College Park, Iowa City and Lubbock.
Creme’s calculations could be well off. He also has Oklahoma State — No. 37 in the NCAA RPI — receiving the No. 6 seed in the Spokane Regional, opening up at College Station. OU might be very happy to claim that spot for itself.
Whatever happens, OU is headed to its 14th consecutive NCAA tournament. However, this time, the Sooners are in no position to be very picky.
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