Women’s basketball receives 11 seed, will take on No. 6 seed Oklahoma in Columbus
There was standing room only at O’Kelly’s Sports Bar and Grill Monday night when women’s basketball as it learned its NCAA tournament fate.
“I think it’s great that all these people came out,” said head coach Sue Guevara. “You can see the support we have from the community and we have from the administration. That’s what we have to have. They give to us, so we want to give back to them; it’s a nice relationship.”
The No. 11-seeded Chippewas will play No. 6-seeded Oklahoma at 11:10 a.m. Saturday at St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
The capacity crowd had to wait close to 45 minutes before it saw Central Michigan on one of the many televisions inside the bar, but, once they did, most were pleasantly surprised.
For the team, the reality that they’re in the field of 64 is still sinking in.
“It feels great,” said senior guard Brandie Baker. “This is kind of unreal; it’s like a dream.”
The No. 11 seed is the highest in the history of the program, and even Guevara was surprised when she saw the seed.
“I saw everything from a 10 seed, to a 12 seed to a 16 seed,” Guevara said. “There comes a point when I was just like, who cares, I think the strength of our schedule helped us. I mean, five out of our 13 non-conference opponents all won their tournaments.”
The difficulty of their non-conference schedule has the Chippewas confident they can beat one of the best teams in the Big-12 Conference.
“I feel like we can beat them,” Baker said. “I haven’t really seen them play, but I don’t think there are many teams in the country that we can’t beat when we play together and play to our capability.”
If CMU can knock off the Sooners, it will play the winner of No. 3 UCLA and No 14. Stetson. The Chippewas are hoping that, since Columbus is less than five hours away, they will have plenty of support.
“For our fans, this is awesome,” Guevara said. “We’re going to have a lot of maroon and gold in the stands. Also, I received my master’s degree from the Ohio State University, so I still have friends there, so I think it will be great.”
From a national standpoint, most won’t expect much from CMU in the big dance, but the Chippewas don’t care.
“It feels good to be in, but it’s not over now,” said sophomore guard Crystal Bradford. “We’re playing for a whole new title now. We’re focused and ready to eat; we’re starved.”
CMU is making its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since consecutive appearances in 1983 and 1984. The postseason appearance is the third-straight, as they played in the WNIT each of the last two seasons, losing to Illinois State in both years.
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