Coaches and the experts who are involved the NCAA tournament play often say that the brackets can help create outcomes. Sometimes, it depends on the matchups of team vs. team.
For Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale, the Sooners' first-round game in the women's NCAA Tournament is all about how the players for her Sooners and Central Michigan fit.
"There are mismatches (for both teams) all over the court," Coale said Friday.
No. 6 seed Oklahoma will take on No. 11 seed Central Michigan Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, in the Oklahoma City Region. Both teams rely heavily on guard play. Crystal Bradford, a 6-0 sophomore guard, is the key player for the Chippewas (21-11).
"The more film I watch, the more impressed I am with them," Coale said. "They've got really big guards. They're a tough matchup for us."
"They have some very good athletes who are big and strong and put the ball on the floor and go to the rim. So containing that explosive drive is going to be a big part of it, to turn them into passers. They shoot it well too but I think that's secondary to them getting to the rim and making plays."
Since early December, Oklahoma has had eight scholarship players. Three starters and a team captain - Whitney Hand, Kaylon Williams, Maddie Manning, Lyndsey Cloman - were lost for the season
"That has sort of become our badge," Coale said. "Put us in a corner and we'll fight out of that corner … And, I think, the NCAA tournament, unless you're a No. 1 seed, is kind of that thing. 'OK, here we are, we have to fight our way out.'"
The junior backcourt of Aaryn Ellenberg and Morgan Hook along with post players Nicole Griffin and Joanna McFarland figure to be key players against Central Michigan, which likes to play at a fast pace – as does Oklahoma.
"We've been through a lot of ups and downs this season and I think that we have a lot of maturity and a lot of poise when it comes to close games," McFarland said. "If we can get a game close, we're probably going to win it. We're used to tough situations, pressure situations."
Oklahoma City Region
No. 6 Oklahoma (22-10) vs. No. 11 Central Michigan (21-11)
10:10 a.m. Saturday, Columbus, Ohio, ESPN2.
Coaches: Sherri Coale, Oklahoma; Sue Guevara, Central Michigan.
Why they're here: Oklahoma was an at-large selection from the Big 12. Central Michigan won the automatic bid from the Mid-American Conference.
Scouting the Sooners: Junior guard Aaryn Ellenberg is a dynamic scorer and forms an outstanding back court along with junior point guard Morgan Hook. Ellenberg averages 18.5 points per game while Hook averages 5.4 assists. Ellenberg has set a single-season school record for 3-pointers. OU likes a fast-paced game and relies on 6-6 junior Nicole Griffin and 6-3 senior Joanna McFarland to get the running game going by controlling the defensive boards. McFarland is averaging a double-double over the last 20 games.
Scouting the Chippewas: Central Michigan is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1984. The Chippewas like to play at a fast pace and is 14th in the nation in scoring at 74 points a game. Five players have made 30 or more 3-pointers. Central Michigan was 11-0 this season when allowing 60 or fewer points. Crystal Bradford, a 6-0 sophomore guard, leads the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks. She averages 15.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.