The Oklahoma Sooners are in the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season. It’s the first time they’ve made back-to-back tournaments since the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Oklahoma was a four-seed a year ago, in Jennie Baranczyk’s first at Oklahoma. This season, they’re a five-seed, just missing an opportunity to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
In order to make the sweet 16 for the first time since 2013, Oklahoma will have to overcome a strong trio of teams out in Los Angeles.
Here’s a look at what Oklahoma will be up against in the opening round of the Women’s NCAA tournament.
Mar 10, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; The Oklahoma Sooners celebrate after beating the TCU Horned Frogs at Municipal Auditorium. Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
The Oklahoma Sooners will head out to Los Angeles as the five-seed. There’s certainly a case to be made that Oklahoma did enough to warrant a four seed, however, bad losses to Texas coupled with the semifinal exit to Iowa State probably thwarted host-seed efforts.
Mar 5, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Kiki Rice (1) dribbles past Washington State Cougars guard Astera Tuhina (11) in the second quarter at Michelob Arena. Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
The Oklahoma Sooners will travel to Los Angeles to join a bracket featuring UCLA, Portland, and Sacramento State.
UCLA has a proud basketball tradition. The women’s side hasn’t had near the same success as the men’s side. However, in the 2022-2023 season, they’ll prove to be a formidable foe with their leading scorers shooting better than 50% on the season.
The Bruins only lost three games at home this season. Those losses were to Washington State, the Pac-12 tournament champion, No. 22 Arizona, and No. 2 Stanford.
Opening Round Opponent
March 7, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Portland Pilots forward Alex Fowler (12) celebrates against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the second half in the finals of the WCC Basketball Championships at Orleans Arena. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Portland went 23-8 this season and finished second in the West Coast Conference regular season. They earned their bid by winning the conference tournament with a 64-60 win over No. 16 Gonzaga.
That was their only ranked win of the season and avenged two earlier losses to Gonzaga during the regular season. They’ve faced some tough competition in losses to Stanford, Oregon, and Pac-12 tournament champion Washington State.
Oklahoma will be tested by a team that averaged 69.5 points per game and shoots 46% from the field, including 32.9% from three. They’re tied for 17th in the nation in field goal percentage and have four players that score in double figures.
Key Players in Los Angeles
March 7, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Portland Pilots forward Alex Fowler (12) celebrates against the Gonzaga Bulldogs after the game in the finals of the WCC Basketball Championships at Orleans Arena. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Fowler: 17.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 58.4% FG.
Haylee Andrews: 12.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 51.6% FG.
Charisma Osborne: 15.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 38.2% FG.
Kiki Rice: 11.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 40.6% FG.
Emily Bessoir: 9.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 41.4% FG.
Khaliajah Dean: 21.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 45.5% FG.
Isnelle Natabou: 15.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 64.2% FG.
Sweet 16 Outlook
Mar 11, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oklahoma Sooners coach Jennie Baranczyk during a timeout during the first half against the Iowa State Cyclones at Municipal Auditorium. William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports
Opening against Portland provides the Sooners an opportunity to get a tournament win out of the gate. Then, presumably, they’d face UCLA, the host school in the second round. UCLA finished fourth in the Pac-12 this season and lost to Washington State in the Pac-12 championship game.
The Sooners have a road to the Sweet 16 but would have a tall task against South Carolina to earn a trip to the elite eight.
Rest of the Greenville Region Bracket
Mar 5, 2023; Greenville, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley wears the net rounder neck and flashes a number on to the crowd after winning the SEC Championship at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 16 Norfolk St.
No. 8 South Florida vs. No. 9 Marquette
No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 Portland
No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 13 Sacramento St.
No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 11 – Illinois vs. Mississippi State winner
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 14 Southern Utah
No. 7 Arizona vs. No. 10 West Virginia
No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 15 Holy Cross
Landing in the same bracket and on the same side of the bracket as the No. 1 team in the nation is a tough draw for Oklahoma. Were they to win their first two matchups, a date with the defending national champions.