Claremore Daily Progress

Sports Columnists

March 14, 2012

HORNING: Running hot and cold

NORMAN — Horseplayers face a choice like that of the women’s NCAA tournament’s Fresno Regional’s Norman quad all the time.

Should one bet on recent finishes or speed figures, pedigree or class?

If it’s recent finishes you prefer, you might want to go with St. John’s or Creighton to emerge from Lloyd Noble Center into the women’s tournament’s Sweet 16.

If it’s class, it’s Oklahoma or St. John’s, each from one of the nation’s best conferences. If it’s pedigree, it’s the Sooners, entering March Madness a 13th straight season.

About the only thing Michigan has on its side is past form, for once upon a time, the Wolverines were 16-4 overall and 5-2 in the Big 10, yet they will arrive in Norman 20-11 and 8-8.

It all gets started at 4:05 p.m. Sunday on the Sooners’ home court, when 14th-seed Creighton and third-seed St. John’s tip off. A half hour after that game finishes, it’s OU and Michigan.

The winners return for an 8:30 p.m. Tuesday tip.

But for it’s last game, a 74-43 Big East Tournament semifinal loss to Connecticut, St. John’s might be the hottest team in the nation. It only lost to the Huskies after nine straight wins, one of them over the Huskies on Connecticut’s home floor.

The nine-straight also included victories over four other NCAA tourney teams: Rutgers, West Virginia, Georgetown and Louisville.

Some believe the Red Storm received a raw deal, one in which they could meet the tourney-experienced Sooners on OU’s home floor. They have no choice but to accept it.

“We have a confident and experienced group,” St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arico, Big East coach of the year, told Newsday Monday. “They believe they can beat anybody.”

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