MANHATTAN — It was hardly the first time Kansas State women's coach Jeff Mittie had to think on his feet.
It's just that most of the time it happens during games, not at the end of practice.
But when he learned Monday afternoon, with practice winding down, that ESPN inadvertently had released the women's NCAA Tournament bracket several hours early, he had to react quickly.
"We were in practice when I guess things started to trickle out," Mittie said. "It was interesting; I never had to do that.
"So we took the team in the locker room, took their phones, didn't really tell them and we went straight to the film room. We were about 18 to 20 minutes away (from the start of the selection show) went in there and didn't have to wait long — we were the first region up, so that's always good."
The reveal, which was moved up by ESPN as part of the damage control, showed K-State (21-11) as the No. 9 seed in the Albany, N.Y., regional. The Wildcats will face No. 8 seed Michigan (21-11) at 1 p.m. central time at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.
The winner of that game will face either host Louisville (29-3), the No. 1 seed, or No. 16 Robert Morris on Sunday.
Senior all-Big 12 guard Kayla Goth seemed amused by how it all unfolded.
"We were done with practice and then coach Mittie was like, 'We're going to go eat in the locker room and talk about what the plan is tonight,' " Goth said. "So we were like, cool.
"Everyone sat in the locker room and he said, 'Well, I have some weird news,' and everyone was like, oh no. Then he told us all the brackets had been released, took all our phones and told us nobody could talk to anybody and we made our way to the film room and watched the selection show in there."
"It actually was," Goth said. "I think we were a little nervous about the 'weird news' part, but we were all pretty surprised."
Mittie had no complaints about the Wildcats' draw in a regional that also features Connecticut as a No. 2 seed, Maryland at No. 3 and Oregon State at No. 4.
"In past years you would have said you don't want to be in the eight-nine seed game, but there's really very little separation between the ones and the twos this year," Mittie said. "There has been big separation in the past.
"In terms of playing Michigan, I don't know a lot about Michigan. I have caught them on the Big Ten Network at various times throughout the year and I know they've got a really good rebounding team, they've got a team that has been a little up and down, similar to us in that regard, but has always been a quality team."
Michigan, which went 11-7 in the Big Ten, has won nine of its last 11 games and is making its eighth NCAA appearance. The Wolverines are led by seventh-ear coach Kim Barnes Arico.
Freshman forward Naz Hillman leads Michigan with 13.3 points and 6.9 rebounds a game. Senior center Hallie Thome adds 12.1 points and 5.9 rebounds, with senior guard Nicole Munger contributing 10.2 points.
K-State is led by all-Big 12 picks Peyton Williams and Goth. Goth leads the Big 12 and ranks 10th nationally in assists with a 6.9 average and is second on the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game.
Williams, a junior forward from Topeka, leads the wildcats in scoring with 15.9 points a game and rebounding with 9.6. She averages a double-double in league play with 16.2 points and 10 rebounds.
Williams also was a member of the Big 12 all-defensive team.