Oklahoma, ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll, and North Carolina, ranked No. 6, are among numerous nationally-recognized teams in the WNIT, which is celebrating its 15th year.
Oklahoma, voted in the preseason to win the Big 12 Conference, welcomes back four starters from its 22-9 team, including unanimous AP All-American pick Courtney Paris. Paris averaged 18.6 points and 15.0 rebounds per game and is just the sixth player in the 15-year history of the AP preseason team to be a unanimous choice.
North Carolina, picked to capture the ACC, has three starters back from its 33-3 squad. The Tar Heels became the fifth program in NCAA history to win at least 30 games in four or more consecutive seasons.
First-round games in the WNIT begin Nov. 14 for the bulk of the 16-team field. Second-round games will be played Nov. 16-19; semifinals Nov. 19-21; consolation games Nov. 20-23; and the championship is set for Sunday, Nov. 23. All games are played on home campuses, which are determined after the previous round. Teams are guaranteed to play at least three games.
The Preseason WNIT field includes 12 teams that played in the postseason last season, highlighted by North Carolina’s Elite Eight showing. Arizona State, Cleveland State, Illinois State, Liberty, Oklahoma, Robert Morris, and Xavier competed in the NCAA Tournament. Indiana, Middle Tennessee, VCU, and Western Carolina earned berths in the Postseason WNIT field. They will be joined by Ball State, Lafayette, Tulane, and UC Riverside in this fall’s Preseason WNIT.
In last year’s Preseason WNIT, No. 3 Maryland defeated No. 4 LSU and went on to a 33-4 season, advancing to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. LSU went to the Final Four.
First-round 2008 Preseason WNIT games
All 2007-2008 team records in parentheses
Friday, Nov. 14, 2008
Robert Morris (23-10) at Xavier (24-9), 2 p.m. ET
Western Carolina (25-9) at North Carolina (33-3), 7 p.m. ET
VCU (26-8) at Liberty (28-4), 7 p.m. ET
Ball State (15-15) at Indiana (18-15), 7 p.m. ET
Illinois State (26-7) at Tulane (16-14), 8 p.m. ET
Cleveland State (19-14) at Arizona State (22-11), 8 p.m. ET
Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008
UC Riverside (14-16) at Oklahoma (22-9), 3 p.m. ET
Lafayette (14-16) at Middle Tennessee (22-12), 8 p.m. E