Maryland, ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press preseason poll, and LSU, ranked No. 5, lead a field that will play a three-game guaranteed format for the first time in the 14-year history of the WNIT.
Maryland returns four starters from a squad that won the national championship in 2006, and is picked to win the ACC this season. The Terrapins host Princeton, which also returns four starters and is playing in the Preseason WNIT for the first time.
At LSU, new coach Van Chancellor has all five starters returning from a team that has made four straight trips to the NCAA Final Four. LSU hosts Samford, who is coming off a 21-8 season and is picked to finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Michigan State takes on IUPUI in its first-round matchup. Michigan State, ranked 17th in the AP preseason poll under new coach Suzy Merchant, features a group that tied for the second-most wins in school history with 24. IUPUI will rely on its experienced group of four starters in its WNIT debut.
Notre Dame is ranked 24th in the AP poll and is picked to finish fifth in the Big East Conference. The Fighting Irish host Miami of Ohio, which didn’t lose anyone from last year’s 12-18 team.
TCU and Western Kentucky, both receiving votes in preseason polls, also will host first-round games. TCU, chosen to finish second in the Mountain West, will take on Radford, who was picked first in the Big South in preseason voting.
WKU returns Sun Belt player of the year Crystal Kelly and is slated to win the East Division with four starters back. WKU hosts East Tennessee State, which was chosen by Atlantic Sun media to win the conference.
In other games Friday night, Delaware and Delaware State renew an in-state rivalry for the first time since 2001. Delaware tied a team record for wins in its 26-6 season last year, and will host Delaware State. Delaware State welcomes back its top seven players from a team that captured the program’s first MEAC Tournament championship.
Evansville, with all five starters back from its 19-12 season, hosts Marshall, which is coming off a 15-15 season.
All 16 teams begin play Friday. Second-round games will be played Nov. 11-13; semifinals Nov. 14-16; consolation games Nov. 16-17; and the championship is set for Sunday, Nov. 18. All games are played on home campuses, which are determined after the previous round.
First-round Preseason WNIT games
(All game times are ET)
All 2006-2007 team records in parentheses
Friday, Nov. 9, 2007
Princeton (13-15) at Maryland (28-6), 7 p.m. ET
ETSU (20-12) at Western Kentucky (23-9), 7 p.m. ET
Marshall (15-15) at Evansville (19-12), 7 p.m. ET
Radford (20-11) at TCU (21-11), 7:30 p.m. ET
IUPUI (14-16) at Michigan State (24-9), 7:30 p.m. ET
Delaware State (20-13) at Delaware (26-6), 8 p.m. ET
Samford (18-13) at LSU (30-8), 8 p.m. ET
Miami, Ohio (12-18) at Notre Dame (20-12), 9 p.m. ET