November 14, 2008 – Oklahoma and North Carolina, joined by 14 other teams, begin their journey to an NCAA Championship today with the opening of the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
Oklahoma, ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, and North Carolina, ranked 6th, headline the most elite field in the 15-year history of the Preseason WNIT. Several other teams are also ranked or receiving votes in various preseason polls, and nine of the teams are picked to win their conference or division this season. Those nine are Oklahoma (Big 12); North Carolina (ACC); Arizona State (Pac-10); Illinois State (Missouri Valley); Liberty (Big South); Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt East Division); Robert Morris (Northeast); UC Riverside (Big West); and Xavier (Atlantic-10).
Throughout the WNIT’s history, all 31 conferences have been represented in the Preseason event during some year or another. A total of 175 different schools have been invited to play. This year, Arizona State, Cleveland State, Lafayette, Robert Morris, UC Riverside, and Western Carolina will play in their first Preseason WNIT.
Six of the first-round games will be played today, followed by the remaining two on Saturday. Round 2 games will be played Sunday through Wednesday, Nov. 16-19; semifinals are Nov. 19-21; consolation games are Nov. 21-23; and the championship is set for Sunday, Nov. 23. Teams are guaranteed to play three games in the Preseason WNIT. All games are played on home campuses.
In last year’s Preseason WNIT, No. 3 Maryland defeated No. 4 LSU and vaulted to a 33-4 season, advancing to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. LSU made it 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. ET