For the eighth time in the past nine years under head coach Tanya Warren, the University of Northern Iowa women’s basketball team will be in postseason action as the Panthers earned an at-large selection to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, the committee announced late Monday night.
UNI (19-13) will host Horizon League-member Milwaukee (20-11) on Thursday at the McLeod Center, with a time to be determined on Tuesday. UNI and Milwaukee have met eight times on the court, but never in postseason play. The Panthers from Cedar Falls lead the all-time series against the Panthers from Milwaukee, 6-2. The last meeting came in 2010, with UNI taking a 72-58 decision in Milwaukee. Winner of Thursday’s game will face the victor between Indiana and UT Martin.
First-round action for the 64-team field begins Wednesday, March 14 and continues through Friday, March 16. Round 2 games take place March 17-20; Round 3 games are March 21-23, Round 4 runs March 24-26, and the semifinals are March 28-29. The championship game will be held at 3 p.m. ET on March 31 and will be televised on CBS Sports Network. All games are hosted by participating schools.
The tournament will feature five teams from both the Atlantic 10 and Big Ten. There are four teams from Conference USA and the Mountain West; three teams each come from the American, Big 12, Big East, Colonial, Horizon and MAC.
There are two teams out of the ACC, Ivy, Missouri Valley, Patriot, Southern and Summit, and one team coming from the America East, A-Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Metro, MEAC, Northeast, OVC, Pac-12, SEC, Southland, SWAC, Sun Belt, West Coast and WAC.
The 2017 WNIT concluded with Michigan beating Georgia Tech, 89-79, in three overtimes.
Monday’s WNIT berth is UNI’s seventh overall, while the Panthers have earned three NCAA Tournament bids in program history. Coach Warren has led UNI to postseason play in eight of the last nine seasons overall.
The last time the Panthers earned a WNIT bid was in 2016, with UNI advancing to the third round before being upended by South Dakota State. UNI also hosted a WNIT game that season, after defeating Nebraska in the opening round and playing Drake at the McLeod Center.
The announcement comes on the heels of UNI’s run to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title game, which the Panthers fell in a highly-contested game to top-seeded Drake. UNI has earned a 19-13 record overall this season, marking the ninth-straight season the Panthers have won at least 17 games in a year.