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Five Mid-American Conference teams qualify for 2022 Women’s NIT

Toledo gets an automatic bid to the WNIT, while four other conference mates earn at-large bids.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Mid-American Conference has been a traditionally strong one for women’s basketball, and 2022 was no different, with eight teams above 10 conference wins and nine teams above a .500 winning percentage overall.

This year only saw the inclusion of the MAC women’s basketball tournament champion Buffalo in the NCAA Tournament, but a case could have been made for the MAC to be a multi-bid league, with the Toledo Rockets’ formidable 26-4 overall record (including a 19-1 conference record.)

Regardless, the Rockets, by virtue of being the regular season champion, clinched an automatic berth in the Women’s NIT, and will likely have a high seed in the 64-team tournament set to take place over the rest of March.

Four other teams in the MAC also earned at-large bids, with Akron (16-10, 13-7 MAC), Ball State (20-12, 11-8 MAC), Kent State (18-11, 10-10 MAC) and Ohio (15-15, 9-10 MAC) also selected to partake in the WNIT.

The WNIT released its bracket on Monday afternoon, with all Round 1 matchups announced via their website.

Kent State will be the first team up to bat for the MAC, traveling downstate to in-state peer Youngstown State of the Horizon League. YSU finished 24-6 in their 2021-22 campaign, with an 18-4 conference mark. They were 2-0 against MAC opponents this season, with wins over EMU and Akron in non-conference play. Tip-off will be Wednesday, March 16 at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Ball State will also play their Round 1 game on Wednesday, taking on the Big East’s Marquette Eagles in Marquette. The Golden Eagles finished the 2021-22 campaign at 21-10, with a 13-7 in-conference record. TIp-off will be at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

Ohio drew South Dakota State of the Summit League as their first-round matchup, with the Jackrabbits hosting the Bobcats. SDSU finished the season at 23-9, but was a sterling 17-1 in-conference, losing in an upset to rival South Dakota in the Summit League tournament championship game. SDSU was able to lean on their auto-bid for WNIT selection as a result. Tip-off for this game is Thursday, March 17, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

Toledo will be the lone MAC team to host their first round game, which isn’t s surprise considering their pedigree in the 2021-22 season. The Rockets will welcome Houston Baptist of the Southland Conference to Savage Arena. HBU saw their season end in shocking fashion against Incarnate Word in a 54-33 semifinal upset after being the tournament’s high seed, but were a formidable team otherwise, finishing 16-10 this season, with a 12-2 record in the conference slate. Tip-off is scheduled for Friday, March 18, at 7 p.m. Eastern time.

Akron is still awaiting their opponent, but are slated to travel regardless of opponent.