Although Toledo was the only MAC team to earn a trip to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, that doesn’t mean other teams from the conference didn’t earn recognition for their seasons.
The Women’s National Invitational Tournament announced on Sunday evening that Ball State, Bowling Green, and Kent State accepted bids to the 25th annual WNIT, with opponents revealed on Monday afternoon. The tournament is set to begin on Wednesday.
The conference’s three selections to the WNIT field of 64 teams is more than the Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac 12.
Bowling Green was the MAC’s automatic qualifier for the WNIT, as the Falcons’ runner-up finish in Cleveland earned them that distinction.
Robyn Fralick’s squad will take on Liberty in the opening round of the tournament on Thursday, March 16 at 6 p.m. the Stroh Center. The Flames, who enjoyed a 24-8 record and a trip to the ASUN tournament final, will be a formidable opponent for Bowling Green.
A win for the Falcons would set up a date with the winner of the Green Bay/Niagara opening-round game.
The Falcons’ invitation to the WNIT marks the program’s ninth appearance in the event, dating back to the inaugural tournament in 1998. Bowling Green’s finest WNIT performance came in 2014, when it picked up a win over Michigan en route to a quarterfinal run.
Ball State, finishing one place behind Bowling Green in the conference standings, will represent the MAC as an at-large selection in the WNIT.
The Cardinals are set to host Belmont on Thursday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m. in Worthen Arena. The Bruins were among the top mid-major programs all season, and came up just short of a Missouri Valley Conference title. The 23-11 squad will provide a tough test for Brady Sallee’s team.
If Ball State tops Belmont, it will take on either Memphis or Jackson State in the second round.
Ball State’s selection notches the program’s eleventh trip to the WNIT, eight of which have come during Sallee’s tenure as head coach. The Cardinals’ most recent appearance was last season, while their most successful run came in 2013 when they advanced to the third round.
Kent State, who fell to Toledo in the semifinals of the conference tournament, also received an at-large bid to the WNIT field.
The Golden Flashes will be the only MAC team to play on the WNIT’s opening night as they will battle Syracuse on Wednesday, March 15 at 7 p.m. in the illustrious JMA Wireless Dome. Syracuse is one of the premier team’s in the field as it compiled an 18-12 record in a talented ACC.
An upset win over the Orange would advance Kent State to a second-round matchup with the winner of Seton Hall/Saint Joseph’s.
Kent State will be competing in its second-consecutive WNIT, after a trip to the second round in the 2022 tournament. The Golden Flashes have won just two games in their six total WNIT appearances.
The tournament will consist of six rounds, and will run through the championship round on April 1, which will be broadcasted by CBS Sports Network. Every game throughout the tournament will be held on campus sites.