Since Monday’s loss to Middle Tennessee virtually ensures that the Lady Toppers won’t reach the NCAA Tournament, their postseason destination could be the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
The WNIT expanded its field this season from 48 teams to 64. Western was left out of the bracket after finishing 16-13 last year, but the Lady Toppers (21-10) seem to be a likely choice for one of the tournament’s 33 at-large bids this season.
The only requirements for receiving an invitation are Division-I affiliation and an overall record of .500 or better.
Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles confirmed in her postgame news conference Monday that Western would accept a postseason bid, saying that the Lady Toppers are “ready to play ball” if anyone comes calling.
All games in the WNIT are hosted by participating schools, which means that the Lady Toppers could get a game (or more) in Diddle Arena.
Western media relations said late Monday that Diddle’s attendance numbers and availability would give the school a “decent chance” at hosting.
The WNIT will officially announce the field March 15 on its Web site.
Below is a tentative schedule for the tournament, according to the WNIT site:
Round 1: March 17-19
Round 2: March 20-23
Round 3: March 24-26
Quarterfinals: March 27-29
Semifinals: March 31-April 1
Championship: April 3
The Lady Toppers last competed in the WNIT during the 2006-07 season. They hosted and won their first three games of that tournament before falling in the semifinals at Wisconsin.
Western entered the WNIT that season with a record of 20-8.