The Northern Illinois women’s basketball team will participate in the 2012 Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), an annual tournament consisting of 16 of the country’s best Division I teams determined by select criteria.
Tuesday’s bracket announcement from the Preseason WNIT, which will be held Nov. 9 to 18, has the Huskies facing the Iowa Hawkeyes at noon Friday, Nov. 9, in Iowa City in Round 1 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
This is the first meeting between the two schools since Dec. 8, 2007, an 87-43 Iowa victory. The Hawkeyes own a 10-8 lead in the series, but the Huskies have been victorious in four of the last seven. Iowa went 19-12, 11-5 in Big Ten play, last season and reached its fifth straight NCAA Tournament.
NIU suffered a 74-70 setback at Arkansas State in the 1994 Preseason WNIT, the Huskies only other appearance in the tournament.
Entering Year Three of the Kathi Bennett era, the 300-win coach has the NIU women’s basketball program pointed in the right direction. The Huskies tallied two wins in the 2012 Mid-American Conference Tournament for the first time since 2007. Last season, the Huskies posted a 14-17 overall record, 6-10 in MAC play, with a team full of underclassmen that can build on the experience, especially after closing the season winning eight of the last 14 contests.
The Huskies return 10 players this year, including a healthy sophomore guard Danny Pulliam (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) and the addition of Wisconsin-transfer, 6’0” sophomore forward Jada Buggs (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial), after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Overall, the 2012-13 Huskies will return over 60 percent of their points and rebounds, which is nearly the opposite of what NIU had returning for the 2011-12 season.
Joining NIU and Iowa in the tournament are Davidson, Delaware, Duquesne, Georgetown, Grambling, Illinois State, Kennesaw State, Liberty, Memphis, Morehead State, Middle Tennessee State, North Carolina, Sacred Heart, and Sam Houston State.
Invitations for the Preseason WNIT are acquired by a program’s expected success for that season, its relevant past, its conference standings, fan base and geographical location.
Additionally, teams can only play in the event once every four years, and only one school per conference can participate in the event in the same year.
The format of the tournament includes a three-game guarantee and all games will be hosted by participating schools at their home site. Round 1 winners will continue up the original bracket. Round 1 losers will be put into consolation bracket quads with two four-team pools in which each team will play two games in Consolation Rounds 1 and 2.
Two of the four Round 2 losers from the original bracket will host one of the other Round 2 losers in Consolation Round 3.
The Preseason WNIT began in its modern form in 1994. It is organized and produced by Triple Crown Sports, a national sports event company based in Fort Collins, Colo. The 16-team Preseason WNIT was originally a single-elimination exempt event, and moved to the current three-game guarantee format in 2007.
Throughout the years, nearly 200 of the nation’s Division I teams have played in the event, representing all 32 conferences.
For more information on NIU women’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.