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ROSEMONT, Ill. – Hours after six Big Ten Conference women’s basketball programs earned a place in the NCAA Tournament, another four Big Ten schools were chosen to participate in this year’s Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), it was announced late Monday evening by the event’s organizer, Triple Crown Sports.
Indiana, Michigan State, Penn State and Purdue accepted bids to compete in the 64-team single-elimination tournament, which begins this week and culminates with the championship game at 3 p.m. (ET) March 31. All WNIT games hosted by Big Ten schools from the first through the semifinal rounds will be streamed live on BTN Plus with the WNIT championship game airing live on CBS Sports Network.
Michigan became the fifth current Big Ten school to win the WNIT championship when it earned last year’s title, 89-79 in triple overtime over Georgia Tech. The Wolverines subsequently rode the momentum from that championship to secure a berth in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
The Big Ten’s combined 10 postseason women’s basketball selections this year are one off the conference record set in 2016, when 11 programs earned postseason tournament berths (five in the NCAA, six in the WNIT).
Indiana received the Big Ten’s automatic bid to this year’s WNIT as the highest conference finisher not selected for the NCAA Tournament (the Hoosiers and Purdue tied for seventh place in the Big Ten at 9-7, with Indiana claiming the tiebreaker by virtue of its two wins over the Boilermakers during the regular season). The Hoosiers will play host to UT Martin in a WNIT first-round game at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana is making its 10th WNIT appearance and second in a row, having compiled a 15-8 record in NIT play, counting both the WNIT and its unaffiliated predecessor, the eight-team round-robin National Women’s Invitation Tournament (NWIT) in Amarillo, Texas (where Indiana finished as the runner-up in 1991).
Michigan State will also open its WNIT run at home, welcoming Cincinnati to the Breslin Center for a first-round game at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday. The Spartans will be appearing in the WNIT for the fifth time and first since 2008, when they advanced to the WNIT championship game. MSU is 11-4 all-time in WNIT games.
Penn State makes its second consecutive WNIT appearance and fourth in program history when it entertains Radford in a first-round matchup at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Lady Lions are 6-2 in their abbreviated WNIT history, highlighted by winning the 1998 championship.
Purdue heads on the road to begin its WNIT journey, as the Boilermakers play a first-round game at IUPUI at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday. Purdue is making its third NIT appearance, and second in the current WNIT event after a 2010 berth, having posted a combined 3-2 record in NIT games. The Boilermakers also advanced to the championship game of the old NWIT in 1988, becoming the first of nine current Big Ten schools who have played for an NIT title during their history.