Illinois Gets WNIT Bid, First Round Bye
Illini to host winner of Montana @ Utah opening round game on Monday, March 19
March 12, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - For the 10th time in the last 11 years, Illinois is heading to the post-season. The Illini received a bid to the 2007 Postseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) Monday night, and will get a bye into the second round. Illinois will face the winner of the Montana vs. Utah first round game on Monday, March 19 at Assembly Hall. Tip-off time will be at 7 p.m. CDT. Montana and Utah will square off on Wednesday, March 14 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This year, the WNIT added eight more teams to bring the field to 48 for the first time. The top regular season finisher in each of the nation's 31 conferences who did not earn an NCAA Tournament bid received an automatic bid to the WNIT. Illinois received the automatic bid for the Big Ten by virtue of its fourth place regular season finish behind NCAA teams Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan State.
The tournament features 16 first round games and 16 teams that receive a bye into the second round. The second round will pit the 16 opening round winners against the 16 teams that received a bye.
Illinois enters the tournament with an 18-11 record after falling to Penn State, 61-49, in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on March 2. Montana (27-3) is an automatic selection after winning the Big Sky regular season with 15-1 record before falling to Northern Arizona in the Big Sky Tournament semifinals. Utah is one of 17 at-large bids to the tournament after going 18-13 overall and finishing fifth in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) with a 10-6 mark.
This will be Illinois' third consecutive trip to the WNIT and its fifth overall. The Orange and Blue made appearances in 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006 and have an overall record of 3-4 in the tournament. Last season, the Illini won a preliminary round game at home vs. Western Illinois, 58-37, before falling to Marquette on the road in the first round, 64-44.
Illinois is one of four Big Ten teams in the field, joining Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Senior Erin Wigley and the Illini are back in the postseason for the 10th time in the last 11 years.