The University of Northern Iowa women's basketball team has earned a spot in the 16-team Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI), the tourney announced Monday night. The Panthers are making their third-straight appearance in a postseason tournament after securing the school's first two NCAA Tournament bids in 2010 and 2011.
UNI (16-14, 9-9 MVC) will travel to Nacogdoches, Texas, for a first-round matchup with Stephen F. Austin (23-9, 11-5 Southland) at 7 p.m. on Thursday evening. The Panthers are in search of the program's first-ever postseason victory. The winner between UNI and Stephen F. Austin will meet the winner of Sam Houston State-Rice in the second round.
This is UNI's sixth appearance in a postseason tournament. The Panthers made WNIT appearances in 2001, 2003 and 2006, dropping a first-round contest each time. UNI earned the Missouri Valley Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons.
The third annual Women's Basketball Invitational kicks off Wednesday as 16-teams vie for the postseason title. In the West bracket, No. 1 seed Seattle (18-11) hosts No. 8 North Dakota (21-10) on Thursday, Mar. 15 at 7 p.m. The No. 1 seed Redhawks will be playing in their first ever Division I postseason tournament. SIU Edwardsville earned the No. 4 seed and will host its first ever Division I postseason game against No. 5 seed Wright State (20-12). That game will tipoff at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Stephen F. Austin, a Southland Conference squad with a 23-9 record, earned the No. 2 seed and will host Northern Iowa of the Missouri Valley Conference on Thursday at 7 p.m. No. 3 seed Sam Houston State (17-11), the West division champion of the Southland Conference, will host No. 6 seed Rice (16-15) of Conference USA. The Texas showdown will tipoff at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Robert Morris (18-13), a member of the Northeast Conference, earned the No. 1 seed in the East and will face No. 8 seed Manhattan (16-15) in the first round. Due to a facility issue, the game will be played at Manhattan. No. 4 seed Holy Cross (18-14) will host No. 5 seed New Hampshire (16-13) at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
The bottom of the East bracket is highlighted by Minnesota (15-17) of the Big Ten Conference, as the No. 2 seed Golden Gophers will host two-time WBI participant Charleston Southern (17-14). The Minnesota-CSU game will tip at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 16.
In the final first round contest another two-time WBI participant, Bradley (17-15), will be the No. 3 seed and will host No. 6 Tennessee Tech (17-16) of the Ohio Valley Conference at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
The WBI second round contests will be held March 17 or 18 at the highest remaining seed with the semifinals set for March 21 or 22. The WBI championship game will take place March 24 or 25, with the team with the best end-of-season RPI hosting the tilt. Please check the official WBI website www.womensbasketballinvitational.com for the full bracket, game central and more.
Audio of UNI's game at Stephen F. Austin will be streamed live on UNIPanthers.com at 7 p.m. Thursday. It can be heard on 1330 AM KWLO in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area.