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A fan's guide to the Women's National Invitation Tournament

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 | 5:03 p.m. CDT; updated 12:32 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 20, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Missouri women's basketball team was invited to the Women's National Invitation Tournament on Monday, ending a six-year postseason drought since the team last played in the tournament in 2007.

Unlike the Men's National Invitation Tournament, which is run by the NCAA, the women's version is owned by a private firm, Triple Crown Sports.

Wednesday's WNIT opener

Eastern Illinois (19-11)
at Missouri (17-14, 6-10 SEC)

WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE:
Mizzou Arena
RADIO:
KTGR 100.5/103.1 FM


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The WNIT field expanded to 64 teams in 2010, and the teams are not seeded within the bracket. The bracket is broken up by region so that teams from neighboring geographic areas will play each other. 

Each participating conference receives one automatic bid, which goes to the team with the best regular-season record that was not chosen for the NCAA tournament. The remaining 33 spots are for at-large selections, which is how Missouri was chosen.

Rather than playing at neutral sites, the games are hosted by one of the participating universities. Each team involved in a game submits a bid, explaining what it would cost the school to host the event at its home court. 

According to the WNIT website, the tournament coordinators then consider factors such as fan base, facility availability and travel constraints when choosing which team will host. 

To be considered for the tournament, a team must have a .500 overall record. Missouri made itself eligible when it beat South Carolina for its 16th win on Feb. 28. 

Missouri was chosen to host its first-round game against Eastern Illinois, which will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Mizzou Arena. 

If the Tigers were to advance, they would play the winner of the game between Illinois and Miami of Ohio. The game location would not be decided until the matchup is set and both winning teams submit their bids. 

Since the WNIT began in 1998, Missouri has appeared in the tournament four times. The team's longest run came in 2003, when it reached the tournament quarterfinals.

In Missouri's last trip to the WNIT in 2007, the team received a first-round bye and lost in a second-round matchup at Wyoming.

Missouri coach Robin Pingeton made four previous trips to the WNIT during her tenure at Illinois State, where she coached before taking over the Missouri program. She went 8-3 overall in the tournament, including back-to-back appearances in the tournament's semifinals in 2009 and 2010.

Wednesday night's game will not be televised, but will be streamed for free at MizzouNetwork.com. General admission tickets to the game are $6 for adults and $4 for students and children.

Missouri also announced that the first 100 students to show up to the game will receive free admission. 

Of the 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference, seven received bids to the NCAA tournament and four will play in the WNIT.


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