North Texas Among 16 Teams Set To Compete In Preseason WNIT
Mean Green Will Make Second Appearance In Invitation-Only Tournament
DENTON -- The North Texas women's basketball team was among 16 teams invited to participate in the 2016 Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament, event officials released on Wednesday. Under second-year head coach Jalie Mitchell, the Mean Green will be returning to the year-opening tournament for the first time since 2006.
The Preseason WNIT guarantees three games for each competing team. First round matchups and game times are expected to be released in the coming weeks.
"I think [an invitation to the tournament] is a statement on what people see from the outside," Mitchell said. "People can see that we've improved from a talent perspective and a depth perspective, and they are expecting us to be better as we build on the improvements we made last season. I think this invitation is a testament to what some people are starting to expect out of North Texas. Now we have to hit the court and prove those people right."
North Texas was 11-19 in the 2015-16 campaign after finishing with just five wins the previous year. The Mean Green were led largely by Conference USA All-Defensive Team selection Kelsey Criner, one of four returning starters from last season that will continue to lead a team on the rise.
Teams are selected for the annual tournament based on their expected success for the upcoming season, relevant results from the past, recent conference standings and other criteria. Additionally, a team may participate only once in a four-year period, and only one institution per conference may play in the tournament in the same year.
Joining North Texas in the WNIT tournament field next season is Abilene Christian (Southland), Central Michigan (MAC), Colorado State (MWC), Eastern Washington (Big Sky), Elon (Colonial), Fordham (Atlantic 10), Furman (Southern), Green Bay (Horizon), Little Rock (Sun Belt), Missouri (SEC), Nebraska (Big Ten), Notre Dame (ACC), Omaha (Summit), UT-Rio Grande Valley (WAC), and Washington (Pac-12).
"I think it's a great group of teams," Mitchell added. "Anybody we play should be a good game and we'll have the opportunity to see where we stand. I hope we do get a chance at a Power 5 school. I have a group of competitive kids and this could be an OU-like opportunity. More than anything, the biggest focus is going to be seeing where we are to start the season and maybe we can make some more history."
Eleven of the 16 competing teams advanced to postseason play in 2016. This is the Preseason WNIT debut for ACU, Central Michigan, Elon, Fordham, Green Bay, Missouri, Omaha and UTRGV.
This is the 23rd rendition of the Preseason WNIT. All games, including the championship and consolation rounds, are hosted by participating schools.
To view the Preseason WNIT's full release or for more info on the tournament field, click here.