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Season keeps going for Nebraska in WNIT; Huskers open against UT Martin
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HUSKER WOMEN'S HOOPS

Season keeps going for Nebraska in WNIT; Huskers open against UT Martin

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Rutgers vs. Nebraska, 1.3

Nebraska celebrates after its win against Rutgers at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Jan. 3.

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The Nebraska women’s basketball team will continue playing this season after being chosen for the WNIT, the postseason tournament one step below the NCAA Tournament.

It was announced on Monday that Nebraska received a spot in the 32-team field with a 12-12 record, including going 1-1 at last week’s Big Ten Tournament.

Nebraska will play UT Martin (20-5) in the first round at 11 a.m. on Friday in Memphis, Tennessee. With a win Nebraska would play the Louisiana-Colorado winner on Saturday.

All games will be available via streaming through FloHoops.com.

Creighton (9-11) also was chosen. Nebraska was the only Big Ten Conference team that accepted an invitation.

Other teams in the WNIT include Northern Iowa, Florida, Missouri and Arizona State, whom Nebraska played in the NCAA Tournament in 2018.

Four teams in the WNIT still reached 20 wins during the shortened season -- Bowling Green, California Baptist, Delaware and UT Martin.

Nebraska had a good chance to be chosen because of the selection criteria, which included the NET ranking, strength of schedule, record against top-100 teams, COVID-related factors and results in the final 10 games of the season.

The Huskers are 73rd in the NET rankings, and their 12 wins include four against top-25 ranked teams. Also, Nebraska has the best record among Big Ten teams not chosen for the NCAA Tournament.

The opening weekend games all will be played at four locations: Charlotte, North Carolina; Fort Worth, Texas; Memphis; and Rockford, Illinois.

Each team gets a minimum of two games, with the first-round losers moving on to a consolation-bracket game.

The four regional champions will then travel directly to or remain in Memphis, the site of the semifinal and championship games on March 26 and 28.

Teams were not required to have a winning record to earn a berth in the WNIT.

Some teams declined WNIT invites after a grueling past 12 months due to COVID-19, but Nebraska coach Amy Williams was all in on the Huskers playing more games.

“We have another chance to prove ourselves while getting our young players some invaluable experience,” said Williams in a news release. “We are excited to keep playing, and we are going to try and make the most of it." 

Nebraska last played in the WNIT in 2016, going 0-1 in the tournament.

When Williams was the head coach at South Dakota, it won the WNIT in 2016, just before she was hired at Nebraska.

This season Nebraska finished eighth in the Big Ten standings, with each of the teams ahead of the Huskers in the standings being chosen for the NCAA Tournament or not being eligible (Ohio State).

Seven Big Ten teams made the NCAA Tournament: Maryland, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Rutgers, Northwestern and Michigan State.

Nonconference opponent Idaho State (including Callie Bourne, the older sister of Nebraska's Isabelle Bourne) also made the NCAA Tournament. Overall Nebraska had a 5-7 record in games against NCAA tourney teams.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.

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Husker volleyball/women's basketball reporter

Brent has worked at the Journal Star for 14 years. His beats include Nebraska volleyball, women's basketball and high school soccer and cross country.

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