COLUMBUS -- The early practices at St. John Arena on the campus of Ohio State are complete as West Virginia and Princeton will meet in the noon first-round game Friday before the University at Buffalo and Buckeyes meet at 2:30.
Last year, West Virginia went to the WNIT final, losing to UCLA, 62-60, in the championship game. It’s the first trip to the NCAA tournament for the Mountaineers since 2014 and with eight freshmen on the roster this year, head coach Mike Carey expects more NCAA berths in their future.
“Last year we went to the NIT and our fans were so excited that we went to the championship game, you’d think that we won a national championship,” Carey said. “But that’s not our goal; our goal every year is to make it to the NCAA tournament and advance.”
Princeton, meanwhile, became the first team in Ivy League history to earn an at-large berth since the conference obtained an automatic qualifier in the 1993-94 season.
“It’s really special and I give a lot of credit to the committee,” Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said. “They tell us to take care of our non-conference schedule and they’ve been challenging teams over and over again to go out and get quality wins. Not just wins, quality wins, and also emphasizing bad losses will hurt you. So that’s what we went out and did – we went out and we scheduled and 10 of our 14 non-conference opponents played in the postseason last year. So we did what the committed asked us to do and I’m very grateful they honored that.”