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Breaking Down the Preseason WNIT
For the fourth time in program history, the Liberty women's basketball team will open its season with an appearance in the Preseason WNIT. The Lady Flames are slated to play their 2012-13 season and tournament opener on Nov. 9 at Duquesne, beginning at 7 p.m.
Below is a look at some of the most common questions about the 16-team Preseason WNIT's format, which guarantees at least three games for all participating teams.
What are the possible tournament scenarios for the Lady Flames?
Scenario 1 – Liberty wins each of its first three games, advancing to the Preseason WNIT title contest.
If the favored teams win, this scenario sees Liberty defeat Duquesne on Nov. 9, North Carolina on Nov. 11, No. 10/11 Delaware on Nov. 14. The Lady Flames then square off with Middle Tennessee State in the championship game on Nov. 18. The title game will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network, beginning at 4 p.m. This is the only scenario in which Liberty could play four Preseason WNIT contests.
Scenario 2 – Liberty wins its first two games but loses in the semifinal round.
Again, if the favored teams prevail, this scenario sees Liberty beat Duquesne on Nov. 9 and North Carolina on Nov. 11, before losing at No. 10/11 Delaware on Nov. 14. Having played three games, Liberty's tournament run is complete.
Scenario 3 – Liberty wins its first game but loses its second contest.
If the higher-rated teams prevail, this scenario sees Liberty defeat Duquesne on Nov. 9 and lose at North Carolina two days later. For its third Preseason WNIT game, the Lady Flames go on the road to play one of the other three losing teams from the second round on either Nov. 16 or 17. Possible opponents for that consolation game include Georgetown, Iowa, Illinois State and Memphis.
Scenario 4 – Liberty loses its opening game at Duquesne.
If Duquesne defeats Liberty on Nov. 9, the Lady Flames will be placed in a four-team "consolation bracket quad," along with three other squads who lose their opening-round matchups. The consolation bracket will be played at one of the participating teams' home court, the weekend of Nov. 16-18. The first day of the bracket features two games. Day two sees the two winning teams from the previous day paired up and the two losing squads matched up.
Liberty experienced Scenario 4 the last time it played in the Preseason WNIT, to begin the 2008-09 season. The Lady Flames lost their opening-round matchup against VCU. Liberty then traveled to Western Carolina for a four-team consolation bracket, which also included Lafayette and UC Riverside. The Lady Flames picked up their first-ever Preseason WNIT victory, against UC Riverside, before losing to the host Catamounts the following day.
Is the Preseason WNIT Final Four played at Madison Square Garden?
No. All Preseason WNIT games are contested at home sites of one of the 16 participating institutions.
Will Liberty host any Preseason WNIT games?
No. Liberty has not bid to host any games in this year's tournament.
How tough is this year's Preseason WNIT field?
On paper, the Preseason WNIT field does not appear to be as formidable as it was last season. A year ago, Baylor defeated Notre Dame in the Preseason WNIT championship tilt, previewing the title game of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship.
Here is a breakdown of this year's participating teams by the numbers.
2012-13 Preseason Top 25 teams (1): No. 10/11 Delaware
2012 NCAA Tournament Participants (6): Delaware, Georgetown, Iowa, Liberty, Middle Tennessee State and Sacred Heart
Other teams which qualified for postseason tournaments in 2012 (5): Davidson (WNIT), Duquesne (WNIT), Illinois State (WNIT), Memphis (WNIT) and Sam Houston State (WBI)
20-Win Teams in 2011-12 (9): Davidson, Delaware, Duquesne, Georgetown, Liberty, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, North Carolina and Sacred Heart
Teams picked to win their conference this season (4): Davidson (Southern), Delaware (CAA), Liberty (Big South) and Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt East)