After losing title game last year, Wisconsin back in WNIT

Wisconsin heads the WNIT field a year after losing in the tournament's championship game.

The Badgers were one of 16 teams to receive a first-round bye in the WNIT. Wisconsin lost in the WNIT championship game to Wyoming last season. The Badgers were runners-up in 1999 before winning the tournament in 2000.

Other notables in the tournament, which begins Wednesday, include North Carolina State, Villanova, and Florida.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to continue our season and compete for a championship," Florida coach Amanda Butler said. "We knew early during the year that we were a postseason team and the announcement of the WNIT bid makes that a reality. We've worked hard all season for this chance and hopefully, we'll take advantage of the opportunity in front of us."

The Gators had a remarkable turnaround finishing at 18-13, a year after going 9-22.

The 16 first-round games include Prairie View vs. Texas State, Idaho State vs. Boise State, UC Davis vs. Gonzaga, American vs. Villanova, Creighton vs. South Dakota State, Wisconsin Green-Bay vs. Drake, Western Carolina vs Middle Tennessee, Radford vs. James Madison, VCU vs Charlotte, Arkansas-Little Rock vs. Southern Mississippi, Southeast Missouri vs. Evansville, Dayton vs. Bowling Green, Iona vs. Quinnipiac, Dartmouth vs. Vermont, North Carolina A&T vs South Carolina, and South Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast.

Texas Tech, TCU, Colorado, Marquette, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi State, Kansas, Michigan State, St. John's, Boston College, N.C. State, and Florida also received first-round byes.

The 48-team tournament field featured five Big 10 schools, four Big East and Southeastern Conference teams. The tournament awards automatic bids to the teams that finish highest in their regular season conference standings.

The championship game will be played April 5.