TOLEDO, Ohio — Despite a record-setting, 19-1 conference record (29-6 overall) last year, Toledo Women's Basketball was left out of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
"Pressure is a privilege and we want to make sure that we understand there is a target on our back," head coach Tricia Cullop said. "Last year, we were a team that surprised a lot of teams and I do not think that will happen this year. People will be prepared for us."
Although disappointed by the committee's decision to prevent her team a shot to compete for a national championship , coach Cullop used the result as a wake up call and wasted no time in beefing up her schedule.
"This is the most ambitious schedule we've played to date," Cullop said.
The Rockets have approved a home-and-home contract with Cincinnati, which will begin on the road in the 2022-23 season. Dayton & Missouri State, both NCAA tournament teams from a year ago, will travel to Toledo as part of existing contracts.
The biggest of them all will be Duke, who will be visiting Savage Arena for the first time since 2001.
"They actually called us and said we'd love to come into your environment," Cullop said. "They know about our crowd, they know about our fan base...So, we're thrilled. Any time you get a marquee opponent like that, to say we want to start a contract at your place, you want to jump on that."
Last year, Toledo ranked below the Top 100 when it came to Strength of Schedule.
"We don't want to leave any stone unturned," Cullop said. "We want to make sure that not only are we preparing for the MAC, by playing a tough schedule, but that we're proving to the selection committee that we deserve to be in this tournament."
Three of the opponents announced (Dayton, Duke, Missouri State) all received Top 25 votes last season & all of them will be played in front of a home crowd this upcoming season.
"This is an incredible atmosphere. We've been Top 30 in the country, in attendance, 9 of last 10 years. We've owned the MAC attendance record for 31 years," Cullop said.
The dates and times for these four matchups are still to be determined, with more opponents to be announced.
For now, coach Cullop has one message to share for Rocket faithful.
"Get out and get your season tickets, we want to see you in the stands," Cullop said. "We want to see an even higher season average in Savage Arena this season."