If they’re fortunate enough to win their first two games, they’ll stay where they are.
Georgia (25-6) received a No. 4 seed Monday night in the Spokane Regional, setting up an opening game against 13th-seeded Montana on Saturday. In a unique twist, the first two rounds will be played in Spokane, Wash., which also will host the round of 16.
Coach Andy Landers isn’t looking ahead, refusing to even discuss who the Lady Bulldogs might face in the later rounds, but he has already figured out the team’s potential travel plans. There won’t be two cross-country trips to Spokane.
“That’s one part that we’ve lived through before,” Landers said. “We’ve played in some faraway places, won games, came home, then had to go to another faraway place. Having experienced that, it’s something we can plan for. If we’re fortunate enough to be success, we will stay” in Spokane next week.
Despite the grueling trip and the prospect of spending several days between rounds far away from campus, Landers had no complaints about the seeding or the brackets.
“Through the years, I’ve always liked where they put us,” he said. “I’m easy to please.”
This will be the 19th straight NCAA appearance for Georgia, which hopes to last longer than it did a year ago. The Lady Bulldogs were also a No. 4 seed when they lost in the opening round to No. 13 Marist 76-70, just the third time in the last decade they have not reached at least the round of 16.
Landers has urged this team to appreciate the moment and not look past anyone.
“The last three or four days, I’ve spent probably a good 5 to 10 minutes before every practice telling them to understand how special this is,” he said. “I told our kids, ‘How many times have you won one game in a row this season? Well, if you can win one in a row six times, you’re the national champions.’”
Georgia has faced Big Sky champion Montana (24-7) once before, also in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Lady Bulldogs romped to a 74-46 victory in 2000.
The Lady Griz earned an automatic bid to this year’s tournament with a 56-43 victory over Northern Colorado in the title game of the Big Sky tournament. Georgia fell to Kentucky in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Georgia was one of seven SEC teams selected to the tournament. This will be its 30th appearance in the 32-year history of the NCAAs, a total surpassed only by league rival Tennessee, which has participated in all 32 tournaments.
“I don’t want this team to get mixed in with those 30 appearances, with all our other teams,” Landers said. “This is their team. For our seniors, this is their fourth year in a row. I want them to be careful not to take that for granted. It’s a big deal. If you don’t believe me, ask the 300 schools that didn’t get in.”
Despite all their NCAA success, the Lady Bulldogs have never won a national title. They’re in a regional with top-seeded Stanford, No. 2 California and third-seeded Penn State.
“I like this team,” Landers said. “I really do. I think we’ve been reasonably consistent all year long. I think we’re a basketball team that can be successful in this tournament. I’m excited.”