Andy Landers’ squad enjoyed the relatively close destinations of Auburn and Tallahassee in the opening rounds of the two most recent NCAA Tournaments. This year, for their 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, they’ll be sent about as far from Athens as possible.
The Lady Dogs earned the 4-seed in the Spokane Regional of the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. Georgia will open on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2) against 13-seed Montana in Spokane, Wash. at the McCarthey Athletic Center – the home court of Gonzaga. The winner will advance to Monday’s second round game against the winner of 5-seed Iowa State and 12-seed, and host, Gonzaga.
Should Georgia advance to the Sweet 16, they’ll be right back in Spokane a week later – this time at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, the host site of the regional. It’s doubtful that the team would miss a week of classes to remain out west, so they could be facing consecutive coast-to-coast trips. Three seasons ago the team was sent to Tempe, Ariz. for the opening rounds, returned to Athens, and flew back out to Sacramento for the regional.
They’ll have to take care of business before worrying about frequent-flier miles. Georgia, given a high seed and a venue close to home, didn’t survive the first round a year ago. That loss to Marist should be fresh in the minds of a senior-laden Lady Bulldog team. Georgia faced Montana in 2000 when the opening round was hosted in Athens. The top-seeded Lady Dogs rolled 74-46. The setting won’t be as friendly for this meeting.
The Lady Dogs should expect to feel very much like the visiting team in Spokane. The University of Montana is only a three-hour drive from Spokane. Gonzaga, on their home court, will be a dangerous 12-seed for any of the other three teams. They’ve reached the Sweet 16 in three consecutive seasons. For the past two seasons, they’ve hosted as an 11-seed and ended up knocking off two teams with 3-seeds en route to the regional. Georgia has been fortunate over the past three seasons to host or play at a venue where the host team didn’t qualify for the tournament.
Georgia is the top seed in the Spokane group for the first two rounds. The top three seeds in the region are Stanford, California, and Penn State.