ATHENS, Ga. — For the eighth straight year, Georgia will be a part of the NCAA women's tournament.
This year, however, there is a difference. For only the second time in that span, Coach Andy Landers' Lady Bulldogs will open on the road instead of playing host to opening-round games at Stegeman Coliseum.
There were no complaints from Landers or his players Sunday. Considered a bubble team, the Lady Bulldogs had to wait only a few minutes before hearing Georgia announced as the No. 10 seed in the Mideast Regional.
Georgia will play No. 7 seed Old Dominion in the Mideast Regional hosted by No. 2 seed Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind.
"Being the 10th seed doesn't really bother me,'' Landers said. "I think we're in a fair bracket with a chance to advance.''
As a 19-10 team with a No. 24 Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), Georgia had a strong claim to the NCAA bid. As the ninth-place team in the SEC with a 6-8 regular-season conference record, Georgia had good reason to worry.
"My last three years we were just sitting around wondering where we would be picked,'' said senior guard Camille Murphy. "Today was a little different. Now we will be on someone else's court but the game doesn't change.''
Added center Tawana McDonald, one of only two seniors on the team. "It feels good to be going. I just wanted one more chance to play, to put on my Georgia uniform.''
Georgia's relief came early, as the Mideast Region was the first to be announced on the ESPN selection show. The Georgia players and coaches watched the show with a small crowd of fans at Stegeman Coliseum.
There is an historic feel to the Georgia-Old Dominion matchup. Old Dominion beat the Lady Bulldogs 70-65 in the 1985 NCAA championship game in Austin, Texas. The only other time the teams met, host Old Dominion beat Georgia 67-64 in the Dial Classic to open the 1995 regular season.
Georgia and Old Dominion are two of the most consistent names in the tournament. Each will be making its 19th appearance in the 21 years of the tournament. Only Tennessee and Louisiana Tech have played in more NCAA tournaments.
"You're talking about two programs that have been good for a long time and understand what it takes to be successful in NCAA tournament play,'' Landers said.
The Georgia-Old Dominion winner will play the Purdue-Austin Peay winner. Austin Peay is coached by former Georgia player Susie Gardner.
The only other time in the in the last eight years Georgia did not open in Athens was 1998. Then the No. 7 seed, Georgia lost to No. 10 seed George Washington in Stoors, Conn.
"I think we're better this year than we were in 1998,'' Landers said. "We just have to take care of business in this first game.''