ATLANTA ¡X Simply reaching the NCAA tournament was the primary goal for Georgia and Georgia Tech.
Now each team has a new goal: Win two games and they can renew their rivalry on a national stage.
The Georgia and Georgia Tech women each received bids to the Dallas regional of the NCAA tournament on Monday night.
The Lady Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets will play first-round games Saturday in Minneapolis. If each team wins two games, the state rivals would meet in a regional semifinal game in Dallas on March 25.
The 13th-ranked Georgia women (25-6) earned their 24th invitation to the NCAA tournament while Georgia Tech (20-11) received its third bid and its first since 2003.
¡§I think it is great,¡¨ said Georgia coach Andy Landers, who added that the more state teams that make the tournament ¡§the better it is going to be for our state.¡¨
¡§I¡¦d like to see a (Georgia) Southern or anybody in our state get in,¡¨ he said. ¡§It¡¦s good for girls basketball.
(Tech coach) MaChelle (Joseph) has worked hard over there and I am glad to see it pay off.¡¨
Tech suffered first-round losses in its first two NCAA appearances.
Georgia, the No. 3 seed, will open against No. 14 seed Belmont.
¡§I¡¦m really pleased that we¡¦re a 3,¡¨ Landers said, adding he feared his team¡¦s quarterfinal loss to Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference tournament could have hurt its seeding.
¡§I thought we put ourselves at the mercy of the committee, and it would not have surprised me if we had been a 4,¡¨ Landers said.
Tech, the No. 7 seed, will face No. 10 seed DePaul in another first-round game.
¡§We felt like it was going to take five years to put together a team that could make it to the NCAA tournament,¡¨ said Joseph, in her fourth year at Tech.
¡§The fact that we are able to get to the NCAA tournament in four years is a compliment to our players, especially our seniors Stephanie (Higgs) and Kentrina (Wilson). It was their determination to leave Georgia Tech better than they found it that helped us get here.¡¨
The Lady Bulldogs beat the Yellow Jackets 79-69 on Dec. 3 in Atlanta in their only regular-season meeting.
Georgia will appear in the tournament for the 24th time in 26 years the event has been held ¡X all under Landers. Georgia has never won the NCAA title but it ranks third in tournament appearances and ranks among the top five with five Final Four appearances.
Tech has won seven of its last 10 games, including the last five of the regular season.
¡§We want to finish this season strong,¡¨ Joseph said. ¡§We want to have the most wins in school history and we¡¦re just one win away from that goal. We¡¦re not going to the tournament to be one and done. We¡¦re thrilled to death to get this opportunity to play with the best teams in the country.¡¨
The women¡¦s Final Four is April 1-3 in Cleveland