With a potential second-round matchup against one of the top programs in the nation on the horizon, Georgia coach Andy Landers and Iowa coach Lisa Bluder are trying to keep their teams focused on the game at hand.
The eighth-seeded Bulldogs travel to Norfolk, Va. to square off against the ninth-seeded Hawkeyes on Sunday in the New Orleans Regional.Georgia (22-9) is making its 14th straight trip to the NCAA tournament and 25th appearance in the last 27 years.The Bulldogs have advanced to the regional semifinals each of the last five seasons, but they had never been worse than a sixth seed in that span. It will be a bit tougher this time around, though, as the winner of this game is likely to next face second-ranked North Carolina, a Final Four team the last two years."Here's my message every year: It's not about a bracket, and it's not a four-team tournament," Landers said. "It's a one-team tournament. You don't have to beat everybody in the bracket to win the tournament. The national champion is only going to beat six teams. At this point, I think our players, with most of them having experience in the tournament, have enough confidence to get the job done."The Hawkeyes (21-10) were a little disappointed with their seed in the NCAA tournament after being the Big Ten regular season co-champions, and advancing to the semifinals of their conference tournament."Nobody wants to be a No. 9 seed because if you win, your next matchup is a No. 1 seed," Bluder said."Absolutely we have a tough draw. I saw (the Bulldogs) were the No. 8 seed and couldn't honestly believe it. This is a great ball team we're going to face and we're very excited to give it everything we have."Georgia finished fourth in the SEC in the regular season, and has not played since losing to Kentucky 57-50 in the tournament quarterfinals on March 7.Senior Tasha Humphrey has led the Bulldogs since stepping on the court as a freshman, and is hoping to bounce back from a rough outing. She finished with a season-low six points on 3-of-12 shooting in the loss to the Wildcats.Humphrey, the No. 2 scorer in school history, has been named to the all-conference first team four years in a row, becoming only the third player in SEC history to make it every season on both the AP and coaches' teams. The 6-foot-3 Humphrey finished the 2007-08 regular season third in the league in rebounding (9.0) and free-throw shooting (79.8 percent), and fourth in scoring (16.8) and field-goal percentage (45.4).In nine NCAA tournament games, Humphrey is averaging 19.8 points and 8.2 boards.Iowa, which lost to Purdue 80-73 in the Big Ten tournament semifinals on March 8, is making its 17th NCAA tournament appearance and second in the last three seasons.The Hawkeyes have thrived with their perimeter game all season. They are the seventh-best 3-point shooting team in the nation, connecting on 38.8 percent from beyond the arc.Sophomore Wendy Ausdemore leads the Big Ten in 3-point shooting at 45.1 percent (74-for-164), and is second on the team in scoring at 11.5 points per game.Junior Kristi Smith is averaging a team-high 13.2 points for Iowa, which has won 12 of its last 15 games.The Hawkeyes and the Bulldogs have split four meetings, and have not played since a 79-52 Georgia victory in 1995.