CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — It’s already one of the best years for women’s basketball at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are poised to make it even better.
They’ve set a school record with 12 Atlantic Coast Conference wins and received their best NCAA Tournament seed. Now, coach MaChelle Joseph’s team is the favorite in Chapel Hill to make it out of the opening weekend.
No. 4 seed Georgia Tech (24-8) faces 13th-seeded Sacred Heart (25-7) today in the first round of the Des Moines Regional.
The winner plays Tuesday against fifth-seeded Georgetown (22-8) or 12th-seeded Fresno State (28-5), with that winner advancing to the round of 16 to play the team that emerges from top-seeded Baylor’s corner of the bracket.
For Georgia Tech, that would be new territory.
The Yellow Jackets are making their sixth consecutive NCAA appearance but have never won more than one game in the tournament.
They refuse to peek at the regional semifinals just yet. After all, they know all too well what happens when they get ahead of themselves: 11th-seeded Arkansas-Little Rock surprised them in the first round two years ago.
“That was a hard lesson we had to learn in an NCAA Tournament,” Joseph said Saturday. “If you don’t experience that, it’s easy sometimes to look ahead and think, ‘Well, we’ve played better teams or faster or more athletic teams.’ But since that happened to us, it’s put us in a situation where that will not happen.”
The Yellow Jackets do have a few things going their way, though.
They’ve got their best seeding, topping the No. 5 they had last year. In addition to their school-record ACC win total, they’ve matched the 1-year-old single-season mark for victories.
They’ve also claimed victories in each of their past two trips to Carmichael Arena, home to ACC rival North Carolina.