“She asked if we were in the big dance yet,” Fox said. “I told her she needed to go back to bed and she said, ‘Daddy, it’s Sunday. You said we’d know on Sunday if we’re in the big dance.”‘
It seems everybody wanted to know the NCAA fate of Georgia, widely discussed as a bubble team. Fox and his daughter were happy with the answer.
Georgia made the NCAA tournament field on Sunday and Fox was especially happy his team won’t have to travel far from home for its first game.
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Georgia, a surprisingly strong No. 10 seed in the East Regional, will play No. 7 seed Washington on Friday in Charlotte, N.C.
Georgia (21-11) won one game in the Southeastern Conference tournament before suffering a potentially costly 65-59 overtime loss to Alabama in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Some predicted the Georgia-Alabama game could be an elimination game for the NCAA field, but Alabama was not selected.
“I’ve been on pins and needles for a couple of days now,” said Georgia forward Trey Thompkins. “I wanted to be in the tournament so bad. It’s been nerve-wracking for me.
“I think we deserved the spot that we got. We had a pretty good strength of schedule, we had no bad losses and a couple of good wins and we played great teams down to the wire all year. I feel we’ve proven ourselves that we’re a worthy tournament team.”
Fox said his players “have earned the right to be in the tournament and I’m extremely happy for them because they trusted the process.”
Georgia made the NCAA field with its No. 48 RPI and No. 40 strength of schedule ranking.
“When you compare our body of work to some of the other teams that were supposedly on the bubble, I felt confident in our body of work,” Fox said. “This is about a four-month marathon, not a four-day postseason tournament. Sometimes people forget that. I had a good feeling but you never know for sure.”
Alabama had a No. 80 RPI and No. 114 strength of schedule, factors that carried more weight with the committee than the Crimson Tide’s two wins over Georgia.
“A lot of people put head to head as a high priority,” said Gene Smith, Ohio State’s athletic director and the chairman of the 10-person NCAA Division I selection committee.
“There are things with Alabama that didn’t stack up compared with other teams that became blemishes. At the end of the day they just didn’t get enough votes.”
Georgia, in its second season with Fox, is in the NCAA field for the first time since 2008, when it won the SEC tournament in Atlanta. Georgia made a quick exit from the NCAA tournament with a first-round loss to Xavier to finish 17-17, and Dennis Felton was fired the following season.
This will be Georgia’s first game against Washington.
Washington (23-10), led by 5-foot-9 guard Isaiah Thomas, earned an automatic bid when it beat No. 16 Arizona 77-75 in overtime Saturday for the Pac-10 tournament championship.
Fox began his coaching career as a graduate assistant and full-time assistant at Washington from 1991-93.
The Georgia-Washington winner will play the North Carolina-Long Island winner on Sunday. North Carolina is the East Regional’s No. 2 seed.