Few fans would have bought tickets to watch women's basketball (usually called 'girls' basketball') back about half a century ago: rules said you could dribble only three times before you had to throw the ball to another girl. That was all right, because no player could run the length of the court anyway; defense stayed on one side and offense on the other. Not much good as exercise, but at least nobody would do anything unladylike, such as sweat.
Fast forward a few years to when the women's equality movement came into its own. Young women began to make it known that they could compete with their brothers at 'real' basketball, and schools started switching to boys' style of play for all teams. Title IX, enacted in 1972, ensured that women's sports programs at institutions receiving Federal funds would get a fairer share of the athletic budget. By 1976, women's basketball became an Olympic event. Since 1999, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) has existed as a counterpart to the NBA, affording the most talented alumnae of NCAA Women's Basketball the opportunity for a professional career.
Probably the most exciting time in NCAA women's basketball starts with conference championships such as the ACC, Big East, and Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournaments. These help determine who gets a slot in the women's March Madness brackets. As in the Men's Tournament, teams must work their way through regional play, to the Women's Final Four, and ultimately to the championship. That game happens the night after the Men's Championship and thus wraps up NCAA basketball for the academic year.
Anyone with tickets to the 2006 could tell you how exciting NCAA Women's Basketball has become. That heart-stopping contest went into overtime, with the University of Maryland Terrapins finally pulling out a 78-75 win over the Duke Blue Devils.
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