NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament

NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament

The NCAA Women's Division I Championship is an annual college basketball tournament for women. Held each April, the Women's Championship was inaugurated in the 1981–82 season. The NCAA tournament was preceded by the AIAW Women's Basketball Tournament, which was held annually from 1972 to 1982. Basketball was one of twelve women's sports added to the NCAA championship program for the 1981-82 school year, as the NCAA engaged in battle with the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women for sole governance of women's collegiate sports. The AIAW continued to conduct its established championship program in the same twelve (and other) sports; however, after a year of dual women's championships, the NCAA prevailed, while the AIAW disbanded.

Attendance and interest in the Women's Division I Championship have grown over the years, especially since 2003, when the final championship game was moved to the Tuesday following the Monday men's championship game. The women's championship game is now the final overall game of the college basketball season. Before that, the Women's Final Four was usually played on the Friday before the Men's Final Four or the hours before the men played on the final Saturday of the tournament. The final was usually played the Sunday afternoon following the Men's Final Four.

The tournament bracket is made up of champions from each Division I conference, which receive automatic bids. The remaining slots are at-large bids, with teams chosen by an NCAA selection committee. The selection process and tournament seedings are based on several factors, including team rankings, win-loss records and Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) data.

Unlike the men's tournament, there are only 32 at-large bids (as of the next tournament in 2014), and no play-in game. The women's tournament, like the men's, is staged in a single elimination format, and is part of the media and public frenzy known colloquially as March Madness or The Big Dance.

All 63 games have been broadcast on television since 2003 on ESPN and ESPN2. Similar to the pre-2011 men's tournament coverage on CBS, local teams are shown on each channel when available, with "whip-around" coverage designed to showcase the most competitive contests in the rest of the country.

Read more about NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament:  Tournament Format, Number of Teams, and Seeding, Selection Process, Women's NCAA Division I Basketball Champions, Result By School and By Year, See Also

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