INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- Hard to believe it, but the NCAA Women's Final Four is finally here. 2016 marks the 35th year of the women's basketball championships, and Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis will play host to this battle of the best for all three divisions of women's basketball.
The Division I games take place on April 3 and 5. Division's II and III will have their championship games on April 4. This year's finals have a little more meaning than most.
"There's a specific emphasis being made on empowering women," said NCAA vice president of women's basketball championships Anucha Browne. A three-time All-Big Ten selection, Browne played at Northwestern in the early 1980s (and by played, I mean dominated the Big Ten, averaging 20.4 points and 9.2 rebounds throughout her career). Browne even participated in the very first NCAA championship bracket back in 1982.
"This is a celebration of our student-athletes, but we want to make it an even bigger celebration of women as a whole," said Browne.
You can check out the full list of events for the weekend here. One function that may spark much interest includes a "4Kay Run," a 5K race in honor of the late North Carolina State University and Olympic women's basketball coach Kay Yow.
But if you are a former women's basketball player, you may want to block out this weekend for a truly unique experience: AlumNation, a program solely for former women's college basketball players.
"If we were to go in and determine what our true fan base is, it's former ball players," said Browne. "We have a section of the arena just for former ball players. We're going to acknowledge them. They will have an opportunity to come down to the court before the game."
The NCAA is teaming up with Ernst & Young to provide networking opportunities for former student-athletes, and if you think you still have some game in you, there will be a huge three on three tournament for former basketball players to compete it.
Of course, there is incentive to win. Besides bragging rights, the 3v3 champs receive four tickets to the 2017 Women's Final Four in Dallas, Texas, along with a four-night stay at the NCAA headquarters hotel.
"We want to get every team back from that (1982) bracket (to participate)," said Browne.
The three-on-three will be a great opportunity to compete against some former opponents again and come together with your old teammates. But more importantly, come out and support the women who play the game you love.