Dontcha love college basketball?

Last night's nail-biter between Carolina and Illinois capped a great men's NCAA tournament, full of big upsets and overtime drama. It was great to see the home state boys (sorry Duke fans) win one for the long-suffering Roy Williams. Along with the Shaw women winning the 2005 CIAA tournament (for the third consecutive year), that makes two hoops trophies coming home to North Carolina this spring.

Tonight's game for the NCAA women's championship promises to be even better. Baylor and Michigan State are both great teams, smart and resourceful, and total newcomers to the elite hoops scene.

This is a golden era for women's basketball. Years of pressure have paid off and schools at every level are taking women's sports more seriously (although there's still a ways to go). High schools are turning out better women players. The existence of the WNBA is inspiring professional aspirations, minus the celebrity hoopla that lures guy players to exit college so quickly. And Title IX -- the landmark education amendment for sports equality which the Bush administration is trying to undermine -- ensures decent salaries for coaches of women's teams, drawing some excellent coaching talent.

On top of it all, everything they say about women's basketball is true: there's more teamwork, more nifty ball handling, more smart play below the rim.

If you don't already watch women's hoops, tonight's NCAA champ contest might be a good time to start.

(Thanks to my buddy William for insights)