Breaking Down the NCAA’s Proposed Rule Changes

Today, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules committee released its list of rule considerations for next season. I will break them down and then discuss some rule updates and/or points of emphasis we believe are still needed. Let’s get started. 

Extend radius of Restricted Area from 3 ft. to 4 ft. 

This is a no-brainer. Collisions and trips to the floor are what cause injuries. Defenders camping under the basket to draw a cheap charge rewards gaming the Rule over good defense. Extending the arc increases the area for the automatic block foul call, thus creating disincentive to stand there. This protects everyone. Good change. 

Reduce the Shot Clock to 30 seconds

Yes, a thousand times. College basketball is woefully low scoring and unwatchable because teams get over half a minute with the basketball every possession. It’s so slow. Solid change. 

Removal of a half timeout from the second half

Ok, but this needs guidelines. Not sure how this will play out. But I’m all for less stoppage in college basketball. :30 timeouts created unnecessary stoppage, less is better. 

Delay of Game Warning for slow restart

This is good. Basketball consolidated all delay of game warnings years ago, now they’re adding one for dragging out a timeout. Should lead to quick resumption, two Delays award technical free throws–one shot. 

Media timeout guidelines

Programs flexibility into the “under-time” media timeouts. Meaning that if a timeout occurs within 30 seconds of a 4 minute interval, that is taken as the media timeout. Good rule. It’s very frustrating to have only 15 seconds of play between commercials. 

No live ball coach timeouts

This is so awesome that I’m almost giddy. Coaches can no longer call timeouts during live ball. The safety valve is gone for bailing out idiot offenses that don’t have the presence of mind to call timeouts. Call it on the floor or it doesn’t count. This definitely will go a long way to speeding up the game. 

Hard 10 second backcourt 

Although I would have loved to see this reduced to 8 seconds and have this rule changed, this is a great step in the right direction. Now teams no longer get a backcourt count reset if they call timeout–say while being trapped. This probably won’t come up all that much, but it’s a good clarification and change. 

Less time to replace DQ player

Thank you! We’re all sick of the gamesmanship involved in taking a free timeout when a player is disqualified on fouls. Let’s get back to it quicker. 

Fake foul and flipping rule

This rule gives officials discretionary review over flopping and acting to try and draw a bogus foul call. If I read the rule proposal correctly, it gives the officials latitude to charge a flopper with a flagrant foul. Solid. 

Shot Clock violation review throughout

This allows officials to go to the tape to review a shot clock violation at any time instead of just under the last two minutes. This makes sense. How much sense did it make to have a replay review only possible in certain times? Answer: None. 

Class B technicals (Administrative) reduced to 1 shot

This is a good thing. Two shots and the ball is disastrously punitive on administrative technical fouls. Just ask Chris Webber. That would now be one 1 foul shot; it could have changed the outcome of that embarrassing game. 

Elimination of Closely Guarded while dribbling 

This is the rock star of the rule changes. With how fluid basketball is–not to mention difficult to judge while players are dribbling–it doesn’t make any sense for a rigid rule to apply here. And honestly, how often have you seen 5 seconds called while a guy is dribbling? Thought so. Good removal, let’s the officials to focus less on tedium and more on the play. 

Allowing dunking in pregame warmups

Honestly, these guys are huge. Many of them have to go out of their way not to touch the rim in warmups. This just cuts them some slack. Plus, it’s really stupid to start a game with shots over something like this. 

That said, hanging on the rim pregame should still be enforced as a technical. 

6 Fouls

Don’t get too excited. The committee will be experimenting in the NIT with adding an additional foul. This should help address contact concerns and may even help officials call more fouls, thus cleaning up bad contact. 

Wish List

So that’s it. Not a bad list of rule changes–nothing earth shattering or egregious. It’s clear the committee focused on speeding up the game and making it less awful. Here are five things we wanted:

8 second hard backcourt

This cuts the amount of time for teams to advance the ball to the NBA standard. It also prevents timeouts from kicking it down the road. Good press defenses deserve to be rewarded a lot more often than they are. 

Tenths on the Shot Clock

After this last NCAA tournament, I cannot believe this wasn’t done. The standard in college for the shot clock is sound. As in, if the official hears the horn before you’ve let the ball go, they call a violation. Adding the tenths removes human error and allows for the shot clock to be accurately reset with the game clock in key situations. This rule is coming, but it’s needed ASAP. 

Directional review throughout the game

Out of bounds calls make a tremendous amount of difference THROUGHOUT the game. The officials need added discretion to use replay here. Yes, the committee focused on speeding up the game, but what good does speeding up the game do if correctable errors still remain?

NBA Foul Standard

College basketball is unwatchable at times. The problem is the philosophy around fouling. Officials allow all sorts of contact down low and call more at the perimeter. This leads to the big men mauling each other throughout the game. This physical defense leads to less scoring and more iffy calls down the stretch. Upping the foul standard allows the game to be kept under tighter control. I think 6 fouls will help immensely with this. 


Because why in the hell does college have halves? 

Quarters allow for four directional changes per game, and boosts the strategic benefit of fouling because of quarterly bonuses. It’s time college basketball stopped pretending it was special and went to quarters like everyone else. 

All in all, this is great news for basketball. The rule changes aren’t really controversial and are aimed at improving the quality of the game. Who knows? Three of four more years like this and we might have a sport that’s watchable more often than every spring. 

Here’s hoping. 


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