The NIT Becomes College Basketball’s Science Lab

The NCAA announced some interesting rule changes for this year’s NIT:

The 2018 NIT will feature four rules modifications:

​• The three-point line will be extended by approximately 1 foot 8 inches to the same distance used by FIBA for international competition (22 feet 1.75 inches).
​• The free throw lane will be widened from 12 feet to 16 feet, consistent with the width used by the NBA.
​• The games will be divided into four 10-minute quarters as opposed to two 20-minute halves. Teams will shoot two free throws beginning with the fifth foul of each quarter.
• The shot clock will reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the full 30 seconds.

The NCAA has started using the NIT as a testing ground for rule changes. The 30-second shot clock and the four-foot restricted arc were tested during the tournament before becoming permanent rule changes in college basketball. This is a smart move by the NCAA to make the NIT interesting again.

The premier consolation tournament in college basketball used to have a fair amount of prestige. From it’s founding in 1938 to the mid-1950’s it was regarded as more prestigious than the NCAA tournament. But as March Madness expanded over the years, the importance and interest in the NIT has dwindled. I’ll be honest, I don’t watch it. Most of y’all don’t either.

I probably still won’t watch the NIT. I have no time for consolation tournaments. But my interest level has certainly increased. I am interested in how these rule changes will effect the game. The purpose of these changes is clear, to make the game more exciting by increasing scoring. The 30-second shot clock was a much needed change to college basketball that has resulted in a better product on the court. The NCAA has decided to push that further.

Extending the 3-point line is my favorite. Putting college basketball at parity with FIBA’s 3-point line better prepares the players for the next level, whether it is the NBA, G-League, or EuroLeague. Furthermore, an extended three-point line also helps offenses space the floor better, which leads to more offense.

I also like moving to four quarters like women’s basketball. A 20-minute half can be grueling to endure when both teams are in bonusland. I can take or leave the larger free-throw lane or the 20-second reset after offensive rebounds, but I can respect what they are trying to accomplish.

The NIT starts March 13, with the championship taking place March 29 at Madison Square Garden.

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